In my initial posting, I had picked Pogorilaya- Miyahara- Wagner but as I did my research for the event, I was completely forgetting about Leonova (Yes, another Russian!).
Here's my revised picks:
GOLD- Anna Pogorilaya may not have the poise and polish of some of her competitors, but she sure has the technical goods. In her pre-season event (Japan Open) she only competed her Firebird free skate so I'm interested to see what she's bringing for her short. Her over-the-top style isn't my taste, but she has big jumps that are going to bring the technical scores high enough for the top spot on the podium.
SILVER- In her pre-season competition, Elena Leonova looked strong and confident. She has struggled over the years with injuries and consistency but the start to her season was very solid. I really don't like her cheesy short program but her Latin- themed long program suits her well. With all of the Russian ladies on the scene right now, they're all motivated to stand out.
If she skates clean, her technical scores will be high enough to get her second place
BRONZE- I have a soft spot for Ashley Wagner. She had a rough season last year but rebounded with a solid showing at the 2014 Worlds. Like Anna, she's only shown us her long program at the pre-season Japan Open, which has incredible potential but she had an especially poor showing there technically. If she can bring the fire and cleanliness to this competition that she did at the 2014 World Championships, it should be enough to keep her on the podium.
If one of the top three ladies struggle, keep an eye on Satoko Miyahara. She beat Ashley Wagner and Anna Pogorilaya at the Japan Open this year with a beautiful, clean free program to Miss Siagon. She doesn't have the big presence or big jumps, but she has a quiet consistency and graceful style that could easily vault her to the podium.
My first week of fantasy went really well, but I'm less sure about my picks for the second Grand Prix event. I'm fairly confident about my A picks, but the pairs and ice dance events are where I tend to struggle. The pairs event features a team that has not yet competed together so they could really throw a wrench in the whole thing!
After all was said and done at Skate America, my podium predictions came true- it was Elena Radionova who grabbed her first Grand Prix win. Countrywoman Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won silver and Gracie Gold (USA) finished third.
Elena did not skate perfectly, but she proved that her technical element scores were something to be taken seriously. I'm not sure J-Lo is really the right music choice for her short program (maybe without those vocals?) but she had her game face ON and showed incredible focus. I'm loving the mature music selection for her long program but she has a ways to go with the polish and maturity that will hopefully come to her with time. That said, her technical abilities make her a front runner for a spot at the Grand Prix final.
Elizaveta had a very strong short program showing, but early season fatigue seemed to be her enemy in the long program. She did not fall, but doubled planned triples and left points on the ice. Her program selections are good ones for her, so I think after a nice two week rest, she should be able to come back in her next GP event and also be a strong medal contender there. After the tough Olympic season she had last year, she's really come a long way; I would not count her out for a spot at the Grand Prix final.
An improvement over her last competition, Gracie Gold also stayed on her feet in both programs. In the short, her biggest mistake came at the end of the program when she missed a combination spin and forfeited several points. Her long program (as I predicted) was a struggle for her. NBC's commentators and Twitter alike agree with me that her Phantom music was a poor choice. She did not fall, but doubled many of her triples; she lost points for an entire combo because she repeated a double jump too many times. I will stick with my prediction that a spot in the Grand Prix final is truly a long shot for her.
Other news off the podium: Samatha Cesario had a great showing for fourth place. She was very consistent technically and I love the fire in her two programs. She has to work on her speed and spins to truly get to the top, but she should be proud of what she did in Chicago. Fifth place went to So-Youn Park from South Korea. The youngster has a beautiful quality about her and could really grow into a contender is the seasons to come. Mirai Nagasu had an unfortunate short program with a bad fall and missed combination that left her in 10th place. She stayed on her feet for her long program, but got many under rotation calls. She truly has two beautiful programs this year, but she needs to clean up those jumps to be a podium threat.
Whoo-hoo! I have to say I am fairly pleased after my first try at fantasy figure skating.
Update: USFSA updated the leaderboard. Including bonus points, I had a total of 2261 points and am tied for #74 out of 659 players. Not too shabby!
My ladies and mens picks were perfectly correct and I got one of each of the pools correct in the ice dance and pairs competition. I follow the singles competitions much more thoroughly so that's understandable. As the season progresses, there will be more data available and hopefully I can improve on my picks in the team categories.
Here's a summary:
Skate America week is FINALLY here! So excited to stop all the speculating and have new results to analyze and talk about. It's always fun at the beginning of the season to see live, TV quality-videos and full-out performances as skaters debut their new music and costumes.
I already posted my podium picks for the entire ladies Grand Prix but I will be posting updated predictions and more in-depth explanations as each competition approaches.
BRONZE: I know Gracie Gold's face has been plastered on all of the SA2014 promotions but I feel like a win for her here is going to be much harder than USFSA is predicting. She most definitely has the technical goods to be on the top, but she struggles skating clean in big moments and I really don't think that she has the emotional depth to pull off her POTO free skate (though judges tend to overscore her). I think she'll skate well for bronze but be overshadowed by the Russians.
SILVER: Elizaveta Tutkamysheva has had a fabulous pre-season, winning three titles. I know her competition was weak, but her scores were certainly not. She has been clean and very technically competitive. I think the music she chose this year works well for her. If she's on, she will vault over Gracie for the silver medal. I look for her to possibly be behind after the short program, but throw down a great score in the long.
GOLD: This is a gutsy pick, but Elena Radionova certainly has all the goods to win her first senior Grand Prix event. After two medals last year, her new programs have her set up well for the podium- especially her new mature free skate that features two triple-triples. She has a magnetic energy that makes her a crowd favorite. I think she'll be in third after the short program, but stun everyone with a marvelous free skate to win.
This is my first year trying Fantasy skating and I have to admit that I follow ladies skating much more than the other disciplines (as you can see from my predictions), so picking for my first competition is really a crap shoot- haha.
Again, I'm a newbie at this so I looked up some ISU data and kinda went for it! I'll make sure to post when it's all over so we can see how I did : )
I like to make some predictions before the Grand Prix even begins so I can take a look back at the end of the season to see how much has changed. These decisions are mostly data-driven and don't fully take into account history and atmosphere.
So, that would make a final of:
I don't know about you, but I am thrilled that the season is FINALLY about to begin! It's been quite awhile since last year's worlds and I am so ready for new results to talk about! As we prepare for the exciting Grand Prix circuit, here are my thoughts on the ladies field for this year.
From Russia with Love
DID YOU KNOW that every single medal on the Grand Prix circuit last year (won by a skater who still performing this season) was won by only two countries? Yes, it's true. Russia and the US won every Grand Prix medal with the exception of medals won by Mao Asada, Akiko Suzuki, or Carolina Kostner--none of whom are skating this season.
My biggest prediction is that Russia will dominate the medals again this year. Last year, 4/6 Grand Prix Final spots were Russians; I'm betting that 5/6 of those spots go to Russia this year. The Russian ladies field is DEEP, fierce and highly competitive.
Julia Lipnitskya is ranked #2 in the world and is the headlining lady for this season. Based on her performances last year, she may be the one to beat. I've seen a preview of her short program and it has tons of potential. Last year, she struggled with consistency at the end of the season, but she's deadly when she's on.
Reigning Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova is the biggest question mark for me heading into this season. Prior to the Olympic games, she had never won an international event. With huge pressure on her shoulders this season to preform at an Olympic champion-level, will her Sochi medal give her confidence to rise to the top or will the expectations be too much?
Behind those two leading ladies from Russia, are several other skaters, who can be just as dangerous. Reigning Junior World Champion Elena Radionova made her successful Grand Prix debut last season, winning a sliver and a bronze. She threw down a HUGE score at the Japan Open this year, with a long program that included two triple-triple combinations. The audience loves her and she's aiming for more mature content this year. I think she will surprise many this year with her vault to the top.
And let's not forget Anna Pogorilaya who placed fourth at the World Champonships last year. She has the technical goods to get on any podium, but she's always struggled with connecting to her music and the audience. She needs some polish before she can really threaten for the top, but her Grand Prix assignments have her set up for a spot in the final if she skates clean.
And yet another- YES another- Russian lady has risen from the ashes to vie for a top spot this year. Elizaveta Tutkamysheva has won three titles at the beginning of the season, putting out very high scores. Many may count her out after her disappointing Olympic season performances, but I think she is on the path to recreate her Grand Prix success of a few years ago.
Red, White and Blah....
I love the US skaters, but if I'm being perfectly honest- the real competition lies in Russia. Though each of these ladies has huge potential, none of them seem to have been able to put the whole package together yet.
Gracie Gold has the technical potential to be at the top, but she has a history of underperforming when the pressure is on. This season she's skating to the much used (and abused) music of Phantom of the Opera (seriously- enough with the Phantom, already!). I don't think Gracie has the emotional depth to pull off this music but the judges tend to overscore this ice princess. If she skates clean, Gracie can most definitely grab some hardware on the circuit.
Polina Edmunds is the Tara Lipinski of today--The skating world is in love with this little girl. As with most little girls, she jumps well- and jumps well consistently. Bold prediction- she may be on top of the US podium this year, based on that consistency and technical ability. She struggles with clean lines and looking polished on the ice, but that will take time to come. I do see her getting at least one medal in the series. (Full picks to come later).
The wily veteran Ashley Wagner has returned to skate another day. She had great success on the Grand Prix circuit last year, but her scores have seriously struggled in the competitions since 2014 Nationals. I'm in love with the concept of her Mulan Rouge long program and it has great potential, but I'm not sure Ashley has the technical content to compete at the top. If the judges are scoring fairly, she should do well in PCS, but none of that will matter if she can't squeeze out a triple-triple (fully rotated!) in the long program to stay in the mix.
And of course- the much talked about Mirai Nagasu. This lady has had an up and down career to be certain, but she seems to be making some improvements. The programs I've seen in the preseason are better, but again, I don't believe she has the technical consistency or the emotional ability to get on an international podium.
OH- and Japan, too!
Other than the US and Russia- look out for two ladies from Japan to jump into the Grand Prix medal mix. Sakoto Miyahara had a beautiful skate at the Japan Open and a matching score to go with it. She's quiet-but clean- and that subtle consistency could very well put her on a podium in the Grand Prix.
Kanako Murakami can also put some heat on the top ladies- but she has to be ON.
Much to speculate about, but it's going to sure be fun to watch!
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Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.