Who’s In: Gracie Gold (28 points), Evgenia Medvedeva (28 points) and Elena Radionova (26 points) have solidified their spots in Barcelona.
Who’s Got A Shot Competing This Week: Mao Asada (15 points), Ashley Wagner (15 points), Satoko Miyahara (11 points), Anna Pogorilaya (9 points)
Who’s Waiting in the Wings: Rika Hongo (20 points) and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (18 points). Elizaveta also is eligible for a special bid to the Final if she ends up in 7th overall.
NHK Competition Analysis: If I have any “advice” to give this week, it would be not to underestimate Mao Asada at home. Japanese fans are so enthusiastic in general, but to have one of their most beloved skaters back in competition, at home, after winning Cup of China (197.48) -and I expect her to be skating well- they are going to go nuts for her. Ashley Wagner’s first event score (202.52) is actually higher than Mao’s, but I don’t think Japan will be as PCS friendly for Ash as Canada was. I would still like to see her get 200 points at this event and skate strong here.
Satoko Miyahara will also be skating at home, and I expect her PCS to be kinder here than what they were at Skate America (188.07). She needs to land on the podium to get to the Final, and I would like to see her make it there after her breakthrough at Worlds last season. Anna Pogorilaya will be looking to get back to the Final with a second place finish or higher. It is certainly possible with her jumping firepower, but she even struggled with that at her first event (Cup of China 184.16).
My Podium Predictions: GOLD- Asada SILVER- Wagner BRONZE- Miyahara
FOURTH- Pogorilaya FIFTH- Leonova SIXTH- Hicks
That Would Make the Final Of:
I am a bit sad that we are already at the end of the GP series! While it can be a struggle to keep up with all of the news from six weeks straight of competitions, it’s so nice to not have to wait a month or more for new performances to talk about. As we are at the end of the series, my previews this week will include GPF qualification information for the skaters as well.
Who’s In: Sui/Han (28 points), Kavaguti/Smirnov (28 points) and Stolbova/Klimov (24 points) are locks for the Final.
Who’s Got A Shot Competing This Week: Duhamel/Radford (15 points), James/Cipres (13 points), Yu/Jin (13 points), Scimeca/Knierim (13 points)
Who’s Waiting in the Wings: Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau (22 points)
NHK Competition Analysis: Duhamel/Radford come in as the heavy favorites and surely want to get to the Final as the only undefeated team. They come in with the highest season score by far (216.16) and I am interested to see if we get two quad attempts from them in the free skate. The battle for the rest of the podium looks to be more interesting than picking the top spot here.
China’s Yu/JIn come to NHK after a personal best score at Cup of China (197.75) and can make the Final with a second place here. It would be fantastic for the career of Scimeca/Knierim if they could make it to the GPF for the first time- they posted close to their personal best at Skate America (191.97) and need a podium finish to get to the Final. They were great in the short at that event, but struggled in the free. They’ll have to improve on that here. James/Cipres were the surprise second place finishers at Trophee Bompbard after the free skates were cancelled, and could also make the Final if they land on the podium. Unfortunately for them, the short program score is the third tiebreaker and theirs is lower than the other two teams vying for the Final, which puts them most on the bubble.
My Podium Predictions: GOLD-Duhamel/Radford SILVER-Yu/Jin BRONZE-Scimeca/Knierim
FOURTH- James/Cipres FIFTH- Iliushechkina/Moscovoitch SIXTH- Bazarova/Deputat
That Would Make the Final Of:
Stolbova/Klimov (24) (1)
Yu/JIn (24) (2) (higher SP combined score)
Scimeca/Knierim (24) (2)
*James/Cipres would also have 24 points and their highest finish would a 2nd as well, but they would have a lower SP combined score than the teams above.
UPDATE from Trophee Bompard: USFSA posted the fantasy results from TEB after the ISU finally announced its decision. I had a poor event, finishing 273T with 794 points. I blame the half completed competition : ) Overall, I am still doing well- 50th with 7599 points.
In a big LOL moment, USFSA is throwing out Rostelecom Cup results because people were able to (and did) change their fantasy results after the competiton started (guilty!). I still only had 5/12 picks right so I'm okay with that. Another bonus is that now they are adding the US Championships to the game! I'm sure I will agonize over those picks.
I ended up 175th with 335 points. I got 6/24 athlete picks correct but got 6 bonus questions right!
Kaityln Weaver and Andrew Poje have solidified their spot in the Final with their second win of the season, along with Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte who finished in second. They join USA’s Chock and Bates who’ve already qualified for the Final.
What strikes me when I think about both of these teams is that the women very much have the same personality on the ice… they give face, but almost in a “too much” kinda way, and in some programs it really works, but in others not so much. I actually think that the over-the-top happy thing works for the Italians in their free program and shows off the best of their style. I liked Weaver/Poje’s free dance more the second time around- there’s some really beautiful movements throughout and I like the modern theme. (Though someone please explain her huge smile at the end?) Weaver and Poje solidified their spot as the favorite going into the Final, having already beaten Cappellini/Lannotte, who beat Chock and Bates.
Isn’t it funny how quickly a team’s reputation can change in a short time? Last season, Elena Ilinykh was winning the skating divorce from former partner Nikita Katsalopov, but the roles seem reversed this season. Ilinykh/Zhigashin have struggled in both of their events, while Sinistina/Katsalopov have surprised with a second and third place finish and may be well on their way to the Final. Honestly, both Elena and Nikita are better than their respective current partners, and I kinda just want to see them skate together, but alas... not to be. Both of these teams will be fighting at Russian Nationals to get one of only two Worlds spots, along with Bobrova and Soloviev who we will see next week at NHK.
Three spots are still open for the FInal in ice dance, and we will see American teams Hubbell/Donahue and the Shibutani/Shibutani go after those spots at NHK this week also. After short program results were declared final standings from Trophee Bompard, Hubbell/Donahue are almost guaranteed a spot at the Final, and the Shibs have a spot easily within their grasp as well. Having three American teams in the Final would be a really great boost for the federation in ice dance. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirer may well benefit from the 7th TEB spot allotted at the Grand Prix Final, as they are likely to finish in 7th.
Well, I have to be honest- I did not see this one coming. After their performance at Skate America, I didn't pick Stolbova/Klimov to make it to the top of the podium this week. Luckily for them, their elements looked much improved and she looked slightly less angry at life after their performances this week. I still think there is something going on because they have no connection at all, but they got it done here. Luckily for him, she was the one who made mistakes in the free : ) This first place finish should actually get them into the Final. It will be very interesting to see if they can improve even further before then, which I think they need to do to contend at that event.
Congrats also to Yuka Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov on making it to the Final with a second place finish here. I thought that overall they looked a bit sloppier here than Cup of China, but I give them credit for sticking with their two quad attempts in the free skate. Hopefully they can also get all those elements cleaned up so they can have a strong showing in the Final. Overall, this was a better outing for Peng/Zhang and it was nice to finally see their free skate. I read on Twitter that they didn’t have a chance to do any training in between their two back-to-back events because of the travel, so I can see why they may be a bit shaky on some of their elements. I love their free skate costumes and their quad twist looked great. I would like to see them get to the FInal, but it doesn’t look like the numbers will work out in their favor. Hopefully we see them at Four Continents, looking much stronger.
Fourth place was a great result for Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea, and they really had a strong free skate without a quad attempt. For their first season on the GP, they had a strong showing. The battle between them and Castelli/Tran for the second World team pairs spot at U.S. Nationals is going to be intense. It was good to Marchei/Hotarek come back strong after his concussion. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t already been said, but that free skate music selection is SO BAD that even she barely pulls it off lol. This was a sad finish for Canadian pair Moore-Towers/Marinaro. I am sure they were looking to build on their success from Skate Canada, but unfortunately they couldn’t. They have a tough battle in front of them at their National Championships, where they’ll battle Seguin/Bilodeau for that silver medal. Though Canada has 3 World spots, so they could both make the team.
Stolbova/Klimov and Kavaguti/Smirnoff join Sui/Han as qualified for the Final. Next week at NHK, Duhamel/Radford can clinch their spot, asScimeca/Knierim, Yu/Jin and James/Cipres battle it out for the remaining two. It will be an exciting fight!
I have to say that I *really* enjoyed watching this ladies event, mostly (well, entirely…) because of the the three Russians that were battling it out on home ice. It’s so interesting that the Russian federation chose (you KNOW they have some pull) to have these three all at the same event; it just goes to show you how intensely competitive their system is.
I am so incredibly happy for Elena Radionova and her win here. You could tell by her reaction that she’s been under tons of pressure. I’ve heard she’s been through some sort of hip issue (perhaps related to her growth spurt?) and I’m sure it was hard for her after a rougher-than-usual skate and placement at Cup of China. You could tell she came to this event ready to play and show that she wasn’t going to be a victim of puberty and fall to the wayside. I like her packaging much better this season, and technically she had a much stronger showing in than Cup of China. With this win, she should get into the Final.
If Elena was #BabyRussian2014, Evgenia Medvedeva is certainly #BabyRussian2015. After winning at Skate America, she was my favorite to win here, but a fall in the short put her far enough behind Elena that she couldn’t catch her even after winning the free skate. I have really grown to appreciate Evgenia’s music and the way she performs to it on the ice. On a Russian scale, her costumes are good and I like the sophisticated colors. Her and Elena jump very much the same- they set up slow and really muscle the jumps out- and apparently, it works because they both can throw down in competition. Overall, what helps Evegnia is that she’s not a skater that falls apart after a mistake; she digs in a grits out the rest of the performance- and that pays off in the numbers. We’ll see a rematch between her and Elena- and Gracie- at the Grand Prix Final.
Well, the much anticipated return on 2014 Olympic champ Adelina Sotnikova finally happened. Overall, her performance was much improved from the few preseason events she competed in. And truly- finally coming back after her controversial Sochi gold, taking a season off, and having her first competition back be in her home country, against two of her national rivals- it was not an easy situation. In the short program, I could tell that she was really nervous, but she looked more relaxed in the free. The mistakes she made in the free were more a result of completely running out of gas at the end, than of bad technique. In fact, her jumps still look really big and high and I think her non-jumping elements are better now than they were in Sochi. Her PCS were undoubtedly too high, though, but I expected them. It will be VERY interesting to see if she can land on the podium at Russian nationals, and if so, if we will see her at Europeans or Worlds.
Polina Edmunds had a good fourth place finish and her scores improved big time from Skate Canada, which is a positive for her. Some think she should’ve gotten bronze here, and perhaps in another country she may have, but in my opinion, Adelina is more exciting to watch overall. Adelina *gives* it in her performances, and Polina seems to just put on a facial expression and go through the motions. Technically, she stayed on her feet better, but she still got several underrotation calls and those cost her a lot of points. There’s still time for Polina to develop that “it” quality, but right now she just doesn’t have it. If anything, consistency may keep her on the Nationals podium this year, but getting a reputation of underrotations is not going to help her move up the World rankings.
I’m sure Rika Hongo is disappointed with a fifth place finish here. it will most likely cost her a return trip to the Final, and part of me wanted to see her get back there just because she’s been so consistent and because you can tell she’s worked so hard to make improvements in her skating. She got an underrotation call in the short program and she seemed out of it in the long. Overall, I hope Rika’s happy with getting another medal on the series and it will be very interesting to see her stacked against Mao and Satoko at Japanese Nationals later this winter.
It was an up and down competition for Alaine Chartrand. She stunned in the short program, but then another nasty fall on her 3A attempt ruined the rest of her free skate. If that had been the first time trying the triple axel, I would understand keeping it, but she had this exact same problem at Skate America. Personally, I do not think it’s worth it for her to attempt the 3A if it means she will not land the next 3-4 jumps. She did recover better here than at Skate America, though. If she plans to keep going for the 3A, then her team needs to come up with a better mental strategy for her to deal with the fall and carry on with the program. She’ll be in a tight battle at Canadian Nationals, against Katelyn Osmund and Gabrielle Daleman for only 2 Worlds spots.
I can't believe we are already at the end of the GP series... next week, we have NHK Trophy, headlined by home country favorites Mao Asada and Satokot Miyahara, and my girl Ashley Wagner.
Congrats to Javier Fernandez on his double win in the series and for making it back to the Grand Prix Final, being held in his home country, for the second year in a row. I have to say both of his programs have grown on me since Cup of China, and he really does a good job with them. He deserved this win and the first two quads in his long program were quite gorgeous. It will be very interesting to see how he will stack up against the field in the Final, especially Shoma Uno, Yuzuru Hanyu and Patrick Chan. These four men will be in the conversation for this year’s World title and you know that Javi doesn’t want to just stop at one World title.
Adian Pitkeev certainly stole the show in his home country. After so many seasons of having baby Russian girls pop up one after the other, we finally have a little baby Russian boy to watch. All I have to say is that I would take Pitkeev over his countrymen Vornov, Meneshov and Kovtun any day. His skating just has a beautiful quality that they lack. I really hope he makes the Russian World team. I will say the same thing about him that I said about Boyang Jin- here’s hoping the kid stays healthy long enough to survive puberty and develop the component skill necessary to take him to the next level.
Oy, what drama we had with the two American men. First, congrats to both of them on a fantastic competition. Overall, I prefer Adam’s skating but you have to hand it to Ross Miner- he had a great event. In the end, it was his strong short program that held him on the podium and he should be really proud of his skating here. Ross is at an interesting point in his career- you know you’d love to see him on a World team, but the competition is so fierce. Hopefully, he can take some confidence away from this competition and use it to put down a great skate in St. Paul.
I know Adam Rippon had to be very disappointed with missing the podium by such a small margin- especially after he thought we was in third, But, I have to say, Adam had a great Grand Prix. He really had two solid events with performances that he should be proud of. I think he skated better here than Skate Canada, so he’s progressing with these programs and that’s a good sign. I loved the costume and music change in his free skate- LOVE. I think they were very good choices and improved the program. What’s interesting to me is that he took out the quad lutz in the free. It worked for him here, but at Nationals, I feel like he’s going to have to go for it. In my heart of hearts, I really think Adam can win a National title and I hope he takes the confidence from his great Grand Prix and runs with it.
Mevedeva Fernandez Kavaguti/Smirnoff Cappellini/Lannotte
Nagai Rippon Moore-Towers/Marinaro Sinitsina/Katsalopov
Helgesson Liebers Zabijko/Enbert Guignard/Fabri
Medvedeva Fernandez Kavaguti/Smirnoff Cappellini/Lannotte
Hongo Ngyuen Stolbova/Klimov Weaver/Poje
Radionova Rippon Peng/Zheng Sinitsina/Katsalopov
Sotnikova Pitkeev Zabijko/Enbert Ilinykh/Zhigashin
Nagai Kolyada Moore-Towers/Marinaro Guignard/Fabri
Edmunds Vornov Marchaei/Hotarek Monko/Khavalian
What an interesting preview to Russian nationals this event will be! Evgenia Medvedeva is the lastest baby Russian to break onto the scene with big scores and a win at Skate America (206.01). Her jumps look awkward to me, but she sure knows how to land them when it counts, and I give her credit for interpreting her music and giving good face. She should guarantee a spot in the Final with a top two finish here. Elena Radionova, the star baby Russian from last season, is coming off a shaky season start at Cup of China (third, 184.28). I appreciate that they’ve cleaned up her look this year, but she’s taller and it seems to be throwing off a few jumps. I expect a better performance from her here, but probably not mistake-free.
Also here, we finally get to see the competitive return of 2014 Olympic champ Adelina Sotnikova. Her performances at smaller events this preseason have improved each time she’s skated, but the only data point we have for her (203.89) came from the fishy Mordovian Ornament competition, where the scores were just crazy high. Let’s be honest, she’s gonna get some Olympic champ/home country/welcome back PCS, but technically, she may be shaky. The skating world is certainly going to be watching her closely, and she knows it.
Looking to spoil a hometown sweep will be Rika Hongo, who came away from Cup of China with a win in the free skate, a silver medal overall, and a PB score of 195.76. You have to know Rika is looking to get to the FInal after being a surprise entry last year, and it looks like her jumps are consistent enough to get her there. Yuka Nagai came away with a bronze medal from Skate Canada, with a 172.92. She’s got a really lovely quality to her skating and her technical elements are big scorers when she’s clean. I wonder how consistent she will be here- can she build on Skate Canada? Either way, she’s got a lot of ladies with big scoring potential ahead of her at this event.
The U.S.’s entries here are Polina Edmunds (6th 168.89 at Skate Canada) and Hannah Miller, (10th 151.73 at Cup of China). Polina said she’s looking to prove she’s podium ready this season, but the judges at Skate Canada disagreed. This is Hannah Miller’s first season on the GP and I think she’s got a lot of potential. Neither lady can make the FInal, but I am guessing we will see some improvement in their scores as they look forward to Nationals.
PAIRS:We have quite the mixed bag of competitors here. Starting with the host entries...Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnoff are coming off a great win at the Cup of China (216.00) and Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov had a rough start to their season, landing off the podium at Skate America (189.06).
Kavaguti/Smirnoff looked good at Cup of China and showed that they can still compete technically at this point in their career. Their short program is not my favorite, but I think they will be hungry to have a good showing at home and make it to the Final. Stolbova/Klimov have not looked the same since that fluke fall in their Europeans long program last season. It’s nice to see them back competing after skipping Worlds, but they are struggling with their elements and they have no connection whatsoever. They have big scoring potential if clean, and perhaps they will also benefit from some home PCS.
Coming in as a complete question mark are the Chinese pair team of Peng/Zheng. We saw them for the first time this season last week at Trophee Bompard. Of course, they did not get to skate a long program at that event, so I haven’t seen what they can bring to the table in a full competition. We saw video of her taking a hard fall during practice and hitting her head before the short program in France, where she fell on their side by side jumps (score 64.10). Here’s hoping she is healthy and feeling well; they could potentially benefit from whatever ISU will decide regarding TEB if they place well here.
Competing for the top six this week will be Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro, who got off to a great start at their home event, taking third (174.85). They look much improved this season and I like their short program. Their long at Skate Canada exposed some weaknesses, though. I am interested to see how Valentina Marchaei/Andrej Hotarek are skating this week- they had to withdraw from Skate Canada after his concussion and that is a difficult injury to come back from. The third Russian team of Zabljko/Enbert got a huge score (especially for a new team) of 192.22 at Mordovian Ornament this season and though I do not expect them to repeat the number they got at that grossly overscored competition, some hometown crowd support could keep them up there in the standings.
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