Duhamel/Radford picked up their second win of the season at NHK, to the surprise of no one. If anything was shocking, it was the lift issue they had at the end of their free skate, but their little mistakes didn't matter much in this field. They will want to be at their best at the Final if Savchenko/Massot are healthy enough to compete and challenge them. I am still not a fan of their program choices this year, but they will be favored to win at the Final.
I was happy to see Peng/Jin make the Final. Their short program is a really great choice for them and after all the switcheroo drama, I am just glad they look happy and are skating well. Peng's side by side jump inconsistencies showed up again at this event, but they did have to skate back-to-back. They will face their former partners and a tough field at the Final. They'll need cleaner programs to make an impact on the podium there, but the international experience should be a boost to their first season together.
I like Wang/Wang's short program and this bronze medal is a huge step forward for them. In deeper fields, they wouldn't be medal contenders, but they took advantage of a medal opportunity here. Good for them!
It was nice to see Kayne/O'Shea with a technically solid free skate here. Consistency has always been a strength of their skating and I hope that skate brings them some confidence as they rest and reset to defend their national title in January. Even without Scimeca/Knierim, they'll face a challenge with the consistency of Denney/Frazier.
The NHK Virtue/Moir vs. Papadakis/Cizeron matchup was one of the most highly anticipated battles of the Grand Prix season. While the #drama was certainly high, so was the point spread between the two when all was said and done. While I expected the race to be tight, mistakes from the French lead Tessa and Scott to an easy victory.
Overall, I feel that Virtue/Moir have better music choices this year. Their short dance is probably my favorite of the season and though I don’t think the two sections of their free coordinate, I think the program as a whole is more impactful than their rivals. While this win is a huge step forward for their comeback, I wouldn’t say they are unbeatable. They were clean here (which isn’t always the case) and the French weren’t. I can’t wait to see what happens when they both skate clean *rubs hands together excitedly*. Perhaps the Grand Prix Final?
Papadakis/Cizeron may not have gotten the result they wanted here, but they are still headed to the Final as co-favorites for gold with Tessa and Scott. This competition was messier than usual for them, and they will be skating on home country ice at the Final. I still think they could swing the pendulum back their way with a different result in Marseille. I think they’ll lose ground all year in the short dance, but their strength in the free dance could pay off later.
Congrats to Cappellini/Lanotte for grabbing a medal here after finishing fourth in Canada. They had some really tough assignments this year, and won’t be headed back to the Final. While there is a lot I like about this team, I also feel like they don’t break out of their comfort zone stylistically, which seems to be keeping them in the middle of the pack. We should see them compete next at Europeans.
My favorite performance in the free dance was from Hawayek/Baker, and the judges agreed- lifting them to finish fourth ahead of Sinitsina/Katsalapov. That free is a great vehicle to push their skating forward in maturity this year. After finishing fifth to Cannuscio/McManus last year at Nationals, you know they want to climb back to fourth. Judging from the Grand Prix, I think they should be able to do that, but you never know with that Nationals judging : ) This free dance is one of my favorites of the year for sure.
Sinitsina/Katsalapov seem to be losing ground this season. The Russian nationals results in ice dance will be very interesting™ to watch.
OhMyGod how is it time for NHK already??? It's the holiday weekend so I am going to keep this short so I can be sure I am adulting and socializing like I should. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating!
PAIRS: Duhamel and Radford should cruise to a very easy victory here and head off to the Grand Prix Final. What I will be looking for from them here will actually be the success of their "big tricks" before their hopeful matchup with Savchenko/Massot in France. I hope to see Peng/Jin continue their initial success from last week to get the silver medal and a berth at the Final also. Wang/Wang will be my pick for bronze, but Kayne/OShea could challenge with clean skates.
MEN: I think Yuzuru Hanyu will be skating much stronger than in Canada, especially on home ice, to win gold here and head to the Final. The battle between Jason Brown and Nathan Chen for silver will be a fun one to watch, but Kolyada could ruin the party also. I will pick a more consistent Jason Brown to pull out silver and Nathan Chen to claim bronze.
LADIES: Anna Pogorilaya looked so confident and sharp at Rostelecom Cup and if she can skate just as strongly here she'll make it back to the the Final after an absence. I'd like to see her give Evgenia Medvedeva a run for her money there. Skating at home in the last event, I think Satoko Miyahara will have far more luck here than at Skate Canada. Though Maria Sotskova is the best pick for bronze by the numbers, I am picking Mirai Nagasu to upset for the bronze medal. Just going with a gut feeling!
DANCE: In this week's key matchup, Papadakis/Cizeron square up against Virtue/Moir. I expect the Canadians to be ahead after a superior short dance, but that Papadakis/Cizeron will overtake them in the free for the gold. Virtue/Moir would join them at the Final after a silver medal finish. Cappellini/Lannotte should do better here than Skate Canada for bronze.
If you're interested in how those finishes would set up the roster for the Grand Prix Final, check out my faves @rockerskating and @Team_pdd's explanations.
P.S. my CoC recap is coming soon, in the form of participating in The Judges Table! I will share the link as soon as it's live.
I had the impression that my scores this week were going to be terrible, mostly because this competition was such a disappointment for my fave (THANKS, AMANO), but overall, they were actually really solid scores! I guess looking back at it, the rest of my picks were okay and overall #notadisaster! Bless.
For USFSA, I finished 98T for the event, with 8/12 picks correct, including all of dance.
For TSL, I finished at #52 with 741 points. I picked the correct team, got 6 head to head matchups, 2 quad counts, most medals, the upset pick and seven placement picks correct.
Overall, Cup of Disaster wasn't so disastrous! For me at least.... *cries*.
U.S. champs Maia and Alex Shibutani come to China with a spot at the Grand Prix Final well within their reach after winning Skate America. These two really put a ton of work into their hip hop short dance and it really shows. Their twizzles are incredibly reliable and honestly some of the most synchronized and fast sets in the world. That is why they are my pick to win the gold medal and head back to the Final. After such a breakout year last season, it’s important that they keep the momentum moving forward.
I’ve got to hand it to Kaetlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje for making big changes in their coaching team this season. Their Worlds finish from last year was such a disappointment and the pressure they’re getting with the return of Tessa and Scott is a lot to deal with. I really enjoyed their new short overall and I expect they’ll skate better in their second outing of the season for silver and hopefully a spot at the Final.
We have not yet seen Victoria Sinitsina/ Nikita Katsalopov skate yet this season, so I’m picking them for third without much confidence, based upon past results mostly. It will be interesting to see where this team is at in terms of their training this year. They skate back-to-back at NHK next week.
If they don’t make it to the podium, Stepanova and Bukin would be my pick to take their spot. Also excited to see Canncuscio and McManus start their GP season.
This pairs field = things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmm. The pairs field is incredibly shallow this season, and that is reflected in this field here. There are several up-and-coming teams looking to make some career progress in the push towards 2018. I’ll be real with you, any of these teams could totally bomb or totally surprise. So your picks are just as good as mine. *shrugs*
While we have only seen them compete once together as a team, YU/ZHANG seem to be the favorite to win here. They are skating at home after a very good debut event at Skate Canada. They will need the consistency they displayed in Canada to take the gold here, and with that, a spot at the Grand Prix Final. Which really wouldn’t be a bad way to start your career together.
ILIUSHECHKINA /MOSCOVITCH are my tentative pick for silver. I say tentative because their side by side jumps are liabilities, but they have a nice overall quality to their skating. The bronze they picked up at Skate Canada was a really important step forward in their career. A silver here would put them in a great spot for another step forward- the Grand Prix Final.
Dealing with an injury, KAVAGUTI/SMIRNOV had a rough start at Skate Canada. While I like them as team more than the Canadians, the injury has been tough on their results. I’m hoping they can break through and skate well here for the bronze medal.
The other new Chinese pair of PENG/JIN also have podium potential here. They are skating at home, against their former partners who just won a medal at Skate Canada. You hope there’s some motivation in that to do well, but they are so new as a team that some growing pains would be perfectly understandable. I hope they have a solid debut as a team.
Skate Canada champ Patrick Chan comes into the event as the favorite for the title. Patrick started off his year with a decent performance, but he’s going to want to show some improvement before the big competition he'll face at the Grand Prix Final. Patrick’s PCS will keep him on top of the podium here if he can keep his technical elements together.
I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am rooting for Boyang Jin this season. After seeing his programs live at Skate America this season, I can truly appreciate the effort that they are putting into his components. I believe he said nerves got to him in the short there, and I’m feeling like he’ll be more relaxed at his second (and home) event. I see him improving his technical performance here and getting the PCS needed for the silver medal. The Final is probably out for him, but this would be a great chance to make a statement before Worlds.
Sergei Voronov had a surprise fourth place finish at Skate America after a great free skate. While the rest of this field is incredibly unpredictable in terms of consistency, Sergei has a bit of momentum on his side. I’m picking him for bronze.
I am excited to also see if Michal Brezina can continue his momentum from Skate Canada and if Han Yan can take a step forward in rebuilding his skating.
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Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.