As we head towards a new season, I take a look at each discipline's major players in the Grand Prix Series and who is in the running for the six coveted spots at the Grand Prix Final.
Ice Dance (See all assignments here)
Last season, we saw a few exciting shakeups, with Americans Maia and Alex Shubutani unseating compatriots Madison Chock/Evan Bates and Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver/Poje as the runner ups to the new king and queen of ice dance, Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron. The aforementioned French team made quite a statement themselves, coming back from an injury and a missed Grand Prix season to decisively take their second consecutive World title.
Things will not slow down in 2016-17, as the much talked about return of two-time Olympic medallists Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir will finally commence. While their return to the top of the field is not guaranteed by any means, their skating quality is not to be messed with. Did I mention they now train with Papadakis/Cizeron? And they will face off at NHK? Hold on to your seats, people!
The addition of Virtue/Moir to an already packed-at-the-top dance field means one of the staple teams of international ice dance of the last few years will not make it back to the Final. So who's in the running?
Shibutani/Shibutani should win their home event and have great medal chances at Cup of China against Weaver/Poje. I'd expect them to get back to the Final. Similarly, Papadakis/Cizeron should win Trophee de France and come in 1-2 at NHK to make a return to the Final.
Chock/Bates have the misfortune of competing two weeks in a row early on in the series, at Skate Canada and Rostelecom, but they have a decent shot at the Final. They will have to be on their game in Canada, against Virtue/Moir and Anna Cappellin/Luca Lanotte. Rostelecom gets slightly easier with Weaver/Poje as their main contenders.
Speaking of Canada's now-seemingly number two team, I'd bet on Weaver/Poje to keep up their golden streak on the GP series and make it back to the Final . They should finish 1-2 at Rostelecom and Cup of China, against Americans Chock/Bates and the Shibuatnis, respectively.
So then we come back to Virtue/Moir.... it's hard to predict how the comeback will play out, but for now I'll assume they'll still be at a high enough level to make it to the GPF, likely winning Skate Canada and finishing 1-2 at NHK.
The two teams left in contention made it to the GPF last year- Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue from the U.S. and Italians Capellini/Lanotte, And honestly, this one just comes down to the math. The Italians have two tough assignments at Skate Canada and NHK and realistically winning 2 bronze medals won't be enough. Hubbell/Donahue have easier fields (Skate America and Trophee de France) and they would be my pick for the sixth and final Final team.
Dance is certainly going to be interesting this year! I'll be back in a bit with pairs!
About the Blog:
Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.