Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Skate Canada: A Preview

It is almost time for what will almost certainly be the most... interestingly scored event of the Grand Prix. I'll give it to you straight - I am both really looking forward to this and yet dreading how the scoring will play out. In any case though, I'm certainly hoping for much better skating than we saw at Skate America last week.

Ice Dance: Virtue/Moir are clearly the team to beat here - unless they have an absolutely massive meltdown, I just can't see them not winning, especially in their home country and with Pechalat/Bourzat withdrawing due to Bourzat being ill, I don't think there's anyone here to challenge them. Cappellini/Lanotte and Weaver/Poje seem likely to be in the medal hunt. Also of note is the new team of Madison Chock/Evan Bates, both of which have been U.S. National medalists and Worlds competitors with former partners; I have yet to see them skate, but it'll be interesting to see how they do here, as a team that will be hoping to snag that third U.S. Worlds spot come January.

Pairs: World silver medalists Volosozhar/Trankov shouldn't have much trouble here. I think it'll probably a battle for the other two spots on the podium between Sui/Han, Takahashi/Tran, Lawrence/Swiegers, and Duhamel/Radford. Jessica Dube will be competing with her new partner Sebastian Wolfe and maybe they could play spoiler but it's hard to say, especially with them having skated together for less than a year.

Ladies: Like Skate America, there are a lot of ladies here that have medal potential. Akiko Suzuki did very well on the Grand Prix last year, despite less than generous PCS from the judges, and Mirai Nagasu could be a huge factor if she keeps it together in her freeskate. Cynthia Phaneuf will have the home country advantage and has placed in the top 5 at Worlds and Alena Leonova just missed out on a World bronze last season, so if their jumps are there, they're ones to keep an eye on. Rachael Flatt wasn't scored generously internationally last season, but still managed to medal at both of her events and make the Grand Prix Final and is often one of the more consistent competitors. Ashley Wagner has a different style than most of the other ladies and might do very well if her jumps are clean, but she is prone to two footed landings on her triples. Lastly, Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, fresh out the junior ranks, is definitely a girl to keep your eye on. Despite her youth, she is known for consistently landing difficult triple-triple combinations and there's even a video floating around on youtube of her landing a triple axel! The ladies definitely look to be one of the most exciting competitions of Skate Canada and I'm looking forward to seeing how this pans out.

Men: There are probably three main guys to watch out for here; Patrick Chan, Daisuke Takahashi, and Adam Rippon. In all honesty, I'll be surprised if Patrick doesn't leave with the gold here; he fell three times at the Japan Open a few weeks ago and still was the top scoring man. With his generous scores in general and this being one of the events with the most inflated scores, that's probably just the way it's going to be. The 2010 World Champion Daisuke Takahashi is planning to try a quad in both programs this season, but it's hard to say how ready his jumps will be considering his screw removal surgery in his knee a few months ago. I believe in him wholeheartedly, but he just simply might not have enough mileage on his jumps yet for them to be steady here. Adam Rippon started off last season with a bang at the Japan Open but fizzled out as the season went on. If he stays confident and he can control his triple axel and his new quad - the lutz, he has a great shot at medaling here.

Of course, there are other men who could be factors and given the events of last week, it'd be silly of me to disregard them! Kevin van der Perren will be fresh off his silver at Skate Canada and while I doubt that he'll be able to replicate that result here, it definitely proves that if more complete overall skaters really falter on their jumps, his jumping prowess could stand him in good stead. Javier Fernandez, Denis Ten, and Ross Miner likely all have quads planned and if they hit them as well as their other jumps... things could get interesting. Also of note is Chan's countryman, World Junior Champion Andrei Rogozine will also be competing - I haven't the slightest idea where he might end up, but I'll be keeping an eye out.

Here's the online streaming schedule.

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