Predictions: Cup of China 2014

Zijin Li 12 lp

The Grand Prix season is well underway and with the huge time different and personal commitments this weekend, I’m afraid livestreaming will not be possible. I will, however, do my best to catch up to all the competitions as fast as I can so that I can give you a recap/highlight post early next week. However, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves and make the predictions first.

Men

This weekend marks the GP debut for Olympic Champion, Yuzuru Hanyu. Looking at the roster, this is his competition to lose. I expect him to have stamina issues in the LP as he usually does at the beginning of the season but judging from the shows he skated over the summer, his SP to Chopin’s Ballade no. 1 should be an absolute stunner in terms of choreography. The combination of Hanyu and Jeff Buttle is a delightful one and I hope that Yuzu starts his season well with a wonderful performance of that gorgeous program.

Canadian will also have high hopes for up and coming Nam Nguyen who produced a solid LP at Skate America to win the bronze medal. If he skates well, I have no doubt that he can medal at this event. Up against him is also Russian, Maxim Kovtun. I’m not fond of any of the skating from the Russian men this season but they are jump machines. Some of them act less like an epileptic windmill than others but overall, they are all a little interchangeable in my head, which is unfortunate. Kovtun’s jumping skills may be able to win him a bunch of points but if he breaks down, I hope that Han Yan will find the consistency in him to show the judges how talented he is. Yan has pretty decent technique, lovely edges and can occasionally perform and I hope that he uses all of that to propel him to a podium spot. Because honestly, epileptic windmills with no awareness of the music winning medals is an affront to my sensibilities.

Predictions:

Gold: Yuzuru Hanyu
Silver:
Nam Nguyen
Bronze:
Han Yan

Ladies

The ladies competition will be an interesting one with a definite set of podium contenders. I may have been wrong about Julia Lipnitskaia and her jumping style may be one a little more akin to Satoko Miyahara’s – low jumps but she lands them miraculously. Lipnitskaia should try to capitalize on her success last year to establish herself as a front runner this season. Along in the podium mix is Elizaveta Tuktamysheva who seems to have regained her consistency but is still stuck with horrifying choreography to which she skates in a moo moo. At this point, I’m not sure if Liza can improve, rather, I think she’ll stagnate at around this level. Unfortunately, because of the clear playing field this season, she could get a medal in a major international event if everyone else’s skating is a mess. In terms of this competition, I think she’ll do less well than Lipnitskaia – Lipnitskaia has huge jump combos and a better reputation (aka likely higher PCS) but I’m not sure how she’ll fare with Kanako Murakami.

Kanako should, theoretically, be Japan’s best female skater at the moment but her jump technique and repertoire seems to have stayed the same for the past few seasons. Furthermore, I’m not sure what kind of choreography she’ll use this year. She could be skating to brilliant pieces like in 2012/2013 or she could be skating to forgettable programs like the ones she did last year. (Though her “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” program at the Olympics was unfortunate and memorable for all the wrong reasons. (*cough* cross on costume *cough*)

On a different note, I hope that Zijun Li has recovered from her injury from last season and has re-mastered her jumping technique. I really enjoyed watching her skate to Sleeping Beauty 2 years back at Worlds.

Predictions:

Gold: Julia Lipnitskaia
Silver:
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Bronze:
Kanako Murakami

Pairs

Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang seem to be struggling with consistency on their jumps (more she than he) but with this roster, it’s really their competition to lose. Of course, ice is slippery but I think this team should use this competition to try to really get comfortable with their programs this year and maybe find a way to rework them before the GP Finals or Four Continents. As for silver and bronze, Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin were the Junior GPF champions last year and home ice advantage doesn’t hurt them either. Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise seem to have done well at the Cup of Nice in the off season so I’ll hazard a guess and see how they do.

Predictions:

Gold: Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang
Silver:
Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin
Bronze:
Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition will mark the GP debut of last year’s World Champions, Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, who I will no doubt take the title. Anna & Luca are no Tessa & Scott or Meryl & Charlie (actually, no one is at this point) but they are in the top tier right now and no one in this roster comes close to them. As seen in Skate America, the Shibutani siblings are likely to be cast as America’s number 2 dance team and therefore suffer in PCS. Technically, they have really lovely edges and transitions but their choreography is old and they really need new ideas. An interesting match-up for the Shibsibs here will be the new team of Elena Ilinykh & Ruslan Zhiganshin. Elena of course, was the Olympic bronze medalist with previous partner, Nikita Katsalapov but the team split for mysterious reasons after the end of last season. I’m not sure how well they’ll do as a new couple on the ice but the future match-up with her former partner will be interesting.

Predictions:

Gold: Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte
Silver:
Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani
Bronze:
Elena Ilinykh & Ruslan Zhiganshin

Is there a newcomer here that you think I missed? Please tell me in the comments? Have predictions of your own? I’d also love to hear them!

~Rinkside Cafe

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