The Grand Prix series is nearing its end and for some reason, I’m really thankful. I’m looking forward to seeing the dust settle on this new generation of skaters and hopefully, see some good skating as everyone starts to get comfortable with their programs.
The roster for this event is somewhat decent so… let’s begin!
The frontrunner for gold should be Tatsuki Machida, one of the Japanese men who doesn’t want to be in the shadows any longer. Machida tends to be pretty solid in terms of consistency but he is still working on his performance quality. I thought his performance to Beethoven’s ninth at his last GP assignment was still on the cheesy side with moments where it seemed like the music was star and not his skating. Whatever artistry he gives to the audience, I have a feeling it will be miles ahead of his main competition, Maxim Kovtun who also won his last GP assignment. Kovtun, like many Russian men, has the jumps but his interpretation of the music also tends to involve imitating a windmill. I’m hoping that for the sake of my sanity that my predictions are right for gold at least.
Denis Ten and Richard Dornbush are two skaters to look out for, mostly for the bronze medal position. Ten tends to start the season slow and is generally inconsistent whereas Dornbush’s skating technique, speed and jumps look as if they’re still in the works. I’m not sure who will produce the better results out of the two. Personally, I would say that Ten’s skating is miles ahead but only when he doesn’t fall apart from beginning to end, which he does have a tendency to do.
Gold: Tatsuki Machida
Silver: Maxim Kovtun
Bronze: Denis Ten
Two Russian ladies go head to head at this GP event! I’m a little excited for this match-up. Last year, the hype around Julia Lipnitskaia definitely tipped the scales in her favour but with puberty and consistency issues coming in, her young fellow countrywoman, Elena Radionova is sure to be tough competition. Neither of them have stunning programs and both look as if they’re dealing with their growth spurts – with Julia looking as if she’s having a tougher time, probably since she is a little older – but the result of this match may decide how the chips fall for the Russian ladies for the rest of this season.
Also in the mix for a medal is Ashley Wagner but even though she tries to sell her programs, Ashley looks as if she’s stagnating a little bit in terms of improving her technique. Elements-wise, I would not be surprised if her TES was below that of both Russian girls when they’re skating well and in terms of PCS, the judges seem to be quite generous with the youngin’s as well, even if they do have ways to go.
Gold: Elena Radionova
Silver: Julia Lipnitskaia
Bronze: Ashley Wagner
Personally, I think that Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov are the most put together pairs team in the GP circuit at the moment. Their programs are a little checklist like for the moment (though I may grow a little fonder of their LP in time) but their GP skates were SPOT ON and they are the only team with half decent side-by-side spins. Watching them made me remember that this is the kind of skating I want to see. I have no clue what made them so good suddenly but I certainly hope that they don’t change what they’re doing because it’s really working.
The team that should finish a distant second is Wenjing Sui & Cong Han. These two have improved dramatically since last season and although they don’t have the consistency that Stolbova & Klimov have (especially in the sbs jumps), I look forward to seeing them grow at this competition. Their improvement has been refreshing and their LP has the potential to be something great.
Third place looks like it will be a fight between Xuehan Wang & Lei Wang, a young Chinese team who skated decently at their last GP event and Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim, who I did put in my predictions for another GP competition this year but I can’t seem to remember their skating at all. That’s not a good sign.
Gold: Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov
Silver: Wenjing Sui & Cong Han
Bronze: Xuehan Wang & Lei Wang
Ice dance seems to be the only competition with a weaker roster at TEB. Hometown favourites, Gabrielle Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron will be looking to win their second GP gold and have a good chance at getting it with this weak roster of competitors. I’m still a little confused as to how they managed to beat Cappellini & Lanotte and the Shibutanis. Either way, this team would do well to capitalize on their GP success and use that momentum to propel them to the A-list for the European Championships and the World Championships. They don’t have to win any medals but breaking into the top 5 would set themselves up very well in upcoming seasons.
One team that could take gold away from the hometown favourites are Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier. These two had pretty decent skates and a strong finish at Skate Canada this year. I’m not sure if they can beat the PCS boost that comes with home-ice advantage but this team should use this season and their GP successes to set themselves up for upcoming years as well.
Rounding off the podium should be Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue who had a bit of a rocky start to the season. This team always seems to in that strange position of being better than most of the lower-ranked teams but not at the top.
To finish this post, I will give an honourable mention to Sara Hurtado & Adria Diaz, who are not likely to win anything but performance-wise, these two always have interesting choreography and put out a great performance despite their weaker technical capabilities.
Gold: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron
Silver: Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier
Bronze: Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue
Did you think I missed someone in my predictions? Or do you have predictions of your own? Let me know in the comments!
~The Rinkside Cafe