Predictions: Skate America 2015

alexa scimeca chris knierim cor

The Grand Prix Series is upon us and it’s time for predictions! It’s been a long summer and I’m a little rusty so let’s hope that I can make some predictions that aren’t completely embarrassing. I have yet to get completely caught up with the test skates and whatnot so many of these may end up being a shot in the dark.

Men

The men’s competition at Skate America features a lot of middling competitors. Unlike the ladies competition, the men did not suffer from a complete vacuum at the top after the Olympic cycle but if Worlds last year was any indication, here is an opportunity for any of these competitors to gain some momentum this season.

The title of home-ice favourite is Jason Brown. I’m not sure if he has trained a consistent quad or triple axel at this point but he will need it if he wants to stand any chance in the international scene. As a spectator, I enjoy watching Jason enjoy himself on the ice but he will need to step up if he wants to fend off some of the younger skaters coming up the pipes.

One of these competitors is Shoma Uno, who beat the rest of the competition at the Japan Open with his most notable opponent being Patrick Chan. Uno’s jumps are small but he’s proven that he can do two quads in a program and attempts to express the music, albeit a little too dramatically for my taste. Some parts of Uno’s skating (especially at the beginning of a program when he isn’t tired and running out of stamina) remind me of Yuzuru’s skating during breakthrough year (2011). However, I’d like to see him improve on his posture and the way he presents himself before he gets too close to the podium.

Two competitors to watch out for are Han Yan and Denis Ten – two skaters who have the potential to be great but can crash and burn in the middle of a competition, leaving you very heartbroken if you’ve invested a lot of emotions into their win. Ten does not tend to do well at the beginning of the season but there is always a chance that he will surprise us this year. As for Yan… I’m not sure if I will ever see this guy skate two clean programs to save his life even if I will root for him as the underdog of this competition.

Oh yes, I should probably mention Konstantin Menshov. He can jump. And move like a windmill. I think I’ve blocked everything else about his skating out of my memory. If the level of competition is abysmal, there is the possibility he may win a medal. For the sake of my sanity, I hope this does not happen.

Predictions:

Gold: Shoma Uno
Silver: Jason Brown
Bronze: Denis Ten

Ladies

Let me say first off that despite being not a pretty ice princess program, Gracie Gold‘s Firebird LP makes me want to headdesk myself into a coma. I am not sure what is worse, the sheer boredom that is both on her and my face or the strange contorted poses in the middle of the program. Seriously, I am not sure why her arms and legs are bent like that. There are moments where you see that her lines have improved but what’s the point of those when she looks like a disjointed broken doll most of the time. In any case, Gold did abysmally in the Japan Open, though truth be told, no one, except for maybe Mao Asada were well prepared and trained for that event. Nonetheless, contortionist firebird or not, Gracie has home ice advantage and a chance to redeem herself.

Gracie will be facing off the second place finisher at the Japan Open, Satoko Miyahara. Miyahara’s skating looked strong even though her LP this season pales in comparison to her Miss Saigon program from last year. Nonetheless, with Mao coming back this season, I fear that Satoko’s PCS will suffer in international competitions throughout the season. Compounded with her frequent under-rotation deductions, I am a little fearful for Satoko’s progress this season in terms of scoring and her ranking. Still, I hope for a good result at Skate America and if Gracie doesn’t step up to the plate, I hope that Satoko can take the gold here.

Of note in this competition are also two Russian girls: Julia Lipnitskaia and a new young contender, Evgenia Medvedeva. For Lipnitskaia, I think her upward movement in the ranks will be put on hold indefinitely as her jumps are not as consistent as they used to be. Without the solid skating skills or the natural ability to emote and sell her programs, I don’t see Lipnitskaia doing well at all this season though she is free to prove me wrong. Her fellow teammate, however, has not undergone the changes that puberty brings and so, despite her lack of polish, Medvedeva has the jumps (and a very unfortunate back-ended short program) that could rack up enough points for a medal.

Predictions:

Gold: Satoko Miyahara
Silver: Gracie Gold
Bronze: Evgenia Medvedeva

Pairs

The pairs competition will feature an interesting battle between Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov, who did not go to Worlds last year for mysterious reasons and rising stars Wenjing Sui & Cong Han. Stolbova & Klimov claimed that they wanted to end their season early to work on this season, which begs the question: what do they have to show for it? I’m hoping that they will come back, better than they were last year as I do enjoy watching the precision and unison in movement that this pair brings.

As for Sui & Han, these two have been sentimental favourites of mine and just when I thought they were over, they came back last season, proving to everyone that they could be serious competitors in the pairs fields. Last year, their TES was comparable to that of Duhamel & Radford at Worlds and they have been known to execute the quad twist and quad throw salchow. I absolutely adore their Samson and Delilah LP this year and I hope that they give Stolbova & Klimov (and later, Duhamel & Radford) a good run for their money.

To round out my podium, I would say that Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim have a chance at bronze for being one of the longest standing couples. The pair has done quad twists in the past and whatever the result, I do have a lot of fun watching them skate together, which is a good sign.

Predictions:

Gold: Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov
Silver: Wenjing Sui & Cong Han
Bronze: Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim

Ice Dance

After winning silver at Worlds last year (to the dismay of many), I have no doubt that Madison Chock & Evan Bates will win with a strong performance at Skate America. Whether their programs will be palatable to the average human being with an iota of aesthetic sense is a different question altogether. At this point, I don’t have anything else to say as I try to block out strains of Gershwin or cheering from Les Miz threatening to play in my head.

The fight for silver will be an interesting one as we will see which team has progressed more: Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov or Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier. Both teams had one member who previously skated at the top levels with a previous partner and these two partnerships seem to tell different stories.

I admit, watching Nikita and his new partner last season was awkward. They had no connection or chemistry and I could not help but feel that the programs needed to end as soon as they began. At the moment, I am assuming that the partnership is still struggling to gel (I have yet to watch any of their programs for this season) but then again, they can prove me wrong as Peng & Zhang did a few years ago in the pairs competition.

As for Gilles & Poirier, I feel that this partnership has a better feel than the one between Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier. The new pair has interesting themes for programs and Piper is a lot better at performing and selling the program on ice than Crone ever did. If the trajectories from last season still hold, it should be clear what my predictions for silver and bronze are.

Predictions:

Gold: Madison Chock & Evan Bates
Silver: Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier
Bronze: Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov

What are your predictions for the Skate America competition? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Quyen Thuy Tran
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 23:23:39

    Denis might not be on podium, he’s still injured. Frank said he’s concerned of Denis’ fitness.

    Reply

  2. missdancingfool
    Oct 22, 2015 @ 04:28:23

    I agree with your ice dance predictions. Chock and Bates are the highest ranking team going into the competition (by more than I like, I wish they had more competition), and I think Piper and Paul have some really strong programs this year. I particularly like their FD. It’s so interesting and different.

    Reply

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