The Grand Prix Final is upon us! As always with all the GPFs, not all the top skaters are in this competition due to one circumstance or another but that does not stop the fact that this competition will be a decisive one on several fronts for the rest of the season. The roster for this competition looks exciting and I can’t wait to watch it. But first, predictions!
The men’s roster is jam packed with a ton of talent and the race for gold may be super tight. The top contenders are of course, current World Champion and home ice favourite, Javier Fernandez, who has pulled out two wins/golds in his GP assignments and Olympic Champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, who has smashed all world records at the NHK Trophy this year. If Yuzuru can pull out similar performances in Barcelona, I don’t know if anyone can beat him. For my predictions, it all comes down to whether or not I believe in Yuzuru.
Newbies Boyang Jin and Shoma Uno will likely face off against veteran Patrick Chan to try and vie for a medal. I don’t doubt that there will be quite a decent gap between the young men and Chan in PCS but Chan’s performance at TEB was shaky and you could see that some of the problems facing in the past have surfaced once again. His 3A has a tenuous air position and landing and he’s quads aren’t quite at what they used to be. I think that practice will improve his quads but his 3As seem to have regressed ever since he left Christy Krall. In any case, the judges could swing any way in this scramble though I’d give the edge to Uno and Chan in the tussle for bronze.
As for Daisuke Murakami, he is a wild card in this competition and whether or not he wins a medal, he should focus on putting two solid performances here to show that he deserves the third spot at Worlds this year.
Gold: Yuzuru Hanyu
Silver: Javier Fernandez
Bronze: Patrick Chan
So many questions surround the ladies competition. Will Mao land her 3As? How does Medvedeva’s back-ended SP stack up against the others? Will the judges sink Satoko in her PCS?
All of these factors are floating in my head and through all of this jumbled mess, one gut feeling cuts through everything else and it’s saying that Gracie Gold might just be able to win this. I’m not sure what this feeling is based off of since Gracie’s skating has been good so far this season but not spectacular but somehow, I think she might have the right combination of consistency and experience to pull a win here.
Of course, if Mao Asada can pull out two solid skates, she may also be able to steal the win away from Gracie. However, I am having doubts after her performance at NHK. Maybe she was having a bad day but going forward, Mao cannot afford to be popping jumps and missing combinations in her programs. Hopefully the weeks between NHK and the final have given her some time to sharpen her focus but I wonder if we’ll see Mao at full power this season. I’m hoping it happens during Worlds but I’ll keep my expectations low for the final.
Vying for spots on the podium, as is regular in the past few seasons, are the young Russian divas. This season features World silver medalist, Elena Radionova and young rising star Evgenia Medvedeva. This competition may be a deciding factor for Russian Nationals when they decide who will be the Top Russian Lady. Although Medvedeva’s SP annoys the heck out of me for being back-ended, there is no denying that it is a good strategy to garner points. Elena is still holding on to her jumps for not but it is hard to compete with a young lady skater who is pulling off different combinations effortlessly without the added issues that puberty brings to female figure skaters. As much as I adore Elena’s presence on ice, I have to acknowledge that the judges have been kind to Medvedeva this season and I would not be surprised if the younger Russian lady edged out her teammate.
As for Satoko Miyahara and Ashley Wagner, I believe the former may be able to replace her teammate on the podium if Mao falters (in that case, they’ll load her PCS to pull that off). Wagner on the other hand, may be able to pull an underdog medal snatch but her chronic issue with under-rotations will not be forgiving, especially when there are talented young Russians on the ice with effortless combinations.
Gold: Gracie Gold
Silver: Evgenia Medvedeva (I am not sure why but I’m putting her in silver after a last minute gut feeling.)
Bronze: Mao Asada
First off, let me say that I am heartbroken about Sui & Han’s withdrawal due to injury. I hope that recovery goes well because I want a great skate of their Samson and Delilah program. *sob*
Without Sui & Han and Volosozhar & Trankov, Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford‘s competition has thinned down considerably. Despite their bobbles at NHK, Duhamel & Radford have been skating consistently and they have been successful at maintaining their momentum so far as a result. The only team to really pose a threat to the current World Champions should be Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov, and as always, you never know if they will implode. Kavaguti & Smirnov have produced some really good results this season, especially with that surprise upset at the Cup of China. They’ve also done that throw 4S, which may allow them to stay competitive against Duhamel & Radford’s arsenal of elements. If Kavaguti & Smirnov win here, this could be the biggest upset in two seasons but we’ll see. I have a hard time putting my faith in Yuko & Sasha, especially after last season.
All the rest of the teams here are sort of middling teams (save for Stolbova & Klimov, who seem to be struggling this season) and this is the time for them to pull ahead from the pack. I can’t really say with much confidence who will vie for the bronze but for my predictions, I will be going on a gut feeling, which seems to be the theme of this post so far.
Gold: Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford
Silver: Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov
Bronze: Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin
The results of the GPF will be super important in ice dance as it will give the top teams a chance to establish who the top team is this season with the current World Champions out of commission due to injury. Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte will have a chance to regain their place at the top echelons at the sport after a rough season last year. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje are bound to do well but how they will fare against the Italians will be a bit of a mystery. Personally, I don’t think Weaver & Poje have great vehicles this season to propel them to a World title. Cappellini & Lanotte’s programs aren’t memorable by any stretch of the imagination but they’re certainly better than the dragging, meandering FD Weaver & Poje are skating to.
Madison Chock & Evan Bates are pretty good contenders for bronze but I think that the Shibutanis need to bring their A-game here. For the long-run, I would say that Maia & Alex should peak here this season and leave enough energy for a decent skates at Nationals. With Papadakis & Cizeron potentially coming back later in the season, there might not be a spot for them on the World podium but being the #1 American ice dance team will be indescribably beneficial going forward should they choose to compete in the 2018 Olympics. The Shibutanis are starting to find their own style and they have the best twizzles in the business right now. Personally, I think it’s about time we dethrone Chock & Bates as the top ice dance team and this is the competition that will determine what happens at Nationals this season.
Gold: Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte
Silver: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
Bronze: Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani (This is me being hopeful.)
Part hopeful predictions, part gut feelings and a ton of ramblings. Let me know what your predictions are for the GPF this year in the comments!
~The Rinkside Cafe