Predictions: Skate Canada International 2018

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Somehow I forget every year how gruelling the GP series can be. Skate Canada is upon us and it’s time for predictions! Skate America last week was full of surprises (some of them in the best way possible) but that’s what makes predictions so much fun!

Men

The name that sticks out the most here is Shoma Uno, coming off a silver from the Olympics. Uno tends to start his season out strong and I have no doubts that he will put out a good fight in Laval. I’m also looking forward to seeing how Jun Hwa Cha will stack up against Uno after his huge improvement from last season, which allowed him to overtake Yuzuru Hanyu in the LP at the Autumn Classic competition. Granted, Hanyu doesn’t start strong at the beginning of the season but it’s a feat that is undeniably commendable.

Keegan Messing will also look for a strong showing here to assert himself as the top Canadian man now that Patrick Chan has retired, and Nam Nguyen looks like he still has to get his consistency under control after his growth spurt. I’m not sure how he will stack up against Cha to be honest – I think that the young Korean is a well-rounded skater (perhaps more so than Messing) under Brian Orser’s training but Messing has home ice advantge here and huge jumps, while Cha has historically been hit with UR calls. At this point, I’m not sure if the URs have been fixed but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Dark horse: Jason Brown. Jason’s jump repertoire isn’t as… extensive as some of the other men in the overall field but he does still have some of the best skating skills. Should any of the men above falter, he could be in a medal position.

Predictions

Gold: Shoma Uno
Silver: Keegan Messing
Bronze: Jun Hwa Cha

Ladies

The ladies field will be extremely interesting with Evgenia Medvedeva looking to prove that she’s still a force to be reckoned with after switching coaches to Brian Orser after a silver at the Olympics. I haven’t blogged about the Olympics after the fact but I personally felt that the judges should’ve been more stringent on the choreography marks for Zagitova.

Side note: The fact that all the PCS tend to fall within a small range is absurd to me. I have always thought that the different components in PCS should have wildly different scores to be judged appropriately (e.g. Ashley Wagner getting high marks for interpretation, and performance and execution, but lower marks on transitions). This would be beneficial to all parties involved so that skaters know exactly what they need to work on or add to their programs and it allows judges to properly penalize things like a program that tells absolutely no story but is backloaded like hell. The PCS couldn’ve also helped with things like providing a subtle way of telling skaters that their program is not exactly appropriate (e.g. Domnina/Shabalin’s “aboriginal” OD, Tarasova/Morozov’s Candyman) before they decide to take it to a huge competition like the Olympics. Anyways, rant over.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva will also want to put her mark on the map again, after a disappointing season and not making the Olympic team. She has been doing a 3A at competitions and will hopefully do one at Skate Canada. Between the two Russian girls, the competition is already heating up quite nicely and gold could be a tossup between the two.

Also looking to medal would be World silver medalist, Wakaba Higuchi, who was a joy to watch last season with her James Bond program. She didn’t have a great showing at the Autumn Classic event and it looks like she’s also injured but who knows? Ice is slippery.

Another skater looking to make a mark should be Elizabet Tursynbaeva, who went back to Eteri Tutberidze (opposite of Medvedva, funny enough) and did quite well in some pre-season events. Hopefully this translates into a stronger GP showing for her this season as she is quite a lovely skater. (I also hope that she gets programs that are less generic this year.)

Predictions

Gold: Evgenia Medvedeva
Silver: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Bronze: Elizabet Tursynbaeva

Pairs

Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres have been on the rise for the past few seasons, and now, with a good chunk of the field gone, I think the time is ripe for them to start building up their medal collection. The roster is solid but a little on the weak side at Skate Canada and barring major mistakes (which admittedly, isn’t rare for this team at pivotal moments, unfortunately), they should be able to take gold here.

One pair that could take the gold away from James & Cipres would be Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro, who have shown a great improvement in their skating last season. (Remember when they first became partners, and it looked almost as if Michael might drop Kirsten? They’ve come so far!) Moore-Towers & Marinaro are starting this season as probable future Canadian National Champions and I think they will want to take this opportunity to prove that they have a shot at the world podium. Home ice advantage is on their side as well.

Rounding out the podium will be a difficult decision on the predictions side. Cheng Peng & Yang Jin are a pair slowly building their partnership and are slowly improving every season. Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya & Harley Windsor are also around the same level. Both teams struggle with consistency. It could be a bit of a coin toss between them.

Predictions

Gold: Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres
Silver: Kirsten Moore-Towers & Rob Marinaro
Bronze: Cheng Peng & Yang Jin

Ice Dance

Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue were clearly head and shoulders above the rest at Skate America last week and I expect something similar at Skate Canada this week. This team is skating with more speed, confidence and polish compared to last year and I look forward to watching them improve over the course of the season.

Something else to look forward to: Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier who always have interesting programs, no matter their world ranking. (Seriously, this team is what I wanted the Shibsibs to be in terms of creativity with their programs seeing how they couldn’t do romantic programs.) With home ice advantage, as well as a steady climb in the rankings and improvement in their skating, they should be able to take the silver here.

One team that looks like they’re making a comeback is Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov, who may very well win bronze. Their score at the Ondrej Nepela Trophy is almost on par with Weaver & Poje’s score at the Autumn Classic and is slightly higher than Gilles & Poirier’s score at Nebelhorn. While scores can’t exactly be compared between competitions (even though the IJS is supposed to allow that), their win in the pre-season might be a signal for things to come. Only time will tell.

Predictions

Gold: Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue
Silver: Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier
Bronze: Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov

Let me know what you think of the predictions in the comments! (Or if you have any strong opinions on the judging of the PCS.) I’d love to hear it!

~The Rinkside Cafe

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Maura @ Twizzle Talk
    Oct 26, 2018 @ 08:55:06

    Excellent points about the Olympics and how PCS should be scored! 👍🏻

    Reply

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