Two Olympic Champions: Two Comebacks?

So, the Olympic season is upon us and of note this season, two Olympic champions are coming back. Sort of. And the “sort of”s mean different things in the two situations.

Yuna Kim 13 SP

Yuna Kim is the first Olympic champion is coming back to compete for a full season. Well, actually, a slightly less truncated season. It was announced recently that Yuna will be off the ice for 6 weeks due to a foot injury and as a result, will miss Skate Canada International. (Article here.) Sad, but with her result at Worlds this year, Yuna has shown us that she can come back and win it all without a shadow of a doubt. If Yuna can show the judges that she can skate two clean programs after her foot injury, I think she’ll have a good shot for gold. And yes, she will have to skate clean at the Olympics. Her jumps are fantastic, as always, but her extension still needs work and she really needs to push herself a little more in expressing the music. Her rivals will bring their all (or at least I hope they will) and I’m sure Yuna will want nothing but perfection in all her performances anyways.

I expect Carolina Kostner to be nipping at Yuna’s heels with her improved consistency, lovely flow and wonderful expressiveness – those who aren’t totally blinded by their fandom will have to admit, it was hard to keep your eyes off of Carolina last season. (Especially during her Bolero LP.) As for Mao, well… she’s been brave and she’s been trying and I hope to see her in tip-top shape. I’d love to have a season that harks back to the golden days of the Yuna/Mao rivalry (without the nasty racist comments) just for the sake of being able to watch purely beautiful skating. Rivalries are wonderful when they push two competitors to be at their best all the time.

evan lysacek windmill

Windmill Guy Seizures on ice Evan Lysacek

Evan Lysacek is supposed to be coming back this season but all in all, I highly doubt that Evan will either 1) be able to compete seriously and 2) be able to defend his title if he somehow makes it to the Olympics.

Exhibit A: Evan is only assigned to one Grand Prix event.

Grand Prix events are a season starter and a way to establish yourself in the game. Grand Prix wins may not lead to medals at Four Continents/Euros or Worlds but it helps the judges and fans figure out who the A and B and under-list skaters are. Many of those who come out on top during the GP series will be frontrunners at Worlds or in other events in future seasons. However, coming back and doing two GP events show that 1) you are serious about your comeback and 2) you think you can win with or without the home ice advantage that skaters like Lysacek get. Lysacek is assigned to Skate America and the roster is often compiled to give the home favourites an easy win so I’m guessing he may get on the podium at the very least at Skate America just to prove he still “has it” OR he’ll conveniently get an injury and not compete at all

Exhibit B: Lysacek won without the quad in Vancouver

Sorry, Windmill dude, but the quad is securely back in the men’s arsenal. As much as I resent Chan’s inflated scores and performances, I will give him credit for helping to put the quad back on the map in men’s programs. You can’t beat Chan without a quad nowadays and Chan is the one to beat. I will also admit the Chan is definitely the lesser of two evils between him and Lysacek because Chan can skate… without looking like a windmill. (For more information, check out Morozombie’s awesome post.) In any case, Lysacek faces tougher competition this season in Sochi than in Vancouver and he can’t sweep the rest of the competition away like Yuna can.

Wildcard: Lysacek’s legendary work ethic

Unlike some of Frank Carroll’s students, Lysacek does not suffer from a poor work ethic. Commendable, yes, but why Frank hasn’t made him work on not looking like a windmill skating to overused music is confusing to me. In any case, Lysacek can prove me totally wrong. Usually, I’d encourage skaters to do it but my dislike of his skating style makes me think that I may have to drink myself into oblivion if he wins another Olympic gold. And I don’t even drink. Often, that is.

What do you think of these two comebacks?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Predictions: European Championships 2013

Wahhhhhh!!! Euros start tomorrow. Or wait, it’s already tomorrow in Europe. AHHHH! Ok, here are some predictions.

plushenko blows a kiss

Plushenko beckons you to read on… More

HAPPY HOLIDAYS~!

Wishing you a happy and wonderful holiday, whatever you’re celebrating, or if you’re celebrating at all. Here are a few treats for this time of year.

Happy holidays~!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Grand Prix Final 2011: Predictions (Pairs and Ice Dance)

The predictions continue! Ugh. Why does the GPF have to come at a week where I’m crazy busy. Ok. Predictions and back to work. And maybe some dinner in between. As a result, this will have to be quick. Here goes!

Pairs

The Roster

Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov
Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran
Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang
Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford

Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy haven’t been completely consistent in their competitions this season and their Pina LP is a work in progress but it’s a great and creative vehicle that can take them to the world title again. If they skate clean, I know that they can fend off the onslaught of Russians. If they don’t, then I see Mother Russia backing Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov rather than Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov, who have actually been doing well this season. The Chinese pair might get on the podium if one of the three above screw up, though they’re definitely the best of the best so far. The Zhangs definitely lack the expression and consistency to be a captivating pairs team like the other Chinese teammates. They might’ve won silver in Torino, but they only have a ghost of a chance of winning a medal here.

Predictions:

Gold: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Silver: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Bronze: Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov

Ice Dance

The Roster

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Meryl Davis & Charlie White
Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani
Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat
Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Sloviev

The V/M & D/W rivalry continues! It will be an exciting contest to see who will win. At the moment, I would tentatively put money on Meryl & Charlie because even though Tessa & Scott’s “Funny Face” FD is entertaining, it has too much posing and pauses and not enough skating while D/W’s routine is athletic, driving and showcases their speed and power. It also has really lovely transitions though the program as a whole needs a lot of polish maybe some minor changes so it’s not so dull at the beginning. I also can’t help but feel that the Shibutanis would’ve done a better job with this Die Fledermaus program. In any case, Tessa and Scott need to really vamp up their program

Looking at the list, I’ve got a feeling that one of the European teams will take bronze. Bobrova & Sloviev seem to be getting a few questionable scores and we all know that Mother Russia wants all the medals it can get in Sochi. That and Ilinykh & Katsalapov are still not rising meteorically as everyone had hoped. They’ve really gotten shunted into the back this year. As for Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat… they’re consistent but how they stack up to Mother Russia’s politicking might is beyond me.  I’ll draw a name out of a hat and see how it goes.

Predictions:

Gold: Meryl Davis & Charlie White (prove me wrong, Tessa and Scott!)
Silver: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Bronze: Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Sloviev

What are your predictions?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Grand Prix Final 2011: Predictions (Men and Ladies)

So I decided to take a look at the ISU website, thinking that the GPF was a week or two away. Nope it’s in the upcoming week. aoifjisjfsdljflkajdla. Time to take a break from the stresses of life and make predictions. Woot!

Men

The roster (in no particular order):

Daisuke Takahashi
Patrick Chan
Yuzuru Hanyu
Jeremy Abbott
Javier Fernandez
Michal Brezina

Substitutes:

Nan Song
Takahiko Kozuka
Adam Rippon

The men’s field this year is super exciting. Half the field here (Jeremy Abbott, Yuzuru Hanyu and Michal Brezina) are less likely to get on the podium but any mistake from the other three (Patrick Chan, Daisuke Takahashi and Javier Fernandez) and they will be sure to give them a good run for their money and perhaps even snatch a medal from under their noses. I have no doubt that Patrick Chan will fall and then be rewarded with insane scores and probably win gold. However, Daisuke’s been having a good season so far and I’m looking forward to seeing his SP again. He may give Chan a run for his money in the SP if Chan falls. Daisuke doesn’t have a quad, but his performances surely cannot be inferior to Chan’s, though that’s not up to me. It’s a pity that Takahiko Kozuka’s not here though there’s very little chance of a Japanese men’s podium sweep.

It’s also a pity that there only a slim chance that Yuzuru will medal but having two solid skates at the GPF will definitely bolster his chances at shoving Oda off the Japanese National podium this year. Unlike what Kanako Murakami did to Akiko Suzuki last year, Yuzuru would be shoving off a skater who may not have much to offer any more. Especially since Oda continually fails his “Counting 101” class. Also, compared to Kanako, Yuzuru has the polish, flow, performance and skating skills to make a decent splash in the senior scene. We’ll just have to see how the rest of the season goes. If Yuzuru is promising, the Japanese Federation may want to position him to take the reins of Japanese men’s figure skating should anything happen to Daisuke on the road to Sochi.

In other news, Javier Fernandez should medal here. He’s been skating solidly though he does have some stamina issues. Leaving Morozov was a good move and if he wins a medal at the GPF, it’s likely that we’ll see him at the top of the men’s podium at Euros. Then again, even if Michal betters Javier here, there’s still a good chance that Javier will be European Champion with Brian Orser (and great skates) behind him.

Jeremy Abbott, as always, will be a wildcard. I don’t know if he can garner the PCS when he’s up against Chan and Daisuke but Jeremy’s just as talented as the aforementioned men and his programs are like fascinating art pieces with the most intricate details. The only thing preventing Jeremy from being the best is Jeremy. You never know when he’ll implode and because he does, you never see his full potential and as a result, you never really know how he stacks up to the top players. Come on, Jeremy, I want to see you push through and skate well.

In any case, here are my predictions for the men’s competition:

Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Daisuke Takahashi (Please prove me wrong and skate fabulously, Daisuke!!!)
Bronze: Javier Fernandez

Ladies

The roster (in no particular order):

Mao Asada
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Alissa Czisny
Carolina Kostner
Alena Leonova
Akiko Suzuki

Substitutes:

Adelina Sotnikova
Mirai Nagasu
Ashley Wagner

The ladies competition doesn’t have the most exciting roster. (Then again, there isn’t much of a way to make it any better because of the current ladies field.) It’ll be hard to make a prediction, though, especially for the bronze medal.

Mao Asada wasn’t the best at the Cup of Russia but this season has proven that more than anything, she’s a trooper that won’t give up. Good for you, Mao. She’ll probably work her non-existent ass off for the GPF and hopefully she’ll be in top form. Her Liebestraume program is just lovely. If she skates clean, no one can touch her. Ganbare, Mao-chan!

Other than Mao, the other one to watch at this competition is Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. She’s bested her arch-rival, Adelina Sotnikova, with her GPF results and if she medals at the GPF, we may be looking at the new Russian National Champion this year. Liza’s been solid all season and her star quality is something you cannot deny. I don’t care if PJ Kwong calls her old fashioned, I’ll take her over boring Cynthia Phaneuf any day. (I remember 2009 Skate Canada when I was *literally* yawning throughout Phaneuf’s LP because I was so bored. It wasn’t even exciting to watch her fall because you knew that it would happen.) I didn’t think that Liza could beat Alissa Czisny or Carolina Kostner but she proved me wrong and I’m happy she did. The question at this point is, can she beat Mao? At the moment, I think the answer is no, especially with the PCS the judges have been giving her. The choreography for her LP is terrible but at least she makes it work.
As for the rest… Let’s see… Let me write off Alena Leonova now to not waste any time because she’s never going to win anything against this field. Akiko Suzuki has been making mistakes throughout both her programs and unfortunately, she probably won’t be rewarded with decent PCS because she will probably be the #2 Japanese lady at Nationals this year. It’s sad because this girl is skating with a wonderful confidence this season. Carolina Kostner has also been skating pretty well this season and has bested Alissa Czisny at TEB (and in my opinion, at Skate America as well). I think I’ll peg Caro for bronze, though any mistake from her and Alissa or Akiko will be there to snatch it away from her. (I would also love it if Akiko proved me wrong…)
Predictions:
Gold: Mao Asada
Silver: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Bronze: Akiko Suzuki

Johnny Weir… engaged!

Johnny Weir tweeted last night about his engagement to apparently, Victor Voronov.

Congrats, Johnny! We at the Rinkside Cafe wish you every happiness.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Edit: This is apparently a picture of Voronov with Tara Modlin.

The Senior Grand Prix Series is almost here!!!

Who’s excited??? Here are the dates for each of the events:

Skate America
Ontario, U.S.A
October 21st to October 23rd
Entries

Skate Canada
Mississauga, Canada
October 28th to October 30th
Entries

Cup of China
Shanghai, China
November 4th to November 6th
Entries

NHK Trophy
Sapporo, Japan
November 11th to November 13th
Entries

TEB
Paris, France
November 18th to November 20th
Entries

Rostelecom Cup
Moscow, Russia
November 25th to November 27th
Entries

Grand Prix Final
Quebec City, Canada
December 8th to December 11th
Entries – tba!

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