Predictions: Grand Prix Final 2016

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I swore that I would be on top of things for the GPF so I am starting early this week. The only downside to this is that if there’s last minute withdrawals, I’ll have to change things up.

In any case, the GPF is looking to be an exciting competition where skaters will want to line themselves nicely going into Worlds. The stakes are higher this season because their standings at Worlds determine a) how many skaters their country gets to send to the Olympics and b) their reputation and momentum going into the Olympic season. The GPF will determine the course of a few things as we head into the stretch of the season devoted to Nationals, 4CC and Euros.

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Predictions: TEB 2016

Apologies for the late post. Like a good chunk of the world, I’m still reeling at what happened Tuesday. Although I’m north of the border, the global trend is truly alarming and I pray for the safety of many of my American friends. So readers, please hug a loved one today, and call someone that you haven’t talked to in a while and reconnect. More than ever, we need to stay decent to each other in times of great fear.

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Time is tight, as always and I’ll admit to writing this clandestinely at work so I can do nothing more than names on the podium. Let’s go.

Men

Gold: Javier Fernandez
Silver:
Nathan Chen
Bronze: Adam Rippon

Possible spoiler: Denis Ten if he gets it together.

Ladies

Gold: Evgenia Medvedeva
Silver:
Maria Sotskova
Bronze: Mao Asada

Pairs

Gold: Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot
Silver:
Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov
Bronze: Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres

Ice Dance

Gold: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron
Silver:
Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier
Bronze: Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue

Let me know what your predictions are in the comments! Hugs!

~Rinkside Cafe

Predictions: Skate America 2016

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Yes, I know, competition has started. And I haven’t written about Worlds at all. At school, they never teach you that adulting is hard. So many demands for my time so I will keep this short. I should try to correct my rambling writing style anyways.

Men

  • Shoma Uno will be hungry to redeem himself at Worlds. He was crying at the kiss and cry (it was so heartbreaking). I think we all knew that he could’ve been the World bronze medalist.
  • Strange. I thought Boyang Jin was supposed to have gone to Frank Carroll for coaching but I don’t see that on his ISU bio. Wonder what happened. Either way, I hope he’s worked on his skating skills during the off season.
  • Dear Skating Gods – I’m not asking for much. I’ll take boring programs over the secondhand embarrassment I felt watching Maxim Kovtun’s programs from last year.
  • I also hope that Jorik Hendrickx doesn’t put the entire speaking track of a movie in his music this year. Actually, maybe for entertainment value, he should. I had a good laugh over it though my seat neighbours in Boston probably thought I was being creepy.
  • Home ice advantage should favour Jason Brown. Unless he bombs and Adam Rippon does well. Who knows, who needs skating skills and fully rotated jumps when home ice advantage can win you a silver medal? (I’ll admit that I’ve leveled that barb unfairly at the men – both Brown and Rippon have good skating skills.)

Gold: Shoma Uno
Silver:
Boyang Jin
Bronze:
Jason Brown

Ladies

  • I feel as if I will have to lower my expectations for Mao as she tries to find her step again, as Carolina did after two disastrous Olympic cycles. Ganbare, Mao-san!
  • You should probably be able to discern my feelings on Ashley Wagner’s World silver medal. Regardless of how I feel, the home ice advantage comment should apply here too.
  • Someone give Gracie Gold programs she actually likes. Firebird was frankly worse live and she looked miserable skating to it. The field is pretty thin here so I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to give 2 medals to the American ladies here.
  • I admit I wached Mai Mihara’s SP for the competition. She lacks musicality, which is to be expected of someone so young but she skates with so much speed and she lands her jumps really smoothly. I’m impressed.

Gold: Ashley Wagner
Silver:
Mai Mihara
Bronze:
Gracie Gold

Pairs

  • Huh. I feel like I should just pick out 3 teams whose names seem familiar and make that my prediction. The field is really, really thin at Skate America this year.

Gold: Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov
Silver:
Julianne Seguin & Charlie Bilodeau
Bronze:
Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres

Ice Dance

  • The ice dance competition should look like USA vs. Russia with two sets of teams for each country.
  • The Shibutanis should be able to win this with the home ice advantage. I hope they continue in the same vein as last year – as in they have programs really suit them.
  • I would like to see what progress Hubbell & Donohue have made, though I feel as if I have a fondness for this team because of Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon (who I hope will be the new rulers of ice dance – I am ready for the end of the reign of Queen Marina).
  • I really hope that Ruslan Zhiganshin has really stepped up his game this season. It would be a pity for Elena Ilinykh’s talent to go to waste. She alone is better than Bobrova & Soloviev but unfortunately, ice dance doesn’t work that way.

Gold: Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani
Silver:
Elena Ilinykh & Ruslan Zhiganshin
Bronze:
Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue

What are your predictions for Skate America 2016? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Predictions: Skate Canada International 2014

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So, it seems as if I’m three quarters of the way through my bandwidth limit for this month so I will likely be more conservative this week with my internet consumption. Consequently, I probably won’t be watching the first group for most of the events. However, I can still provide predictions to the event so… onward! More

Comments on the NHK Trophy 2013

I managed to catch the competition on CBC this week for the NHK Trophy and now that the coverage has ended, let the commentary  begin!

Daisuke still has IT

I admit, I didn’t really enjoy Daisuke too much last season. His programs were forgettable and there lacked a spark in his skating that draws you to his performances. With a disappointing 4th place at Skate Canada, I thought we were going to see more uninspiring Daisuke but I’m so glad he proved me wrong. I’m still not a huge fan of his LP but his SP was mesmerizing, just as all Daisuke programs should be.

The program was smooth, his jumps were solid and his performance and expression were beautiful as always. I hope we see more of this Daisuke this season.

Look out for Adam Rippon

I know that most people are looking at Jeremy Abbott right now for unexpectedly winning the bronze at the NHK Trophy but I think the one we should really be keeping an eye out for is Adam Rippon. While Jeremy did win a bronze here, he did finish 6th at Skate Canada when he could’ve finished a few places higher. Despite a 4th place finish, what Adam Rippon has shown is that he has become increasingly consistent by finishing in the top half (and winning a silver at Skate America) in both his GP assignments. Abbott, on the other hand, has shown more of the same old: when he’s good, he’s very good and when he’s bad, he’s very bad.

Super Javi falters

PJ Kwong pegged Javier Fernandez for gold while I pegged him for silver. Either way, both of us expected him to finish on the podium at NHK. For a bit, my prediction seemed to ring true until he tripped up and made a lot of mistakes in his long program which led him to a 5th place finish. Javier was a strong contender for the men’s field going into the Olympic season but now that the Olympic season has started, I wonder if he has the momentum to get on the podium with this relatively poor result for him at NHK. Time will tell, I suppose.

Mao is going up

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Mao has been having a few rough seasons since the Vancouver Olympics but it looks as if she’s back on track for this season. She might need to up her technical ability in order to beat Yuna but every performance has been a steady improvement for her as the GP series has gone on. I’m very impressed with the expression, grace and maturity she’s shown this season and I look forward to seeing her skate again in the Grand Prix Final. Her two golds have guaranteed a spot there.

Honourable Mention: Akiko Suzuki

Akiko finished lower than expected with a bronze medal at the NHK Trophy but in my eyes, she’s still an amazing skater. I hated her Phantom of the Opera LP at the beginning of this season, partly because I generally don’t like skaters using this overdramatic, overused piece of music (with some exceptions… like this* and this) and partly because I couldn’t quite look past the mistakes and see the choreography and skating. This time however, Akiko managed to sell her program a lot better despite the mistakes and I’ve grown to like it better. I’m so sad she’s going to retire at the end of this season. I mean, look at this, she just gets better at expressing the music with her skating every year, mistakes or no mistakes…

*Note: Even though I do like Davis/White’s Olympic FD, I’d still wish they skated with similar choreography to some other uber dramatic music.

We’re going to miss you, girl.

Rising Star: Elena Radionova

I’m very miffed at myself for not factoring her in my predictions even though she is one of my favourite skaters this season. If my brain had been working, her name would’ve registered and I would’ve probably put her in for bronze rather than Gracie Gold. Well, the deed is done and my predictions would’ve been wrong anyways since she’s won the silver! She’s probably earned a spot in the GPF and I can’t wait to see her there. So much potential and star quality in spades.

She could’ve finished off her movements a little more in this performance but this might be the best she’s skated this program this season.

The way Olympic spots are awarded to each country is total bullsh**

I really hate the way slots are allotted to each country for each Worlds and the Olympics. Please refer to the table on this wikipedia page for more information. What I hate about the way they give spots to each competitor is that they do it by country. If you haven’t read the wikipedia page, the basics of it is that each country has a certain amount of spots at the Olympics according to how well the country’s competitors rank in the World championships in the season prior to the Olympics. This may seem fine at first glance but the problem comes when certain countries have tons of talented skaters but not enough spots. These skaters may be much better than most of the field but they won’t be able to qualify for the Olympics because some of their fellow countrymen are better than they are.

Case 1: Japanese single skaters – In the men’s competition at Japanese nationals this season, Daisuke Takahashi, Yuzuru Hanyu, Takahito Kozuka, Nobunari Oda and Tatsuki Machida are going to duke it out to take 1 of 3 spots at the Olympics. Three out of five of these men have won medals at the World Championships while all of them have had many medals and victories in the GP series. I would honestly rather allow Japan two extra spots and watch two more amazing performances at the Olympics than give two spots to skaters whose careers have been much less illustrious and will likely give out two (at best) mediocre performances.

Case 2 (and why it’s pertinent to the NHK Trophy): China only has 2 spots at the Olympics and this week, Peng & Zhang have skated well while their teammates, Sui & Han have suffered in their scores and rankings since Sui was sick while she was competing. Either way, both teams have shown themselves to be worthy of future medals but only one will make it to the Olympics. What makes me angry is that the teams who have ranked under them consistently this season (*cough* pointing at Swiegers/Lawrence and pretty much all the American pairs teams) might or will likely get a spot because the competition isn’t as stiff in their respective countries. Sigh.

So, let’s be clear on a few things:

1. It is so frustrating to see really talented competitors not make it to the Olympics just because they happen to be in a nation where they might not be at the top but they are on the A-list of competitors anyways.

2. Yes, I know I can be a bitchy figure skating snob. Deal with it.

Shibsibs recover, Ilinykh & Katsalapov still #2 in Russia

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Yes, yes, Meryl & Charlie won (FD here). That’s no surprise anymore. The Shibutanis, however, seem to have recovered and got back on the podium! I was surprised because I thought that Ilinykh & Katsalapov were going to take the bronze but the Shibutani siblings seem to have improved and have captured the bronze.

A bronze for I/K may have been a signal that times were changing and that they were challenging Bobrova & Soloviev, the top Russian team. By being in that top spot nationally, they have a shot a fighting for Olympic bronze but it seems as if I/K need a lot more work, especially since there are so many “empty” spots in their program… usually full of posing.

I’m happy that the Shibutani siblings did well this competition but their FD still confuses me. That slow musical part in the middle of their FD makes it a little incoherent and I’m confused as to what the concept of the FD is.

As for the SDs in ice dance, I have yet to find one I’m totally in love with but I think that’s the nature of the beast. At least, for me.

The Trophee Eric Bompard is next week! (Sorry for the lack of accents.) Are you excited? Let me know why in comments or share your thoughts on the NHK Trophy!

~The Rinkside Cafe

 

Predictions: NHK Trophy 2013

I’m still sorting out my thoughts on the Cup of China this year so there may be a combination CoC and NHK thoughts post in the future but for now, a predictions post is due.

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Let’s hope these predictions will go a little better this time…

Men

There are three Japanese men skating at NHK this week and somehow, I can only see one man skating well. Usually, I’d name Daisuke Takahashi to that charge but Daisuke hasn’t been skating to the standard I expect from him lately. Instead, I’ll pin my hopes for two solid skates on Nobunari Oda, who’s done well this season and would’ve won silver at Skate Canada if he hadn’t violated the zayak rule within the first minute of his long program. (Yes, I’m still miffed about that.)

However, another person to watch would be Javier Fernandez who took the bronze at Worlds this year. I expect him and Oda to be duking it out for gold. It’ll be a tough call as to who will win.

Adam Rippon may be another skater to watch since he’s seems to have matured and done rather well at Skate America. I’m not sure if he’s still at that stage where the audience has no clue which Adam will show up (the angel or the headcase) but I guess this is a test. If he skates well here, I may have to peg him as a serious competitor in all my predictions this season.

Predictions:

Gold: Nobunari Oda
Silver:
Javier Fernandez
Bronze:
Daisuke Takahashi

Ladies

I cannot tell you how happy I was to see Mao Asada skating well again. This season, Mao just looks longer, leaner and skating with a maturity and strength that I’ve never seen before. Yes, her programs have not been perfect but her win at Skate America might give her some good momentum for the Olympics this season. As for this competition, I think she can grab the gold if she skates well. She’ll have tough competition from her fellow countryman, Akiko Suzuki, who won silver at Skate Canada.

I think that the podium will be rounded off by Gracie Gold, who’s shown that she’s something of an entity in the Grand Prix circuit but will need to skate more consistently and give us more if she’s to become the top U.S. lady.

Predictions:

Gold: Mao Asada
Silver:
Akiko Suzuki
Bronze:
Gracie Gold

Pairs

There is no doubt in my mind that the winners of this event will be Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the gold was theirs every time their name pops up. Looking at the competitors, I’m sure they could fall once or twice and still win.

Two Chinese teams showed that they still had it this season and I expect them to round out the podium as well. I’m talking about Wenjing Sui & Cong Han and Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang. The former won silver at Skate Canada while the latter won bronze, to my utmost surprise last week at the Cup of China. Stylistically, there’s an elegance reminiscent of Shen & Zhao that I see in Peng & Zhang but I think Sui & Han might have the advantage this season at least for their big tricks. We’ll see how these these two teams do. I’m so sad that China only has two slots for pairs at the Olympics and one of these teams will likely not go.

Predictions:

Gold: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Silver:
Wenjing Sui & Cong Han
Bronze:
Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang

Ice Dance

I’m pretty sure that the number 1 and 2 slot will be filled in quite handily by Meryl Davis & Charlie White and Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, respectively. It’s the bronze that might be a bit of a tough call. The fight for bronze will likely be a showdown between Maia & Alex Shibutani and Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov. We have yet to see I/K’s programs but I can’t quite seem to connect with the Shibsibs’ MJ/whatever free dance. It’s a strange choice for the Olympics since it’s not at all anything that we’ve seen from them and the concept of it is unclear to me. I think for that I’ll give the edge to I/K. Who will hopefully give us something better than that terribly tacky Ghost FD from last year.

Predictions:

Gold: Meryl Davis & Charlie White
Silver:
Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte
Bronze:
Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov

What are your predictions for the NHK Trophy? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Highlights from Skate America 2013: Day 2, Part II and Day 3

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To finish up the highlights post for Day 2 of Skate America 2013, here are the highlights of the Men’s LP and Dance FD competitions…

It’s good to see Adam Rippon back on track. Other than the huge fall at the beginning, I think we’re starting to see a more matured Adam.

The rest of the men’s event was a bit of a clusterfuck for me, hence why I’m not including any more videos. Bloody hell, I was subjected to a riverdance program. I think that speaks for itself.

The performance of the night, though, belonged to Meryl & Charlie. This program has improved so much since the last time they performed it in competition. They looked a little shaky on the lift where Meryl is upside-down and vertical but this is classic D/W and a solid step in the right direction for Sochi.

Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte delivered another solid performance with a very joyful program to the Barber of Seville. I could swear that two of the lifts at the end came from Meryl & Charlie and Tessa & Scott programs, which is a pity because this team is starting to establish a signature joyful style that they can use to enhance their programs. Now, we just have to see if Igor can realize this so he can stop copying the top two teams.

Compared to a lot of pairs programs at this competition, this one was tolerable and mildly entertaining (unlike another program done by World Champions) and was not skated as if the team was half dead and afraid to win (*cough* Moore-Towers & Moscovitch *cough*). In any case, I’d like to move on from the pairs competition…

This wasn’t a perfect performance but Mao is right on track with her comeback on the road to Sochi. This program shows her off quite well – it contrasts with her more twinkly and light SP, it highlights her flow and it allows her to show that she has a sense of maturity that wasn’t there in Vancouver.

Liza didn’t do very well in the SP but came back and showed us that she still had it in the LP. Her Malaguena program is nothing to boast about but her jumps are gorgeous here – especially the two lutzes at the beginning.

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