Cup of Russia 2012: Predictions

This week will be busy again so I’m writing these predictions quickly.

Men

Even though Patrick Chan got defeated by Javier Fernandez at Skate Canada (shock!), I still think he has enough skating cred with the judges to muster a win here. Some interesting contenders for the rest of the podium would be the Japanese men, Nobunari Oda and Takahiko Kozuka. This competition could be really important for them since it could help the JFSA decide who the #3 Japanese man is. Oh yes, and Johnny Weir will be back and we get to see how he stacks up against some tough international competition here.

Predictions:

Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Takahiko Kozuka
Bronze: Nobunari Oda

Ladies

The ladies competition could potentially be the contest of the young’ins. Adelina Sotnikova will have home ice advantage. In Russia. A year before the Olympics. In Russia. Alena Leonova had a really bad showing at her last grand prix but who knows what will happen. In Russia. That aside, Kiira Korpi is the only lady with a mature grace and may be able to medal here though she will face competition from some young ladies such as Kanako Murakami, who gave notice to not completely discounted when she won the bronze at Skate Canada. Gracie Gold is also on the roster but after her performance at Skate America, I’m not sure what to make of her anymore.

Predictions:

Gold: Adelina Sotnikova
Silver: Kanako Murakami
Bronze: Kiira Korpi

Pairs

The two Russian teams have it to take the first two spots on the podium though the gold will undoubtedly go to Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov. If Vera Bazarova manages to get her tiny, tiny frame off the ice and land her jumps, she and Yuri Larionov can take the silver. If this is the case, the bronze should go to Caydee Denney & John Coughlin.

Predictions:

Gold: Tatiana Volsosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Silver: Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov
Bronze: Caydee Denney & John Coughlin

Ice Dance

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir will be back with their sexy Carmen which should propel them into gold. What will be interesting to see is the margin between them and Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov. Rumour has it that Elena’s with Morozov now and we all know what happens when a girl dates Morozov… The Shibutanis will probably fall victim to politicking on the eve of the Sochi Olympics but it’ll be fun to see their polka since I think their bright and happy feel/style should make for a good interpretation in the SD. Their “Memoirs of a Geisha” FD on the other hand, I’m not so thrilled.

Predictions

Gold: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Silver: Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov
Bronze: Maia & Alex Shibutani

What are your predictions for the Cup of Russia?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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Skate America 2012: Predictions

THE GRAND PRIX SERIES HAS BEGUN! HURRAH!

Meryl and Charlie beckons you to read on… More

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

Cup of Russia 2011: Predictions

November has been dragging on for so long that I completely forgot that the last of the grand prix events before the final is this week. Wow. Fail. Ok, here they are before I post them when the competition is halfway done. Also, you can also read my GPF competitor’s list predictions post here.

Men

Javier Fernandez, Michal Brezina and Jeremy Abbott are the ones to watch here. All of them are potential headcases who can brilliant when they are spot on. I’m hoping that Yuzuru will prove me wrong and get his ass on the podium but he needs to work on his stamina for his LP, which is still beautiful, despite his mistakes. The field at the CoR for the men’s competition is actually pretty decent and this should be a very exciting competition. Not to mention that the first group of skaters won’t be that painful to watch. This is probably really dumb, but I haven’t checked the scores for any of these men while doing these predictions so my top 3 can combinations of any of the three men listed. Though I’m praying hard for a Yuzuru upset.

Predictions:

Gold: Jeremy Abbott
Silver: Javier Fernandez
Bronze: Michal Brezina

Ladies

Mao Asada will be there! That’s all you need to know, really. Just kidding. Adelina Sotnikova should be a good contender for a medal here, though I can’t see her beating Mao unless Mao has headcase skates. I’m not sure if a silver is enough to earn her a spot in the final, which is a pity because that means she won’t be competing with Liza until Russian Nationals. To finish the podium off… um… Alena Leonova is a possibility, especially with hometown advantage. Kiira Korpi has polish that Alena can only dream of but she’s not as consistent. Which is kind of sad…

Predictions

Gold: Mao Asada
Silver: Adelina Sotnikova
Bronze: Alena Leonova

Pairs

A rematch between Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov and Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy should be super exciting. S/S haven’t been consistent all season and despite Yuko’s penchant to look like some crazy creepy jointed doll, K/S have been doing very well this season. I don’t think they’ll beat Volosozhar and Trankov at Russian Nationals but all they need here is a shaky skate from S/S to win gold. I haven’t really heard of any of the other teams here so I’m just going to put one of the random Russian pairs for my bronze predictions. Go ahead, surprise me. Though I’m not sure if I want to watch this competition live. Sleep is becoming hard to come by these days.

Predictions:

Gold: Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov (Prove me wrong, Aliona and Robin!)
Silver: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Bronze: Katarina Gerboldt & Alexander Enbert

Ice Dance

Barring major injury, Davis and White should win. Even if they fall a few times, it wouldn’t really matter because the only team that can touch them is Tessa and Scott. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje and Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev should have an interesting battle for silver. Both teams have been doing very well this season and although I prefer the former, I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter has an advantage for being Russian and the current #1 Russian team. Ilinykh/Katsalapov is still not achieving the meteoric rise everyone expects from them and at the moment, Bobrova and Sloviev seem like Russia’s best hope for a gold at Sochi. Bobrova has very classic lines and reminds me a little of Oksana Domnina but this team needs to work on their FD. Kaitlyn and Andrew, on the other hand, has improved leaps and bounds and is skating with a wonderful speed and a new power that I’ve never seen before. (And their SD is the most watchable of all SDs this season.) I’d like to put my faith in the #2 Canadian team but one never knows with bullshit Russian judging. Though nowadays, the same could be said with a Canadian competition with Patrick Chan involved. Then again, it doesn’t really matter because W/P I think have enough points to get to the final anyways. Decisions, decisions…

Predictions

Gold: Meryl Davis & Charlie White
Silver: Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev
Bronze: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje

I’m slightly delirious and groggy as I’m writing this. Any comments on how crazy these predictions are?

~The Rinkside Cafe

NHK Trophy 2011: Ladies’ Freeskate

Mao-chan!!! Liebestraume is such a lovely program and it definitely matches her desire for a boyfriend. Such an easy 2A at the beginning. I almost thought it was a double. Lovely 3Lp-2Lp combination. She’s so relaxed and graceful and has great flow in this program. THIS is the Mao that everyone wanted to see. She makes everything look so easy. I think the young Russian divas need to look out now, Mao-chan is back and she’s not giving up on the Olympic title without a good fight. I’ve really never seen her skate so well. She might actually be able to make up the difference between herself and Akiko if Akiko screws up. A 2-footed 3Lp but what a lovely ending. It’s wonderful to see her smiling at the end of her program. It’s been a while since it’s happened. 125.77 – great score!

Alena Leonova’s on the ice. Nice 3T-3T. Hesitated a bit on the 3Lp and 2-footed it. Clean 3Lz, but she has such a precarious position in the air. I wonder if she’ll be clean all the way through th eprogram. This choreography is very Nikolai Morozov, with that pause in the middle. Doubled a flip and had a shaky landing on the 3S. This performance feels very empty compared to the lovely expression and grace that Mao exhibited. Singled her axel but nice position in her sit spin. And… it’s Requium for a Dream again. This piece of music is starting to get old. Dear Alena, your arms are not sticks and you are not a windmill. Waving them around frantically looks like you’re having a fit on ice. She didn’t quite commit to this program as she should’ve. With such driving music, you need to commit, commit, commit. She should be able to podium with that performance. A bronze if Akiko does well, though I think Mao might actually win the gold here. Yay for proving me wrong!!!

I love this program. Go Akiko! A big 3Lz to start. Lovely 2A-3T, she just skates with such an assurance and confidence this season. It’s so alluring and it makes her even nicer to watch. Lovely spins. Ouch, popped her loop but added a 2Lp-2Lp. That could have cost her the title. Oh Akiko… she’s losing it, she just popped a lutz but good recovery with a 3F. Wonderful 3S-2T. Let’s see if she can get another level 4 on this footwork. Don’t lose your confidence Akiko! That wasn’t her best performance but she can still improve. At least this is happening at the beginning of the season. Her PCS may hold her over Alena. *crosses fingers* Whoa… she’s beaten Mao a fraction of a point! Well, I’m glad for Akiko… and my predictions are right for once! Wow. What a competition

Results

Gold: Akiko Suzuki
Silver: Mao Asada
Bronze: Alena Leonova

What did you think of the competition?

~The Rinkside Cafe

NHK Trophy 2011: Predictions

I apologize for the lack of coverage on the Cup of China. My life has gotten super busy lately and there’s just been so many ups and downs that I can scarcely catch my breath. I know that the NHK Trophy is well underway, with the dance, pairs and ladies events halfway done, which gives me a bit of an unfair advantage in predictions but at least I get to predict all of the men’s event! (The best of the lot, though sometimes the one that breaks my heart most when I see Patrick Chan garner up an insane and unfair amount of points.) Anyways, let’s start the sort-of predictions.

Ladies

Videos of the ladies’ SP have yet to surface but I’m rather excited for the event because we’ll see if Mao is up to par again. Right now, I only have this practice clip to go on and it seems that she’s skating to Scheherazade – an old warhorse – with a very Michelle Kwan-Salome costume.

Right now, Mao is in 3rd place and trailing by 8 points behind Akiko Suzuki. Both Akiko Suzuki and Mao are strong long program skaters (though Mao is the stronger LP skater) but even Mao’s star power might not be able to overcome that huge margin. That and Akiko is really skating with a fantastic confidence and fire this season and I’m totally loving it. I can’t wait to see a perfect performance of “Die Fledermaus” because THAT is the “Die Fledermaus” program of the season. In other news, I expect Alena Leonova to be inconsistent and somewhat bomb her LP so I think Mao can make up the 3 points between her and the mediocre Russian lady.

Also, another piece of happy news is that Cynthia Phaneuf has finally gotten to the point where she’s just bombing her ass off. Now CBC can stop hyping her up because watching paint dry is a lot more exciting than watching Cynthia Phaneuf. Unless you’re my 9 year-old cousins who’ve been begging me to show them figure skating videos where the skaters crash onto the ice. Anyways, let’s not waste any more time talking about Phaneuf.

Predictions:

Gold: Akiko Suzuki
Silver: Mao Asada
Bronze: Alena Leonova (though Ashley Wagner can make a comeback if Alena bombs enough, not that I really care about either skater)

Men

So, this is the only event where I can make blind predictions. The gold will be an epic battle between Daisuke Takahashi and Takahiko Kozuka. Takahiko started the season a bit rough while Daisuke wasn’t at 100% at Skate Canada, though he did skate a fantastic SP. This season, I think Daisuke’s skating with a lot more passion and I hope that he’s acquired enough drive to push for gold in his LP. Tomas Verner is a bit of a wildcard because his programs will probably never be as intricate and lovely as either of the Japanese men but I’m always hoping that he’ll surprise me. Tomas has a fantastic personality and talent but his programs last year were just blah. I mean, how do you make “blah” out of MICHAEL JACKSON and SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN!!! Sigh.

Predictions:

Gold: Daisuke Takahashi
Silver: Takahiko Kozuka
Bronze: Tomas Verner

Pairs

Again, having the SP results gives me an unfair advantage but even without them, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Aliona and Robin will win the event. At the moment, the only team with a ghost of a chance of beating them is Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov. At the moment, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are in 5th but the difference between 2nd and 5th place is 2 points, which I think they can make up in the long program. I’m very glad that they’re using their Claire de Lune LP again but I still cringe when I see Yuko’s angular creepy doll movements. She doesn’t seem to be able to go deep into the knee when she lands her jumps (throw and sbs jumps) which just makes everything look strained and difficult. I’m still a bit surprised at how poorly Iliushchekina/Maisuradze are doing so early in the season when they won Skate Canada last year but the strange thing is, I’m kind of hoping for a split between these two so that Iliushchekina can get a better, more expressive partner because right now, she might as well be skating with a mannequin. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin didn’t have a bad start at Skate America and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did a little better at this competition.

Predictions:

Gold: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Silver: Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov
Bronze: Caydee Denney & John Coughlin

Ice Dance

Ok, now I definitely feel like I’m cheating because I was debating as to whether the Shibutanis or Ilinykh & Katsalapov would come out on top. The margins between the top 3 teams are pretty small but I did say last season that Ilinykh & Katsalapov would benefit from a coaching change – in image and in technical skill and lookee what happened. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje are doing pretty well, though they need to wait for Tessa and Scott to retire to flourish completely on the international scene. I’m pretty sure on I/K for gold but the bronze is a bit of a puzzle. Let’s take a chance on it…

Predictions:

Gold: Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov
Silver: Maia and Alex Shibutani
Bronze: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje

Japan Open – Part I: Ladies Commentary

I started writing a blog post on notepad about the Japan Open and I was halfway done when I realized that the post was going to be a tad long. So I’m going to divide my thoughts on the Japan Open into 2 or 3 thoughts and hopefully, I’ll find time in my busy schedule to finally finish it all. So, here’s part I of my blog posts of the cheesefest competition.

The Japan Open came and went and I was absolutely shocked at the results. World Champions and Olympic medalists completely bombing their programs? Then again, there’s nothing to lose in this competition seeing that it’s not an ISU event. The Japan Open is clearly a cheesefest for money and entertainment and skaters will probably take it easy so that they don’t get injured for the beginning of the season or for their future skating shows. At the same time, the competition can also serve as a test run, where skaters can exhibit their new programs to an audience in a competitive and yet low pressure environment. Still, this extent of bomb-age is quite incomprehensible. More

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