Predictions: Worlds 2017

Nathan Chen

Yes, I know, it’s been a while. Hello, darling Readers! Apologies for not putting up predictions for Euros of 4CC but things are busy on my end since the year began. It will be unlikely that I will post comprehensive predictions for the World Team Trophy (my guess right now is Russia, Japan and Canada though that may change after Worlds) since I’ll be on vacation right before it starts but we’ll see. For now, let’s content ourselves with our predictions for this year’s (very important) World Championships, which will decide how many skaters each country gets to send to the Olympics.

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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.

papadakis cizeron 14 coc fd

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

Sad Farewell: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy

I fear that I haven’t quite finished my goodbyes that began last season so here is another. Although Aliona is still planning to compete, this partnership is sadly over and to me, it’s a sad loss for the skating world.

savchenko szolkowy 2009I also have a personal story about Savchenko & Szolkowy from 2009. Back then, I was a humble student, living at home and doing my best to save money to ensure that I had a nest egg when I was out in the world alone and working my way up. The 2009/10 season was the Olympic year, however, and I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to watch some of my favourite skaters when they were competing in a town an hour away from where I was and I could get free lodging from a friend who was attending a university in the area. Nonetheless, I had to buy tickets and when the time came, I had to choose events that would maximize my experience at Skate Canada 2009 and yet not spend exorbitant amounts of money on them.

However, a misunderstanding came up and a friend ended up buying a ticket to events that I didn’t have tickets for – the dance OD and pairs LP. I didn’t want that friend to go alone so fellow friend and reader, Ay-sa (who came with me to that competition) and I decided to purchase one more ticket. I would go to the OD since I adore Tessa & Scott and she would go to the pairs competition since she was more partial to that event. It was nearing crunch time so both Ay-sa and I brought our homework so I could do a reading while the pairs event was happening. Alas, that was not meant to be since there was a TV in the lounge of the arena and I eventually got distracted as the last group came on the ice.

Up until the moment when Savchenko & Szolkowy took the ice, I was satisfied. As most of you would know, I am a Canadian with opinions that are rather unpopular with Canadians – Maria Murkhortova & Maxim Trankov had just trumped home-ice favourites, Jessica Dube & Bryce Davison and had that been the story at Skate Canada that year, I would’ve been satisfied with that particular competition. I was not a fan of Dube and Davison and Murkhortova & Trankov produced enough solid skating to warrant their victory… had they won. When Aliona & Robin took the ice with their new “Out of Africa” LP, it felt as if time stopped and something magical had unfolded in front of our eyes. A group of people were mesmerized in front of the television – so much so that Samuel Contesti, who had just come in crouched down to try and sneak past us without interrupting our reverie.

Savchenko & Szolkowy brought something that was beyond anything that had happened before them. I was more than satisfied with this competition, I was floored with them and that program. To this day, this remains one of my favourite pairs programs ever and in history, this was the first time a judge gave the 10.0 score in PCS.

I’m going to miss these two. They pushed the creative and technical envelope and I enjoyed watching them every season.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Highlights from the 2014 World Championships

The 2014 World Championships had some really lovely performances. A lot of the time, the Olympics tire the competitors out and many top contenders don’t even participate. As a result, you get a few “he/she came out of nowhere” World Champions (Remember Kimmie Meissner? Neither do I.) and some tired performances. Not so this year. From the judging and the performances, I might have to say that I think I enjoyed the World Championships a lot more than the Olympics this time. In any case, here are a few of what I thought were the highlights.

For the last two seasons, it’s been really hard for me to take Tatsuki Machida very seriously because of his wacky Firebird program. His arm flapping definitely gave me more than a chuckle or two and despite his good results, I couldn’t quite appreciate his skating. He was consistent most of the time but he was not as compelling to watch as his other teammates, especially when bird-imitations were part of the vehicle to show off his skating prowess. This program and performance, however, changed my opinion of him. I don’t think Machida has skated this compellingly all season and somehow everything clicked in this performance. I was finally noticing some of the edgework and transitions in this program and he was channeling Daisuke Takahashi in this performance. Gorgeous program and wonderful skate – this is what it’s all about.

In terms of program content or choreography, there’s nothing extremely noteworthy about this performance but I don’t think Tomas Verner has done this well for ages. He bombed the LP but hey, forget about that and remember this highlight, Tomas.

That popped jump might have cost him a World title but I admit that Javier was very swoon-worthy in this program.

Ethereal. Perfection. And a World Record score. Enough said.

What a great comeback for Mao. I was tearing up by the time she got to her step sequence at the end. She didn’t get the Olympic gold but 3-time World Champion isn’t too shabby.

Ethereal as always and the PCS were just right. Both Mao and Carolina skated clean and despite the fact that she wasn’t the hometown favourite, Carolina had the highest PCS for this segment of the competition. Sochi judges, take note!

I was never a huge fan of this team but I like how this program builds to a climax ending with that lift that starts out on Dylan’s knee at the end.

I’m not particularly fond of this program but I felt that I needed to mention Savchenko & Szolkowy in this post. They ended their wonderful career on a high note and they will be missed so much. Aliona Savchenko will still be around but who knows if she’ll find a partner as good as Robin.

With Savchenko & Szolkowy gone, these two are my new favourite pairs team. They need to learn how to be more consistent and maybe ramp up their technical content but they remind me so much of Shen & Zhao. Every time I watch this program, I feel as if it was too short.

I wasn’t a fan of this dance at the beginning of the season but it’s really grown on me. This was just a splendid performance to cap off a very creative and wonderful career for Nathalie and Fabian.

I wasn’t a fan of the music choice at the beginning of this season – I thought it was slow and boring – but this program has become my favourite ice dance FD this year. Within the first minute of this performance, I was having chills. I am so happy that these two didn’t get completely screwed over by the judges as they have been all season. They’re good enough to contend for bronze but we all knew that the ISU didn’t want a North American podium sweep. And they wanted a Russian for the bronze position if they couldn’t get gold. (I thought Nathalie & Fabian deserved the Olympic bronze but what can you do?)

This was ADORABLE.

Oh Tomas, always the entertainer.

I think there’s a theme here. I seem to enjoy these quirky, funny exhibitions quite a bit.

Not a new exhibition but I love it all the same. It never fails to bring a smile to my face

Another highlight I wanted to add was the crowd. It was just such a refreshing change from Sochi where people were silent for everyone except for the Russians. It was also adorable that they respected Yuzuru’s wish for silence in the Kiss and Cry because Javier was on the ice and needed to concentrate. I know that Dave Lease says that the Sochi crowd wasn’t as rude as some other competitions but I don’t think that’s an excuse for their cold reception for non-Russians. It was a nice change having a crowd with so much joy and enthusiasm in all the skaters and the fact that they cheered for skaters from all different countries. Thank you for showing us what wonderful skating fans are like.

Anyways, I think I’ve bombarded you guys with enough videos for now. What were your favourite performances at Worlds this year? Tell me in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Predictions: 2014 World Figure Skating Championships

So, welcome to the predictions for the 2014 World Championships. For anyone who follows skating closely, you know that this event will be somewhat… less exciting to put it lightly because so many skaters opt out of the competition after an exhausting Olympic season.

Men

As expected, many of the top contenders have opted out of the World Championships this year, leaving the door wide open for reigning Olympic Champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, to strike gold on home ice. Yuzuru will be looking to improve on the Olympic performance of his LP, which was flawed but nevertheless was enough to win him the gold. Another competitor to look out for is Javier Fernandez who was skilled enough to win the Olympic medal but was kept off because he violated the zayak rule. Hopefully, he will have learned his lesson and will come out strong here.

Other contenders to look out for: Tatsuki Machida who’s had a strong season so far and also has home ice advantage. Maxim Kovtun, the windmill guy who beat Plushenko at Russian Nationals but didn’t go to the Olympics, therefore he’ll be more rested than the others and Han Yan, a young and talented newcomer. Jeremy Abbott may somehow prove that he can survive under pressure while Takahiko Kozuka, who is also well-rested may show us why he was once the World silver medalist.

Predictions:

Gold – Yuzuru Hanyu
Silver – Javier Fernandez
Bronze – Maxim Kovtun

Ladies

There has been quite a big buzz over the fact that Sotnikova isn’t going to Worlds and that the South Korean Olympic committee has filed an official complaint over the judging of the ladies competition. The big story then, is one of redemption by Mao Asada, who did not get the result we expected her to in Sochi. I hope that we’ll see her strong and that we can see her finish her career with a smile. Going against her is the young Russian phenom, Julia Lipnitskaia, who hopefully, has had less disturbing media attention since the Olympics and the Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner. I have no doubt again that the judges will lowball Carolina’s PCS even if she’s the best performer with the best choreography this season.

A few other contenders to look out for: the rising star, Gracie Gold, who may actually be the Next American Ice Princess, Akiko Suzuki, who will undoubtedly be lowballed in PCS as always and Anna Pogorilaya, a Russian youngin who did well earlier in the season and will be well-rested for not going to Sochi.

Predictions:

Gold – Mao Asada
Silver – Julia Lipnitskaia
Bronze – Carolina Kostner

Pairs

The pairs competition will be a race for gold between Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy and Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov. The latter pair surprised us all but pitching in 3 solid performances in Sochi. S&S, I think, still has what it takes to win it but they’ll have to skate clean. As for the bronze medal, there are a few teams that have the technique, choreography and steadiness of mind and character that can take them to the podium and I think those teams are: Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang, Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek, Meaghan Duhamel & Eric Radford and Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch. The bronze is going to be a tough call. As will be the gold. So here goes…

Predictions:

Gold – Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Silver – Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov
Bronze – Meaghan Duhamel & Eric Radford

I expect these predictions to be completely and totally wrong.

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition will be less exciting without the Davis & White and Virtue & Moir rivalry but this competition may end up  being the most revealing of them all. With them two dominating team gone, this competition may give us an idea of how the ice dance field will look like next season and for the next Olympic cycle.

Although I think that Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat should’ve won the bronze at Sochi (I knew they wouldn’t because they’re not Russian), they may see themselves on the podium, just not at the top. That spot will probably belong to Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov who will likely be the top Russian team for the next cycle. Whether they can maintain this top position is a completely different question – not all the competitions are held in Russia, you know. We may see two Russia teams on the podium if Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev are well received in Saitama. However, we still need to keep an eye out for Igor Shpilband’s top team: Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte who have been skating strong all season. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje will no longer be in the shadow of Virtue & Moir but they will likely be lowballed as they have been all season. However, I wanted to make this comment because Maria de Buenos Aires is a lovely FD and I want you to watch it.

Predictions:

Gold – Elena Illinykh & Nikita Katsalapov
Silver – Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte
Bronze – Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat

I’m somewhat unused to this roster and so I’m guessing that these predictions will be laughably wrong. What are your predictions? Share them with me in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

 

 

Mother Russia Gets Her Pairs Gold Back

The individual pairs competition was a grand victory for Russia as she reclaimed the gold after Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao abruptly stopped the 50 years of Russian pairs domination in Vancouver. The picture below says it all as we go through the stories of those on the podium.

2014 Pairs Olympic Podium

Volosozhar & Trankov win Olympic Gold

To skating fans who have followed this team in the last Olympic cycle, none of us were really surprised that Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov won the pairs gold and perhaps, starting another era of Russian pairs domination. V & T had a 5 point lead after the short program and even as their main rivals, Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy took the ice in the LP, it was hard to imagine that there was anything they could do to get the gold. V & T have been mostly solid technically all season and the choreography of their programs is well… palatable compared to anything else they’ve skated to in the past. (For the love of god, they skated to Evanescence a few years ago.) They were a little stiff in the LP but all in all, it was a well deserved gold medal.

Stolbova & Klimov – Spoilers for Silver

I think the most sensational story of the pairs event goes to Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov. For the past Olympic cycle, this team has only occupied the lower rungs of the Grand Prix podium if not at all and they have also yet to compete at the World Championships. Before the Olympics, I vaguely remembered this team as one that has often let me down when I peg them for the bronze medal position in Grand Prix events. Somehow, this team has magically blossomed overnight and has demonstrated that they have the technical skills and consistency to be at the top. Even though the figure skating events haven’t finished yet, I would say that their silver medal is probably one of the most unexpected of the sport this season. Kudos, guys.

A Disappointing End for Savchenko & Szolkowy

Things weren’t looking good for Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy after the SP when they were trailed V&T by 5 points after the SP. S&S brought back and shortened their acclaimed Pink Panther long program but unfortunately, even as a fan of theirs, I have to admit that there were too many pauses in the middle of the program and the choreography didn’t bring out the fun characters as much. According to the commentators at CBC, S&S’ motto was “Gold or nothing,” and I really wish that they had thought about it a little more when they went into their long program. Robin missed a jump and after a perfect and strong skates from both Russian teams, mistakes were extremely costly. S&S could have either executed a throw triple axel or an easier throw triple salchow for their last element and went with the former in hopes of gaining huge points. Unfortunately, Aliona fell on the attempt and the team got a bronze medal. I can’t help but think that they could’ve maybe squeaked by with a silver if they had done a clean salchow but what has happened has happened. What makes me sad is that these two are going down in history as a team with 2 Olympic bronzes despite having 4 World titles. These two are better than that but they couldn’t prove it in Sochi.

What did you think of the pairs event at the Olympics? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Throwback Thursday: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy

It’s Throwback Thursday time! As a countdown to Sochi, I will be posting a program from the previous Olympic season every Thursday~! And off we go!

This week’s Throwback Thursday program comes courtesy of Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy. When Vancouver 2010 came, many were expecting them to do well, if not win the Olympic gold, as they were the World Champions the season previous. Technically, they were a slightly above the rest and when they skated well, they were great. All of that changed when the legendary Shen Xue & Hongbo Zhao came back from their retirement and Savchenko & Szolkowy seemed shaken to the point of no recovery. When the Grand Prix Final of 2009 came along, it became clear that Shen & Zhao had taken their place as the favourites for Olympic gold.

Still, despite their struggles that season and what must, to them, be a disappointing Olympic bronze medal, I really loved their long program to the music of Out of Africa. I actually have something of a personal connection to this program. If you remember, Savchenko & Szolkowy skated to a different LP at TEB that year with hideous costumes and came back with this lovely program.

I was actually able to attend Skate Canada that year and I watched this program, though not live. Due to some miscommunication, a friend of mine who went to SCI2009 with me bought a ticket to the ice dance OD and pairs LP event when another friend (incidentally, friend and commenter, Ay-sa) and myself hadn’t. To rectify the situation, I bought a ticket to those events and split the price between Ay-sa and I because we were both poor students then and couldn’t afford to buy another whole ticket. We decided that since I was more interested in ice-dance, I would go to the OD while Ay-sa would take my ticket and watch the pairs LP. While she did that, I sat in the lobby to do some homework I brought to Kitchener. Eventually, I found out that there was a TV screen showing the pairs LP in the lobby and I got totally distracted – I kept looking for the score every 10 minutes. Eventually, I gave up on the homework and watched the event. Savchenko & Szolkowy were the last to skate and for four minutes, I was mesmerized, along with the rest of the people watching in the lobby. Samuel Contesti seemed to notice that and tried to creep discreetly under the TV to get to the dressing room. (It was kind of adorable.) Still, the performance was magical and this program remains to this day, one of my favourite pairs programs ever.

What did you think of Aliona & Robin’s Out of Africa program? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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