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
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Trophee Eric Bompard 2011: Predictions

My life is still filled with forms to fill out and stuff to write and a;iehf;adkfsakdfja;sdkfasdjkfla. Again, I can’t promise posts on all the competitions but I’ll do my best and I’ll make sure to do a predictions post every week. Normally, I would do predictions on who would make it into the final but with this 3 competition rule, everything gets thrown out of whack because I have no clue who’s in 3 competitions and I don’t have the time to check. I might just do the list blind and come up with a list of 6 skaters/teams for each discipline.  For now, here are my predictions for TEB 2011.

Men

Patrick Chan will undoubted win this competition, even if he does fall on his ass a few times. As much as I love figure skating, I don’t know if I can watch this discipline and have faith in the new judging system. As for silver, Nobunari Oda can very well take it… if he’s finally learned all the lessons from counting 101 that is. If not, then Michal Brezina seems to be on the rise and he could snatch silver from under his nose. If Oda can count, then I think he has the ability to steal bronze from heavyhitters like former European and World champion, Brian Joubert and current European champion, Florent Amodio. Brian Joubert has been a bit washed out in the past two seasons while Florent’s new LP is just WTF. The kid needs to leave Morozov, the Russian Gino is not doing him any favours.

Edit: Joubert has pulled out of TEB. (Source) That won’t affect my predictions though.

Predictions:

Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Nobunari Oda
Bronze: Michal Brezina

Ladies

TEB is going to interesting here. We’re going to have a rematch of Carolina Kostner vs. Alissa Czisny and then we’re going to throw Skate Canada winner, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva into the mix. Her arch-rival, Adelina Sotnikova couldn’t win against the likes of Carolina and headcase, Mirai Nagasu and I’ve got a feeling that with tougher competition, Liza will not be able to so easily clinch the gold. As much as I admire Czisny’s elegance, I find her performances and personality very forgettable. Czisny’s programs have better choreography but it’s just more exciting to watch Carolina. Both ladies have gained a great amount of consistency so this will be another tough call. Czisny won last time but can Carolina beat her this time?

Predictions:

Gold: Carolina Kostner
Silver: Alissa Czisny
Bronze: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (though I’d love it if she beat Czisny)

Pairs

Barring major disaster – actually – even if they fell a couple of times, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov should have this competition in the bag. There are no real threats for gold other than them even though their SP this yes is just not pretty. Really, Tanya and Max, we’re no longer wannabe emo teens. Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov may have enough to muster silver while bronze is a bit of a toss of between two headcase North American teams: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford and Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig. I’ll just go flip a coin and decide who to put in that 3rd position.

Predictions:

Gold: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Silver: Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov
Bronze: Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford

Ice Dance

The ice dance lineup isn’t that bad, there are quite a few interesting competitors. The gold should easily go to Olympic Champions, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. I really hope they’ve improved since Skate Canada (I’m sure they have) and more importantly, I hope they’ve made some changes to their programs. They’re really going to have to step it up if they want to be competitive with Meryl and Charlie. Davis and White’s FD this year showcases their athleticism and if Tessa and Scott don’t change their pause-ful Funny Face FD, they might find themselves in 2nd place this year. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat should have the support of the home crowd and possibly the silver medal but bronze will be an interesting matchup with the emerging young Italians – Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte and the rising young Russians – Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov. We may see how much Mother Russia is actually pushing for these two…

Predictions:

Gold: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Silver: Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat
Bronze: Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov

Skate America 2011 – Ladies: The Battle of the Headcases

Since I’m just a lone blogger, I don’t really have to sugarcoat anything but last weekend at Skate America, there were only 2 ladies worth watching, both perennial headcases. And they are Alissa Czisny and Carolina Kostner. So let’s take a look at what went on last week shall we?

Alissa won the short program with a score of 64.20

I must say, for someone who’s perennially well-dressed, this costume was a bit disappointing. The belt would’ve looked a lot nicer if it were higher on the body. At least the back was nice. Skating to “La Vie en Rose” (LOVE this song), Alissa started off with an almost Kwan-esque triple lutz-double toe. I saw *almost* Kwanesque because the Kween would’ve been less tentative and more confident doing that jump. The combination was followed by a beautiful 3F and a decent 2A (it was a little shaky in the landing).  The rest of the program was performed with ease and elegance. Maybe it’s the way Alissa is wearing her hair or the way she held her arms but there were quite a few “Kwanesque” moments in that program. Well done! I’m looking forward to seeing a polished version of this program later on in the season.

Carolina Kostner got a 60.23 for her short program, which put her second behind Alissa. Since I discussed Alissa’s skating costume, I must say, baby yellow is nice cute and decent for Carolina’s skin tone but she should find a better dress. Looking at the youtube comments, I’m not the only one complaining about it. Caro opened with a big triple-toe, triple-toe – though I wish she opened with her ginormous 3F-3T instead – followed by a shaky 3Lp. After watching Alissa – known as a great spinner – Carolina’s spins looked a bit slow but the speed going in and out of her double axel was unbelievable. Choreography-wise, this is a vast improvement from previous seasons. The elements are well-woven together (I had to rewatch the last half of the program to realize that her step sequence came at the end) and although this wasn’t her best performance, I really liked Carolina’s commitment to the program. There was drama and flirtation. Maybe opera on ice has really improved her presentation skills because I was not expecting that from Carolina. A program (and hopefully a skater) with good potential this season.

Now onto the long program…

Carolina actually won the long program with a score of 117.12. Her costume reminded me of the one from her 2007 Worlds SP to Canon in D. She opened with a huge 3Lp followed by a huge 3F. Carolina’s jumps became a little weaker in the second half of her program – she singled a 2Lp at the end of her 3S-2T-2Lp combination but like in her SP, she skated with commitment to the choreography. Admittedly, her choreography was less risky than Alissa’s but I thought that she was a little undermarked in the long and that she should’ve won the competition by a very small margin.

Alissa skated to “Valse Triste” (another beloved piece of music of mine) and received a score of 113.28. Although the choreography was a lot more intricate and elegant than Carolina’s Alissa fell on her 3F and had numerous shaky landings and possible underrotations (though some of them might not have been severe enough to merit a downgrade). She also doubled a salchow in the 2nd half of her program. Alissa’s program may have more potential than Carolina’s but I didn’t feel that she should’ve won the competition (even the at times annoying patriots at FSOnline thought that she wasn’t going to win at one point.) I think Carolina should’ve won by the same margin as Alissa did but my opinion doesn’t really matter at this point, does it?

Here are the overall rankings in the ladies’ competition.

What did you think of the ladies’ competition at Skate America? I’m a bit drowsy now from my cold but I think I’ll write about the pairs/dance competition next.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate America 2011 – Men and Ladies

The beginning of the figure skating season is upon us! I’m so excited. The post-Olympic year is over and that means the playing field won’t be as sparse and it’s the year for new stars to emerge. The senior figure skating season begins with Skate America with a semi-decent lineup. Here are my predictions for the men’s and ladies’ event. (I will write another post on the ice dance and pairs events.)

Ladies

The ladies roster isn’t really spectacular for this event. The most exciting thing will probably be the battle for gold between two headcases: current World bronze medalist, Carolina Kostner and the elegant (but sadly, a tad bland) Alissa Czisny, who placed 5th at Worlds last season. Both of them have a penchant for being inconsistent and in her last competition, the Japan Open, Alissa had many downgrades and shaky landings on her jumps. I know that Czisny hopes to use the momentum from last season to propel her to a World medal, but I’m not sure if she has what it takes, especially with two Russian divas nipping at everyone’s heels. Carolina Kostner spent all of last season doing a long program with a jump content similar to that of ladies from the 1980s (and somehow managed to win a bronze medal at Worlds) but hopefully her toe injury has healed and she’ll be able to do spectacular triple-triples as she’s done before.

As for the bronze medal, it’s a bit of a free for all seeing that the rest of the contenders are at pretty much the same level unless someone decides to surprise us. I’m kind of hoping it’s Caroline Zhang but I’ve pretty much given up on a comeback from her.

Predictions:

Gold: Carolina Kostner
Silver: Alissa Czisny
Bronze: Ksenia Makarova

Men

The roster for the men’s competition isn’t complete shit – which the ladies roster almost threatens to be. I hope to see Takahiko Kozuka win this handily now that Evan Lysacek has dropped out of the competition. (Not that anyone expected him to compete anyway.) I underestimated this kid last season and I won’t make that mistake again. I hope he makes me proud though. Takahiko has a lot of talent and he has to stop being afraid of showing it. His short program is a little boring though if he adds a little drama and pizzaz to it, he may raise the level of his program from being “slightly boring” to “acceptable.” His Nausicaa LP isn’t half bad though it lacks the genius of the Liszt LP from last season.

Last season, I would’ve pegged Florent Amodio as a veritable competitor for Takahiko but after Takahiko’s progress and World silver medal, it’s becoming painfully clear that this European Champion has ways to go before he can compete with the rest of the big boys. His long program seen in Japan Open was a combination of everything people make fun of in figure skating and was a choreographic horror. I’m very embarrassed for Florent and I’m not even the one skating the program! (And I’m sure I’m not the only one…) Horrible LP aside, if he manages to skate clean, a silver medal is probably in his reach.

However, he’ll have to watch out for a few youngsters with potential: namely Armin Mahbanoozadeh, who was a surprise bronze medalist at Skate America last year (and being American doesn’t hurt his chances at a medal) and Denis Ten, who is now training with Frank Carroll. Ten is a headcase but maybe Frank has hammered something positive into him. I’m not too fond of his skating, but what does that matter? Michal Brezina may surprise us but his results at minor summer competitions has made me lose hope on him. Oh well, at least that’ll mean that the Czech federation will be backing Tomas until he retires…

Predictions:

Gold: Takahiko Kozuka
Silver: Florent Amodio
Bronze: Armin Mahbanoozadeh

What are your predictions for Skate America?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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

The Japan Open

The Japan Open is often a pleasant prelude to the figure skating season for me but I’m never extremely excited about it. In the past two years, the competition hasn’t been that exciting as there were only a few skaters to be excited about. This year, however, that seems to have changed. The lineup is as follows:

Team Japan: Miki Ando, Akiko Suzuki, Daisuke Takahashi, Takahiko Kozuka

Team North America (pretty much Team Canada): Joannie Rochette, Alissa Czisny, Patrick Chan, Jeff Buttle

Team Europe (pretty much Team Russia) : Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Alena Leonova, Artur Gachinski, Florent Amodio

It looks like Team Europe may be at a disadvantage since most skaters in that team fall short when compared to competitors in the other two teams. (I can’t help but be slightly excited over Elizaveta though.) However, Team North America have two retired or semi-retired athletes who may not have the heavy arsenal of jumps that that other competitors may have. Then again, who knows who may surprise us. If all of Team Japan is consistent, then they could very well take the title very handily. If they fall short, Team North America can very well snatch the victory from right under their noses.

Some things to look forward to next season~!

September has already come around and the junior grand prix series has already begun! However, senior competitions only start in late October, but until then, here are a few things we can look forward to in the upcoming season.

The Team Canton drama continues!


At the top of the ice dance competition are three Team Canton pairs: Olympic Champions, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, current World Champions, Meryl Davis & Charlie White and the newbies, Maia and Alex Shibutani. The former two will continue their long-lasting rivalry for the top, which is always exciting because I love both teams and I love how they push each other to do better each season. As for the Shibutanis, I wonder how they will fare with a solid and regrouped Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat and the Russian ice dance phemons, Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov. The Shibutani’s bronze medal at Worlds this year was one part skill and several parts luck. Looks like another exciting season in ice dance!

The young Russian divas go head to head with the big girls!

These two Russian phenoms are Russia’s hope for Sochi and their future looks bright. From Papa Mishin’s Moscow school, we have Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, a girl with charisma and solid jump technique but could do with better choreography. On the other end, we have Adelina Sotnikova, a graceful girl from the St. Petersburg camp and current junior world champion. Both have the potential to be great but who will survive puberty better than the other and who has what it takes to rise up in the senior ranks? These two have the potential to make a HUGE splash this season seeing that current World Champion, Miki Ando, is not competing and Yuna Kim may not compete either. Mao has yet to prove herself to be consistent and Carolina Kostner cannot simply stagnate at triple toes, salchows and loops with these two European threats. Keep an eye out for these two!

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

Yes, you heard it, the Russians are making their presence known after their poor medal showing in Vancouver. The platinum, sex-bomb king, Evgeni Plushenko has regained his amateur status and is eligible to compete.

 


The new pairs team of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov have the potential to be World Champions. I have no doubt that they will do very, very well this season.

As well, the young team of Ilinykh & Katsalapov have switched coaches after their less than meteoric rise in the senior ranks. I’ve always said that a change in coaches would be good for show and technique and Nikolai Morozov was given the role of Papa Russia for the upcoming Olympics. I just hope that this team doesn’t get drowned in horrible Morozombie choreography.

Team USA (ladies) ups their game

(A picture of Maia and Mirai at U.S. champs camp.)

Recent articles have indicated that the U.S. ladies are practicing their triple-triples to be more competitive with the Japanese and the upcoming onslaught of Russians. Frank Carroll has been sending strong messages about Mirai Nagasu’s progress and Alissa Czisny probably wants to use her momentum from the past season to carry her onto the World podium this upcoming season.

Mao Asada’s progress?

With a new jump technique and the stress of the earthquake in Japan, Mao had a season of ups and downs. Still, she’s shown improvement in her shows this summer and more importantly, she’s shown that she hasn’t lost her love of skating. I’m so happy that she’s going to keep her Liebestraume long program because it really deserves a flawless performance. Go get ’em, Mao-chan~!

Akiko Suzuki will hopefully make a comeback!

After getting shoved off the podium by ingenue Kanako Murakami (who she cheered for last season at Japanese Nationals), Akiko Suzuki should find herself back on the Japanese podium as well as the world team. I’m glad since her “Fiddler on the Roof LP” was fun to watch and her energy and love of skating is so evident in every program she does.

Who can beat Patrick Chan?

Chan’s scores lately have been absolutely bloody INSANE. Will the Platinum King show the young Canadian who’s boss? Or will Daisuke Takahashi make a comeback after his up and down season? Or will an ingenue come and shake things up a bit?

The young pairs

Sui and Han look as if they’re having a little bit of trouble in the junior ranks but will they be able to push ahead when the senior season comes around? What of the team of Iliushchekina and Maisuradze who have so much potential? Will Vera Barazova be able to land and complete her tiny jumps when puberty coming on?

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming season?

I may do another post if I have more ideas…

~The Rinkside Cafe

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