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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Carolina Kostner banned for 16 months

In an earlier post, I mentioned that trouble was brewing for Carolina Kostner who may have helped an ex-boyfriend avoid a doping test. Recently, it has been revealed that Carolina has been banned from competition for 16 months but according news sources (here and here), she will be appealing the decision in the Court for Arbitration for Sport.

Carolina Kostner - Euros 2012 LP

The ban ends on May 15, 2016 but it does not prevent Carolina from participating in skating shows. Theoretically, it also means that Carolina could compete at the 2018 Pyeongcheng Olympics, though whether she wants to or would be competitive enough to win a medal is a completely different question. Overall, other than being a detriment to her brand and image, I don’t think this ban will affect Carolina’s career or ladies’ figure skating too much. Still, I hope the truth comes out and everything is resolved for the sake of sportsmanship.

What do you think of Carolina’s situation?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Trouble brewing for Carolina Kostner

carolina kostner 13 coc sp

A recent news story has come to light that may have far reaching consequences for Olympic bronze medalist, Carolina Kostner. Kostner’s ex-boyfriend, Alex Schwazer, tested positive in a doping test and the skater faces a 4 year 3 month ban for allegedly helping him avoid a drug test.

The ban in itself is more damaging in terms of her endorsements as Carolina is unlikely to compete internationally again but it is also unclear if she will be retroactively banned and stripped of her medals. For the sake of her accomplishments, I hope that she didn’t do anything bad. Doping is a serious offense in the sporting world and we must remember that a representative for all athletes make this oath in the opening ceremony at the Olympics:

In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams.’

For more information on this story, check out the article from CBC and NBC Sports.

Weekend Off

If you’re wondering why there will be no prediction or recap/highlights for the Cup of Russia, refer to this post. I admit, a lot of my vitriol comes from the fact that such a huge event – the only one the general public cares about – was so gravely misjudged but  I still have a bad taste in my mouth and until it goes away, I’ll go on vacation (on post writing, that is) while competitions are held in Russia.

I think I will indulge in a few of my favourite programs from three skaters from the last cycle who I have nicknamed “The Holy Trinity” while I relax this weekend.

Enjoy!

~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

 

 

Sochi 2014: Worst Judging I’ve Ever Seen – Ladies Event

You know, I can accept that Russia won the team event. As someone who prefers Tessa and Scott, I can also accept and celebrate Meryl & Charlie’s win at the Olympics. Adelina Sotnikova’s Olympic gold, however, is the one accolade I refuse to accept and this ridiculousness in judging is an insult to anyone who holds the title of “Olympic Champion.” I am so disgusted with this result that I refuse to cover or watch any more competitions in Russia until this bullshit judging has stopped because if this is how things are going to be judged in Russia, then may no figure skating competition be ever held there ever again. So, if you’re wondering why I haven’t made predictions for the Cup of Russia for the next few seasons, here’s why.

sotnikova and judge

I think all commentators were shocked when Sotnikova won. Kurt Browning said that she was not a complete skater, as did Dick Button. Katarina Witt, former Olympic Champion, has also told the media that she thought Yuna Kim should’ve won and she is joined by a whole host of knowledgeable people in the figure skating world.To also put this whole debacle into perspective, consider this: Sotnikova’s season’s best score before the Olympics was 20 points below her Olympic score. Of course, somehow we have the media trying to rationalize what happened by saying that Adelina had a higher Technical Elements Scores (TES) and while that is true, we have to consider that the TES is only half of the story. In fact, what didn’t make sense in Sotnikova’s scores were her Program Components Scores (PCS). So for those who are still scratching their heads at the result, here are my two cents as well as a general recap of the ladies event in Sochi. More

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