Predictions: Skate America 2013

I am heartbroken right now. I was supposed to go to Skate America or Skate Canada but things fell through and alas, I will be stuck watching this at home. Sigh. Well, here are my predictions, whether or not I’m in Detroit.

shibsibs

Men

As predicted in this post of mine written last month, I said, ” [Evan] Lysacek is assigned to Skate America and the roster is often compiled to give the home favourites an easy win so I’m guessing he may get on the podium at the very least at Skate America just to prove he still “has it” OR he’ll conveniently get an injury and not compete at all.” It seems that the latter has come true, according to this article. Lysacek has a hip injury that will conveniently take him out of competition until some B-list events like the NRW Trophy that Yuna Kim competed in last year. I kind of like the snarky reference to the sponsor issue in the Chicago Tribune article and honestly, I call bullshit to some degree about sponsors not factoring into his decision. Skating is an expensive sport and sponsors are important. I suppose I should cut him some slack since most people would say that money is not an issue to look less… mercenary (using a word from Pride and Prejudice). Evan Lysacek aside…

Takahiko Kozuka looked in good shape at the Japan Open this year, after a disappointing season last year, as he handily beat fellow countryman, Daisuke Takahashi, who will also be competing at Skate America. I’m not sure if Daisuke’s expressivity will be able to trump Takahiko’s clean(er) program and solid skating skills. Daisuke’s jumps and spins looked terrible at the Japan Open and he’s also the type of competitor who’s a little weak at the beginning of the season. In any case, I just hope that Daisuke can at least get on the podium but his level of skating leaves the door quite open for other skaters.

A wildcard that can surprise a whole lot of people here is Denis Ten who was a surprise spoiler for silver at the World Championships last year. The only problem with Denis is that he is completely unpredictable. His sudden rise at Worlds was completely unexpected because he’s a known headcase but let’s hope that things go well for him. Good skating is always appreciated. UPDATE: Denis Ten will not be competing due to illness. More info in this article.

Max Aaron also has a chance to take a medal on home ice. After all, he did win U.S. Nationals last year and his results at other competitions haven’t been terribly atrocious. As well, home ice does tend to favour their own people.

This will be a difficult prediction to make…

Predictions:

Gold: Takahiko Kozuka
Silver:
Max Aaron
Bronze:
Daisuke Takahashi (please don’t let me down, Daisuke)

Ladies

The contest for gold I think will come down to two ladies here at Skate America: Mao Asada and Ashley Wagner. Mao’s looking more solid than she’s been in the last two seasons and she seems to have grown into longer and leaner body. However, with a home ice advantage and a solid skate at the Japan Open a while back, I think the gold will go to Wagner. Whether she can stay near the top for the rest of the season is altogether another debate.

As for the bronze medal, I’m hoping that the little phenom, Elena Radionova, will dazzle us all. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva might be able to squeak a win but she’s grown inconsistent of late. I’m sure there will be fans arguing on behalf of Caroline Zhang, who has improved in the last few seasons and Samantha Cesario, who seems to have quite a few fans but I’ve never quite understood the hype about this girl.

Predictions:

Gold: Ashley Wagner
Silver:
Mao Asada
Bronze: 
Elena Radionova

Pairs

Without a doubt, Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov will win this competition. They are a head and shoulders above the rest. As for the harder predictions to make, the silver and bronze – well, let’s just say I’m really unenthusiastic about making these predictions because the pairs field is once again, really lame. I’d say the silver will go to Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch. They’re not a bad pair but they’ve been tumbling down the ranks in international competitions because *The* new Canadian pairs team, Duhamel & Radford. As for bronze, I’m hoping for a victory for Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek since I like their classic pairs style of skating but they’ll face competition with Caydee Denney & John Coughlin on home ice and of course, another Russian team, Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov.

Predictions:

Gold: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Silver:
Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch
Bronze: 
Caydee Denney & John Coughlin

Ice Dance

Without looking at the roster, I know already that the winners here will be Meryl Davis & Charlie White. I just hope that they’ve improved since their last competition. At Skate America, Meryl & Charlie just need to concentrate on improving themselves, the rest of the competition don’t really matter. Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte will likely place second after finishing strongly in 4th at Worlds last season. This means that they’ll likely beat siblings, Maia & Alex Shibutani. Who knows, I’m hoping for surprises here.

Predictions:

Gold: Meryl Davis & Charlie White
Silver:
Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte
Bronze: 
Alex & Maia Shibutani

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

Hey Amy Chua, what happened to Caroline Zhang?

After the garbage that was Macleans “too Asian” article, a new wave of Asian-mania has swept through the intertubes in the form of Amy Chua’s article on Asian parenting. In the article, Chua puts a positive spin on strict “Chinese parenting” stating that “the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.”

Some have criticized Chua’s article for stereotyping the Chinese and promoting child abuse while others have written rebuttals defending the more relaxed “Western” style parenting. Since I have yet to be a parent, I wouldn’t know if a certain “style” is better. At the same time, I don’t see how insulting and threatening your children is a good way to teach by example. All you’re saying is that if you want something done, you yell and threaten someone and although that is the way some of the world works (especially in politics), I fear that if that’s how we deal with all of our relationships in life, this would be a horrible world indeed.

Personally, I find Chua’s implications of cultural superiority and the justification of abuse as cultural norms rather disturbing and while Chua may feel that her “Chinese” parenting methods are superior, let us just say that it probably isn’t the case for every single Asian family.

Exhibit A: Caroline Zhang


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Just for fun: Calming down

At the moment, my brain is oh so dead thanks to the genius and thought of Michel Foucault. In the long term, it’s a good thing but at the moment, it’s not. My head hurts. So, here is a program to calm you down and help those like me whose brains are exploding.

NHK Trophy – Ladies SP – Surprise, surprise…

The world is full of surprises. I wake up and what do I see? Well…

Carolina Kostner who I’ve almost given up on is in 1st after the SP? What is this madness? She had a terrible season last year save for her win at Euros but in any case, I’m glad. I wanted her to win Olympics (she has the ability) so the Yuna-bots and Mao-bots would explode all over the internet. It would’ve been hysterical. 

Kanako Murakami also had a strong debut and is 2nd after the short. In that video, I went “Awww…” at her happy cuteness before she skated. This girl brings a smile to my face. She had the audience in the palm of her hand from the beginning to end and this program was perfect her her. She maintained her playfulness and energy throughout her program while executing everything flawlessly. I’m already a huge fan of this girl.

Our darling Chairman, Mao Asada, seems to have lost her consistency and energy. She two-footed her triple axel and popped her flip. She’s in 8th place, which is shocking. She trails Carolina Kostner by 10 points and Rachel Flatt by 6. She’s been known to do better on her LP but her consistency has gone out the window since last season. A few of these girls are prone to meltdowns (Carolina being famous for them…) so with a clean program and some score inflations (she is on home ice), she might find herself on the podium but for now, it’s a bit unlikely.

I said I was going to watch the top 3 programs, but I can’t get myself to watch Rachel Flatt after that lovely performance by Kanako.

My curiosity did get the better of me and I decided to watch Caroline Zhang.  (6th after the SP) I’m proud to say that she no longer has that awkward mule kick on her flip. She’s still a bit slow on her footwork and I feel as if she’s grown out a bit. She no longer has willowy limbs. Oh well, better this than anorexia.

Detailed scores and rankings for the ladies here.

Aunt Joyce has posted all the ladies’ videos on his blog. I’ll just send you there to watch them.

And to end on a happy note:

Smile!

~The Rinkside Cafe

The New Season is Upon Us! NHK Predictions!

The NHK trophy is this weekend! Who is excited?

Here’s the schedule of events in the Japanese time zone. Please check your local listings.

Day 1 – Friday, October 22nd, 2010.

  • 14:30 – Opening Ceremonies
  • 15:00 – Short Dance
  • 17:05 – Pairs Short Program
  • 19:05 – Ladies Short Program

Day 2 -Saturday, October 23rd, 2010.

  • 12:20 – Men’s Short Program
  • 14:30 – Free Dance
  • 16:35 – Pairs Long Program
  • 18:00 – Ice Dance/Pairs Medal Ceremony
  • 18:50 – Ladies Long Program
  • 20:45 – Ladies Medal Ceremony

Day 3 – Sunday, October 24th, 2010.

  • 12:00 – Men’s Long Program
  • 14:00 – Men’s Medal Ceremony
  • 16:00 – Exhibition Gala

*Predictions*

Men

The two main competitors for gold should be Daisuke Takahashi and Jeremy Abbott. Jeremy has beaten Daisuke before (2009 Skate Canada) but he tends to be a headcase. How close the race to gold will rest on whether or not he can skate consistently and whether the judges will like his supposedly toned-down frantic arm waving a la Lysacek. Daisuke has shown us that he can do a clean quad at the Japan Open but let’s hope he’ll have to be more consistent than he was at the Japan Open if he wants to win back his world title. I sincerely hope that he does skate clean because his LP is absolutely gorgeous. (P.S. His hair in the picture above is EPIC.) Also, an interesting debutant: Yuzuru Hanyu aka, last year’s junior world champion. The guy has a lot to work on but he has the beginnings of a delightfully artistic skater. Other highlights of the competition will be Florent Amodio, Adrian Schultheiss and Denis Ten. Who knows how well these guys will fare, although they do display the occasional glimmers of brilliance.

Ladies

A couple of interesting competitors in this category. We’ll finally see whether Chairman Mao has recovered her consistency despite signs that she is improving her jump technique (ie. not flutzing and doing a salchow). If she does get back in her groove, she has no challengers. Carolina Kostner usually begins her seasons badly but she’s erratic enough to prove us wrong and perhaps emerge as a dark horse contender (as she always is). Rachel Flatt will continue to be boring and if she wins this thing, I may just have to cry. Ashley Wagner made it into the GPF last season and although she didn’t make the Olympic team, we’ll see how she improves this season. Admittedly, Wagner is slightly more interesting to watch and has more star quality than Flatt but that doesn’t take much. Another U.S. lady to mention would be Caroline Zhang. Apparently she’s been working on correcting her technique with her new coach. Let’s hope that what she’s saying is true. She has too much potential to go to waste. Finally, Kanako Murakami will be someone to watch for. Machiko Yamada’s latest prodigy has lovely jumps (including a triple-toe, triple-toe combination), a fun style and she just exudes happiness on the ice. I sincerely hope that she makes a strong debut at the senior level.

Pairs

Unless something batshit crazy happens, Pang and Tong will probably wipe the floor with everyone. ‘Nuff said.

Ice Dance

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are sure to dominate the GP circuit now that Tessa and Scott are gone. If Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje continue their momentum from last season, they might win a medal. (I rather like this team, they are way more interesting to watch than the #2 Canadian team…) Some interesting debutants include Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, the wonder Russian team who will be filling in that huge vacuum in Russian ice dance at the moment now that Domnina/Shabalin are retired and the Khokhlova/Novitski partnership is dissolved. I see a meteoric rise for these two and if they train hard, we might see them on the podium for Sochi 2014. Another debuting pair: the Shibutanis! I find these two adorable. They might not win a medal but their new FD is lovely.

The Cafe’s Picks:

Ladies: Mao Asada (crosses fingers for her)
Men: Daisuke Takahashi
Pairs: Qing Pang and Jian Tong
Ice Dance: Meryl Davis and Charlie White

And an image to end…

I can’t wait to see this lift in action~!