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

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

Skate America 2012: Predictions

THE GRAND PRIX SERIES HAS BEGUN! HURRAH!

Meryl and Charlie beckons you to read on… More

Predictions: Four Continents 2012

Wahhhhhhh!!! It’s that time of year again! Euros has just passed and the rest of the figure skating world is testing the waters before the World Championships later on this season. Four Continents is here! It’s time for PChiddy to win another medal! Onwards to predictions!

Men

By now, I’m just expecting Patrick Chan to get ludicrous scores for everything he does. His recent 300+ score at Canadian Nationals indicates that Skate Canada is behind him full force. I have yet to watch those performances in fear of projectile vomiting onto my lovely laptop. Then again, I might be just a tad disappointed if Chan doesn’t get a crazy score just because the spectacle is somewhat amusing. There’s always a sense of excitement when you wonder many points can the judges award to a program that Chan bombed whether or not he’ll be in 1st place.

Daisuke Takahashi will probably take silver even if he skated two perfect mesmerizing programs. At this point, I’ll look at the positive and just hope that Daisuke will skate his best because those programs deserve perfection and I know he can achieve it. So in short, screw Chan and just skate your heart out, Daisuke.

Bronze, however, presents a bit of a conundrum for me in terms of predictions. There’s no clear cut competitor who’s evidently ahead of the rest but behind Chan and Daisuke. It seems that a lot of the major figure skating unions are opting to put some fresh faces out there to give the youngin’s a bit of experience in a competition that doesn’t have as many high stakes. Most the competitors are pretty much in the C/D/F-lists anyways. It’s a pity that Jeremy Abbott withdrew from injury but I guess my best guess for bronze would either be Adam Rippon, the young talent that the USFSA has been promoting for the last few years and Nan Song, a surprising young skater from China and first alternate at this year’s GPF. Adam has been known to be inconsistent but he also has the USFSA behind him. At the moment, it’s a bit of a tossup.

Predictions:

Gold: Patrick Chan (Prove me wrong, Daisuke. Or at least try to.)
Silver: Daisuke Takahashi
Bronze: Nan Song

Ladies

I expect some favouritism to be shown for Ashley Wagner as she will have some home ice advantage at Colorado Springs but in the end, I don’t think she can trump the survivor and legend that is Mao Asada. Mao has shown herself to be the most resilient and courageous of competitors. She doesn’t have the “instant win” fairytale story that Yuna Kim had but in that sense, I think I find her more endearing that way. Life will always be full of ups and downs and sometimes you don’t win but Mao shows us that with hard work, courage and the determination to never give up, you can achieve great things. Hopefully, her newfound consistency will be present at 4CC and I can’t wait for another dazzling performance of her Liebestraume LP.

As for the bronze, Cynthia Phaneuf could surprise us (or perhaps not bore us) with some consistency now that she’s being coached by Brian Orser. To tell you the truth though, I don’t know think even Brian Orser can give people ***STAR POWER*** I mean, he couldn’t do that with Christina Gao and that girl had potential. Phaneuf on the other hand… let’s just say that the Olympics aren’t in Vancouver anymore and she has a snowball’s chance in hell to win a medal at Worlds. She might be able to pull through with a medal here but I sincerely hope that Kanako Murakami has practiced the shit out of her LP so she can snatch the bronze.

Predictions

Gold: Mao Asada
Silver: Ashley Wagner
Bronze: Kanako Murakami (please, please, please Kana-chan, don’t let me down)

Pairs

Gosh, this pairs competition is going to be lame. The itty bitty Chinese pair (Wenjing Sui & Cong Han) are going to be there as will Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran. The latter and Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford are the only teams to have made it to the GPF. There’s also the possibility that the crowd will favour Caydee Denney & John Coughlin.

I have no clue how this competition is going to turn out (and this doesn’t even make the competition that exciting which shows how lame this competition is) so I’m just going to make a wild guess.

Predictions

Gold: Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford
Silver: Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran
Bronze: Caydee Denney & John Coughlin (prove me wrong, itty bitty Chinese pair!)

Ice Dance

Oh my… a rematch between Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir and Meryl Davis & Charlie White. I think the big question on everyone’s minds is – if Scott didn’t fall in the SD, would they have won the GPF? The fall gave them a 1 point deduction but it definitely affected the presentation of the program, the score on skating skills, choreography, etc, which would account for the huge margin of win. I’ve got a feeling that they might let Tessa and Scott win 4CC to save some of their dignity but ultimately give the World medal to Meryl and Charlie. Who knows, Tessa and Scott are always free to prove me wrong and I hope they do so. In any case, the highlight for me would definitely be Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje’s “Je Suis Malade” FD, though this team will have to give it their all if they want to beat the Shibutanis who are definitely being bogged down by this year’s sexy SD but bolstered by home ice advantage. This will be one tough call, I must say…

Predictions:

Gold: Meryl Davis & Charlie White (taking home ice advantage and the fact that the Americans probably won’t win a gold in any other discipline)
Silver: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Bronze: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje

These were difficult predictions to make. What are you predictions?

~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

Skate America 2011 Predictions: Ice Dance and Pairs

Both ice dance and pairs competitions at Skate America have a roster with one team that will almost certainly clinch the gold barring major disaster or injury.

In pairs, World Champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are likely to win the competition, with their biggest competitors being the Zhangs, 2006 Olympic silver medalists. The Chinese pairs team sat out last season due to an injury to Hao Zhang’s hand. The Zhangs are not really entertaining to watch and unexpressive so I’m expecting a silver medal at Skate America and a so-so result at Worlds. But that’s really getting ahead.

As for the bronze medal, there are 3 teams who could be strong contenders to finish off the podium. the first being Moore-Towers and Moscovitch, who started the season out strong (undoubtedly bolstered by Dube/Davison’s absence and the subsequent Skate Canada politicking) but whose success greatly waned as the season progressed. Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov has the potential to get bronze… as long as Bazarova’s jumps get off the ice. Vera is clearly fighting with puberty and despite this team’s natural grace, I see her battle with growth as a losing one. Her jumps are getting progressively lower and as a lower ranked Russian team, a successful career seems to be very, very far from their reach at this point. They might be able to salvage the bronze here but they might not have much else to offer in future seasons. The new pair of Caydee Denney and John Coughlin may end up being a contender for bronze. A summer skate shows that the two are working well together, though we have yet to see if the inconsistencies that plagued them in their previous partnerships will come back to haunt them.

Predictions:

Gold: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Silver: Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang
Bronze: Caydee Denney & John Coughlin

With this roster in ice dance, Meryl Davis and Charlie White can still fall 3 times in the competition and still win based off of their strong skating skills and prestige of being the product of Queen Marina and King Igor and last season’s World Champions. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat who suffered a great defeat in the battle for the World bronze medal must rally to show the judges that they’re starting out fresh and strong for future competitions but they should take the silver medal here quite easily as well. CBC has been touting Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill as the next generation of great Canadian ice dancing but I’m not really captivated by these two. Still, they’ve had some success, which is why I’m putting them in the bronze medal position in my predictions. If they actually do win the medal, CBC will be insufferable.

Predictions:

Gold: Meryl Davis & Charlie White
Silver: Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat
Bronze: Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill

What are your predictions for Skate America 2011? I’d love to hear them!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate America: Pairs LP – Final Flight

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy have just skated their LP and they should take the gold handily. The only thing I have to say is: “Aliona, did you really have to take the Pink Panther theme so far that you had to blind us with those hideous costumes?!?” Couldn’t she just wear a fierce bitch pink dress and just skate with it? My eyes hurt… the crazy sequins… the hot pink tights… ughhh.I mean, they did the only clown program I tolerated (clowns on ice are the worst, followed by a cowboy themed program which only my baby Chinese pair can get away with) but I don’t know if I can stand around watching that program again with those costumes. My eyes literally hurt. I’m not joking. In any case, their LP started with the biggest triple flip I have ever seen. Their choreography was filled with lovely transitions and spread eagles into elements. They were fast and the ending was pretty cute.

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch delivered a sloppy program with hands down on a throw triple salchow. There were some two-foot landings but somehow their scores were higher than Sui and Han. I would’ve put them ever so slightly below my baby Chinese pair because I do admit that the choreography and interpretation to their LP is pretty impressive. Those super long lifts at the end to the crescendos of the music are genius. These two are making a splash this year after teaming up in spring 2009. I hope to see them beat the mediocre Dube and Davison once they get their injured asses back on the ice. I’m not quite sure how Kirsten’s Heidi costume has to do with Les Miz though.

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han delivered one of their best performances for this LP. Admittedly, they are slower than some of the senior teams but they’ll get that speed in time. Their quad salchow was two footed but the fact that these two aren’t completely wiping out as most teams do when they attempt the element is already pretty impressive. With this 3rd place finish, they’ll probably end up in the finals along with the baby Russians. I’m looking forward to the growth of this team. They’re still rough around the edges and aren’t completely polished but their results are impressive for a team that have just come out of the junior ranks. The fact that their TES is right up there with some of the top teams shows that there could very possibly be a bright future for them. (Go for the gold in Sochi 2014, you two!)

Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett must be oh so disappointed that they were oh so close to the podium but missed it because of a fall on a throw triple loop (it might’ve been a salchow, my memory fails me at the moment). Unlike Aliona, Caydee sported a tastefully gorgeous blue dress (’cause they were skating to Rhapsody in Blue) which was more than easy on the eyes. If it were a full-length dress, I would totally wear it. Their program was otherwise solid but that fall was a total wipeout. These two scored higher than my baby Chinese pair on PCS but lost to them in terms of TES. (Actually, Sui and Han’s TES were only second to Savchenko and Szolkowy’s. =D) A pity because these two are really a decent team despite having such a short partnership.

Anyways, here are the results.

Gold: Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy
Silver:
Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch
Bronze:
Wenjing Sui and Cong Han

I will post a picture in the morning. Just to justify my mean comments on Aliona’s costume. Those who saw it would agree I hope.

~The Rinkside Cafe

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