Predictions: Cup of China 2017

sui and han sa 2015

I have a feeling the competition is starting soon so here are my predictions really quickly. The Cup of China is always an interesting competition since there’s always that attempt to build the roster to maximize medals for the home team… except there really isn’t much to work with at the moment outside of pairs for China at times. Either way, onwards and upwards!
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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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Debrief: Grand Prix Final – Part II

stolbova klimov 15 gpf lp

Alright! It’s time for part II of the Grand Prix Final debrief with the pairs and ice dance competition! I apologize for the lateness but better late than never? These posts remind me why I usually do a “State of the Union” post after the GPF but it seems this season, my tardiness has some benefits. I believe some of the results at Nationals may be a little more telling than what transpired at the GPF so… I will do a 4CC predictions post but all my thoughts on the outcomes of Euros and 4CC and some of the national competitions will be summed up in a State of the Union post.

As for Worlds… well, I have a bit of a surprise which I think I will reveal a little later in the season. But first, GPF debrief! Let’s go!

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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

 

 

GPF 2013: Figure Skating Politics

Aliona and Robin GPF 2013 LP

When I was watching the Grand Prix Final, this article from Figure Skating Lessons kept popping up on my mind as the competitions played themselves out. More precisely, point no. 1 really hit home as some really surprising results came  in. Like Haymitch’s sponsor gifts from the widely popular Hunger Games series, scores and placements in figure skating can send a message to skaters and there were a few messages that were pretty clear at this competition.

Before I elaborate, I’ll just underscore the importance of the GPF as a competition. Many of the world’s finest skaters have competed at the final and it will likely be the biggest international showdown before the Olympics. This competition gives a rough idea of what the standings may look like in Sochi and there isn’t going to be a competition where a lot of the big names meet until then. A lot of A-list skaters tend to skip the European Championships or Four Continents in order to be at their peak and ready for the Olympics.

In any case, here were some “messages” I feel like were being expounded by the judges at the GPF.

1. Bad skates cannot be rewarded.

Patrick Chan. Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov. Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev. The former two skater/teams were supposed to be a lock on gold while the last team was supposed to be a lock on bronze. I made my predictions for the GPF with full confidence that their PCS would be able to buoy their scores in case anything went wrong but that wasn’t the case.

 

Chan two-footed his 3A really awkwardly and doubled his lutz in the short.

Tatiana fell in two jumping passes in the LP.

Soloviev fell in the FD.

Normally, I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these transgressions were forgiven, especially for Chan and V/T, and their grasp for the gold medal maintained by their PCS. (I mean, we still remember Chan being booed at the 2012 World Championships in Nice for a reason.) However, that forgiveness from the PCS didn’t happen and those with locks on certain medals ended up a tad lower than I expected. Wow. I seriously didn’t think that would happen.

But then again, this is the Olympic year and it’s nearly been 12 years since the Salt Lake City figure skating scandal. Despite being a decade-old scandal, the empty or emptier arenas and the end of the golden age of figure skating keeps the scandal fresh in the minds of fans. This is an interesting message to send to skaters and fans alike that bad skating will be duly noted in the scores but whether or not PCS inflation for specific skaters will happen at the Olympics is another matter. We’ll just have to wait and see.

2. Meryl Davis & Charlie White will likely get the ice dance crown in Sochi.

Tessa & Scott and Meryl & Charlie faced off against each other for the first time this season at the GPF and wow, am I impressed. Both teams delivered two great performances and this is what I’ve been looking for from all skaters this season.  Bravo!

In any case, I think we know who the judges prefer this season and overall, I’m not surprised. Meryl & Charlie won both the SD and FD by very small increments. In the SD, V/M scored higher on the TES but only trailed their rivals by 0.7 overall. In the FD, a level 3 diagonal step sequence proved to be costly for V/M and with a slightly lower PCS, D/W won that portion of the competition as well. In the past few seasons, Tessa & Scott have been having trouble beating their rivals and training mates but I think V/M have finally gotten on track and are giving their rivals a run for their money.

However, the lower PCS for V/M should be a point of concern if they want to win the Olympics. Now that they’re back at where they need to be technically, I fear that politics have come into play. This season, Canada has the ability to win two gold medals in figure skating in the men’s and ice dance competition. The only difference is that Canada has already won the ice dance Olympic gold in Vancouver but they’ve never managed the men’s gold even with brilliant stars like Kurt Browning and Jeffrey Buttle. It will be difficult to back two gold medal contenders at the Olympics and I think Chan is the household name that Skate Canada wants to sell this season, which may not bode well with V/M. The PCS score allows judges to diversify the figure skating podium along nationality, lowballing skaters who may not be ranked #1 in their country or lowballing certain skaters in one discipline to allow another to triumph in another discipline.

I think I’ve reached a zen state about politicking and I know that it will always be a part of this sport which I love dearly. Judging art will always be affected by the political or social climate of the time and is therefore, subjective – I find Bach a little dull at times but I love the elegance and “shiny” quality of Mozart but for one of my best friends, she shares the opposite opinion. Right now, I’m really tired of the negativity and hate from both sides of the V/M and D/W fanbase. What I see here is the triumph of ice dance where two teams have been pushed to create and skate in ways that are far superior to what we’ve seen before. Personally, I don’t really care what medals they win, they both deserve gold for what they’ve done to the sport and they both triumph if they’ve delivered a beautiful program.

What were your thoughts on the politics of the GPF? Let me know in the comments!

Also, thank you all so much for the support I’ve been given during the GPF. Your comments and views motivate me to write and I’m so happy that you enjoy my random ramblings!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Predictions: Cup of Russia 2013

Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje have posted a lovely picture of themselves, probably at practice at the CoR and then I realized I haven’t put up my predictions yet. I knew I shouldn’t have been watching all those videos of a random puppet screaming obscenities at one of my favourite youtubers. What am I doing with my life? Anyways, here’s the picture I mentioned and the predictions will follow. Onwards!

Kaitlyn Andrew 13 CoR prac

Photo from this Tweet.

Men

This is going to be a tough call and it will really depend on who will be more consistent: Javier Fernandez or Tatsuki Machida? The funny thing is, Machida has done quite well in the GP series last season as well as this season but he hasn’t made it to the World Championships because he hasn’t done well at Nationals and there’s a stacked field of competitors in the men’s competition in Japan. I’m not quite a fan of his style but he’s proven that he can pull off good skates in the face of some tough competitors. Fernandez, on the other hand, has tons of personality and skill but seems to falter at crucial moments. He didn’t start his season out too well so it’ll be up in the air in terms of how well he’s going to do at the Cup of Russia.

The bronze medal is also going to be a tough call. Maxim Kovtun did win a silver at the Cup of China, albeit in a weak field of men’s competitors. I didn’t like his windmill arms but apparently the judges do and that could get him a bronze here.

Predictions:

Gold: Tatsuki Machida
Silver:
Javier Fernandez
Bronze:
Maxim Kovtun

Ladies

This roster is another tough call for a few reasons:

1. Carolina Kostner‘s rough start to her season resulting in a bronze medal finish at the Cup of China. In addition to that, she lost to two jumping beans, one of them a youngin’ who just started in the senior circuit.

2. Julia Lipnitskaia fits the description of young jumping bean who just started in the senior circuit.

I’ve been reluctant to put Lipnitskaia at the top of my predictions mostly due to my opinion that she won’t last long at the top of the senior circuit. She’s a tiny wisp of the thing with jumping prowess now but her jumps are pretty low, landed with a shaky edge and with little speed coming out of them. The argument here is that despite my opinion and even if she doesn’t get high PCS, she has the potential to score a high TES that can snag the gold away from Carolina if she falters.

So now, the question for these predictions will be: Will Carolina skate clean? Her jump content will be weaker compared to Lipnitskaia but she’s ten times the performer compared to the youngin’.

As for bronze, Kanako Murakami got off to a rough start at the Cup of China (4th place) but Kanako tends to get better as the season progresses. If she doesn’t skate well, home-ice and Papa Mishin may be able to squeak in a victory for Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. She’s still full of star quality but puberty hasn’t treated her well and she tends to make a lot of costly mistakes in her short program.

Predictions:

Gold: Carolina Kostner (Please, Caro!)
Silver:
Julia Lipnitskaia
Bronze:
Kanako Murakami

Pairs

I’m surprised that Volosozhar & Trankov didn’t get chosen to skate here considering they are the most likely to win Olympic gold for Russia. Oh well, the victory at the Cup of Russia will likely go to their rivals then. I have no doubt that Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy will do well here.

As for the rest of the medals… Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch are generally uninspiring performers but technically good enough to snag a medal. Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov won bronze at Skate America with a large point difference between themselves and Moore-Towers & Moscovitch. That should make my silver and bronze predictions a little easier. Though Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov might throw off my bronze predictions. Who knows?

Predictions:

Gold: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Silver:
Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch
Bronze:
Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov

Ice Dance

No dramatic building of the Team Canton rivalry here but this roster presents an interesting scenario. Katilyn Weaver & Andrew Poje and Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev both won silver medals at their first GP assignment. The difference however, is in the points. Kaitlyn & Andrew have been skating very well lately and have scored 10 points higher than Bobrova & Soloviev. One thing to consider, though, is the boost in points the latter team gets from home-ice advantage. This will definitely be an interesting match-up. What’s more interesting is that if Bobrova & Soloviev don’t win the gold here, we may see Ilinykh & Katsalapov take the top spot at Russian Nationals this year…

As for bronze, Madison Chock & Evan Bates, though skating to irritating or lame music, should be technically proficient enough to take the bronze.

Predictions:

Gold: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
Silver:
Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev
Bronze:
Madison Chock & Evan Bates

What are your predictions for the Cup of Russia? Let me know!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Predictions: Cup of China 2013

Ahhhh! I have 16 hours to make these predictions. Bloody time differences. Ok, lunch first.

Done.

Zijin Li 12 lp

Onwards to the predictions for the Cup of China 2013!

Men

First up, the men!

Ah, come on, really? Am I seriously supposed to make predictions based on this clusterf*** of a roster? So many of the frontrunners are so inconsistent. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

Ok. Problem solving skills. Go.

Some names that pop off right off the bat: Takahiko Kozuka, who had a really rough start at Skate America this year but still has the potential to grab a medal… I think. Denis Ten, last year’s World silver medalist who’s win was a complete surprise because he has the potential but his previous results have always put him in the second group of skaters at GP events. Then, there’s Florent Amodio… WHO GOT NEW COACHES! *opens up some champagne* YES. This kid has potential but those horrific programs with a gazillion pauses were weighing him down. This is great news. Han Yan also has home-ice advantage and a lot of potential. A good candidate to snatch a medal off a veteran’s hand if they don’t skate well.

So now that the initial list is done, I’m really not sure how to rank them. It could honestly go any way. Let’s just throw caution to the wind and randomly come up with a ranking.

Predictions:

Gold: Florent Amodio
Silver:
Denis Ten
Bronze:
Han Yan

Ladies

With a newfound consistency and beautiful performances, Carolina Kostner, will likely win the gold. Adelina Sotnikova‘s terrible programs (and hence, lower PCS) and Kanako Murakami‘s lower TES make them somewhat at the same level and these two will likely duke it out for silver and bronze. If any of them make a mistake, fresh-faced Zijun Li could also grab a medal and hopefully her Coppelia LP will be great since I’ve pegged that as a fantasy program for her in this post.

Predictions:

Gold: Carolina Kostner
Silver:
Kanako Murakami
Bronze:
Adelina Sotnikova

Pairs

Barring some freak accident or injury, former World Champions, Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy, should be able to take the gold. They might face some strong competition from Qing Pang & Jian Tong, who took a year off last season but are likely still better than the rest of the competition. I’m almost tempted to say that I refuse to pick a bronze medal winner but I’ll just close my eyes and point to a name on the screen. It’s anybody’s game at this point. Anastasia Martiusheva & Alexei Rogonov. Ok, done!

Predictions:

Gold: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Silver:
Qing Pang & Jian Tong
Bronze:
Anastasia Martiusheva & Alexei Rogonov

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition will likely be a three-way race between Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev, Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat and Madison Chock & Evan Bates. I’d give the edge to the first two teams though even when you narrow the gold medal choices down to two, it’ll be interesting to see who prevails. B/S has been beating P/B for a little while now but P/B have switched to Igor Shpilband, which might give them that extra boost they need to regain the top European spot. This will be a tough call.

Predictions:

Gold: Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev
Silver:
Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat
Bronze:
Madison Chock & Evan Bates

What are your predictions for the Cup of China this year? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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