Predictions: Internationaux de France

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The Grand Prix series is getting close to the final and stakes are high. In the men’s competition, it’s a chance to shine given that Yuzuru and Javier will likely not be part of the GPF roster. It’s been another busy week so here goes nothing!
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Predictions: Trophée Eric Bompard 2015

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The competition looks pretty stacked for TEB 2015 so let’s get to it! My predictions last week were way off their mark and I have a feeling with so many wildcards about, it will be the same here. So onwards! More

Debrief: Skate America 2015

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The figure skating season started last week at Skate America. The competition had many surprises and overall, I thought it was a great start to the season! Let’s start with some highlights.
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Skate Canada International 2014: Highlights and Commentary

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I was away Saturday evening, meaning I missed some of the competitions that happened in the evening but I have caught up and I’m ready to blog! I will not be silenced! Skate Canada was slightly better than Skate America in that there was more than one highlight. Otherwise, there was still a lot of mindless choreography, strange music cuts and random lyrics that brought nothing to the program.

Men

The story last weekend for the men was a continuation of what happened in Skate America: without Daisuke’s starpower to overshadow them, the lower ranked Japanese man of seasons past – Takahito Mura – brought his A-game, threw down the gauntlet and showed everyone that he was a force to be reckoned with by winning gold. Sadly, Mura did skate to the Phantom of the Opera with haphazard music cuts. Mura does have lovely jump technique but I’d like to see him skate to a non-warhorse. But, in any case, here’s another Japanese man I can’t underestimate in my predictions for the rest of the season.

Javier Fernandez, who was leading after the short skated a frantic and mistake-filled long. Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” is a beautiful and energetic opera (and I am so excited to see it live in Spring of 2015) but his choreographer seemed to create very frenetic moments in the program that prevent Javier from showcasing his skating ability and charming personality. His SP is slightly better though it does feel a little like Yuzuru’s record breaking SP. Javier brings a lot of charm and smoulder to this program to make it his but there’s a niggling feeling inside me that tells me that Javier could do better than this.

As for bronze medalist, Max Aaron, well, he skated. I was not enthused about his Gladiator LP. Neither were a few of my Twitter followers. ‘Nuff said.

Ladies

Anna Pogorilya, successfully defended her Skate Canada title against Ashley Wagner. Pogorilaya’s technical elements score was a key factor in her victory and understandably so. Her flat interpretation (complete with a lack of facial expressions) of her Firebird LP felt frenetic and rushed and the music and the music cuts didn’t quite help. Wagner on the other hand, sold her programs… as Michelle Kwan. From the opening double axel to the flat fingered arm movements, everything Wagner did on ice was reminiscent of the Kween in terms of choreography. That might sound good on paper but let’s remember this from last season:

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Ashley was an internet meme for her no bullshit personality and even though I’m not partial to her skating, this is what I like best about Ashley Wagner. She has a personality. It’s a strong one that not everyone might like (though that’s true for everyone) and she’s not an ice princess but she’s her. While Gracie Gold was being neatly packaged in preparation for the next Olympic cycle in Sochi, Ashley decided to skate programs that fit her – she was not a blushing Juliet but a powerful Delilah. That is what I like about her – that’s not Michelle Kwan but herself through and through. In fact, in this sense, I feel as if she’s more likeable than Gracie Gold, who I don’t really know anything about. Who is she beyond that neatly manicured image of her? We’re certainly not going to know with the way that she’s packaged this season.

Moving on, I think the highlight of the ladies competition for me was Satoko Miyahara. I’m not fond of her SP, especially the costume but her LP was interesting. In terms of choreography, it’s not amazing but she sells this program so well that it doesn’t even feel like she’s selling you anything. The bonus? Her speed and how I am so fascinated by her jumps. They don’t gain much height but they’re generally solid and she lands them with a beautiful running edge. Of course, I don’t doubt that she has issues with under-rotation but her landings are a thing of beauty.

Pairs

I know that I’m already not that popular with Canadian readers, probably because I’m Canadian and refuse to drink the CBC pro-Canadian cool-aid but I fear that what I have to say will make me even less popular. I am trying to like Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, I really am. I really like how they’re trying to push pairs skating into trying more difficult elements like side by side triple lutzes and quad throw salchows but beyond these big tricks, I don’t really feel anything when I watch this team. (I’m not even sure if that’s better or worse than the exasperation and dread I feel when I watch Volosozhar & Trankov skate to Evanescence/other emo music.) Maybe it’s the choice of music (I’m really not fond of their song for the SP) or maybe it’s just that they’re more skaters and less performers but they’re missing that magical spark. Maybe it’s just me and I have no soul but beyond the fact that they’re throwing out huge tricks, I’m not really as fascinated with these two as the rest of Canada.

I’ll mention Evgnia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov before I talk about the highlight of the pairs competition, who I thought had lovely classic Russian lines. I’m not completely taken with them but I’m curious to see how they develop. These two emote well on the ice and their skating is decently solid that I would earmark them as a team with potential. Another team with potential I’d like to point out is Madeline Aaron & Max Settlage – although Madeline skates with a lot more polish than her partner (she finishes her movements, has better lines and general skating skills), I really love the energy these two bring on the ice.

As for my highlight for the pairs competition, that honour goes to Wenjing Sui & Cong Han. Honestly, I had to a degree, written these two off after their rough season last year, which is why I predicted they’d win the bronze rather than the silver. However, it seems as if Sui & Han really took their loss of a trip to the Olympics to heart and revamped their skating technique. Since last season, they seem more together, their movements look more controlled and they look as if they’ve gained a little more consistency than before. Sui & Han feel like Takahashi & Tran during their peak but with a little more maturity and I am so excited to watch them skate their LP again. There’s a subtle drama to it and I think it’s a wonderful vehicle for them to showcase how they’ve grown.

Ice Dance

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I’m still waiting for an ice dance team to really shine this season but again, the season has just started. But still… there has to be one memorable Paso Doble SD and I’m still struggling to think of one I actually remember. As for the teams, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje won easily though their FD may need to be reworked. If you know anything about art history in the Baroque period, you’d know that this period in art was known to be florid and ornate in order to produce art that was very dramatic and grand. (See above, Peter Paul Rubens’ Hippopotamus Hunt.)

Vivaldi’s music, including The Four Seasons was born during this art period. Though beloved by many, The Four Seasons is a piece of music with a lot of details, which might not be easily paired with ice skating, a sport based on long gliding movements. Skaters such as Alexei Yagudin have used parts of this music successfully in the past but they seemed to have limited themselves to one season. Weaver & Poje’s ambitious program seeks to cut music from all four seasons together and from what I’ve seen, I’m not sure if it works. The program overall looks rushed and the movements don’t feel coherently tied together. Overall, this program is a little like their statue program from a few seasons back, a little rough in its first iteration though this time, I’m not very fond of its first iteration as I was with Humanity in Motion.

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier surprised me with a charming FD. I quite like that rotational lift with Piper in a standing position and overall, they’re already miles ahead of what Vanessa Crone & Paul used to be.

Anyways, I’m finished writing. What about you? What did you think of Skate Canada? Let me hear your opinions in the comments!

~Rinkside Cafe

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.

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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