Predictions: Skate Canada International 2016

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Tessa & Scott from Skate Canada International 2009.

I am so unbelievably excited for this weekend. I hesitated for the longest time to buy tickets but when I saw that Yuzuru and Tessa & Scott were on the roster, I was sold. Unlike Skate America last week, the roster here seems to be more focused on creating a pretty decent field with a seeded event. (Though right now, I’m good with the U.S. winning all the medals. Seriously, darling southern neighbours, you guys are already great. K? Hugs.) Now, onwards to predictions!

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Predictions: 2014 Skate America

gracie gold sochi

The skating season is upon us already! Time for predictions! This season is definitely going to be a huge surprise as a bunch of veterans have left and the newbies have come to play in hopes of being the next big thing in figure skating. Establishing a role as the new figure skating world leaders seems to be the theme at this year’s Skate America and the predictions for the bottom of the podium will definitely be difficult. With that, let’s begin!

Men

Tatsuki Machida and Dennis Ten look to be the stronger competitors at this competition so far. Machida has shown himself in the past season to be a serious contender for the top 5 in men’s skating and his consistency is helping him in that goal. Since last season, Machida has skated with a fire that allowed him to place 5th at the Olympics (and he was a serious contender for bronze) and 2nd at Worlds. If he skates well, he can take away the gold here. Ten, on the other hand has been known to be inconsistent, especially at the beginning of the season.

Home ice advantage goes to Jason Brown after a strong debut in the senior ranks with a LP that went viral last season. I am of the unpopular camp who didn’t find anything particularly remarkable about the Riverdance LP but he’s poised to be America’s next male skating sweetheart and we all know how popularity affects one’s skating career around here.

Predictions:

Gold: Tatsuki Machida
Silver:
Jason BrownBronze: Dennis Ten

Ladies

Gold is the name of the game here and with a perfect last name, media darling status and with a nation that is obsessed with finding America’s Next Top Ice Princess, Gracie Gold should be looking to secure herself as the top American lady. With home ice advantage and a relatively weak competition, she should be able to take gold, if maybe purely by PCS. One lady who could knock her off the top spot is Elena Radionova, a talented young Russian lady with star quality and acting ability like no other. Elena’s jumps looked a little shaky and low in the Russian test skates and I seriously hope that puberty has not affected her skating ability.

As for the bronze medal, I would keep my eye out for the two other American ladies, Samantha Cesario and Mirai Nagasu. I’ve never found anything remarkable about Cesario, though other bloggers would beg to differ, but she has produced some pretty decent mid-rank results in past GP events. With a weak field, she could boost her rankings up a few places. Nagasu, on the other hand, has worked pretty hard in the past few years to stubbornly show that she is not irrelevant and there have been times where she has proven us just that. The pick for bronze will be a tough one and I may result to either just pure gut feelings or a coin toss.

Predictions:

Gold: Gracie Gold
Silver:
Elena Radionova
Bronze: Samantha Cesario

Pairs

The pairs competition will be a battle between a relatively new couple and an old one. Veterans Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov who had faded into the background in pairs skating in general will likely have a showdown with Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang for the gold. The latter team have been together for only two seasons but in those 2 short years, they went from barely being able to touch each other to one of the most dazzling pairs teams on ice. If a year can allow them to improve leaps and bounds, I wonder what another year will do for this new team.

As for the bronze, Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier and Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim are teams I haven’t really heard of but their results in international competitions look rather similar. I might just leave the bronze prediction up to a coin toss here. Any thoughts to sway me towards one of two teams or another team altogether?

Predictions:

Gold: Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang
Silver:
Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov
Bronze: Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim

Ice Dance

Madison Chock & Evan Bates will be looking to fill the void left by Davis & White as the top American ice dance team. The Shibutanis haven’t quite gotten the support from Marina Zueva since their debut in the senior ranks and I would not be surprised if this continued. Still, the Shib sibs should be good enough to get the silver while the bronze is again, a mystery to me. I believe Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin were Junior GPF champions so I’ll put them in for bronze though honestly, it could go any way at the moment.

Predictions:

Gold: Madison Chock & Evan Bates
Silver:
Maia & Alex Shibutani
Bronze: Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin

Well, I have no clue if any of these predictions are going to be any good. What are your thoughts and predictions? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Opinion: Ashley Wagner Deserves to be on the U.S. Olympic Team

us nationals ladies podium 2014 2

From my post on the announcement on the American Olympic team, you would know that the U.S. Figure Skating Association made a very unusual decision to name Ashley Wagner, who placed 4th at Nationals, to the Olympic team in lieu of Mirai Nagasu who placed 3rd. In this Slate article on the Harding/Kerrigan incident and the marketability of athletes, the author suspects that this decision might have something to do with how Wagner’s been played up in the media lately. Others, on the other hand, suspect that race might be the issue.

Personally, I find this talk of of the Wagner/Nagasu controversy a little frustrating partly because 1) the USFSA has somewhat set themselves up for it by the way they construct their Olympic/World Championship teams and partly because 2) the people who wrote these articles probably didn’t pay attention to the 2012/2013 season OR the events earlier this season, namely the Grand Prix events.

To elaborate, if you’ve read my Skating 101 post on Olympic berths and how we decide how many spots and which skaters to send to the Olympics, you’ll know that each country’s figure skating federation gets the final say on which skaters to send to the Olympics and the World Championships. Each country has their own criteria and for the U.S., the decision is often solely based on the results of their National Championships. Other countries, like Japan, take the Grand Prix series, which happens earlier in the season, into account while others, like Russia or Italy may choose to send their highest ranking competitors at Nationals and have them duke it out in the European Championships for a spot. What is most striking about the way Japan, Russia or Italy (and many other countries) chooses their Olympic team is that other competitions have some influence over the final decision, lowering the stakes of the National competition.

Overall, the National competition is, in my opinion, the least important competition of the season. The National competition is not an ISU-sanctioned event, and therefore the scores and results there don’t count towards the points that skaters gather over the season to determine their world rankings. (This system is separate from the results of the World Championships and is basically a way to rank the competitors based on the points they garner through various international competitions throughout the season.) Furthermore, any scores, even world record-setting scores, at National competitions don’t count when determining world records, partly because the scores for top skaters are rather inflated at Nationals. In other words, scores at Nationals are kind of weird at the top. Finally, the biggest reason why the National competition is one of the least important of the year: chances are, the competition at Nationals is really watered down. Very few countries have multiple exciting and A-list competitors in one discipline. Right now, Japan is an exception to that with their singles disciplines but that may change next season when a huge list of veterans begin their retirement.

In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. upped the stakes for their national competition to make the event more exciting to watch. A high stakes competition is a good way to get skaters to skate as well as they can and generate enough interest and revenue from ticket sales. There’s also the historical factor of how the U.S. used to have a huge list of amazing ladies skaters (and how obsessive the USFSA is of finding The Next American Ladies Champion), which would warrant this type of competition but frankly, the U.S. seems to have a good arsenal of ice dancers nowadays while the competition in other disciplines seems a little watered down. Sure, the struggle for gold at Nationals might seem exciting but as of now, the only figure skating medal that the U.S. can really bet on in Sochi is the ice dance. Gold, in fact. Medals from the men or pairs event are unlikely but as for the ladies…

Well, in the international arena, the ladies competition at the Olympics will be quite interesting. I’m pretty sure Yuna Kim will be part of the podium and I wouldn’t be surprised if she got the gold medal. Mao Asada had a little trouble at Nationals (bronze) but her season so far has been a story of gradual improvement. As for the bronze, I would have said last year that Carolina Kostner would be a good contender but with her bronze at the European Championships (rather than the gold), I’d say that the Olympic bronze (and possibly silver) are fair game. If I had to say who the top contenders are at the moment, I’d name the two young Russian ladies, Julia Lipnitskaia and Adelina Sotnikova, possibly Gracie Gold and… Ashley Wagner.

Ashley Wagner 2012 SA LP

If any of these journalists or viewers who are making this huge fuss about Wagner’s appointment to the Olympic team had paid any attention to the beginning of the 2013/2014 season, you’d see that out of all the U.S. ladies, Wagner was the most successful in the senior Grand Prix circuit.

Exhibit A: Wagner was the only American lady who qualified for the senior Grand Prix Final event. (See my roster post for the GPF)

Gracie Gold, the National Champion was 3rd alternate, Mirai Nagasu did not qualify at all while the silver medalist, Polina Edmunds only competed in junior Grand Prix events, meaning she has yet to compete with the veterans and the people who will actually go to Sochi.

Wagner qualified for the GPF because she was in the top 6 of best rankings in her Grand Prix assignments.

Ashley Wagner: 1st at TEB, 2nd in Skate America
Gracie Gold: 3rd in Skate Canada, 4th in the NHK Trophy
Mirai Nagasu: 3rd at the Cup of Russia, 8th in the NHK Trophy

Polina Edmunds: 1st in both the Junior Grand Prix events in Belarus and Mexico.

Exhibit B: In terms of her skating, Wagner has been skating relatively clean during the GP series. Someone at The Skating Lesson has offered a reason for Wagner’s lower scores for her clean/almost clean skates (read the post here). I haven’t been paying to much attention to Wagner’s programs this season but I hope she resolves the issue in time for Sochi.

Edit: According to this article, Wagner is changing her long program by skating to Samson and Delilah (her LP from last year) with hybrid choreography derived from her Romeo and Juliet and Samson and Delilah programs.

Exhibit C: Not quite proof but the big flaw in the high stakes national competition – just like at any high stakes standardized test, its greatest flaw in measuring achievement is that it can only measure the test taker’s ability on that particular day. It’s just like if you had a terrible day and you took the SATs and got a bad score because things just kept going wrong and you couldn’t focus on the test. Maybe Ashley just had a bad weekend during Nationals. Who knows. But that shouldn’t eclipse her success just weeks ago at the Grand Prix Final.

I’m not a huge fan of Ashley Wagner but by looking at what she’s done so far in the season, I think the U.S. Figure Skating Association would be foolish if they didn’t send her to Sochi. And let this be a lesson to them for setting such high stakes at their Nationals competition: it stirs up controversy over Olympic selection and the outrage is generally from people who don’t follow the sport closely. In the end, I hope that Wagner and all Olympic figure skaters deliver so that we have an exciting competition in Sochi.

What are your thoughts on the Wagner/Nagasu controversy? Who did you think should have been on the U.S. Olympic team? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Predictions: Four Continents 2013

Oh you aio;sfjsdifjadsl;kjf;asjfs. WordPress or my computer or the gremlins deleted the stuff I wrote just now. $%#@. Here we go again. Attempt #2 at writing this.

Also, this will be post #300 for the Rinkside Cafe! Woo!

Yuzuru Hanyu sp 2012

Yuzuru beckons you in… More

NHK Trophy 2012: Predictions

The GP series is coming to a close and the NHK Trophy is here, and it will be the last competition before the final. The roster for this competition is looking really good (or at least better than TEB) and I’m super excited.

Akiko Suzuki beckons you in with her lovely costume…. More

Cup of China 2012: Predictions

I’m so sorry for the delay on predictions. I’ve been so swamped this week with work and life and everything. I realize that with the time difference half the competition is done already but I’ll look at the roster without looking at the results and come up with predictions.

Mao beckons you in…

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Skate Canada 2011: Predictions

Ok. I’ll make this quick because I seriously need to do some stuff and sleep before I can watch the ladies program. I hope Elizaveta skates in the latter group so I can have a little extra sleep. I’m awfully mad that I can’t watch the SD live because of work but I know that videos will surface. I don’t think I’ll live blog the events I’ll (hopefully) be watching live since my live blogs are totally inadequate when compared to others but I hope that my posts will be a bit more speedy. In any case, PREDICTIONS.

Men

I have no doubt in my mind that Patrick Chan will win. Even if he falls on his ass 3 times in a program, the judges will somehow award him enough PCS to give him a shiny gold medal. Just like last year. (Remember my outrage?) As for the rest of the podium, I sincerely hope that Daisuke Takahashi won’t give us a repeat performance of the Japan Open, though if he skates clean, he should be able to clinch the silver. I’m so cynical right now that I’m absolutely positive that even if Chan falls 3 times and Daisuke skates cleanly, Chan can still win the gold. If Chan does skate cleanly, be prepared for inflation of vomit-inducing proportions. As for the bronze, I’d say it would be a toss-off between surprise Skate America silver medalist, Kevin Van Der Perren, the newly Orserfied Javier Fernandez and last year’s hopeful phenom that’s starting to fade without a stable quad or 3A, Adam Rippon.

Predictions:

Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Daisuke Takahashi
Bronze: Javier Fernandez

Ladies


The ladies roster is exciting not because there are tons of high profile names. In fact, there really isn’t anyone who’s clearly an A-list skater. What’s exciting is the potential in this ladies field. FSOnline commented that a mini-U.S. nationals is happening because of the appearance of Mirai Nagasu, Rachael Flatt and Ashley Wagner. I’d never really place any bets on the latter two but Mirai is also a risky bet. A more mature Akiko Suzuki will emerge hopefully from a bit of a disappointing season last year. She’s a GP skater to look out for though I’m a bit worried about how she’ll do against the young phenom, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva who has a triple-triple and Papa Mishin’s backing in her arsenal. As for Cynthia Phaneuf, who PJ Kwong claims can “reach” her audience unlike Elizaveta (a statement I just disregarded because Liza has more charisma than Cynthia can ever hope for – not to mention Phaneuf’s performances makes drying paint look more entertaining), I wouldn’t be surprised if Skate Canada gave her tons of points of a good SP only to have that effort wasted when she skates a terrible LP.  I’m really not sure how this competition will go but I’ll give these predictions a shot.

Predictions:

Gold: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Silver: Akiko Suzuki
Bronze: Mirai Nagasu

Pairs

 

The pairs competition will be exciting for once. The gold will definitely go to Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov even though Nikolai Morozov’s horrid choreography is ruining this pair. If my baby Chinese pairs (Wenjing Sui and Cong Han) team can skate clean and get over their hiccups in their junior GP assignments, they have the technical elements and potential to win silver. I don’t know how much influence Mother Russia will have in this competition but we should probably keep an eye out for Lubov Iliushchekina and Nodari Maisuradze. These two have a mature skating style, though I feel that Nodari is holding Lubov back at times for being a less than reliable partner and for not giving 110% in his performance. Narumi Takahashi and Melvin Tran will be fun to watch but their competitors are too good, which may dash their GPF hopes at least at Skate Canada.

Predictions:

Gold: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Silver: Wenjing Sui & Cong Han
Bronze: Lubov Iliushchekina & Nodari Maisuradze

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition marks the return of Tessa and Scott to the Grand Prix circuit after skipping it last year for Tessa’s surgery. Barring major disaster or injury, they should be given the gold quite handily. With hometown advantage and the absence of Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat due to illness, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje should have a good start to their season as well with a silver. The bronze is a bit of a toss-off between Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko (more Russian names I can’t pronounce) and the newly formed team of Madison Chock and Evan Bates. The battle for bronze is a battle between Mother Russian and Queen Marina’s influence.

Predictions:

Gold: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir ❤
Silver: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
Bronze: Ekaterina Riazanova & Ilia Tkachenko

Ok. Chores and sleep. So much to do, so little time? Any opinions on the outcomes at Skate Canada?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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