Predictions: NHK Trophy 2017

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I would not be surprised if the competition has started already by the time I’m writing this. It has been a busy week and I need to go to bed, and soon. Redux version of predictions now. Names on page, and here we go.

 
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Predictions: NHK Trophy 2016

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The exhaustion is real, people. I have spent the entire day talking about how tired I am and I will do so again if I don’t keel over and sleep. Keeping it real simple like I did with TEB  – names on the podium. I’ll hopefully have time to spell out my thoughts a bit more before the GPF. The roster here is fairly strong and hopefully that’ll make the predictions a little more straightforward. Though you never know. Ice is slippery, after all. Now, predictions!

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Predictions: NHK Trophy 2015

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Another competition is upon us! The NHK Trophy is the last of the GP series before the Grand Prix Final and I am super excited!

In other news, CBC has reported that the ISU will use the standings from the SP as the final standings to calculate who gets into the GPF. This means that my predictions have completely gone into the garbage for TEB but in all honesty, I’m just glad that the skaters are safe. My continued thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by all of the terrible acts of terrorism around the world.

And now, back to our regular programming of predictions for this year’s NHK Trophy. More

Predictions: NHK Trophy 2014

yuzuru 14 coc sp

The last GP event before the Grand Prix Final is upon us! I’m not sure if I should cheer for the fact that the roster is half decent or if I should down some shots because there will be a lot of Phantom of the Opera programs this weekend. In any case, onwards as I attempt to predict the podium for each event for the NHK Trophy! More

The Senior Grand Prix Series is almost here!!!

Who’s excited??? Here are the dates for each of the events:

Skate America
Ontario, U.S.A
October 21st to October 23rd
Entries

Skate Canada
Mississauga, Canada
October 28th to October 30th
Entries

Cup of China
Shanghai, China
November 4th to November 6th
Entries

NHK Trophy
Sapporo, Japan
November 11th to November 13th
Entries

TEB
Paris, France
November 18th to November 20th
Entries

Rostelecom Cup
Moscow, Russia
November 25th to November 27th
Entries

Grand Prix Final
Quebec City, Canada
December 8th to December 11th
Entries – tba!

NHK Trophy – A few words on Pairs and the Men’s SP

I apologize for the long delay in covering the Pairs competition. I also realize that I lack coverage on the men’s SP but time constraints and my horrendous workload has forced me to these brief statements before I do my predictions for Skate Canada and then basically become a hermit for undisclosed reasons.

Men’s SP

It seemed to be a fabulous night all around. Daisuke Takahashi’s shirt was pretty distracting but the tango SP suited him very well. I do worry at the fact that he’s using Latin music for both programs this year since you want to show the judges that you aren’t a one trick pony but I think they can forgive Daisuke. He’s awesome after all.

Thankfully enough, Jeremy Abbott toned down his Lysacek-esque frantic/epileptic arm waving in his flamenco SP. I still prefer the marriage between him and Shae-Lynn Bourne choreography but I guess he wanted a fresh start after his disastrous showings at the Olympics and Worlds last year.

I will have some snark or comments on Florent Amodio who won bronze and Shawn Sawyer who was 3rd in the SP once I have time to watch them.

Pairs

Pang and Tong obviously won with a 16 points lead despite their mistake-laden LP. However, with the silver medal going to the Russians, they’re showing that the Russian Figure Skating Federation is not wasting time in trying to put up a strong team for Sochi 2014. Even now, I can see clear contenders for the ladies, pairs and ice dance competitions.

A development that is both interesting and sad is the fact that Narumi Takahashi and Melvin Tran winning bronze. I say that it’s sad because it reflects the sad, sad state of pairs skating today. Now that Shen and Zhao are back in retirement, we have only the Germans and a few Chinese teams at the top and the rest are still way, way, way, way, wayyyyyyyyyyy below them.

Also, these two have a HUGE problem if they want to compete at Sochi 2014. Tran is a Canadian citizen and if he wants to compete for Japan, he’ll have to get Japanese citizenship. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. Japan doesn’t allow dual citizenship so if he wants to seriously compete, he’ll have to renounce his Canadian citizenship. To many fans, that seems like a small price to pay to compete in something as epic as the Olympics but in all seriousness, a Canadian passport is probably one of the best to have in the entire world and I’m not saying that out of nationalism. Although I’m not too familiar with Japanese diplomatic relations but if I were Tran, I would be wary of losing that precious passport and the rights and protections that come with it..

Other than that, Takahashi and Tran have a lot of technique issues to work on. For example, they only did a double twist in their LP while their main rivals from the junior ranks, 2010 World Champions Sui Wenjin and Han Cong of China have been attempting – with some success – quad twists and throw salchows. (!) In any case, the fact that the junior world champions have been able to beat a few veterans and Olympians is a bit sad and I hope to see some changes soon.

Now, onto Skate Canada predictions!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Re: PJ Kwong’s Article on the “Perils of Coaching Changes”

So, PJ Kwong has recently blogged about Mao Asada’s decision on switching coaches. For those of you who know me personally, I often disagree with Kwong on gold medal predictions – especially when her predictions are often heavily influenced by a clear and almost inevitable sense of Canadian nationalism which I don’t share despite my Canadian citizenship –  and during those rare times when we do agree, it seems that something horrible happens to one of my favourites. In any case, it seems our differences in opinion diverge even more on the topic of Mao Asada and her coaching changes.

While Kwong argues that Mao’s coaching change seems “strange” especially with her success at the Olympics and Worlds, let’s point out a few things. First of all, diva coach extraordinaire Tatiana Tarasova has admitted that she felt bad for not being able to coach Mao to her fullest extent because she had to take care of her sick mother. Mao also didn’t stay in Russia because her parents couldn’t go with her to all of these foreign countries to train, which compromised the quality of her coaching/training.

Secondly, if you haven’t noticed, Mao’s programs for the last two years have not been favourably received. Yes, she’s won competitions but face it, did any fan (or judge) really think that her Bells of Moscow program really suited her? Why do you think she’s gone back to her more lyrical and flowing style? Mao’s scores at the Olympics and Worlds last year were high but remember that a) she was former world champion b) she’s a figure skating superstar and cash cow for the ISU, therefore her name carries some weight in figure skating politics and c) her coach and choreographer was the diva and figure skating mafia boss Tatiana Tarasova who has nurtured more world and Olympic champions than any other coach in the past couple of decades.

Now, onto my biggest problem with Kwong’s article. She writes:

“It’s common knowledge that when a coach starts working with a new student, they will more often than not make changes to a skater’s technique in an effort to help them develop. But how much room for development can there be with a world champion?”

Being a world champion doesn’t mean that you stop growing and fine-tuning your technique. Mao has had HUGE technique problems that have been detrimental to her scores and is a reason why she can’t break Yuna’s records. Mao is famous for her triple axels but infamous for being able to land them 1 out of 3 times and underrotating or falling on the other 2. Her flutz (whose negative GOEs are equal to falling) has been equally as infamous thanks to the Yunabots on youtube and Mao herself has admitted to being uncomfortable with her salchow – which she hasn’t attempted in years and yet ironically enough was one of the jumps she landed successfully on her LP at NHK.

Also, being a world champion now doesn’t mean that you’ll be world champion forever. If Mao is serious about her intentions to compete for the gold at Sochi, she will have to fix all her mistakes seeing that her lack of lutz definitely had a role in hurting her scores at the Olympics and also because she will potentially face competitors who may be even better than Yuna Kim. The Russians will not sit still with such a horrendous showing for figure skating medals at Vancouver and potentially in their arsenal for Sochi is the immensely talented Adelina Sotnikova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva who has Papa Mishin behind her and has shown that she is able to execute triple axels in practice. It should also be noted that Tuktamysheva’s scores at the junior level exceed the scores posted by Yuna Kim when she was a junior.

Finally, Kwong questions whether Mao can recover from her disastrous showing at NHK. A news article released shortly after the competition states that Mao has vowed a comeback. She may not be able to make the Grand Prix Finals but Mao states that she hasn’t fallen into pieces emotionally and that, ‘‘During the off season I have been rebuilding my jumps but I haven’t perfected them. They are getting better and better but are not in my system yet and that is part of the problem.’‘ Mao seems to be going for long-term improvement which shows a lot of emotional maturity. With this frame of mind, she might be able to improve herself in time for the next Olympics.

Thoughts? Opinions? I love comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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