Predictions: NHK Trophy 2018


rika kihira

Like last week, this week’s predictions will be names on a page. I feel like work, life and everything in between has dialed it up to 11 lately and I am in a serious need for a break. As a result, I have decided to extend my non-CoR coverage this year so I can properly get some rest during my trip next week.

Side-note: I loved Hiroshima when I last visited. It was a city with a lot of heart. I am so envious of the people who get to go to the competition live this year.


Predictions: NHK Trophy 2017


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.


Predictions: NHK Trophy 2016


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!


Predictions: NHK Trophy 2015

mao 2015 lp

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

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

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

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

Paris, France
November 18th to November 20th

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

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.


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

NHK Trophy – The Perfect Podium

This was the podium that I wanted to see since looking at the entries for ice dance at NHK. I’m so surprised that my wish came true!

All I can say is that the King and Queen of ice dance are not Meryl and Charlie or Tessa and Scott but… *drumroll and trumpets* Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband. Two teams of theirs on the podium again. The Shibushibus were 5th after the SD too…

As expected, Meryl and Charlie won. They delivered a feisty tango. I still like Samson and Delilah and PotO better though.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje’s FD to Moulin Rouge wasn’t spectacular. I didn’t like the cuts of music and the choreo was a bit patchy but the music suits them for some reason. They kind of remind me of the protagonists in Moulin Rouge I guess. (Not that Kaitlyn is a prostitute.)

The Shibushibus have my favourite FD so far. They have wonderful lines/extension, lovely unison, great free legs. I can see a bright future for them.

The baby Russians delivered a pretty good performance of their Don Quixote FD. It didn’t have the cleanliness and smoothness as the Shibushibu’s FD but I think it would’ve been sufficient for the bronze. Then again, they don’t have Queen Marina coaching them, which makes a world of difference.

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte had a lovely, jazzy, sultry FD but they messed out on their twizzles and screwed up their lift. They are a lovely couple but they don’t quite have the soul to soul chemistry that some other pairs do. Anna definitely wasn’t happy with Luca at the end of that performance. I can see a Fusar Poli/Margaglio glare contest for these two sometime in the future. I look forward to it.


~The Rinkside Cafe

Live blogging – NHK Trophy Men’s LP (Final Flight)

I missed the first flight. I’m sorry if I got the jumps wrong. I’m a bit rusty from the summer and I had a friend on msn. It was distracting. >_<

Denis Ten

Step out on the triple axel. Shaky landing on a triple lutz. I’m not really liking this slowed down version of Totentanz. Really off centre loop. Ah, now the music picks up. Pulls it together for the circular step sequence. Doubles (?) a triple axel but rebounds with a good triple loop. Fall on the triple lutz, I think it was doubled as well. Step out on the triple salchow, single (?) toe combination. Ok, he’s totally falling apart… he just doubled another jump. And please don’t imitate Yuna’s bentleg camel, it’s fug, even when she does it. Wow, a biellmann. Stumble in the middle of the midline step sequence. Awww… the music ended before the cool guitar part. Good effort, I guess. He’ll learn to be more consistent with Frank Carroll though.

Yuzuru Hanyu

Yay! It’s Yuzuru! Gorgeous triple. Underrotated triple axel. Lovely recovery. Gorgeous spins. Will he do a biellmann like Ten? Ina bauer into a triple flip. (Sorry about the holes my friend was talking to me on msn.) Footwork full of diva. Beautiful triple axel, double toe. A bit forward on the takeoff for the triple lutz. Popped loop. Slowing down a bit in his spins. He’s losing energy but the audience is behind him. Lovely loop. Final combination spin… He seems happy with that performance. I want to pinch his cheeks and steal his gloves… just by the way. He is a developing diva. I can’t wait to see him in a year or two.

Florent Amodio

This guy has become popular during the summer. Beautiful triple axel. Another beautiful triple axel and tano armed double toe. Lovely triple loop. And he’s skating to Justin Timberlake’s “Apologize”? Now he’s bringin’ the gangsta. LOL. Love this guy. Go Florent!  Pimp it out! I didn’t even notice he was doing a step sequence… There’s a lot of pauses in this program and standing around… Beautiful triple triple. And another triple something. And another (flip?) Triple lutz, double toe. Popped double axel. XD MJ is in da house! Final combination spin… Awesome program! It was so much fun!!! I want to watch that again… This guy is such a charmer, even in the kiss and cry.

Shawn Sawyer

His lines remind me of Johnny Weir. Two-footed triple axel. Fall and underrotated triple lutz. Solid flip. And salchow (?) Spiral, even though men don’t do them. It’s sad he has better extension than some of the ladies. Double loop. Really putting in the acting skills. Good thing too ’cause this music is super heavy. You could easily drown in it. Triple flip, step out, triple loop. Interesting camel variation. (Yes, I know, I skipped a jump.) Double axel, double toe. Really cool Y spin to end. We might just see Florent on the podium though…

Jeremy Abbott

Love Jeremy’s new costume. Guys should dress like that all the time. Sans the sparkles. Lovely triple lutz. *closes msn window* It was distracting. Wonderful triple axel, triple toe. I love “Life is Beautiful”… circular step sequence into a double axel. Popped an axel. Triple loop, double toe, double loop. Good recovery. Triple flip, double toe. Gosh, I love this music. Triple salchow. This program suits him very well. There’s also a hint of Kurt Browning in it. I approve. Beautiful performance. I can’t wait to see this again.

Daisuke Takahashi

He’s being totally intense from the outset… Quad? Yes! Triple axel right on the music! Triple loop, landed on the toepick. OMG. Daisuke footwork (circular step sequence) = heaven. My inner fangirl is screaming. This tango is so perfect for Daisuke. Triple flip, double toe. Another beautiful triple axel with a double toe. Triple lutz or flip. Popped salchow. Triple flip, double loop, fall. The fangirls scream. LOL. Midline step sequence. He’s one of the few people whose step sequences are fun to watch. Better than the Japan Open but I still want to see this clean. My gosh, he’s popular. He has enough flowers to open up a shop. Definitely overscored but I’m glad he won.


Gold: Daisuke Takahashi
Silver: Jeremy Abbott
Bronze: Florent Amodio

Full results here.

I will blog about the rest of the NHK trophy tomorrow.

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