Predictions: Grand Prix Final 2019

Alena Kostornaia 2019

I know I’m a little late but I haven’t looked at the results yet, so let’s go so I can do just that!

Men

The main story in the men’s event at the Final will be an epic showdown between Yuzuru Hanyu and Nathan Chen. With Hanyu healthier than he was at Worlds last year, this will be a good gauge to see how they stack up going into Worlds. I honestly don’t know what to expect – both of them are superb competitors and time will tell here.

As for bronze, my pick will likely be Alexander Samarin, who did quite well in France and won on home ice, which suggests a good degree of consistency so far this season. His previous competition results suggest that he generally ranks above his teammate, Dmitri Aliev, as well as Kevin Aymoz, who has had a bit of a breakthrough season.

Predictions

Gold: Yuzuru Hanyu
Silver: Nathan Chen
Bronze: Alexander Samarin

Ladies

The potential for a Russian sweep of the ladies podium is high at the GPF this year, with team Eteri’s new batch of young skaters doing 3As and quads. The race for gold will likely be a tight one between Alexandra Trusova and Alena Kostornaia.

Personally, I find Trusova’s PCs to be a little ridiculously overscored, especially if you watch her after Rika Kihira, or even Marin Honda, who despite having a rough time in the senior competition, has excellent skating skills, and buttery transitions. As I’ve maintained since the beginning, I honestly don’t understand why PCS is scored on a range when they’re marking very different and disparate categories and why they tend to correlate with your TES. Either way, the judges have been rewarding this current batch of jumping beans quite generously on the PCS front regardless of their actual ability to perform artistically, and have coherent, articulate programs, and with a 3A recently flagged as part of her arsenal, Trusova will be force to be reckoned with at the Final.

That’s not to say that her main challenger, Alena Kostornaia, has no change of snatching gold away. Kostornaia has been a refreshing newcomer to the mix, with good flow and musicality, and solid skating skills in comparison to a lot of the skaters coming out of the Tutberidze camp. Her scores have come close to Trusova’s over the season, thanks to the 3A but should Trusova land all her quads and her own 3A, it may be a little difficult for Kostornaia to catch up.

Anna Shcherbakova is another competitor not to be missed since she has a lovely 4Lz and is somewhat in the middle between Kostornaia and Trusova in terms of skating skills, performance, etc. With clean programs, I would not be surprised if she can also have a good shot at gold should her Russian teammates falter.

Rika Kihira will likely try to be a spoiler for a medal here. Kihira has slowly been building her consistency throughout the season and had intended to jump a 4S at NHK. Whether we’ll see that jump at the Final, we’ll have to see but personally, if she feels comfortable with the jump, I’d say she should go for it to increase her comfort with it in competition.

Predictions

Gold: Alexandra Trusova
Silver: Alena Kostornaia
Bronze: Anna Scherbakova

Pairs

While we’ve always known that Wenjing Sui & Cong Han are a great team, I think we’re finally seeing them settle into that with a full season (fingers crossed) – well, half a season now, ahead of them. Sui & Han will be looking to produce two consistent and hopefully clean skates, and this competition is theirs to lose.

For silver and bronze, I think I’d peg the two young Russian teams of Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov, and Daria Pavliuchenko & Denis Khodykin, who have been putting in consistent performances throughout the GP series, though will need some time and work to improve their performance quality, which is expected of young teams.

Predictions

Gold: Wenjing Sui & Cong Han
Silver: Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov
Bronze: Daria Pavliuchenko & Denis Khodykin

Ice Dance 

The results in ice dance this season has been generally predictable and stable throughout competitions. Overall, I have no doubt that Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron will dominate the entire competition, potentially with record breaking scores if they skate clean.

Generally below them with a healthy margin will be Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov. I’m a little surprised by the rise of this team. They have good ice coverage and some interesting elements in their programs but overall, I find their style to be overly ornate to the point of distraction. At times, their choreography is busy to the point where they get a little sloppy and I honestly want to see them power forward on the ice with cleaner movements and smoother edges. Anyways, my opinion isn’t important because it seems like the judges are clearly putting them above the rest of the pack but below the current World Champions.

The most interesting bit of the dance competition will likely be the race for bronze. Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue have been generally been the ones in that position but the judges seem to have given them some clear signals this season that their hold on this spot is tenuous, especially with the silver at Skate Canada. Admittedly, the winners of that particular leg of the GP, Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, were on home ice, the fact that the judges were willing (and I believe, justified) in give them to the gold is a good signal for 1) H&D to revise their programs and 2) that Gilles & Poirier are in a good position to gun for the top dance spot in Canada at Nationals this year, potentially a top 5 finish at Worlds, and for this week, a chance for bronze.

Madison Chock & Evan Bates will also make an attempt for bronze, or at the very least, a chance to outscore Hubbell & Donohue to put themselves in a good place to take the top dance spot at American Nationals this season. Of all the three teams, I’m not really sure who will take the bronze but for now, I think I’ll play it safe and maybe I’ll be surprised by the result.

Predictions

Gold: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron
Silver: Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov
Bronze: Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue

How are my predictions so far?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Predictions: Cup of China 2019

I literally have 20 minutes before I need to head out. Names on page, let’s go.

Men

Gold: Keiji Tanaka
Silver: Matteo Rizzo
Bronze: Boyang Jin

Dark horse: Junhwa Cha

They are *really* trying to get Jin a medal here, aren’t they?

Ladies

Gold: Anna Shcherbakova
Silver: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Bronze: Young You

They are not going to mark Satoko Miyahara properly here. Or Marin Honda’s PCS for that matter.

Pairs

Gold: Wenjing Sui & Cong Han
Silver: Cheng Peng & Yang Jin
Bronze: Alisa Efimova & Alexander Korovin

Bronze was a wild guess.

Ice Dance

Gold: Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov
Silver: Madison Chock & Evan Bates
Bronze: Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen

Has a chance at bronze: Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker

~The Rinkside Cafe

Predictions: Worlds 2019

yuzuru hanyu 2018 helsinki

It’s time for World Championships and also time for predictions! There’s no time to waste, let’s go!
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Predictions: Grand Prix Final 2018

rika kihira 2018

This is truly one of the strangest GPFs – there’s no Evgenia, Yuzu or Papadakis/Cizeron. All in all, it has been an interesting post-Olympic season. Hopefully all goes well to Evgenia, who’s trying to re-learn all that she’s ever known, Yuzu for a speedy recovery, and well, I think Papadakis/Cizeron need no encouragement or help considering their performance at the Internationaux de France was quite dominant (though the marks needed a little more growing room for the rest of the season). Either way, the predictions will be quite tough this time around since this GPF will help determine how the dust will settle over the course of this new Olympic cycle.

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Predictions: Skate Canada International 2018

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Somehow I forget every year how gruelling the GP series can be. Skate Canada is upon us and it’s time for predictions! Skate America last week was full of surprises (some of them in the best way possible) but that’s what makes predictions so much fun!

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Predictions: Cup of China 2016

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The Grand Prix series is already starting to wind towards the finals and I am super excited! I apologize for the short posts but time has been precious and I am doing my best to try and juggle my time between my different priorities. I will at some point sort through my Skate Canada pictures and post a few of the better shots. (My crappy camera is nothing compared to some of the equipment used to take close-ups of Yuzuru’s face. If you think I was joking about the fan closeups, think again.) Anyways, onwards with the predictions!

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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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Predictions: Skate America 2015

alexa scimeca chris knierim cor

The Grand Prix Series is upon us and it’s time for predictions! It’s been a long summer and I’m a little rusty so let’s hope that I can make some predictions that aren’t completely embarrassing. I have yet to get completely caught up with the test skates and whatnot so many of these may end up being a shot in the dark. More

NHK Trophy 2014: Highlights and Recap

xiaoyu yu yang jin 14 nhk

The NHK Trophy this year was a good ending before the Finals, not because the skating was superb – in fact, I think I would have been okay with myself had I not watched this competition but because it confirmed a lot of my conjectures that I had about this season going into the GPF.

Men

It seems that Olympic Champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, is faltering a little at the beginning of the season after that disastrous crash at the Cup of China. Hanyu skated weak programs throughout the competition and it was his PCS that salvaged him a good enough result to go into the finals. Personally, I would rather see Hanyu take a little rest, recalibrate and then come back strong rather than skate 2 mediocre programs with inflated PCS. I have too much affection for his good skating to see it get undeservedly rewarded for sloppy skates.

Furthermore, the previously lower-ranked Japanese men decided to make another statement at this competition that they’re no longer willing to sit in the shadows. Fellow countrymen, Daisuke Murakami and Takahito Mura skated strong to finish above Hanyu on the podium. In terms of my comments for these two, I find that Mura has solid jump technique but I would really like to see him express his personality in non-warhorse programs. I think this guy can do better than that and for now, he isn’t going to stand out that much in my memory unless he steps it out next season and define to me who he is on the ice. Daisuke on the other hand, feels like a bit of a washed out version of Daisuke Takahashi. Although the hair and jump technique are similar, Murakami lacks Takahashi’s musicality and skates with a minimum acknowledgement of the music. He’s not a very expressive skater, which makes his programs a little less palatable. I hope to see these two men improve nonetheless as Japan still has an exciting future in men’s figure skating.

As for silver medalist Sergei Voronov, well, he skated. He reminded me of a less exciting version of Brian Joubert in his LP but I’m not sure if that’s really a compliment since only BJou can pull off his own strange programs and make you like it despite yourself. In  his short, he looked like he was channeling Evan Lysacek, costume, windmill arms and all. Again, I’m not sure if that’s a compliment even though I must reluctantly acknowledge that Lysacek is an Olympic Champion.

Ladies

I was sorely disappointed that Satoko Miyahara‘s LP performance was not as solid as her Skate Canada skate but I’m glad that she did finish on the podium. Gracie Gold, on the other hand, deliver two solid albeit boring skates to end up with the gold. What I did like about her performances here is that there was an improvement in her ability to express the music. It wasn’t huge but you could see her being a little more comfortable with the programs and the characters in each of them. Although I would still like to see Gracie’s personality on the ice at some point, I suppose that working on her projection, performance and character this season would be a good goal to aim for, especially since her programs are so dry and boring.

Note: Gracie will not be competing in the GPF due to injury. Rika Hongo is taking her place. The plot thickens…

Pairs

I think Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford is setting a new bar in pairs skating. They’ve gained good momentum from last season, which is good for their PCS but what is setting them apart is their strong technical scores, which may give the judges no chance to deny them the gold at Worlds this year if they skate clean. The showdown between this team and Stolbova & Klimov at the GPF will be a decisive battle in who will have the upper hand when Worlds comes around. I’m still not a fan of either of their programs but I think these two have found a solid recipe to be at the top of the pairs skating world going forward in this Olympic cycle. I also hope that other teams try to up the ante as well to make for a more exciting competition.

Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov still have the most epic program this season but this competition demonstrated that they still aren’t as consistent as we’d like them to be, especially when it comes to their long program. Had they skated solidly, they would’ve been in a better position to compete for the top spot at Russian Nationals but I fear that the window has closed. That LP is still amazing though.

I would like to give a shoutout to the bronze medal team of Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin (again). I really love watching this team grow. For some odd reason, they don’t seem to have the big tricks and throw jumps like most of the other Chinese teams but their lines and unison are gorgeous to watch. I think under Bin Yao and Hongbo Zhao, this team has the potential to become the dream team – to have the grace and precision of the Russian pairs teams combined with the huge awe-inspiring tricks of the Chinese teams. Add oil, you two!

Ice Dance

This competition was Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje‘s to lose but these two skated solidly to get the gold with a comfortable margin of 17 points between themselves and the silver medal team. With Cappellini & Lanotte gone, these two are the front-runners going into the finals. Nonetheless, I hope that they still consider changing their programs a little bit since they aren’t as compelling as some of their other work in the past. What has been admirable about this team is how they explore so many different themes with really wonderful programs no matter what their ranking is.

Although the Russian team of Ksenia Monko & Kirill Khaliavin won the silver with very admirable edges but slow skating at times, I think the Russian team that shocked everyone here was Viktoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov. I thought that this team was going to be a lot better than they are since they are under Marina Zueva’s tutelage but this team lacks unison, doesn’t have the right timing when they move together and have no chemistry or presence on the ice. They were also very sloppy and fell 3 times in their FD to end up in last place in that portion of the competition. After this competition, I’m not sure if this partnership will last, let alone flourish but then again, Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang proved me wrong with their performances last season so anything can happen.

What do you think of Sinitsina & Katsalapov? What about the NHK Trophy? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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

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