Olympic Teams: Russia and China

With the European Championships over and the Four Continents competition pretty much over, more Olympic teams are being announced. So far, I’ve done a post on the Olympic teams for Japan, Canada and the U.S. With Russia and China, I’d say that we’ve pretty much named all the heavy hitters in figure skating. Team Russia has recently named their Olympic team with one huge (though maybe not totally unexpected surprise) while Team China seems to have been named ages ago but it’s hard to find an official source. My Chinese isn’t the best and it takes a long time for me to decipher a paragraph but a few readers and reliable friends have chipped in with some info and their names match up with each other so I’ll take it that they are correct unless someone tells me otherwise with a reliable source.

Without further ado, here are the figure skaters representing Russia at the Olympics…

Platinum King

Men

Evgeni Plushenko

A surprise nomination as most people thought that Maxim Kovtun was going to Sochi. Some thought that he may compete only in the team event but that isn’t allowed. (Some friends have sarcastically noted that he might mysteriously get “injured” after the team event, thus letting Kovtun take his place in the individual event. Either way, there will be an abundance of windmill arms.) Plushy is old for a figure skater and he did lose to Kovtun at Nationals, however he is a legend and I have to give him props for competing at age 31. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled out a quad or two in Sochi.

Ladies

Adelina Sotnikova
Julia Lipnitskaia

With a 1-2 finish at Euros this year, they were the obvious choice despite the depth in ladies skating in Russia right now.

Pairs

Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov
Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov

Ice Dance

Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev
Elena Ilinykh & Nikita KatsalapovViktoria Sinitsina & Ruslan Zhiganshin

I found the list of skaters from this article here.

Moving on, here are the skaters representing China at this year’s Winter Olympics…

peng zhang 13 coc sp

Men

Han Yan

Ladies

Kexin Zhang
Zijun Li

I think Li’s nomination wasn’t a surefire thing for a while since her slot was supposed to be tba. Li did not compete at Nationals due to injury and supposedly puberty is not treating her well. However, with her bronze at 4CC, I think her placement in the Olympic team is quite secure.

Pairs

Qing Pang & Jian Tong
Peng Cheng & Hao Zhang

I feel a little sad for Wenjing Sui & Han Cong who were battling for the second spot with Cheng & Zhang. Sui & Han aren’t terribly polished but they have big tricks which make them fun to watch. Still, I’m so happy for Cheng & Zhang. They’ve come a long way since last season and for a relatively new pair, they’re so well put together and they have such great choreography this season.

Ice Dance

Xintong Huang & Xun Zheng

And that is it for Olympic team announcements! What do you think of the teams? Was there a skater you thought should’ve been chosen? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Roster for the GPF 2012

Men

Wow, Team Japan is going in strong here.

Yuzuru Hanyu
Daisuke Takahashi
Takahiko Kozuka
Tatsuki Machida

And the non-Japanese…

Patrick Chan
Javier Fernandez

Alternates: Jeremy Abbott, Florent Amodio, Takahito Mura

Ladies

Akiko Suzuki
Mao Asada
Julia Lipnitskaia (out due to injury)
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Ashley Wagner
Kiira Korpi

*Christina Gao (taking Lipnitskaia’s place)

Alternates: Mirai Nagasu, Kanako Murakami

Pairs

*sob* No Aliona & Robin

And note that Mother Russia wants her gold back in pairs.

Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov
Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov

The only somewhat plausible threat to a Russian sweep of the medals?

Qing Pang & Jian Tong

Though I’m sure PJ Kwong will have to talk about how fabulous these guys will be and how they could be a threat for silver or bronze:

Meaghan Duhamel & Eric Radford
Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch

Alternates: Caydee Denney & John Coughlin, Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek, Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov

Ice Dance

The epic battle continues between

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Meryl Davis & Charlie White

Mother Russia will make an attack for the bronze with

Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov (and their craptastic Ghost program)
Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Sloviev

Though the rest of Europe will try to take bronze from the Russians through

Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat
Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte

Alternates: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, Ekaterina Riazanova & Ilia Tkachenko, Maia & Alex Shibutani

Not too bad a roster for the GPF this year. What do you think?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Worlds 2011: Predictions for Pairs

I remember when Aunt Joyce announced that Worlds will be held in Mother Russia, he said something along the lines of, “Welcome to Moscow, get ready for some bullshit judging.” And if any discipline is going to be subjected to Russian bs judging, it’ll be pairs, which will be exciting to watch only because of the new Russian team that is making its first appearance at a major international competition.

Personally, I don’t think Russia needs bullshit judging in this discipline since there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the pairs podium at Moscow will likely be composed of Savchenko & Szalkowy, Volosozhar & Trankov and Pang & Tong. Maybe in that order. S/S have been really strong all season and their programs are technically more difficult that the others. Admittedly, the pink panther costumes are a bit painful to the eyes but the judges aren’t the fashion police. The only question is whether S/S can perform the way they have been doing all season at Worlds despite the change in schedule. If they can, gold will be theirs handily. If they screw up horrendously, then Mother Russia can pull a win here.

V/T are a very new team but they skate a lot better than some teams that have been together for years and years. I have them placed in front of P/T because the Chinese pair have been consistently having problems all season and their wins are based on the simple fault that there just aren’t that many *great* pairs teams out there at the moment. The pairs competition seem to have stagnated after the change in the scoring system while innovations in ice dance has grown leaps and bounds. I’m not sure what’s going on with P/T this year but I don’t think they can defend their World title. Or even snatch the silver. Especially when the Russians have been looking really strong in their various practices and minor competitions AND they have home ice advantage. And when it’s the Russians that are involved, expect inflation of Skate Canada proportions.

It’s a pity that Sui & Han and Iliushchekina & Maisuradze aren’t skating at Worlds. It would be nice to see how they stack up in the pairs field on route to Sochi. Oh well. I hope the Chinese Communist Party is hard at work at faking more papers for Sui, who might *actually* be 12 or something of the like. I’m sure they can do it.

Anyways, in case you weren’t reading any of the above:

Podium Predictions

Gold: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szalkowy
Silver: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Bronze: Qing Pang & Jian Tong

Worlds 2011 Predictions: The Men

So here is part II of my predictions for worlds that will happen in T minus 4 days. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch most of the event.

So the men. With Evan Lysacek, Evgeni Plushenko, Johnny Weir and Stephane Lambiel gone after the Olympics, the men’s field has thinned out a bit compared to last season when there were about 10 different guys who could’ve made it onto that Olympic podium.

The front runners, however, are definitely Daisuke Takahashi and Patrick Chan Score. The gold will probably be a toss-up between the two (although Nobunari Oda may win the short program and then do an extra jump combination in his long that won’t count towards his score and then fall down the standings) and the winner will probably be determined by:

  1. Whether Chan lands his 3 quads and more importantly, his 2 triple axels. Daisuke may attempt his quad flip but he’s never landed it with one foot in competition.
  2. Whoever has more political (and emotional) backing: the Japanese Skating Federation and the sympathy for the Japanese people (not to mention the JSF is probably one of the richest federations and Japan one of the biggest markets for the sport) or Skate Canada and how they’re telling everyone that Chan’s wipeouts on 3As deserve a +3 GOE because he fell so prettily. The winner gets a higher PCS. We all know how Chan has been getting bullshit marks all season (*cough*Skate Canada and Canadian Nationals*cough*) but during the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, ISU president $peedy Ottavio Cinquanta, seemed very eager to appease the JSF. So who knows what will happen!
  3. Whether training has been severely affected by the postponement of Worlds. Chan didn’t go to Four Continents probably because his coach did not want him to peak too early (just look at his 2007/8 results) but the tsunami seems to have thrown a monkey wrench into those plans. I wonder how the change in timing has affected Chan… Daisuke’s training wasn’t severely affected by the events in Japan (unlike the up and coming star, Yuzuru Hanyu) and he also skated at a fundraiser for tsunami victims rather recently. From the news clips, he looked pretty good. (On another note, I absolutely love, love, love Shizuka Arakawa’s dress. She looks wonderful in it.)

There may be a few people who have the potential to change things. One is perennial podium bridesmaid, Nobunari Oda. Nobu will need to skate clean and even though his programs aren’t as entertaining as his Charlie Chaplin LP from last year, he still has great jumping technique. (Those knees!) Also, if Nobu wants to win this, he may need to learn how to count his combos while doing a long program. Maybe he should take lessons from The Count from Sesame Street!

Ok, maybe not.

Another possible medalist is Takahiko Kozuka. He seems to be winding down after his win at Japanese Nationals but I’ve underestimated this guy too much this season to discount him from my predictions. He has the skating skills, he just needs to relate to the audience. One thing to note: Takahiko’s chances of medaling probably depend on how badly Daisuke, Chan and Nobu perform rather than on himself. The international judges have been sparing in his PCS and I think it’s about time this guy lives a little. Get your heart broken, do something crazy, go on a weird adventure, I don’t care – just bring out that angsty, passionate artiste from within because your skating skills are too good to go unnoticed at this point in your career!

On the European side, Brian Joubert, Tomas Verner and Florent Amodio seem to be the strongest contenders for a medal but I’m not sure how they’re going to beat the Japanese and Chan because they either have a) so-so skating skills b) shit and just weak choreography or c) a severe and chronic problem of being a headcase. I won’t be putting too much money on these three but maybe one of them will surprise us (in a good way) like Jeffrey Buttle did in 2008.

Oh yes, and the American men are F*&$%!. Most of them don’t really have experience in major international competitions and I don’t even remember the men’s podium at U.S. Nationals anymore. That’s how sad the men’s team for the U.S. is at the moment. I have no clue what the USFSA was thinking but Jeremy was trailing the bronze medalist by a little bit and I’m pretty sure that none of those guys can do what Jeremy did at Four Continents: beat at least one of the Japanese men. Say goodbye to a spot or two at Worlds next season…

Podium Predictions:

Gold: Daisuke Takahashi (for the love of God and all that is holy!!!)
Silver: Patrick Chan
Bronze: Nobunari Oda (or Joubert, Kozuka… who knows? They’re all equally able to implode.)

This World championships will be exciting and maybe unpredictable because of its postponement and its effects on the skaters. I can’t wait!

~The Rinkside Cafe