Predictions: Four Continents 2016

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The Four Continents competition is upon us! The competition will be held in Taipei, Taiwan this year and if you’re going, be sure to check out some awesome local food and here’s a survival guide for a happy journey around Ilha Formosa! As for the skating – here are my predictions! (I sincerely hope I redeem myself a little bit after those disastrous predictions for the GPF…)

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Four Continents: Predictions

I apologize for the lack of posts last week. Things are happening and I’m really stressed out and going through weird ups and downs. Thank you for all of my faithful readers who motivate me to write whenever I feel mixed up and crazy, even if I’m just writing about figure skating. In any case, my last post included podium predictions for the men and now, I should do predictions for all the other disciplines before this crazy competition starts.

Ladies

The ladies competition will be a definitive time for a lady to establish herself as the favourite going into Worlds. Seeing that a basic nobody won Europeans with Kiira Korpi and Carolina Kostner’s consistency in question… again, the Japanese and Americans are the ones to be looking at when the World championships roll along. Now the question is who will be the one wearing the gold medal at the end of the day and challenge Queen Sondok Yuna. (I’m sorry Yuna, even though you’re a great figure skater, you aren’t as epic and cool as Queen Sondok… if the stories about her from the Samsuk Sagi are true.) Alissa Czisny delivered steady performances at Nationals which solidified her position as a threat to the World podium after winning the Grand Prix Final. Unfortunately, not all the skaters were up to par while others (*cough*Carolina Kostner*cough*) had scores that were a bit questionable though it seems as if those scores may soon disappear with the reappearance of inconsistency in that particular skater.

Everyone will probably be holding their breath for Mao Asada, the current World champion. Mao has been reworking her jumps this season, which lead to a really rocky start. She lost her National title to Miki Ando, meaning that she still had ways to go back in January. Let’s hope that she regains her mental strength and consistency enough to put up a good fight. She is the only one who has consistently beaten Yuna Kim and perhaps the only one who can put up a good fight against the Olympic champion if she is back in form despite not doing any competitions this season. Ando, on the other hand, still has choreography that leaves much to be desired. However, she has big jumps and her consistency is decent unless she’s injured. I don’t think her programs are good enough vehicles to take her to another World title against Yuna, but who knows. Sleeping with Nikolai Morozov has its advantages I guess.

Akiko Suzuki will hopefully give out lovely performances as usual, which will be sadly undermarked. It’s tough being weighed down by being the #4 Japanese lady when you can easily be the #1 Canadian lady. Or even European champion. I say she should give up her Japanese citizenship. She’d save Canada a lot of embarrassment at Worlds if she did.

Podium prediction – A combination of any of the ladies mentioned above.

Pairs

Pang and Tong should win this thing pretty easily. Pairs is one of the disciplines with major European contenders aka, being European pairs champion actually means something. A few people who could actually medal are Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch, whose interesting scores have propelled them into what may look like the top 10 at Worlds this year. Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran have shown that they are capable, even as new senior skaters by getting a spot in the GPF, although Caitlin Yankowskas & John Coughlin with their touching/well-sold/packaged LP may be a good challenge for the bronze.

Predictions

Gold: Pang & Tong
Silver: Moore-Towers & Moscovitch
Bronze: Yankowskas & Coughlin

Ice Dance

Four Continents marks the return of our darling Olympic champions, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir. Winning this competition will immediately place them in good contention for gold at Worlds, although the fact that they had less training time and program-tweaking time (I mean, Meryl and Charlie had to improve their programs throughout the season this year) may be a disadvantage. However, who knows, maybe Skate Canada will pull something weird out of their bag and we may see questionable gold medals on their necks. (Not that I don’t believe in them but I would rather have them beat Marlie fair and square rather than see them win by politicking.) Meryl Davis & Charlie White will be the ones to beat since they’ve been undefeated all season without Tessa and Scott in their way. Their tango FD has improved but they still lack the sex – sex that their rivals exude – that is required to pull off a great tango. Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje and to a lesser extent, Maia and Alex Shibutani, should be embroiled in a bitter battle for bronze. The two Canadian teams have been at it with Crone and Poirier getting the edge but the good news is, they’re getting really close. C/P won only by 1.03 points, which can be a lot in ice dance, but I guess it can be worse. Weaver and Poje, I believe, has worked on their FD. I sincerely hope to see them triumph over C/P one day. Sooner rather than later would be nice. Being the I-refuse-to-be-nationalistic figure skating fan, I will once again, incur the ire of the people who share the same citizenship as I do and say that I would like it best if the little American brother-sister team won. Maia and Alex have lovely lines, posture and musicality. They glide around the ice with what seems like no effort and Alex is a wonderful lead and partner who reminds me a lot of Scott Moir. Their FD this year is gorgeous as well.

Predictions

Gold/Silver: Toss of between Tessa & Scott and Meryl & Charlie (it depends on 1. who skates better 2. has better programs and whether or not the judges have drunk Skate Canada cool-aid) – I can’t decide between a toss off between the two without seeing how Tessa and Scott are doing at the moment and what their programs are like. I may have to give the edge to Meryl and Charlie just for their exposure though.
Bronze: Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier =(

I’d love to upload pictures but there is so much to do and never enough time. But I’d still love to hear your thoughts/opinions/predictions!

~The Rinkside Cafe

 

Just for Fun: Taipei Survival Guide + Men’s Competition Predictions

So here is part II of my Taipei posts just to get people excited about Four Continents. So Taipei. It’s a bustling city so what do you need to survive?

1. An Easycard. You put money on this card and you can use it to pay your bus and subway fares as well as purchase stuff from certain major chain stores. The Taiwan subway system is also one of the best and most efficient in the world. I wish all subway systems were like theirs. For more information on the various modes of transport available in Taipei, see this blog post.

2. A 7/11. Make sure you know where the closest one to where you’re living is. Then again, it’s not that hard to find one. There’s about 2 on every block in Taipei. 7/11s in Asia are not your slushie/junk food stores. They sell almost everything there. Full meals, alcohol, ramen+hot water for you to eat in-store, underwear, shampoo, sanitary napkins, magazines, CDs, anime figurines, crazy drinks, you name it. You can live in one of these stores.

3. Mosquito repellent – Taiwan has a warm and rainy climate and if you’re going anywhere with trees and grass and whatnot (like lovely national parks or mountains), BRING MOSQUITO REPELLENT. Or you will regret it. Trust me.

4. Tickets to the Taipei International Flora Expo – it’s supposed to be super spectacular! (Yes, I know you don’t need these to survive but I suppose if you want to be a good tourist…) More information on their website. (OMG, it’s a whale!)

5. A hat or a UV-ray blocking umbrella and a bottle of water. It’s super sunny there sometimes! Make sure to have sunscreen, a hat and to stay hydrated. The hat and umbrella can double over for protection against the rain.

Anyways, onto figure skating…

With Patrick Chan possibly not competing at Four Continents (CBC has confirmed it here), the Japanese men: Oda Nobunari, Daisuke Takahashi and Takahiko Kozuka will be strong contenders for the podium. We may even see a Japanese medals sweep, which would delight me very much. A possible spoiler for this sweet possibility comes in the form of Jeremy Abbott, and I personally wouldn’t mind if that happened. Jeremy’s LP this year is beautiful but he’s been struggling this season with consistency, therefore losing his National title to basically a nobody with very little international experience in the top echelons of figure skating. If Jeremy can get his act together, he could very well be in contention for a medal at 4CC. The colour of his medal, however, may not be dependent on him, but on the performances of his Japanese rivals. Shawn Sawyer seemed to be doing well at Canadian Nationals but I don’t know if he can muster a medal. I hope he does well nonetheless. His programs this year are a joy to watch.

As for the Japanese men… Takahiko Kozuka emerged as the surprise winner at Japanese Nationals last month. However, Takahiko’s PCS are not quite high enough at the international level in order to make him competitive against the two favourites at Worlds at the moment, P-overinflated score-Chan and his fellow teammate, Daisuke Takahashi. Although his LP is absolutely gorgeous this season, we’ll have to see how the international judges perceive him before we can decide on whether or not he has a spot on the podium at Worlds this year.

As for Daisuke, he needs to get his shit together or he’ll lose his position as one of the favourites to win Worlds in his home country. If Daisuke’s consistency is still not there, he may lose his home ice advantage at Worlds this year (which would unfortunately give the World title to a young Canadian man who doesn’t have the right attitude to be World Champion – in my opinion at least, not that it matters). Many fans attribute his sub-par performance at the GPF and Nationals to injury from colliding with Kozuka so we’ll just have to see what happens.

Nobunari Oda has become a perennial bridesmaid for World medals. Almost there but not quite. He has the talent and the jumps but he doesn’t quite connect with the audience unless he has a Charlie Chaplin routine. Oda may look young but there may not be many years left in his career. Personally, I think he should up the corniness factor and create a program for next season dedicated to/celebrating his marriage and the birth of his son or something. Play up that sympathy card and the media, judges and audience will eat it up with relish.

EDIT: Thank you to Y who pointed out that Oda is not going to 4CC. In that case, I’ll be putting Jeremy Abbott in for bronze. As for my “misqueded” (whatever that means) snark on Chan, I still stand by it.

Podium prediction for the men’s competition at 4CC:

Gold: Daisuke Takahashi (*prays hard for this*)
Silver: Takahiko Kozuka
Bronze: Nobunari Oda Jeremy Abbott

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Just for fun: Taipei (food) + Tessa & Scott’s Music!

So, just to get people excited for Four Continents, I’ve decided to do a little research on Taipei, Taiwan (aka Chinese Taipei). So… rather than start with a really nerdy article on the history of how the island of Formosa became a pseudo-country, let’s take a look at a few other aspects of the country. So, I’ll begin with one of my favourite things: food. Apparently, this is what you need to eat whilst in Taiwan:

Pineapple Cakes

Bubble tea – this stuff is so much better in Asia than in North America. They use actual good tea and real fruit! I want some now… Also, bubble tea was invented in Taiwan. Amen for its invention.

Seafood-related dishes… including Japanese food! Taiwan is an island state so the seafood is fresh!

Hakka Lei Cha – The Hakka are an indigenous tribe that may have originated in North China but have migrated all over the world. Lei Cha is green tea with all sorts of ground nuts and herbs in it. Delicious warm or cold!

Taiwan has tons of cool tropical fruit. Try some fresh dragonfruit, rose or wax apples, papaya, starfruit, custard apples and giant watermelon (though it won’t be in season).

For more yummy Taiwanese food, check out this link!

Now to something skating-related. Taipei marks the return of these two:

And they will dance to these songs for their FD~!

I’m so excited!

~The Rinkside Cafe