Smooth’s Olympic Podium Picks – Ice Dance

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Twenty four teams skate this weekend with Golden dreams on their minds. This season has been very competitive for the top 10 teams in the ISU Ice Dance list. But one team won’t be invited. Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin were banned from Pyeongchang after a doping scandal. Russia decided not to replace the team and will only have two entries skating.

920x920At the top of the list is France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (shown left). The two time World Champions are considered the favorites this week as they’ve dominated the field this season, winning at Cup of China, Internationaux de France and the Grand Prix Final. ve180211-5416-teamcanada-e1518317490188Their main threat is from Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (shown right). In their 21 years as an Ice Dance team, they have 8 National championships, three World championships, a Grand Prix Final title and an Olympic Gold and Silver medal. Their only loss this season was to Papadakis & Cizeron at this year’s Grand Prix final.  They returned to action two years ago and look to end their careers on top of the ice dance world.

1187274OAR’s Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (shown left) made history of their own this season, winning their seventh national title. They’ve had a strong season so far with a 2nd place finish at Rostelecom Cup and a 3rd place finish at Cup of China. They were 5th in Sochi and look to make the podium this week.

maia-shibutani-alex-shibutani.jpgAmericans have two chances at the podium this week.  Maia and Alex Shibutani (shown right) have been red hot on the ice this season, with wins at Rostelecom Cup and Skate America. But a third place finish at this year’s Grand Prix Final and a second place showing at nationals have brought the ShibSibs stock down a bit. They lost to Madison Hubble and Zachary Donohue, who in turn have seen their stock rise in recent months, having won their first national title. They make their Olympic debut this week.

Teams to Watch – Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte are former World Champions in 2014. But since then haven’t been able to reach the podium in Worlds or Olympic competition. Still they’ve reached the Grand Prix Final with a 3rd place finish at NHK Trophy and a 2nd place finish at Skate America. Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates were supposed to be the “heir apparent” after Meryl White and Charlie White won gold in Sochi. Since then, the team’s best performance have been a series of 2nd place finishes each year in Grand Prix action and were third at nationals this season. They’re still able to make an impression this week. Canada has two other teams that could make it interesting.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje have fought to stay relevant after Virtue and Moir’s return to action and injuries. They’ve won nationals twice, but finished 3rd this season. Their two wins in the Grand Prix Final also makes them a dangerous team. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier finally make it to the Olympics after fighting hard and upsetting Weaver and Poje to take 2nd at nationals. Their best finish was a 5th place finish in the Grand Prix Final in 2015. Italy’s Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri are ranked 9th in the ISU standings and look to improve from their 14th place finish in Sochi. Japan’s Chris Reed makes his third appearance in the Olympics. In 2010 and 2014, he paired with his sister Cathy. This time around, he brings along Kana Muramoto. They were 23rd at last year’s Worlds.

Smooth’s Pick: If I’m a betting man, I would put my money on anything but this competition. Just too close for comfort to predict. Look for percentage points to decide the winner.

Gold: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (CAN)
Silver: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
Bronze: Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (OAR)

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Posted in Figure Skating, Figures skating, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, Korea, Olympics, Pyeongchang, Skating, Winter Olympics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Switching Radio Broadcast Providers Effective Immediately

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Due to numerous technical disruptions that has taken our stream off the air at SoniXcast over the last three weeks, we’ve decided to transition over to a new broadcast provider.

Torontocast, with servers located in Canada, will be our new provider of our broadcast stream effective immediately.  We’re in the process of changing all of our broadcast stream address at radio directories along with radio stream addresses at TuneIn and the iTunes directory. Our stream at Nobex Partners are also in the process of being changed, as well.

The stream at Sonixcast will continue until March 15th, after which, we will shut down that stream and ask for a refund for any unused service.  We apologize for any inconvenience, as these technical issues were out of our control. We anticipate a smooth transition to Torontocast and a more stable provider.

2-16-19 UPDATE: You can listen to our stream on our Nobex Partners app.

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Smooth’s Olympic Podium Picks – Men

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Dick Button, John Curry, Robin Cousins, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Evgeni Plushenko, Evan Lysacek.

These are just a few skaters that have gone on to become Olympic Men’s Champion.  This week, another skater will join that elusive club.  This is one of the more exciting times in men’s figure skating, with so many of them with the ability to become champion.  But who will take the next step?   It should be an exciting competition.  30 skaters take to the ice in Pyeongchang, only one will be crowned “King of the Ice”.

Pyeongchang 2018 Winter OlympicsJapan’s Yuzuru Hanyu (shown left) returns as the defending Olympic gold medalist.  Four years ago, he was unstoppable in Sochi.  But the last four years have been a transition.  Injuries and illness have slowed his step, most recently having withdrawn from Nationals but reaching the Olympics on a medical bye.  Despite that, he’s still a powerful force, having won at Worlds in 2017.  His main competition will be from Spain’s sp-javier-a-20180214-870x548.jpgJavier Fernandez.  Since his stumble at Cup of China in late October, he’s been unstoppable, having won at Europeans for the 6th consecutive time.  Fernandez (shown right) also has a win verses Hanyu in a pre-GP event in Montreal last August, giving him the edge this week.  Hanyu’s teammate, Shoma Uno is also at the top of the list for the podium.  He has shined in competitions that Hanyu (shown left) image_l.jpeghasn’t participated in, including two National championships, a 2nd place finish at last year’s Worlds and a win at Skate Canada in October.  American Nathan Chen is considered a shoe-in for the top of the podium.  But so far, his Olympic debut was a disaster, having stumbled a couple of times in the Team event.  Despite this poor showing earlier this week, 920x920.jpg

Chen (shown right) is still considered front-runner in this tournament based on his immeasurable talent and his undefeated streak in Grand Prix competition this season.

Skaters to Watch – There are a number of skaters flying under the radar and could make this competition even tighter.  Canada’s Patrick Chan is the defending silver medalist from Sochi.  Since then, he’s had a change in coaches, a change of training city and a bigger focus on his program.  He’s had minimal results from this change, having finished 4th at Skate Canada.  One positive is winning a record 10th national title.  China’s Jin Boyang has two consecutive 3rd place finishes at Worlds, and has finally won his first senior championship at Four Continents last month.  OAR’s Mikhail Kolyada also made inroads in his career winning his first Grand Prix title at Cup of China and reaching the podium in the Grand Prix Final this season.  American Adam Rippon finally reached his dream of a being an Olympian having been shut out four years ago.  He has two 2nd place finishes in the Grand Prix this season and placed 5th in the Final.  Israel’s Alexei Bychenko, Japan’s Keiji Tanaka and Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten also are dark horses for the podium.

Smooth’s Pick: This being the closest competition of these Olympics, look for a horse race between Chen, Fernandez and Hanyu, with Uno not too far behind.

Gold – Javier Fernandez (ESP)
Silver – Nathan Chen (USA)
Bronze – Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)

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Smooth’s Olympic Podium Picks – Pairs

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Analysis – 22 teams made the final cut for Pyeongchang. Three of the 14 countries represented have an outside chance at a sweep of the podium, though highly unlikely because of the intense competition. One team not on the list is Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov of Russia, who were banned from the Olympics due to doping allegations. The Olympic Athletes from Russia still has a strong contingent of skaters ready to win.

Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir MorozovAt the top of the list is Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov (shown right), who are currently #1 on the ISU’s pairs chart. They captured the European championships in January and followed it up with a win in the short program of the team event at Pyeongchang.  They’ve only had one blemish on their record this season, and that was a 5th place finish at the Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, where they stumbled during their free skate.

Aljona Savchenko & Bruno Massot.jpgClose behind is Germany’s Aljona Savchenko & Bruno Massot (shown left), who were outstanding this season, winning the Grand Prix Final and placing 2nd at Europeans. Germany came up short in the Team event, but Savchenko & Massot were able to finish 3rd in the short program.

Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford.jpgCanadians Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (shown right) may have lost a step since finishing a disappointing 7th at last year’s Worlds, but they were able to pull together a series of victories at Skate Canada and at nationals. They look to better their 7th place finish at Sochi in 2014. China is still a powerhouse in pairs, as their teams nearly swept the podium at Cup of China. Weijing Sui & Cong Han lead the charge with wins at Beijing and the NHK Trophy along with a 2nd place showing at the Grand Prix Final.

Teams to watch – There are multiple teams from the OAR, Canada and China capable of making the podium this week. Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert made the podium at Europeans and gave a strong performance in the pairs Team event. Xiaoyu Yu & Hao Zhang have two 2nd place finishes at Skate America and Cup of China this season and placed 4th at Worlds in 2017. Julianne Seguin & Charlie Bilodeau have positioned themselves as the heir apparent to Duhamel & Radford for Canada. They have a Grand Prix win at Skate America in 2016 and were also Junior Grand Prix Final winners in 2015.

Alexa-Chris-Knierim-Moulin-Rouge-Routine-2018-OlympicsNow let’s talk about other countries, vying for the podium. The Americans have the husband-wife team of Alexa and Chris Knierim, who literally saved the US from dropping out of medal contention with their outstanding performance in the Team event. Italy’s Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek are currently 8th in the world, but a strong performance this week in Pyeongchang could give them an appearance on the podium. France’s Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres had a break thru season with two podium appearances in Grand Prix action and just missing the podium at Europeans. And speaking of break thru, North Korea’s Tae Ok Ryom & Ju Sik Kim made just that with the country’s first medal at the Four Continents Championships last month.

Smooth’s Pick: This is a toss-up competition and it could go either way, but I give the edge to the Germans over the OAR based on their experience.

Gold – Aljona Savchenko & Bruno Massot (GER)
Silver – Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov (OAR)
Bronze – Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (CAN)

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Olympic Podium Picks – Team Event

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Every athlete’s lifelong dream begins this week with the opening of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Korea. The opening ceremony takes place on Friday 6am Eastern Time (20:00pm KST). CBC in Canada will broadcast the event live, NBC will defer to its prime time lineup later that evening. It’s a forgone conclusion that the cauldron lighter will be Olympic gold and silver medalist, Kim Yu-na. Yu-na is a legendary figure, having won the hearts of Koreans and the figure skating world.

Figure skating will be our sole focus during the next two weeks, with the Team event beginning Thursday. To accommodate viewers in the US, the events will take place on at 10:00am KST, making all the event during prime time.

Full Daily Schedule Here –> https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/game-time/results/OWG2018/en/figure-skating/daily-schedule.htm

10 countries qualified for the team event at the Olympics. At the top was Canada, followed by the Olympic Athletes from Russia, and the United States in 3rd.

rank Team 2016–2017 2017–18 Total
1  Canada 3776 2308 6084
2  Olympic Athletes from Russia 3533 2391 5924
3  United States 3021 2034 5055
4  Japan 2674 1671 4345
5  China 2724 1507 4231
6  Italy 2172 1629 3801
7  France 2076 1576 3652
8  Germany 1602 1204 2806
9  Spain * 1222 636 1858
10  Israel 1015 506 1521
11  South Korea 1064 333 1397

* Failed to qualify for the Olympics

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Men: Japan leads the way with Shoma Uno and Keiji Tanaka.  Yuzuru Hanyu will not be participating and will devote his time looking to defend his gold medal won at Sochi.   Canada will have Patrick Chan and Keegan Messing.  The USA will have their top skater, Nathan Chen along with Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou.  Look out for Israel, who has Alexei Bychenko and Daniel Samohin. OAR will have Dimitri Aliev and Mikhail Kolyada. China sends Boyang Jin and Han Yan.

Smooth’s Pick: It will be a battle between Uno and Chen in a preview of the Men’s final.

  1. Nathan Chen (USA)
  2. Shoma Uno (JPN)
  3. Patrick Chan (CAN)

Ladies: OAR will have three skaters to choose for their team, Evgenia Medvedeva, Maria Sotskova and Alina Zagitova.  The USA will chose between Bradie Tennell, Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen.  Canadians will have Kaetlyn Osmond, Gabby Daleman and Larkyn Austman. Japan’s Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto are poised to fight for the podium.  Carolina Kostner and Giada Russo will look to get valuable points for Italy.  Host nation Korea will have Dabin Choi and Hanul Kim to play spoiler.

Smooth’s Pick: All three OAR skaters could take the top spot, depending on who skates.

  1. Evgenia Medvedeva (OAR)
  2. Gabby Daleman (CAN)
  3. Satoko Miyahara (JPN)

Pairs:  Canada has three teams to chose from; Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro and Julianne Seguin & Charlie Bilodeau.  OAR also have the benefit of three teams with Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov, Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert and Kristina Astkhova & Alexei Rogonov.  China will choose from Weijin Sui & Cong Han, Xiaoyu Yu & Hao Zhang and Cheng Peng & Yang Jin.  The wild card in this is Germany’s Ajona Savchenko & Bruno Massot, who could give the country it’s only chance for points.

Smooth’s Pick: Look for Canada and China to grab the other two slots.

  1. Ajona Savchenko & Bruno Massot (GER)
  2. Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (CAN)
  3. Weijin Sui & Cong Han (CHN)

Ice Dance: The USA has the strong showing in this event with three teams; Maia & Alex Shibutani, Madison Chock & Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donahue.  Canada also leads the way with three teams; Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje and Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier.  Look for France to gain their best chance for points with Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.  Italy gets its shot with Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte.  OAR will have Ekaterina Bobrova & Dimitri Soloviev.

Smooth’s Pick: Canada and France will fight it out for the top spot.

  1. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
  2. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (CAN)
  3. Maia & Alex Shibutani (USA)

Team Podium Pick: In the end, Canada is in the best position to pick up its first Olympic gold medal in the team event.

Gold – Canada
Silver – USA
Bronze – Japan

Posted in Figure Skating, Figures skating, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, Korea, Olympics, Pyeongchang, Skating, Uncategorized, Winter Olympics | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating the 16th Anniversary of my 39th Birthday!

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The great comedian Jack Benny wasn’t too fussy about celebrating birthdays after he turned 39.  He celebrated on his radio program and thought it was so much fun, he decided to do the same thing the next year, because “There’s nothing funny about 40.” Jack would continue to celebrate his 39th birthday, 41 times. In 1974 when Jack Benny passed away, the headlines read, “Jack Benny Dies – at Age 39?”

Unlike his character on the radio, who was cheap, vain, petty, and self congratulatory, I wouldn’t consider myself as having those characteristics. But I never was thrilled with celebrating birthdays. It just seemed to be a reminder that nothing continues to be the same.

I’m not looking forward to getting older. As we all get older, our bodies become harder to manage. We look back at the years and ask each other, “how did we get this old?” Some people grow graceful. I, for one, am taking the time to get everything I’ve always wanted to do out of the way before it all goes to shit.

Today, I’ll just enjoy my favorite meal, Chicken Parmesan with some pasta and a slice of carrot cake. Maybe later this year I’ll treat myself to something special, like a trip somewhere exotic.

Here are some folks who were also born on this day!

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Actress Ariel Winter in 1998.

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Golden State Warriors Point Guard Andre Iguodala in 1984.

Elijah Wood
Actor Elijah Wood, of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy in 1981.

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Singer Nick Carter, formerly of the Backstreet Boys in 1980.


WWE Superstar, Sheamus in 1978.

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Singer Joey Fatone of the group, NSYNC in 1977.

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Rapper Rick Ross in 1977.

Sarah McLachlan
Singer Sarah McLachlan in 1968


Rapper Rahim in 1968.


Figure Skater Denise Beillemann in 1963.

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Liberal Radio Talk Show Host Randi Rhodes in 1959.

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Movie Director Frank Darabont (The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption.) in 1959.

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Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 1955.


Model Barbi Benton in 1950

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Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs Head Coach in 1949

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Actress Susan Howard from the TV show, Dallas in 1944

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Businessman Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world in 1940.

Alan Alda
Actor Alan Alda who played “Hawkeye” in the TV series, M*A*S*H in 1936.

Space Shuttle Challenger
On This Day In History: The space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off from the Kennedy Space Center in 1986. The images to this day still haunt me.

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Seven crew members perished, including Christa McAuliffe, who was trying to become the first school teacher in space.

On this day in 1956, Elvis Presley made his first TV appearance.

After this performance, censors would televise Elvis’ next performance from the neck up.

Also born on this day were,

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Painter, Jackson Pollock in 1912

Arthur Rubinstein
Pianist & Composer, Arthur Rubinstein in 1887

henry VII

and Henry VII who would rule England during the “House of Tudors”, in 1457.  His son, Henry VIII would succeed him.

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Smooth’s Podium Picks – Four Continents Championship 2018

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In the final event before the Olympics next month, skaters converge on Taipei to hon their programs and in some cases, finish their season strong. This is the fourth time Taiwan has hosted the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

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Japan’s Shoma Uno looks to get ready for Pyeongchang.

Men: Japan’s Shoma Uno leads the field this weekend, as he tunes up for the Olympics next month. He won his second national championship and finished 2nd in the Grand Prix Final this season. His main challenger is Boyang Jin of China, who is ranked 6th in the world by the ISU. He’s also heading to Pyeongchang next month having won his 4th national title and finished 2nd at Cup of China. Jason Brown of the United States missed the podium at nationals with a 6th place finish, thus missing out on the Olympics. In Grand Prix action, he finished 2nd at Skate Canada. Uzbekistan’s Misha Ge is the country’s lone representative this weekend and he’s one of the contenders for the podium. He grabbed his first top three finish in Grand Prix competition with a 3rd place finish at Internationaux de France.

Skaters to Watch – 26 other skaters participating this weekend have a chance to improve their standing internationally. Others look to get ready for next month’s Olympics, including 2014 Olympic Bronze medalist, Denis Ten, who has struggled since then with 8th (Internationaux de France) and 9th (Rostelecom Cup) place finishes in Grand Prix competition this season. Japan’s Keiji Tanaka also will get ready for the Olympics with this competition. He was 2nd at nationals and his best finish was 7th at Cup of China. Max Aaron had a poor showing at nationals, finishing 9th, but will look to get back on his game this weekend. Canada’s Kevin Reynolds looks to end his skating career with a strong showing this weekend. Other skaters looking to make the podium includes China’s Han Yan, Canada’s Nam Nguyen and Japan’s Takahito Mura.

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Shoma Uno (JPN)
2. Boyang Jin (CHN)
3. Misha Ge (UZB)

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Japan’s Satoko Miyahara looks to lead a sweep in the ladies competition.

Ladies: Japan’s Satoko Miyahara is about to realize her Olympic dream next month. But first, she’ll skate at 4CC, where she’s the favorite this weekend. She won her 4th national title. However, teammate and defending 4CC champion Mai Mihara looks to finish strong after missing out on her Olympic dream. The prospect of a Japanese sweep is possible with the addition of world junior bronze medalist, Kaori Sakamoto, who finished 2nd at Skate America this season. However, American Mariah Bell may have something to say about it, as she was 6th at last year’s 4CC. Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva also looks to get ready for the Olympics. Her best finish was 5th at Internationaux de France.

Skaters to Watch – American Ashley Wagner withdrew from her 4CC assignment, so this will be the first appearance in senior international competition of Starr Andrews. She wowed the crowd in the free skate at nationals earlier this month. Dabin Choi of Korea looks to carry the tradition left by Yuna Kim for her home country’s Olympics. She finished 9th at Cup of China. Canada’s Alaine Chartrand leads a contingent of three ladies looking to medal. Michelle Long and Alicia Pineault skate in their first senior competitions this weekend.

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Satoko Miyahara (JPN)
2. Mai Mihara (JPN)
3. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN)

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North Korea’s Tae Ok Ryom & Ju Sik Kim look to make a historic performance in pairs.

Pairs: The most anticipation this weekend will from the team from Australia. Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya & Harley Windsor put the country on the map for figure skating as they won the first championship in the country’s history at the Junior Grand Prix Final. They look to continue the hot streak this weekend as they skate in their first senior competition. The other story of this weekend will be the appearance of North Korea’s Tae Ok Ryom & Ju Sik Kim. The IOC approved their participation at the Winter Olympics and this week’s competition will be a warm-up for the two skaters. They were 7th at 4CC in 2016. Canada’s Liubov Ilyushechkina & Dylan Moscovitch missed out on a trip to Pyeongchang with a 4th place finish at nationals. They look to finish their season with a strong showing in Taipei.

Skaters to Watch – Reigning World and 4CC champions Wenjing Sui & Cong Han have withdrawn from the event, leaving no representation from China. With only 11 teams participating, former US pairs Champions Tarah Kayne & Danny O’Shea have a chance to make the podium. They were 2nd at nationals, but with only 1 spot available, they were out of the running for the Olympics. Teammates Deanna Stellato & Nathan Bartholomay were 3rd at nationals and have an 8th place finish at Skate America this season.

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Liubov Ilyushechkina & Dylan Moscovitch (CAN)
2. Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya & Harley Windsor (AUS)
3. Tae Ok Ryom & Ju Sik Kim (PRK)

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The friendly rivalry between Americans Rachel & Michael Parsons and Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter continues this weekend.

Ice Dance: With many of the top teams heading to the Olympics, much of the focus will be on teams that were successful on the junior ranks. That brings up the rivalry between Rachel & Michael Parsons and Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter. Both teams have been head to head on the junior level, with McNamara & Carpenter winning nationals twice and the Parsons once. Both have won world junior championships. They’ll both fight it out for supremacy. Teammates Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker have the potential for an American sweep, something that has never happened in US skating history. They were 4th at nationals, missing out on the Olympics. One team that could eliminate that possibility are Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed of Japan. Reed will skate in his third consecutive Olympics next month, his first with Muramoto.

Skaters to Watch – A new generation of Canadian Ice Dance make their first appearance at 4CC with Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus. They were 4th at nationals and finishe 7th at Skate Canada this season. China’s Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu won their 2nd national title and have a 6th place finish at Cup of China. Korea’s Yura Min & Alexander Gamelin will use this week’s competition as a warm up for Pyeongchang. They won their country’s 2nd ice dance title.

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Rachel & Michael Parsons (USA)
2. Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA)
3. Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (USA)

Posted in 4CC, Figure Skating, Figures skating, Four Continents, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, Skating | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment