As the figure skating world converges on Moscow for next week’s World Championships, the thoughts of many are on the continued crisis in Japan. Originally scheduled for Tokyo on March 20th, the devastating earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster the week before made it impossible for the tournament to take place.
The catastrophe forced the International Skating Union to look for an alternative site. With many countries offering their services, Russia offered to host the event, fully financed by the government, which the ISU gladly accepted.
The extra month in preparation should allow many of the skaters to hone their skills and provide a highly competitive competition. Curiosity will be on the Japanese skaters, as their hearts will be heavy on their homeland and the continued struggle for normalcy.
Here are our picks!
Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi won the Four Continents Championships in February, while Canada’s Patrick Chan managed to grab the Grand Prix title. Both should vie for the top spot, along with reigning bronze medalist, France’s Brian Joubert.
Skater to watch: Japan’s Nobunari Oda, the Grand Prix Final silver medalist who managed a season’s best 242.81 points.
1. Daisuke Takahashi – Japan
2. Patrck Chan – Canada
3. Brian Joubert – France
This lineup is the most competitive in years. Olympic gold medalist Yun-na Kim will make her 2011 debut against a lineup stacked with great ladies skaters. US Champ, Alyssa Czisny can cap a successful 2011 with a World victory. Miki Ando can re-group from a disappointing 2010 with an appearance on the podium.
1. Alyssa Czisny – USA
2. Miki Ando – Japan
3. Yu-na Kim – South Korea
Skaters to watch: Reigning World Champion, Japan’s Mao Asada and USA’s Rachel Flatt, who defeated Kim in the free skate at last year’s Worlds.
Reigning World Pairs Champions, China’s Pang& Tong will face stiff competition from current World silver medalists, Germany’s Savchenko & Szolkowy. Two-time and reigning World bronze medalists, Kavaguti & Smirnov have a chance to do well on Russian soil.
Skaters to watch: Canada’s Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, who posted a season’s best, 181.79 and USA’s Caitlin Yankowskas & John Coughlin.
1. Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy – Germany
2. Qing Pang & Jian Tong – China
3. Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov – Russia
This will be a classic North American battle between the USA and Canada. Reigning World and Olympic Champions, Virtue & Moir will try to add a second Gold medal against World and Olympic silver medalists, Davis & White. One issue will be whether Virture & Moir withdrawal at Four Continents due to injury will be a factor.
Skater’s to watch: European Champions, France’s Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat who had a season’s best, 167.40 and European silver medalists, Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev.
1. Meryl Davis & Charlie White – USA
2. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir – Canada
3. Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat – France
Now as far as the ISU is concerned, the current points system can be considered a utter failure. Why? That will be a blog topic of discussion later this week.
Good luck skaters!