October means a flurry of Regional competitions for this year’s US Figure Skating Championships. Six regionals have been completed, with three more competitions to be decided by the end of the month. The top four winners will head to Sectionals in November. The first big international competition though is Skate America, which is being held in Ontatio, California.
The big news at the tournament is the withdrawal of 2010 Olympic Champion, Evan Lysacek. Last week, he informed U.S. Figure Skating today he will not be competing in the 2011 ISU Grand Prix Series, which includes his assignments to Skate America and Trophee Eric Bompard. Taking Lysacek’s spot is Douglas Razzano. Razzano began the season with a second place showing at 2011 Finlandia Trophy earlier this month. He makes his Grand Prix Series debut in Ontario.
Here are my picks for the four categories to be decided this weekend.
Men – Without the participation of 2011 World Champion Patrick Chan, this competition is Daisuke Takhashi’s to lose. Much of the competitors are inexperienced and are looking for their breakthrough in Grand Prix competition. Look for Michal Brezina of the Czeck Republic to give some pressure.
1. Daisuke Takhashi (JPN)
2. Michal Brezina (CZE)
3. Takahiko Kozuka (JPN)
Women – Probably one of the most competitive fields in years, despite not having 2010 Olympic champ, Yu-na Kim, who is rumored to formidable skiping the entire season. American Alissa Czisny will seek to continue her outstanding season. Carolina Kostner of Italy, Georgia’s Elene Gedevanshvili and fellow American Caroline Zhang will be formidable opponents.
1. Alissa Czisny (USA)
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA)
3. Caroline Zhang (USA)
Pairs – Germany’s Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy is the class of the division. Last year, the team finally skated to a European and World Championship. They should continue to do well, but will be pressured by teams from China and Russia, including Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larinov. Look for Americans Caydee Denney & John Coughlin to have a solid performance.
1. Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (GER)
2. Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larinov (RUS)
3. Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang (CHN)
Dance – Meryl Davis & Charlie White will put their number one World ranking on the line against the number two ranked Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat of France. It should be the highlight of the weekend on who will come out on top. It will be a “crap shoot” for third place, with most teams out of the top 15 in the ISU standings.
1. Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA)
2. Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (USA)
3. Kharis Ralph/Asher Hill (CAN)