We took a couple of weeks off of our Podium Picks. During that time, we’ve seen some real interesting developments happen in the figure skating world, as skaters positioned themselves for the Grand Prix final. This will be the first major competition for Sochi, Russia; the home of the 2014 Winter Olympics. It’s also a prelude to what’s to come at next year World Championships.
Analysis: This is a top heavy Japanese line up that will give current World Champion Patrick Chan a run for his money. The Canadian took silver at Skate Canada and won the Rostelecom Cup to qualify for Sochi. World bronze medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japancame in second at Skate America and struck gold at NHK. Takahiko Kozuka, also of Japanclaimed victory at Skate America and finished second at Rostelecom Cup in Russia. Tatsuki Machida also of Japanadvanced to the GP Final with gold from Cup of China and a bronze from Skate America. World silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) took silver in Chinaand in Miyagi. Javier Fernandez of Spainupset Chan at Skate Canada and a fourth-place finish in Japan. The substitutes are Jeremy Abbott of the USA, Florent Amodio of Franceand Takahito Mura of Japan.
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
2. Patrick Chan (CAN)
3. Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
Analysis: American Ashley Wagner and Japan’s Mao Asada are currently on top the Ladies’ ISU standings. They were the only skaters to qualify with two Gold medal victories. Wagner took home Skate America and Trophee Bompard, while Asada struck gold at Cup of China and NHK Trophy. Finland’s Kiira Korpi claimed gold in Moscowand bronze in Shanghai. Japan’s Akiko Suzuki qualified for the GP Final with two silver medals from Skate Canada and NHK Trophy. Russia’s Julia Lipnitskaia had earned silver in Chinaand bronze in France, but is a last minute scratch due to injury. American Christina Gao takes her place as a result of her successful performance at Skate America (2ndplace) and Trophee Bombard (4th place). Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) placed fourth in at Skate America and second in Paris. Korpi will compete in her first GP final, but may pull out due to injury. If she does, her substitutes are Mirai Nagasu (USA) and Kanako Murakami (JPN).
1. Ashley Wagner (USA)
2. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS)
3. Mao Asada (JPN)
Analysis: With the withdraw of Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy of Germany, the Russian pairs team of Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov cruised into the GP Final with two gold medals from Skate America and Rostelecom Cup in Russia. Russia’s Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov, Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov and China’s Qing Pang & Jian Tong each collected gold and a silver each on their way to Sochi. Canadians Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford qualified with two silver medals while Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch, also of Canadabooked their ticket to the Final with a silver medal and a fourth-place finish. All teams have competed in the GP Final last year. The substitutes are Americans Caydee Denney & John Coughlin, Italy’s Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek and Russia’s Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov. (Update 12-5-12: John Coughlin had hip surgery this week and is unavailable for this week’s GP final.)
1. Volosozhar & Trankov (RUS)
2. Qing Pang & Jian Tong (CHN)
3. Kavaguti & Smirnov (RUS)
Analysis: This stands to be a test between the top two North American teams in the world. Americans Meryl Davis & Charlie White and Canadians Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir qualified with two gold medals from their two events. Davis & White won at Skate America and the NHK Trophy in Japan. Virtue & Moir struck gold at Skate Canada and Rostelecom Cup in Moscow. Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat of France also struck gold in Chinaand Trophee Bombard. Rounding out the slots for this weekend are Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev and Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov, as well as Italy’s Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte. Each picked up two silver medals en route to the GP Final. This will be Ilinykh & Katsalapov first Senior GP Final. The substitutes are Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, Russia’s Ekaterina Riazanova & Ilia Tkachenko and Americans Maia & Alex Shibutani.
1. Meryl Davis & Charlie White (USA)
2. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN)
3. Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat (FRA)
In addition, the Junior Grand Prix will be held this weekend. Look for Americans and Russians to re-new their rivalry on the ice. Here’s our picks for the competition.
Men: Joshua Farris (USA)
Men: Joshua Farris (USA)
Ladies: Hanna Miller (USA)
Pairs: Lina Fedorova & Maxim Miroshkin (RUS)
Ice Dance: Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin (RUS)