The first international championship of the season takes place in Osaka, Japan, where a field of talented skaters contend in four categories. The tournament lacks European skaters which doesn’t give way in competitions, but is still a vital in trying to woo international judges in anticipation of this year’s World Championships in London, Ontario.
Analysis: Top heavy with lots of skaters from the Asian region. The Japanese men have been dominant during the Grand Prix season. Expect the juggernaut to continue. Skaters to watch are newly crowned US Champion Max Aaron and Canadian silver medalist Kevin Reynolds.
1. Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
3. Takahito Mura (JPN)
Analysis: Japanese skaters also figure to dominate this division, but all eyes will be on the 17 year old Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond who dazzled the judges with her Gold medal performance at Nationals. Skaters to watch include US silver medalist Gracie Gold, 5th place American Christina Gao and Canadian Amelie Lacoste.
1. Mao Asada (JPN)
2. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)
3. Akiko Suzuki (JPN)
Analysis: The entries are filled with Americans and Canadians, with only two other teams from China. This makes the field a bit thin. With that, look for a competitive pairs competition from Canadians Duhamel & Radford and Moores-Towers & Moscovitch. Americans Scimeca & Knierm and Zhang & Bartholomay may play in their first international competitions, but be on the lookout for USpairs champs Castelli & Shnapir.
1. Duhamel & Radford (CAN)
2. Moores-Towers & Moscovitch (CAN)
3. Castelli & Shnapir (USA)
Analysis: All eyes with be on the grudge match of the weekend between Canadians Virtue & Moir and Davis & White. This is one of many competitions both teams will face off in. Davis & White finished a dominating Nationals competiton with their 5th straight USchampionship. Virtue & Moir also cruised to a victory in their Canadian Nationals. As for teams to watch, look for a possible challenge from Japan’s Cathy & Chris Reed and Americans Maia & Alex Shibutani. Silver medalists Chock & Bates will also vie for the podium.
1. Davis & White (USA)
2. Virtue & Moir (CAN)
3. Cathy & Chris Reed (JPN)