From Detroit, we fly a thousand miles to Saint John, New Brunswick; where this year’s Skate Canada International takes place. The competition is “top heavy” with Canadian skaters looking to do their country proud. Here’s a couple of interesting facts about the province. It’s the only province in Canada that is constitutionally bilingual (English–French). It is one of three provinces in the Atlantic time zone (+1). It’s the home of many notable Canadian celebrities, including singer Anne Murray, actor Donald Sutherland and legendary country star Stompin’ Tom Connors.
Analysis: Five of the top ten skaters in the ISU rankings will be skating this weekend. The biggest, Canada’s Patrick Chan, who took a slight step backward last year after losing a few competitions in 2012, but recovered nicely to win his third World championship. He’ll be the favorite in Saint John this weekend. His biggest competition will be from Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, who is ranked #1 in the world according to the ISU. He has steadily improved in national competition despite the logjam of potential Japanese rivals such as Takahito Mura, who is also skating this weekend. Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic will also be in the hunt for the podium, along with American Ross Miner, who is ranked 8th in the world.
Skaters to Watch: Former US National champion Jeremy Abbott will take the first step of trying to get back to his former self. He’ll be a wild card entry. Also, Japan’s Nobunari Oda has lots of international experience, including a 7th place finish at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
1. Patrick Chan (CAN)
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
3. Michal Brezina (CZE)
Analysis: Last year, the world got to see a performance that could be described as a formal presentation. Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond dazzled the home crowd and the judges to a Skate Canada victory. This year, she’ll be hard pressed to repeat the performance, as she’ll have the number one skater in the world to compete against, Japan’s Akiko Suzuki. Sukzuki benefited from a strong 2012 Grand Prix season, but struggled in her nationals and at worlds. American Gracie Gold will look to improve on her 7th place finish in last year’s Skate Canada as well as move up in the ISU standings. Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia will have a full senior skating season to work on and will be a contender this weekend.
Skaters to Watch: Canada has two skaters to contend. Former National champion Amelie Lacoste, who has struggled off and on in international competition and Veronik Mallet, who makes her Grand Prix debut this weekend.
1. Akiko Suzuki (JPN)
2. Gracie Gold (USA)
3. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)
Analysis: There are two pair teams that figure to compete for the top of the podium this weekend. Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are two-time national champions and have a 4 Continents title earlier this season. Italy’s Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek are 3-time national champions and have fared well in non-Grand Prix competition. Both are ranked 3rd and 4th in the world. Canadians Paige Lawrence and Rudi Sweigers will try to give Canada two teams on the podium. The team has done no better than 2nd in Grand Prix competition. Asking for a third spot in Margaret Purdy and Michael Marinaro will be tough, however, they have had success on the junior Grand Prix circuit, finishing 1st twice at Lake Placid and the Croatia Cup in 2012.
Skaters to Watch: China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han will look to continue the success in pairs skating for the country, while Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier will try to match their 1st place success in the World Junior championship last season.
1. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN)
2. Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek (ITA)
3. Paige Lawrence and Rudi Sweigers (CAN)
Analysis: Reigning Olympic Gold Medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won their first competition this season at the Finlandia Cup three weeks ago and will look to win their 5th straight Skate Canada Gold. They’ll need to have a dominant performance similar to Davis and White feat last week for the judges. Their primary competition will be from fellow Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who return to skating after missing last year’s National Championships due to Weaver’s left ankle injury. Other competitors include Russia’s Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko, who finished 3rd in last year’s Skate Canada and Germany’s Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi, whose years of experience in international competition will put them into contention.
Skaters to Watch: Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue will be skating for the second week in a row. Last week, they came in 4th at Skate America in Detroit. Canadians Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam have had limited experience in Grand Prix in the last two seasons.
1. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (CAN)
2. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (CAN)
3. Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gaszi (GER)