From Chicago we take a flight west to the Canadian Rockies for the 2nd round of the Grand Prix. Skate Canada takes place in Kelowna, British Columbia where 55 skaters will participate. So far Russian skaters have dominated the podium and will look to add more hardware. There will also be a few new teams that will make their debut this weekend. Here are our predictions.
Analysis – The two big names in Canadian skating won’t be competing this weekend. Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan is taking a year off and Kevin Reynolds was a last minute scratch, as he continues to struggle with ill-fitting skates. The lone Canadian representative will be Andrei Rogozine, who has some international experience. European Champion Javier Fernandez of Spain makes his season debut this weekend. The 2012 Skate Canada champion is the 5th ranked skater in the world and will take on 2014 Four Continents Champion Takahito Mura of Japan, 2011 World silver medalist Takahiko Kozuka, also of Japan, and 2013 European bronze medalist Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic.
Skaters to Watch – Other contenders to look out for will include 2011 European Champion Florent Amodio of France, 2014 European bronze medalist Konstantin Menshov of Russia and Americans Max Aaron and Adam Rippon, who will try to contend for their national ambitions.
1. Takahito Mura (JPN)
2. Takahiko Kozuka (JPN)
3. Javier Fernandez (ESP)
Analysis – Two countries stand to dominate this weekend. Russia sends 2012 World silver medalist Alena Leonova and her teammate Anna Pogorilaya, who ranked fourth at the 2014 World Championships. The Americans will send Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Ashley Wagner and Courtney Hicks, who finished 6th at last year’s Skate Canada event. Japan’s 2014 Four Continents silver medalist Satoko Miyahara will also contend for podium consideration.
Skaters to Watch – Canada enters three skaters to this weekend’s event. Kaetlyn Osmond continues to recovers from injury, so Brockville, Ontario’s Alaine Chartrand figures to be the biggest contender for the podium in this deep field of skaters. Julianne Seguin, who qualified for the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final in Pair Skating, will also skate singles on the senior circuit. Quebec’s Veronik Mallet made her GP debut at Skate Canada last year and will try to improve her performance.
1. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)
2. Satoko Miyahara (JPN)
3. Ashley Wagner (USA)
Analysis – Eight teams will skate for gold this weekend. The clear contenders for the top spot are Canadians Megan Duhamel and Eric Radford. The team has never won gold in GP completion, but with the top teams either skating in other completions or siting out due to injury, this is their best chance. Their main opposition will be from Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morosov of Russia, who finished with silver at Nebelhorn Trophy last month. Other contenders include Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of france and China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, who make their season debut this weekend.
Skaters to Watch – Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers won silver in Sochi with former partner Dylan Moscovitch earlier this year. This season, she’ll make her debut with new partner Michael Mariano. This weekend’s competition will be a crucial test to see how chemistry on the ice between the two skaters work.
1. Duhamel and Radford (CAN)
2. Tarasova and Morosov (RUS)
3. Sui and Han (CHN)
Analysis – Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje can distance themselves from their rivals Virtue and Moir, as they will be the favorites to win Skate Canada this weekend. But they can expect stiff competition from 2014 Four Continents Champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States and 2014 Four Continents silver medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada. German Champions Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi and 2011 World Junior Champions Ksenia Monko & Kirill Khaliavin of Russia also stands to contend.
Skaters to Watch – Americans Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton won an important pre-GP competition at the U.S. International FS Classic in Salt Lake City last month. The two-time junior national champions will try to use that win to improve their standing in World competition, as they finished 17th last season. Sara Hurtado and Adria Diaz withdrew from that same event and will make their debut this season.
1. Weaver and Poje (CAN)
2. Hubbell and Donohue (USA)
3. Gilles and Poirier (CAN)
Next weekend, we travel to Shanghai for the Lexus Cup of China.