Our world tour continues, as we hop on a flight from Vancouver and travel across the Pacific to China, where the Grand Prix series makes a stop in Shanghai. The Lexus Cup of China will host 54 skaters, with many making their season debuts. A few will look to move on to the Grand Prix Final next month.
Here are our picks this weekend!
Analysis: Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan will make his long awaited season debut this weekend. He returns to action after nursing a back injury. Hanyu had to pull out of Finlandia Trophy due to the injury. His competition should come from defending Cup of China Champion Han Yan of China and ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Finalist Maxim Kovtun of Russia. Canadian Nam Nguyen won the bronze two weeks ago at Skate America and will aim at another podium finish in Shanghai.
Skaters to Watch: American Richard Richard Dornbush won CS Lombardia Trophy in Milano, Italy earlier this fall and will be gunning to win in a more competitive tournament this weekend. Misha Ge of Uzbekistan finished 4th at Finlandia Trophy and Keiiji Tanaka of Japan has two pre-GP competitions under his belt. Both will figure in the top 6.
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
2. Han Yan (CHN)
3. Nam Nguyen (CAN)
Analysis: This is probably the deepest competition of the young season. Many skaters will be making their debut this weekend. Olympic champion Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia will face fellow teammate Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. A top finish will guarantee Tuktamysheva a spot at the GP Final in Barcelona. Other top skaters include 2014 Four Continents Champion Kanako Murakami of Japan and 2014 Four Continents bronze medalist Zijun Li of China.
Skaters to Watch: The United States has three skaters that can do some damage. Polina Edmunds, Christina Gao and Ashley Cain are three young skaters that may surprise the judges. Edmunds, in particular, has experience in the Olympics at Sochi finishing 9th. Canadian Gabby Daleman also participated at Sochi finishing 17th, but has a preliminary win at Skate Canada Autumn Classic last month.
1. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS)
2. Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS)
3. Kanako Murakami (JPN)
Analysis: On the flip side, this is probably the weakest of all competitions with only 8 teams participating. The most buzz will be from two teams from China. Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang won bronze at Skate America two weeks ago and would like to punch their ticket to Barcelona in their home country competition. Their teammates Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin dominated the junior ranks last year and will compete in their first senior competition this weekend. Other teams include Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise of Italy and Vera Bazarova & Andrei Deputat of Russia.
Skaters to Watch: Americans Jessica Calalang & Zack Sidhu have three senior competitions under their belt, finishing 2nd twice (Cup of Nice 2013, US International 2014) and 3rd at Skate Canada Autumn Classic last month. Canadians Natasha Purich and Andrew Wolfe made their senior debut at Skate Canada Autumn Classic last month and finished a respectable 4th.
1. Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang (CHN)
2. Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin (CHN)
3. Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise (ITA)
Analysis: Reigning world champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy make their season debut this weekend. But they may be behind the 8-ball in competition this weekend, as Americans Maia & Alex Shibutani are coming off winning silver at Skate America two weeks ago. They’ll be going for another top three finish in Shanghai. One of the most anticipated debuts this weekend will be from Russia’s Elena Ilinykh, who will be skating with a new partner, Ruslan Zhiganshin. Also gunning for the podium are Canadians Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam, who will look to improve on their international performance from last year.
Skaters to Watch: Gabriella Papadaki & Guillaume Cizeron of France won their pre-GP competion at Skate Canada Autumn Classic last month. They’ve finished in 1st numerous times in Junior and Senior International competitions, but not the GP circuit. China has three teams skating this weekend, most notably, Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu, who only competed in two competitions since last year.
1. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (ITA)
2. Maia & Alex Shibutani (USA)
3. Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam (CAN)