The Grand Prix series continues its journey east to Moscow, where the Rostelecom Cup will take place. It will be a USA/Russia showdown, as both countries send three skaters in each division to this competition. The skating world is still buzzing from the collision between Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and China’s Han Yan last weekend.
From Russian TV
It was a miracle that both skaters were able to get up and skate, a controversial decision that the Japanese skating federation and Chinese officials will have to account for.
Analysis – Spain’s Javier Fernandez comes in with a 2nd place finish at Skate Canada and is gunning for a place in the Grand Prix final. In last year’s Rostelcom Cup, Fernandez took home Bronze. His main competitor will be from Jason Brown of the United States. Brown took silver at Skate America last month. Skate Canada bronze medalist Max Aaron of the United States also hopes to qualify for Barcelona this weekend. Other contenders include Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic and 2011 World silver medalist Takahiko Kozuka of Japan, who wants to improve on his performance at Skate Canada two weeks ago.
Skaters to Watch – Of the three Russians participating this weekend, the biggest contender will be Sergei Voronov. Voronov is ranked 13th in the ISU Men’s standings this season and has won Finlandia Trophy two months ago. Artur Gachinski had a poor showing at State American, finishing 9th and Moris Kvitlashvili is skating in his first Grand Prix event this weekend. Also, keep a sharp eye on Misha Ge of Uzbekistan. The late addition to the competition finished 3rd in the Free Skate last weekend and could surprise judges.
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP)
2. Jason Brown (USA)
3. Sergei Voronov (RUS)
Analysis – Russia’s Anna Pogorilaya continues to surprise the judges this season and could make a big leap in her home country this weekend. Another gold medal finish will not only put her into the Grand Prix final, but could put her in the top 5 world rankings. Her main competitors are Japan’s Rika Hongo (5th place at Skate Canada), Korea’s So Youn Park (5th place at Skate America) and Mirai Nagasu of the United States, who stumbled badly in her Short Program at Skate America, but recovered to finish 6th.
Skaters to Watch – Canada’s Alaine Chartrand had a pretty good skate at Skate Canada despite finishing 7th a few weeks ago. She’ll need to bring her best effort in order to have Grand Prix final consideration. Another will be Angela Wang of the United States, who will make her Grand Prix debut. Wang won the JGP Croatia Cup in 2012. The two remaining Russians Mariia Artemyeva and Maria Stavitskaya will also make their Grand Prix debuts this weekend.
1. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)
2. Rika Hongo (JPN)
3. Alaine Chartrand (CAN)
Analysis – In years past, the Russians dominated pairs skating, winning gold at the Olympics in 4 different decades. However, they’ve lost their edge, losing out to the Germans and the Chinese. But this weekend could see their dominance in pairs return. Olympic and World silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov of Russia will make their season debuts and are heavily favored to win this weekend. Fellow teammates and Skate Canada bronze medalists Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov also figures to contend for the top three spots. The third Russian team will be making their senior debuts. Kristina Astakhova & Alexei Rogonov only have one competition under their belt, and they won it at Volvo Open Cup 2014. Skate America silver medalists Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier also figure to contend for the podium.
Skaters to Watch – Germany’s Annabelle Prölss & Ruben Blommaert finished 7th at Skate America last month. Another team, Jessica Calalang & Zack Sidhu will compete in their second tournament in as many weeks, as they finished 7th at Cup of China.
1. Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov (RUS)
2. Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov (RUS)
3. Kristina Astakhova & Alexei Rogonov (RUS)
Analysis – This figures to be a very competitive race, with the US and Russia looking to both dominate. But with the top Russian teams not participating and Olympic gold medalist Elena Ilinykh still working her way through with her new partner, Americans may dominate this weekend, much to the chagrin of Russian fans. The United States will send Madison Chock & Evan Bates, who won Skate America last month, Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton (6th at Skate Canada) and 2014 World Junior Champions Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker, who will make their Grand Prix debuts. European bronze medalists Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland also make their Grand Prix.
Skaters to Watch – Last weekend Elena Ilinykh debut with her new partner, Ruslan Zhiganshin and finished in 4th place at Cup of China last weekend. This weekend, Ruslan Zhiganshin’s former partner, Victoria Sinitsina will make her season debut with her new partner Nikita Katsalapov. The third Russian team Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin has some stability and may be the best of the three teams. If anything, next month’s Russian Nationals should be a fierce competition on who will dominate Russian Ice Dancing.
1. Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA)
2. Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin (RUS)
3. Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland (GBR)