The final skating competition of the season. Over 160 skaters will be competing to be best in the world in Shanghai this weekend. This is China’s first time hosting the event. There have been very few withdrawals as of this blog post, so it will be a highly competitive final.
Here are our predictions for this weekend.
Analysis: Concerns over the health status of Olympic and World Champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan seems to have subsided. He’s the clear favorite to regain his title as best in the world, despite a few bumps on the road in Grand Prix competition. He can expect tough competition from Denis Ten. The Olympic bronze medalist from Kazakhstan has put the Central Asian country on the map for future skating prominence. Ten put up a season’s best 289.46 points, compared to Hanyu’s 288.16 on the season. Three-time European Champion Javier Fernandez of Spain looks to try and win his first world championship. His season’s best was at Rostelecom Cup, where he scored 265.01 to win that Grand Prix event.
Skaters to Watch: If anyone has a chance to crack the podium, it would be Russia’s Sergei Voronov, who is currently number 1 on the ISU’s world season standings and is a European bronze medalist. He also came in third at the Grand Prix final. China’s Han Yan, who won Continents Championships, also figures to be in the mix this weekend. Russia’s Maxim Kovtun won two Grand Prix events this season, but was unable to parlay that success, finishing 4th in the Grand Prix finals and finishing 2nd at Europeans.
Smooth’s Pick –
- Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
- Denis Ten (KAZ)
- Javier Fernandez (ESP)
Analysis: Russia’s Liza Tuktamysheva had a rough 2014, missing out on Sochi and Worlds. That experience gave her much resolve and the result was one the best skating seasons of recent memory. She’s the odds-on favorite to win this weekend, coming off a season’s best, 210.40 at Europeans and 5 of 5 1st place finished. Her main competition is from the only person to beat her this season, fellow Russian, Elena Radionova, who beat her at Nationals. The Americans have two shots to take the top spot. Ashley Wagner had a great season, winning US Nationals and finishing 3rd three times in Grand Prix competition. Gracie Gold had a rough go this season, finishing a disappointing 2nd at Nationals, after winning her first Grand Prix competition.
Skaters to Watch: Look for a possible Russian sweep with Anna Pogorilaya having a strong performance this season in Grand Prix competition. Japanese skaters Rika Hongo and Satoko Miyahara look to carry the torch from the loss of Mao Asada and Akiko Suzuki in competition this season. But the big wild card is Polina Edmonds. Her surprise win at Four Continents last month has put her stock up considerably and will be one for the judges to keep watch.
Smooth’s Pick –
- Liza Tuktamysheva (RUS)
- Elena Radionova (RUS)
- Ashley Wagner (USA)
Analysis: Canadians Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford can cap off a successful season by winning their first world pairs title, the country’s first gold since 2001. The two-time World bronze medalists come in with a season’s best, 220.72 points and are unbeaten so far this season. Their main competitors are Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov of Russia, who come in with a season’s best, 209.16 points. China will have a strong hometown squad gunning for the podium. Returning two-time World Champions Qing Pang & Jian Tong continue their comeback after retiring last season. Their other two teams, 2015 Four Continents silver medalists Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang and current ISU Grand Prix Final bronze medalists Wenjing Sui & Cong Han will be chasing the Canadians for the top spot.
Skaters to Watch: Other contenders to look at include European bronze medalists Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov of Russia, US Champions Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim, Kristina Astakhova & Alexei Rogonov of Russia and Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier of the United States.
Smooth’s Pick –
- Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (CAN)
- Qing Pang & Jian Tong (CHN)
- Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov (RUS)
Analysis: Canada also has the chance to grab the top spot, as 2014 World silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje dominated the field this season. They come in with a season’s best, 181.14 points at the Grand Prix Final. Their main competition comes from France’s Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron. This year’s European Champions came out of nowhere to dominate two of three Grand Prix competitions. Americans Madison Chock & Evan Bates were supposed to dominate, but hasn’t done so. Still, they’re Grand Prix Final and Four Continents silver medalists with a season’s best, 176.18 points. Defending World Champions Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte had a nightmare Grand Prix season, finishing third at Cup of China before withdrawing to concentrate on their performances. They’re still a strong favorite to medal.
Skaters to Watch: Americans Maia & Alex Shibutani continue to keep their focus and it paid off with a third place finish at Four Continents last month. Russian Champions Elena Ilinykh & Ruslan Zhiganshin really have come on their own, winning Nationals and finishing 2nd at Rostelecom Cup. Fellow Russians Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin finished strong, winning bronze at Europeans. Americans Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue are looking to get to the podium as close a possible as well after three 3rd place finishes in Grand Prix and Nationals.
Smooth’s Pick –
- Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (CAN)
- Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
- Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA)