Smooth’s Podium Picks – Skate America 2015

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The first of six Grand Prix events begins this weekend as 60 skaters converse in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The competition will crunch in 8 events in three days. It’s been three years since an American woman won Skate America and six years for the men. Will that drought end?

Here are our picks!

Men

denis ten

Olympic Bronze medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan makes his season debut.

Analysis – Four of the top 10 skaters in the ISU World rankings will participate this weekend, including 2014 Olympic Bronze medalist Denis Ten (shown left) of Kazakhstan. Ten has held off on participating in pre-GP competition due to injury, but will be one of the favorites. American Jason Brown has a victory at the O. Nepela Trophy in Bratislava under his belt and will give Ten a run for his money. Japan’s Takahito Mura makes his season debut this weekend. He has a previous GP win at last year’s Skate Canada. Russia’s Konstantin Menshov won at Finlandia Trophy last month and also has a 3rd place finish at Nebelhorn Trophy. He will certainly be in the mix for a podium spot.

Skaters to Watch – China’s Han Yan has yet to show his greatness when he won the 2012 World Juniors. A top three finish will make that happen. Also, Americans Max Aaron and Ross Miner will get more valuable international experience this weekend.

Smooth’s Pick
1. Jason Brown (USA)
2. Denis Ten (KAZ)
3. Takahito Mura (JPN)

Ladies

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Canadian Alaine Chartrand looks to improve on last year’s successful Grand Prix performance.

Analysis – This weekend’s competition is very deep and very competitive. The favorite is American Gracie Gold, who’s been working on a triple axel during the off season. We’ll see if she decides to implement it in either programs. A number of challenges await Gracie. One is from Japan’s Sakoto Miyahara. She started her season by winning the US International Classic and will aim for her first GP victory. Another is by Canadian Alaine Chartrand, who had an impressive 3rd place finish at last year’s Rostelecom Cup in Moscow. This weekend marks the return of Russia’s Julia Lipnitskaya, who had a horrible nationals, finishing 9th. She started her comeback with a 2nd place win at Finlandia Trophy

Skaters to Watch – Russia’s Evegina Medvedeva make her senior GP debut this weekend. The former World Junior’s champ won at O. Nepela Trophy last month and has a lot to prove. American Karen Chen showed some potential, finishing 3rd at last year’s US nationals, but stumbled in international competition.

Smooth’s Pick
1. Evegina Medvedeva (RUS)
2. Gracie Gold (USA)
3. Sakoto Miyahara (JPN)

Pairs

OMAHA, NE - JANUARY 26: Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim compete in the Pairs Free Skate during the 2013 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at CenturyLink Center on January 26, 2013 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim look to make the podium. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Analysis – 2014 Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov sat out Worlds last year so they could focus on preparing for this season. Two new program will determine if they’ve lost a step or if they still got it. 2015 World silver medalists Wenjing Sui & Cong Han of China also make their debut, looking to get ahead. Both teams are ranked 2-3 in the ISU Pairs standings. U.S. Champions Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim continue their quest up the ladder of success. The team had an impressive 2nd place finish at Nebelhorn Trophy last month. Junior silver medalists Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau of Canada will try to improve on their disappointing 5th place finish at Nebelhorn Trophy.

Skaters to Watch – Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea sat out last year’s Grand Prix season. They’ll make their Grand Prix debut at Skate America this weekend. Jessica Pfund and Joshua Santillan, 3rd place finishers at the Skate Canada Autumn Classic will take over for Grechen Donlan and Nathan Bartholomay, who withdrew due to injury.

Smooth’s Pick
1. Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov (RUS)
2. Wenjing Sui & Cong Han (CHN)
3. Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim (USA)

Ice Dance

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier

Canadians Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier look to knock off Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates this weekend.

Analysis – This division will also see some great skating this weekend. The favorites are Americans Madison Chock & Evan Bates. Currently ranked 2nd in the world, the team got off to a quick start, winning Nebelhorn Trophy and will look to challenge current number one’s Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje. They won’t have them this time around. Canadians Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier stand to benefit if they stumble. The team won an impressive skate at Nepela Trophy last month and will look to keep the streak alive. Also looking to place are Russians Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov. Their second year together, the team struggled to gain traction, finishing 4th at nationals and no more than 4th (Rostelecom Cup) in GP competition. 2014 World Junior Champions, Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (USA) make their GP season debut this weekend after a 4th place finish at Finlandia Trophy.

Skaters to Watch –2015 World Junior Champions, Anna Yanovskaya & Sergey Mozgov of Russia make their senior debut this weekend. They could make a big impression on the judge, having won all their competitions, and not finishing less than 1st in JGP since 2012. Americans Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus will be competing in their 3rd Skate America, gradually improving their status from 7th in 2012 to 5th in 2014.

Smooth’s Pick
1. Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA)
2. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (CAN)
3. Anna Yanovskaya & Sergey Mozgov (RUS)

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About smoothjazzandmore

I'm a TV producer and an Internet radio broadcaster. I also write for my blogs (An Op-Ed Blog and a Football Blog) here at WordPress.
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