Smooth’s Podium Picks – Grand Prix Final 2015

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After two months of intense competitions, the Grand Prix season comes to an end. 55 skaters in two different levels (Junior and Senior will compete for the top spots in Barcelona, Spain. Look for some chills, spills and thrills this weekend.

Here’s our picks!

Shoma Uno

Japan’s Shoma Uno tries to continue his hot streak this weekend in Barcelona.

Men

Analysis – Reigning World Champion Javier Fernandez comes home to Spain and is a favorite to place on the podium this weekend. He leads in the Grand Prix standings with two victories at Cup of China and Rostelecom Cup. In last year Grand Prix Final, Fernandez took home silver. He’ll have his hands full as the top 5 skaters from this series will be gunning for the gold.

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu had a rough start at Skate Canada, picking up silver, but he put it behind him with a record-setting point total at NHK Trophy in Nagano. His high score of 322.40 points made him the first skater to break the 300 points barrier.

Japan brings three skaters to Barcelona. Hanyu’s teammate, Shoma Uno won silver in his first Senior Grand Prix appearance at Skate America. He topped it with a first place finish in the Short Program at Trophée Bompard in Bordeaux. Daisuke Murakami advanced with a bronze medal from Lethbridge and a third place in the Short Program from Bordeaux.

China’s Boyang Jin (CHN) also qualified for the Final in his first year on the senior circuit by claiming silver medals at Cup of China and NHK Trophy.  Canada’s Patrick Chan made a successful return to competition, winning at Skate Canada and ranking fifth in the Short Program at Trophée Bompard to qualify for the Final on points.

Smooth’s Pick

  1. Javier Fernandez (ESP)
  2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
  3. Boyang Jin (CHN)

 

Gracie Gold

American Gracie Gold was out of the Grand Prix Final due to injury last year.  She’ll get her chance to medal this time.

Ladies

Analysis – The US had their best showing in the Grand Prix series in quite some time as two skaters contend for the podium this weekend. However, Russia continues to lead the pack in the ladies division.

Evgenia Medvedeva won the first Grand Prix competition of the season, winning at Skate America in October. She followed it up with a silver medal at Rostelecom Cup in November. Her teammate, Elena Radionova picked up a gold at Rostelecom Cup and a bronze medal at Cyas well on their way to the Final.

Gracie Gold finished second to Medvedeva in Milwaukee and was ranked first in the Short Program in Bordeaux. Teammate Ashley Wagner made it to her second Grand Prix Final with a victory at Skate Canada and a fourth place finish at NHK Trophy.

Japan is well represented in Barcelona, taking the last two slots.   Three-time World Champion Mao Asada returned to competition and won in her return at Cup of China and a third place finish in Nagano. World silver medalist Satoko Miayahara qualified for the Final with a gold medal at NHK Trophy and a bronze at Skate America

Smooth’s Pick –

  1. Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS)
  2. Elena Radionova (RUS)
  3. Satoko Miayahara (JPN)

 

Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov

Russians Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov try to parlay their gold from Moscow into gold at the Grand Prix Final.

Pairs

Analysis – Canadians Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford made it look easy this Grand Prix season, winning both competitions with ease. The defending World Champions took gold at Skate Canada and NHK Trophy. This weekend will be the ultimate test on whether they’ll continue their winning streak.

Russia send their two top teams to Spain this weekend. European Champs Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov earned a gold medal at Cup of China in Beijing and a silver medal at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow to book their ticket to Barcelona, while their teammates, Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov qualified for the Final with a victory at Rostelecom Cup and a fourth place finish at Skate America.

China sends two teams to the Final, however their best team, Wenjing Sui & Cong Han withdrew due to injury. They were replaced by Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang, who competed in Bordeaux, finishing fourth in the Short Program and 3rd in Moscow. Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin had a fine Grand Prix season with a silver medal in Nagano and a bronze in Beijing.

The final slots belong to two teams reaching their first Grand Prix Final. Americans Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim’s success this Grand Prix season (2nd place finish at Skate America and 3rd at NHK Trophy) has improved their ISU standing to 3rd in the world overall. Two 3rd place finishes sent Canadians Julianne Séguin & Charlie Bilodeau to Barcelona.

Smooth’s Pick

  1. Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (CAN)
  2. Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov (RUS)
  3. Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin (CHN)

 

Maia & Alex Shibutani

Americans Maia & Alex Shibutani finally hit “paydirt” with their win in Nagano two weeks ago.

Ice Dance

Analysis – This is the most anticipated event this weekend, as all 6 teams have numbers so close that anyone can win the top spot. Defending ISU Grand Prix Final Champions Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje of Canada have victories under their belt at Skate Canada and Rostelecom Cup and are a slight favorite this weekend.

Americans Madison Chock & Evan Bates have continued their battle with the Canadian team with gold from Skate America and silver at Cup of China. Italians Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte had their first ever Grand Prix victory at Cup of China in November and a 2nd place finish in Moscow to punch their ticket.

American siblings Maia & Alex Shibutani finally broke free and claimed their first gold at NHK Trophy. A 2nd place finish at Skate Canada sealed their place in the final. Teammates Madison Hubell & Zachary Donohue earned their first ever Grand Prix Final spot with a first place finish in the Short Dance in France and a bronze medal in Japan.

Russians Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev, who sat out the past season due to injury, made it with a silver at NHK Trophy and a bronze at Skate Canada to Barcelona.

Smooth’s Pick

  1. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (CAN)
  2. Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA)
  3. Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (ITA)

 

Junior Picks – As an added bonus, here are my picks in the Junior Circuit

Men – Nathan Chen (USA)

Nathan Chen

Winner of both Junior Grand Prix events this season, he’s the odd-on favorite this weekend.

Ladies – Maria Sotskova (RUS)

Maria Sotskova

She hasn’t lost a Junior Grand Prix event this season and highlights a ‘deep bench’ for Russian ladies.

Pairs – Amina Atakhanova & Ilia Spiridonov (RUS)

ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Linz - Day 3

Despite a 2nd place finish, they have a program that could move them to the Senior circuit this season.  (Photo by Daniel Kopatsch – ISU/ISU via Getty Images)

Ice Dance – Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA)

Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter

Undefeated this season, we could be seeing the next team in the mold of Davis & White.

And in a first, Synchronized Skating will make its debut in Grand Prix events this weekend. Top five teams from Canada, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the USA will be participating, in anticipation of making this genre a medal sport in the Olympics.

Here is my pick for this weekend.

Syncro – Team Nexxice (CAN)

Team Nexxice

Currently 2nd in the world in the ISU standings, but gaining fast on a strong team from Finland.

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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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