The final stage has been set in Spokane, Washington; where fans get to make their picks for who they want to skate this weekend. The ISU-sanctioned competition takes over for the World Team competition, splitting the teams into regions and putting some countries on the same side. The teams are captained by Olympic Gold Medallists. Kristi Yamaguchi (1992, Albertville) captains Team North America, Christopher Dean (1984, Sarajevo) is Team Europe’s captain, while Shizuka Arakawa (2006, Turin) captains Team Asia.
Analysis – Team Asia has a strong entry list. China’s Jin Boyang won the fan vote, sealing his entry in this weekend tournament. He also had a great free skate at worlds, grabbing bronze. After a 4th place placing in the short, Japan’s Shoma Uno struggled in the free skate, dropping to 6th and finishing 7th .He picked up bronze with a strong free skate a Worlds. Kazahkstan’s Denis Ten had an inconsistent season, struggling with an 11th place finish at Worlds last month.
Team Europe’s only solid competitor is Michal Březina of the Czech Republic, who had a 9th place finish at Worlds. Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada takes over for team-mate Maxim Kovtun, who was a last minute scratch due to an ear infection. Kovtun also won the fan’s vote. Russia’s Sergei Voronov had an injury plagued season and will make his return to the ice this weekend.
Team North America is led by US and Four Continents champ, Adam Rippon. He’s riding on his past success and could take him to the top spot this weekend. The rest of the team is a question mark. Jason Brown makes his return to the ice after sitting out the season due to injury. Canada’s Nam Nguyen had a disappointing Worlds finishing 27th in the short, missing the cut.
- Jin Boyang (Team Asia)
- Adam Rippon (Team North America)
- Shoma Uno (Team Asia)
Analysis – This is probably the most competitive of the division this weekend. Team Asia is betting on three strong skaters to win. Japan’s Satoko Miyahara has either finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd in competitions this season. Last month’s 5th place finish at Worlds ended the streak. Team-mate Rika Hongo has been solid, but still fell short of her goals this season (4th, Japan; 8th, Worlds). Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbayeva has continued to improve her standing on the ISU World Standings, climbing to the top 20 and finishing 12th at Worlds.
Team Europe also has a strong group of skaters. World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia is the class of the field, having won every competition, except for Rostelecom Cup, which she finished 2nd to her team-mate, Elena Radionova. Radionova won the fan’s vote. Medvedeva replaced Lisa Tuktamysheva due to injury. Italy’s Roberta Rodeghiero is a surprise entry, given her success in Grand Prix competition.
Team North America is led by World silver medallist, Ashley Wagner (fan poll winner), who has a ton of experience and is expected to medal this weekend. Team-mate Gracie Gold lost her chance to medal at Worlds after a disastrous Free Skate. Canadian Gabrielle Daleman finished strong after coming up short at Nationals and a 9th place finish at Worlds.
- Evgenia Medvedeva (Team Europe)
- Elena Radionova (Team Europe)
- Ashley Wagner (Team North America)
Analysis – Team Asia’s entries are “battle tested” if not accomplished. China’s Wang Xuehan & Wang Lei have a 4th place finish at Cup of China and were ranked 15th at Worlds. Japan’s Sumire Suto & Francis Boudreau-Audet won Nationals after being a team for only a year and finished 22nd at Worlds last month.
Team Europe will be led by Russia’s Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov, whose return to the ice has been at best, challenging, missing Europeans, but finishing 4th at Worlds. Still, they’re a favorite to medal this weekend. Italian’s Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise their National champions and are looking to improve their international standing. This competition with give them that valuable experience.
Team North America are the clear-cut favorites to take two of three spots this weekend. Canadians Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford successfully defended their title at Worlds with a spectacular free skate. Americans Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim continue to climb the ladder of success, winning 2nd at Four Continents and grabbing a top 10 finish at Worlds (9th).
- Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (Team North America)
- Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov (Team Europe)
- Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim (Team North America)
Analysis – Team North America should walk away with this division with the strong pairings of Americans Madison Chock & Evan Bates and Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje. Both teams had disappointing finishes at Worlds last month.
Team Asia have tested Ice Dancers for this weekend. Korea’s Rebeka Kim & Kirill Minov finished 26th at World and will need the international experience to improve their World standing. China’s Wang Shiyue & Liu Xinyu, last minute substitutes for team-mates Sui Wenjing & Han Cong also struggled, finishing 22nd at Worlds.
Team Europe will contend for the podium, with Italy’s Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte leading the field. They missed the podium at Worlds, finishing 6th. Great Britain’s Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland are last minute substitutes for reigning world champions, Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron, due to injury. They put in a 10th place finish at Worlds.
- Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (Team North America)
- Madison Chock & Evan Bates (Team North America)
- Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (Team Europe)
- Team North America
- Team Europe
- Team Asia