The Grand Prix series makes its first appearance in Europe, as the stage is set in Moscow. 70 skaters look to take the top of the podium at this weekend’s competition. American Paula Edmunds was scheduled to skate this weekend but withdrew due to health concerns early last month.
Analysis: Two time World Champion Javier Fernandez makes his season debut this weekend. He took last year’s Rostelecom Cup and looks to become a three-time champ in this event. His main competitor will be Japan’s Shoma Uno, who is coming off a win at Skate America 2 weeks ago. This could be a World championship preview next April. American Max Aaron began his season with two non-GP events to clean up his programs for the season, finishing 3rd in each competition. Alexei Bychenko of Israel looks to get a top 5 finish this weekend after winning the non-GP Mentor Nestle Torun Cup. His best Grand Prix finish was 7th at Cup of China in 2014.
Skaters to watch: Russia has three skaters competing in their home tournament. The most accomplished is Mikhail Kolyada, who finished 5th at last year’s Rostelecom Cup. Gordei Gorshkov and Artur Dmitriev will be making their senior debut this weekend. Other contenders are Canada’s Elladj Balde, Latvia’s Deniss Vasiljevs and France’s Chafik Besseghier.
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP)
2. Shoma Uno (JPN)
3. Max Aaron (USA)
Analysis: 12 skaters take the ice with a possible Russian sweep in mind. The leader in the field is Elena Radionova, who was the only skater to defeat Evgenia Medvedeva’s last year in this event. She’s finished on the podium in the last six GP events. Anna Pogorilaya finished 2nd in 2014 at this event. She started the season 3rd at Finlandia Trophy. Despite two successful Grand Prix seasons, Julia Lipniskaya has struggled to get out of Russian nationals. She started her season with a win at Cup of Tyrol and a 2nd place finish at Ondrej Nepela Memorial. The one skater that could break the logjam on the podium is Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan. She’s been making headway in international competitions, including a 4th place finish at last year’s Skate America.
Skaters to watch: Courtney Hicks is the lone American lady skating this weekend in Moscow. She’s has plenty of experience in Grand Prix competition (best finish 2nd at NHK Trophy 2015) and will be a contender for the podium. Italy’s Roberta Rodeghiero comes off a tough performance at Skate America two weeks ago and will try to refine her programs this weekend. Other contenders are Japan’s Kanako Murakami, Nicole Rajicova of Slovakia and Angelina Kuchvalska of Latvia.
1. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)
2. Elena Radionova (RUS)
3. Elizabet Tursynbaeva (KAZ)
Analysis: Canadians Julianne Seguin & Charlie Bilodeau surprised many with their 1st place finish at Skate America two weeks ago. They look to make it two in a row, but they’ll have a harder task this weekend with the entrance of Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot. They made their debut at nationals (1st place) and have been on a tear ever since, finishing 3rd at Worlds. This will be their first GP event. The third spot is up for grabs. Italy’s Valentina Marchei and Ondrej Hotarek could make a splash, but the team has struggled in GP competition and dealt with injuries. They finished 6th in Moscow last season. Russia’s Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov has three GP competitions under their belt. They’ve managed two 5th place finishes. This will be their first GP in Moscow.
Skaters to watch: Russia enters three teams in the tournament, one of them are making their senior debut this weekend. Alisa Efimova and Alexander Korovin have only one other international competition, the Hellmut Seibt Memorial in Vienna, where they finished 2nd. The other entry, Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert finished 5th at last year’s Rostelecom Cup. Other contenders are Camille Ruest and Andrew Wolfe & Goda Butkute and Nikita Ermolaev of Lithuania.
1. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (GER)
2. Julianne Seguin & Charlie Bilodeau (CAN)
3. Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov (RUS)
Analysis: This weekend’s competition should be the showcase event, with three main contenders for the World’s in action. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje make their Grand Prix debut. They were undefeated all of last year until their slip up at Worlds, where they finished 5th. They’re slight favorites in front of rivals Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who just put in a 2nd place finish at Skate Canada last weekend. The Americans will also have to worry about home favorites, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev. The Russian team finished 3rd at Skate America and a win this weekend will punch their way to the Grand Prix Final. One team with an outside chance at the podium is Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen. They’ve climbed up the ladder in the ISU standings (currently 10th) and finished 7th at Skate Canada last weekend.
Skaters to watch: Keep your eye on a couple of Russian teams making their debut this weekend. Sofia Evdokimova and Egor Bazin have been in junior competition since 2011 and they finally make their senior debut this weekend. An Australian and a Britain come together to skate for Russia in Tiffany Zahorski and Jonathan Guerriero. They have two third place finishes in non-GP competitions. Also contending are Alisa Agafonova and Alper Ucar of Turkey & Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy.
1. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (CAN)
2. Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA)
3. Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (RUS)