Smooth’s Podium Picks – NHK Trophy 2016

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This weekend marks the 6th and final competition of the Grand Prix season. The stage is set for Tokyo, where over 40 skaters will participate in the remaining slots for the Grand Prix Final.

alexei-bychenko

Will Israel’s Alexei Bychenko make history with his country’s first ever Grand Prix final berth?

Men

Analysis – Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu leads the field in his home competition. He came up short against Canada’s Patrick Chan at Skate Canada last month. He’ll look to get a rematch with a win this weekend in Tokyo. His main competition will come from American Jason Brown, who finished 2nd at Skate America and Israel’s Alexei Bychenko, who is gunning to give the country its first ever Grand Prix Final entry. He finished 3rd at Rostelecom Cup earlier this week. Former Junior GP Final winner Nathan Chen is also in the mix with a 4th finish at Trophee de France in Paris two weeks ago.

Skaters to Watch – Japan has two other entries this week. Keiji Tanaka has a 7th place finish at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow. Ryuju Hino is making his senior GP debut this weekend. He finished 8th at Japan Nationals this year. Other contenders are Canadians Nam Nguyen (6th at Skate America) and Elladj Balde (6th at Rostelecom Cup).

Smooth’s Pick
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
2. Alexi Bychenko (ISR)
3. Jason Brown (USA)

Satoko Miyahara of Japan performs during the ladies free skating program at the Skate America figure skating competition in Milwaukee

Japan’s Satoko Miyahara looks to breakup a possible Russian 1-2 finish.

Ladies

Analysis – Russian ladies could go 1-2 in event, guaranteeing at least 3 spots in the Grand Prix final. Anna Pogorilaya is the odd on favorite to make the top of the podium. She has a 1st place finish at Rostelecom Cup. Maria Sotsokova made the most of her senior debut, placing 2nd at Trophee de France. Japan has a chance to stop that from happening with two elite skaters. Satoko Miyahara finished 3rd in a tough field at Skate Canada. Wakaba Higuchi also had a strong senior debut at Trophee de France, finishing 3rd.

Skaters to Watch – The rest of the field is capable of making the podium this weekend. Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva has a 5th place finish at Rostelecom Cup. Canadian Alaine Chartrand has plenty of international experience (5th at Skate Canada) and can make a run for the top three spots. Americans have two shots of making the podium this weekend. Mirai Nagasu has placed at NHK Trophy previously, finishing 3rd. She has a 9th place finish at Skate Canada last month. Karen Chen finished 7th at Cup of China last weekend.

Smooth’s Pick
1. Satoko Miyahara (JPN)
2. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN)

meagan-duhamel-and-eric-radford

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford look to clinch a berth into nthe Grand Prix Final.

Pairs

Analysis – Only 7 teams will participate this weekend. Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Manaro were a last minute withdrawal due to injury. Teammates Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford will participate and look to punch their ticket to Marseilles next month. They won Skate Canada last month. The other two spots will be up for grabs. China’s Cheng Peng and Yang Jin finished 2nd at Cup of China last weekend in only their 2nd senior GP event. Teammates Xuehan and Lei Wang finished in 4th in the same event. Austria’s Miriam Ziegler and Severin Kiefer have the close edge. They finished 6th at Trophee du France.

Skaters to Watch – The other three teams are looking for valuable international experience for future competitions. Germany’s Mari Vartmann and Ruben Blommaert finished 7th at Cup of China last weekend. Americans Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea have a 6th place finish at Skate America. Japan’s Sumire Suto and Francis Boudreau Audet will be making their senior GP debuts this weekend.

Smooth’s Pick
1. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN)
2. Cheng Peng and Yang Jin (CHN)
3. Xuehan and Lei Wang (CHN)

papadakis-ciceron

France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron look to defend against a returning champion.

Ice Dance

Analysis – The highlight of this weekend’s competition will be the battle of the previous world champions with the current world champions. France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron proved to the world why they’re the top team in the world with Gold at Trophee du France. Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir never missed a step after a one year layoff to win Skate Canada. Italy’s former world champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte have proven to be worthy of top podium contention, finishing 4th at Skate Canada. Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov are on their heels with a 4th place finish at last week’s Cup of China.

Skaters to Watch – Japan’s Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed is one of two teams skating this weekend. The current Japan national champions have an 8th place finish at Skate America. The other, Emi Hira and Marien De La Asuncion are making their season debut this weekend. Their best finish was 8th twice at NHK Trophy in 2014 and 2015. Americans have Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus (7th at Cup of China) & Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker (6th at Skate Canada) looking to contend this weekend.

Smooth’s Pick
1. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
2. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (FRA)
3. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (ITA)

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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.
This entry was posted in Figure Skating, Figures skating, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, Skating, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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