Smooth’s Podium Picks 2022 – Grand Prix Series, Skate America


The new cycle of figure skating actually began with the end of the Winter Olympics, where skaters and teams either retired, or decided to take a break from competition.  The war in Ukraine forced the International Skating Union to take a stand against Russia and Belarus, banning their skaters from competing.  As a result, there is a heavy drop off in competition for this season’s senior Grand Prix.  However, this is a chance for a new generation of skaters to gain valuable international experience in anticipation of the next Winter Olympics in 2026.   The first edition of the senior Grand Prix series takes place in Norwood, Massachusetts; where for the first time in three years, the event won’t be in a bubble.

10242020_2020skam_l_fs_016_ilia_malininMen: Late word last week that 2022 Olympic silver medalist Yugi Kagiyama of Japan pulled out of this season’s Grand Prix competition because of injury. That leaves the men’s field wide open. At the top of the list is American Ilia Malinin. Lots of buzz this summer over his successful quad axel at the US International Classic in Lake Placid, a competition he won easily. South Korea’s Cha Junhwan is the highest ranked men on the ISU World Standings. In the Challenger Series, he captured the Finlandia Trophy and finished 2nd at the Ondrej Nepela Memorial in Slovakia. Italy’s Daniel Grassl also has quads in his arsenal. He finished seventh at last year’s Skate America in Las Vegas. Canada’s Roman Sadovsky started his season with a successful 3rd place finished at Nebelhorn Trophy.

Staters to Watch: Keep your eye on Donovan Carrillo. He was the first Mexican skater to qualify for the Winter Olympic Games in 30 years. His spirited performance garnered new fans worldwide. He finished 8th at US International Classic. Japan’s Koshiro Shimada finished 2nd at Lombardia Trophy in Italy. His best Grand Prix finish was 9th at NHK Trophy in Sapporo.

Full Entries:CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Ilia Malinin (USA)
2. Cha Junhwan (KOR)
3. Daniel Grassl (ITA)

gettyimages-1345699789-e1640711827240Women: Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto has been on a whirlwind since winning bronze in Beijing back in February. She parleyed that success into a World Championship the next month. She could finally win a Skate America title after finishing 4th twice. Her biggest competitor will be from American Isabeau Levito, who started her senior international career with two competition wins (Philadelphia and Ondrej Nebela Memorial). South Korea’s Lee Haein skated in four events this year, including a 1st place win at the Triglav Trophy & Narcisa Cup. Japan’s Rino Matsuike makes her second Grand Prix appearance. She skated at the Rostelecom Cup, where she finished 8th.

Skaters to Watch: American Gracie Gold makes her first Grand Prix appearance in three years. The 2014 Olympian had an outstanding performance in Philadelphia this summer, finishing in 3rd place. Amber Glen also skates this weekend for the United States. She finished 3rd at the Cranberry International this summer. Germany’s Nicole Schott skates in what could be her final competitive season. This will be her first appearance at Skate America after six Grand Prix events. Her best finish was 7th place at GP Internationaux de France in 2017 and ’19.

Full Entries: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Isabeau Levito (USA) *Upset Special!!*
2. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN)
3. Lee Haein (KOR)

alexa_and_brandon_4Pairs: The lack of Russians and Chinese pairs makes this event a one team race. Last year, Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier won the country’s first World Championship since 1979. They go into Norwood as the favorites this weekend. However, they do have challengers. Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps of Canada captured the top spot at Nebelhorn Trophy this summer. It was Stellato-Dudek’s first title since 1999, when she won gold at the Junior Grand Prix Final as a singles competitor for the United States. A log jam is expected for the 3rd spot on the podium, with Canadians Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier, Americans Valentina Plazas and Maximiliano Fernandez; and Letizia Roscher & Luis Schuster aiming for position.

Full Entries: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier (USA)
2. Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps (CAN)
3. Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier (CAN)

downloadIce Dance: Americans look to make a rare sweep of the podium this weekend, with Madison Chock and Evan Bates as the favorites to win it all. A win would give them their first Skate America title since 2015. Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker make their return State America since 2020. That year, they finished 2nd. Lorraine McNamara and Anton Spiradonov have skated in three competitions this summer with their best finish in Lake Placid. The rare sweep could be broken up by Canadians, Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus, who finished 3rd at Nebelhorn Trophy this past September.

Team to Watch: Japan’s Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi stunned many by finishing 2nd at the Four Continents Championships early this year. However, that performance was followed up with a 16th place finish at the World Championships. This weekend will be their first competition of the season. Canadians Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac will skate in their second Skate America competition. They last skated in 2019, where they finished 9th.

Full Entries: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA)
2. Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker (USA)
3. Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus (CAN)

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, Skate America, Skating and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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