Smooth’s Podium Picks 2022 – Grand Prix Espoo


The sixth and final leg of the senior Grand Prix heads to the city of Espoo, which is located just outside of the capital city of Helsinki, Finland. Espoo is the corporate home to Finnish technology giant, Nokia and chocolate manufacturer, Nestle.  It’s also the birth home of Finnish figure skater, Laura Lepistö. She was the 2010 world women’s bronze medalist, the 2009 European champion, and a two-time (2008 and 2010) Finnish national champion.

Men: There are two spots still left for the Grand Prix Final in two weeks. One of those slots could be slated for American Ilia Malinin, who currently sports the highest totals in Grand Prix competition after his win at Skate America back in October. There are three skaters in contention for the top spot.
Japan’s Shun Sato needs to win outright for any chance at the Final. He finished 3rd in Sheffield two weeks ago. France’s Kevin Aymoz makes his Grand Prix season debut. He battled illness and was unable to skate in Angers. Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili is currently ranked 7th in the world, but had a poor showing in Sheffield, finishing 8th. At best, he can play spoiler.

Skaters to Watch: Canada’s Keegan Messing finished off the podium in 4th place at Skate Canada, and looks to finish with a strong performance this weekend. American Camden Pulkinen had his best Grand Prix finish at Skate Canada in 5th place and wants to improve his ISU standing. Finland’s lone entry is Valtter Virtanen, who makes his first Grand Prix appearance since 2018, where he finished 11th in Helsinki.


Smooth’s Picks:
1. Ilia Malinin (USA)
2. Morisi Kvitelashvili (GEO)
3. Keegan Messing (CAN)

Women: Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx continues her historic rise in women’s skating after the country’s first Grand Prix gold medal in Angers, France. She can achieve another milestone with an appearance in the Grand Prix Final if she wins another gold medal. There are three slots still up for grabs. One skater in contention is Japan’s Mai Mihara, who won her first Grand Prix gold medal in Sheffield. Teammate Rika Kihira returned to the ice after a long break due to injury and finished in 5th place at Skate Canada. Georgia’s Anastasiia Gubanova won a surprise bronze medal in Sheffield and a win could lift her into GPF contention.

Skaters to Watch: Keep your eyes on Canada’s Madeline Schizas. Despite her 7th place finish at Skate Canada, she still has a strong program planned for this weekend. Americans Bradie Tennell and Lindsay Thorngren are both skating for nationals as well as valuable international experience. Finland has three skaters competing this weekend, with 2022 national champion Jenni Saarinen the top contender of the three.


Smooth’s Picks:
1. Loena Hendrickx (BEL)
2. Mai Mihara (JPN)
3. Anastasiia Gubanova (GEO)

Pairs: Only eight teams will compete for one final spot in the GP Final, and it’s security isn’t guaranteed among the teams based on points. The team most likely to grab the spot this weekend is Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini of Italy, who finished 4th in Angers. They also competed at the Warsaw Cup last weekend and finished 2nd. Anastasiia Metelkina and Daniil Parkman of Georgia also had a fourth-place finish in Sheffield. A first or second place finish in Espoo can secure their spot in the Final. Germany’s Alisa Efimova and Ruben Blommaert were forced to withdraw from Skate Canada due to injury. They can play spoiler and bring home important points in the ISU world standings. Other competitors include Anna Valesi and Manuel Piazza of Italy and Americans Anastasiia Smirnova and Danylo Siianytsina.


Smooth’s Picks:
1. Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini (ITA)
2. Anastasiia Metelkina and Daniil Parkman (GEO)
3. Alisa Efimova and Ruben Blommaert (GER)

Ice Dance: Canadians Piper Gillies and Paul Poirier captured their third straight Skate Canada title last month, and they can punch their ticket to Torino with a victory this weekend. Their competition should come from Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who captured silver at Skate America back in October. Bronze will be up for grabs with a few teams looking to reach the podium. Americans Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko missed their chance after finishing 4th in Sheffield. Natalie Taschlerova and Filip Taschler of the Czech Republic also competed in Sheffield and placed 5th.

Teams to Watch: Shiyue Wang and Xinyu Liu is China’s lone entry this weekend. They finished 7th at NHK Trophy. Finland will be represented by two teams. Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis (Shown Above) looks to be the more experienced of the two, having won national titles in 2019 and 2022. They finished 7th in Angers. Yuka Orihara and Juho Pirinen skates in only their 2nd Grand Prix event this weekend. They finished 8th at NHK Trophy last week.


Smooth’s Picks:
1. Piper Gillies and Paul Poirier (CAN)
2. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker (USA)
3. Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko (USA)

Last Week’s Results

Men: 3/3 – CALLED IT! 1-2-3!
Women: 1/3 – Rion Watanabe was my lone correct pick, with Kaori being upset by Yelim for gold.
Pairs: 2/3 – Riku & Ryuichi and Emily and Spencer were my solid picks.
Ice Dance 0/3 – Completely shut out, with a huge upset by the Canadians over Chock and Bates.

Season to Date

Men: 7/15
Women: 3/15
Pairs: 9/15
Ice Dance: 8/15


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, Finland, Grand Prix, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, Skating and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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