Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Carolina Kostner Italian Nationals free skate practice

Read Italian National resuts here

Plushenko wins tenth national title

Plushenko won his tenth Russian title in Sochi just 14 moths before the winter Olympics. After a brilliant short program, he repeated in the free skate with eight points of gap between him and the silver medalist Voronov. He wasn't perfect in the free skate, yet he wa able to land a quad a couple of triple axels. He scored 174.26
Voronov did a very clean free skate that put him in second place. He nailed an opening quad toe, a triple toe-triple toe and two triple axels. 
Konstantin Menshov had a come back free skate after ranking sixth in the short program. He held on the landing of few jumps, but it was a clean program overall, featuring two quads and two triple axels. Scored 155.00.
Video link
Gachinski ranked fourth with a not so bad free skate, but he struggled with his attempted quads as he turned into triple one and stepped out on the other. He did a couple of good triple axels.

Russian Nationals-Ladies short program

The ladies event at Russian Nationals is probably the most challenging of all. In the short program the younger skaters ruled the competition with several triple-triples. Elizaveta Tuktamisheva is leading with 69.50 points. She put back the triple lutz-triple toe combo and nailed it with all the other jumps. Her spins were not the best today, the layback above all missed some positions.
Adelina Sotnikova is currently in second with 66.99. Her technical content was lower than Tuktamsheva's as she landed a triple toe-triple toe, but anything was nicely executed. 
The 13 years old Elena Radionova, the girl who dominated the junior grand prix, ranked third with the second best technical merit, but lower program components. She executed her trademark triple lutz-triple toe with ease and power.
Korobeynikova and Pogorilaya are fourth and fifth above Alena Leonova who struggled during her short program falling on her triple flip and singling the axel.
Xsenia Makarova fell on triple toe-triple toe and doubled her triple loop. She is now in 12th with 53.36


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Italian Nationals: free programs

Photo by Luca Renoldi

Italian National Championships ended yesterday with the senior free programs. 
The pairs competitions opened the day. With only two skaters attending, Berton/Hotarek claimed the crown skating their best free of the season. Stefania looked pretty concetrated throughout the whole program and didn't really delivered the interpretation of it, but the team nailed all of their elements including their triple salchow side by side that has been a weak point for them in this season. They scored 128.94.

In the ladies event, Carolina Kostner gave oe of the most flawless free skate of her life. Technically she was very close to perfection as she landed six triples including a triple lutz and a triple flip. Artistically she was by far the best of the competition and got several 10s from the judges (receiving a massive 76.64 for components). Her Bolero is an unusual free skate (even if some transitions recall her Dumsky Trio program), but she interpretes it majestically and creates such a special atmosphere that it gains a lot seen it live. She scored a huge 143.56 and won her seventh national title.
Valentina Marchei ranked second with a beautiful skate, yet she did some mistakes with the double axels (did a turn on the landing of one and singled the second). Despite her problems with this jump during the whole competition (singled it even in the short program) she is working on a double axel-triple toe that she beautifully landed in practice. She scored 111.51.
Carolina Kostner: -short program link
                            -free skate link
Valentina Marchei free skate link

The dance competition was the last event of Nationals. Cappellini/Lanotte shined with their Carmen, had some stumbles in the circular step sequence but did a good program overall. They won with a total score of 176.24

Friday, December 21, 2012

Italian Nationals: short programs

Today was the first day for the Senior competitions at Italian championships. 
Firstly, in the dance competition Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte gave their best earning for the second time (and are still the only ones who got that) a level four for both Polka sequences. They skated effortlessly and dominated the competition scoring 72.71, fifteen points above the second ranked team (Guignard/Fabbri).
In the pairs Berton/Hotarek did great despite some problems they have had in practice and warm up. Indeed the two struggled a lot all day long with the throw triple loop, but they fought in competition and landed it with a slight two foot by Stefania. All other elements were excellent. They scored 65.84.
The highlight of the event was reached during the ladies were both Valentina Marchei and Carolina Kostner showed their amazing improvements. Valentina was highly supported by the home crowd who gave her cheers during the whole program. She started very confident with her triple lutz-double toe and triple salchow but then lost a little bit of focus singling out the double axel as she was very close to the board. She scored 56.23.
Carolina Kostner looked very confident in the practice where she landed some gorgeous jumps including a textbook triple lutz and a triple flip-triple toe. Her short program is one of the best she has ever had and interpretes it very well. She opened the routine with a very good triple loop from the steps, continued with a triple toe-double toe (was meant to be a triple-triple but she saved the quality of the combo). She did some beautiful steps that received a level four and a +3 from any judge. Scored 70.13
Tomorrow all the free skates will take place.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Takahashi/Tran split

The Japanese pair Takahashi/Tran decided to split. They got bronze at last year's world championships giving Japan the first world medal in this category. As they are very young, they hadn't developed their full potential yet and it looked like a very promising couple for the future. Problems started to happen during the summer when Narumi caused an injury that would have left them far from the competitions.
But the main reason for the split might be the impossibility to get Japanese citizenship for Mervin Tran before the 2014 Olympics. They will both continue their competitive career with other partners.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

National Championships: Spain, Finland, Sweden, France and Three Nationals

Javier Fernandez was the big name of the competition and had no troubles getting his third national title despite some not so brilliant skates. He changed his quad toe into a quad salchow in the short program but fell on it.
He didn't repeat his grand prix final's free with three quads but nailed just one, his first salchow, turning to triples the toe and the second salchow. He landed four other triples including a triple axel.

Kiira Korpi won Finnish Nationals as expected performing a stunning short program but disappointing in her free skate. She nailed the triple toe-triple toe combo in the short, but her free that used to be quite clean in the fall season was filled by errors maybe caused by the fact that the Finnish champion had competed in the grand prix final a week ago. She landed just a clean triple in her whole long program and popped several jumps.

Florent Amodio won the men's competition. Brian Joubert didn't compete for illness. Amodio changed his short program into one that was inspired by his last season's free skate. He had a nice competition where he tried to land his quad salchow. He downgraded it in the short but nailed it in the free with a under rotation call. He proved to be quite solid on the other jumps performing clean programs.
Pechalat/Bourzat won the dance event getting amazing scores in both programs. They didn't receive two level fours in the Polka sequences but skated an almost perfect free dance getting seven level fours.
Video links
Florent Amodio- Short program
                        -Free skate
Pechalat/Bourzat -Short Dance
                          -Free Dance

Tomas Verner was the winner here in the men's competition. Tomas had a good skating this week, getting first both short program and free skate. His rival Michal Brezina had to withdraw after his short program because of a flu.
Tomas had two clean skates even if the quad is not in his repertoir yet. Considering the disastrous competitions he has had in the past couple of years, he shwed great things here. He did land a quad toe in the free (step out but it was fully rotated) and two triple axels. His only mistake was a doubled triple lutz in the second half of the program. Scored 151.15 in the free.
Video links
Tomas Verner- Short program
                        Free skate

Michal Brezina- Short Program

Joshi Helgesson won for the first time over her sister Viktoria. She had a very clean competition nailing almost all of her jumps including her stunning triple lutz. Viktoria, instead, had a rough free skate where she popped a lot of jumps landing just four clean triples and scoring four points less than the winner.

Carolina Kostner wins Golden Spin of Zagreb

Carolina Kostner debuted both her programs this weekend at Golden Spin of Zagreb where she easily won with a total of 175.02. She performed a very good short hitting all of her jumps (triple loop, triple toe-triple toe and a double axel) and receiving all the levels she was supposed to (all level fours except a level three on the layback spin). She scored 64.99.
She didn't shine technically in her Bolero free skate, popping and under rotating here and there. She received 110 points for her free which is a low score for her but she is riskying much more than she did in the past few years. She did land a triple lutz (stepping out of it) that was a jump she wasn't even attempting since 2010 Olympics as it has always been a difficult jump for her. Her jumping layout was kind of disappointing today (after that lutz she landed a double axel, double flip-double toe, triple toe-double toe, triple loop, single salchow-double toe-single loop and a final triple salchow) and the whole program needs some adjustments, but she is surely challenging herself out with this program.
Bolero is a very hard music to skate to and could easily get boring but there is an interesting choreographical concept in her free skate. Firstly the music starts off slow and then grows note after note in a crescendo underlined by a beautiful step sequence.

Carolina will skate at National Championships next week.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Golden Spin of Zagreb: schedule and preview

all times are GMT+1

Thursday, December 13th
Men short program: 19.00

Friday, December 14th
Short dance: 12.30
Ladies short: 15.30
Pairs short program: 19.00
Men free skate: 20.00

Saturday, December 15th
Pairs free skate: 11.45
Free dance: 13.00
Ladies free skate: 16.00

Continuing with the Senior B competitions, the Golden spin of Zagreb will take place this week in the same venue as the next European Championships. The competition won't be as intriguing as NRW Trophy where Savchenko/Szolkwy and Yuna Kim made the event followed by so many people even with the Grand Prix Final going on. However, the ladies competition will have some very interesting entries.
Carolina Kostner, reigning world champion, will be the frontrunner there. She took some months off the ice for recovering from a brilliant yet exhausting season for her (she competed three grand prixs and the final and did four competitions between January and April) and this week she makes her season debut. She will show her new programs for the first time, having a vampire medley for the short (Transilvanian Lullaby and Tartini's violin concerto), that could inspire some comparisons with Kim's Vampire Kiss program, and will skate to Bolero for the free. 
After last year's results (gold at Cup of China, Grand Prix Final, European champioships and World championships) she thought about retirement, but then decided for an Olympic finish to her career so we will se her around until Sochi. With all the female skaters improving, I don't know if she will be good enough for gold this season, anyway she accepted the challenge and she should be praised for that.
Polina Shelepen and Adelina Sotnikova will attend the competitio too. The Russian ladies didn't have a brilliant start to the season and will have to fight for a Worlds' spot during Nationals that will take place in two weeks.

Official result page

Sunday, December 9, 2012

NRW Trophy: Ladies free skate

Yuna Kim didn't perform as clean as she did in the short program today. She nailed all her more difficult jumps as the opening triple lutz-triple toe a triple flip and another triple lutz in the second half of the program but missed some relatively easy jumps (at least easy for her) singling every element of a scheduled double axel-double toe-double loop combo and falling on a double toe of a triple salchow-double toe combo. Still she got a high mark and eared 201.61 points on the total. (129.34 in the free)
See Yuna's free skate practice here and the free skate here

Xenia Makarova skated better than she is used to. She indeed had a promising start nailing a triple loop, a triple flip and her triple toe-triple toe. She singled out a double axel and fell on a triple salchow but landed it right after in combo with a double toe-double loop. 159.01

Viktoria Helgesson opened the last group in the free skate. She started with two flips, one was cheated and the othe one doubled. Those were her biggest mistakes, since then she did a couple of loops, an axel in combo with a double toe-double loop, a triple toe followed by a single toe and a good salchow. 158.93

Joshi Helgesson opened with her super high triple lutz but she stepped it out (did it later perfectly), she singled a loop and fell on a triple toe. Other jumps were quite clean. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

NRW Trophy Pairs free skate

Considering how bad Volosozhar/Trankov skated today at Grand Prix Final and how high their score was instead, a distant comparison with Savchenko/Szolkowy is kind of inevitable. 
Savchenko/Szolkowy have been the only one who have ever beated the Russian couple.
They skated pretty well, opening with a stunning throw triple flip. They did a side by side triple toe-sequence double toe and doubled a side by side triple salchow. Anything else looked smooth and easy and they got a score around 134 points (total 207,55). (video link)

Berton/Hotarek won the silver medal after a third place finish in the short with a total score of 178,64. They started off with a good triple toe-double toe-double toe side by side, then Stefania doubled the side by side triple salchow that has always been a problem for her this season. The throw triple loop and triple salchow were good.

James/Cipres kind of surprised yesterday when they finished above the Italians. They have had a huge improvement fro last year. They did one big mistake at the beginning of the free program as Vanessa fell on side by side triple toe, but then they were clean with a throw triple flip and a throw triple salchow (again Vanessa had to fight a little bit for holding this landing). They score 110,54. (video link)

Grand Prix Final: Men free skate

Daisuke Takahashi had a rough starting in the free skate. He fell on quad toe but, as Chan, nailed the second. Struggled in the landing of both triple axels he did, then executed very well triple loop, triple salchow, triple lutz-double toe-double loop, triple flip. He scored 177.11 and won the competition.
Yuzuru Hanyu had just one mistake in his free and that was a doubled quad salchow. He landed aperfect quad toe, a triple axel-triple toe and triple axel-double toe, a triple loop, a triple lutz-double toe-double toe, and a final triple lutz 177.12
Patrick Chan fell on quad toe but landed the second one,later on he struggled with the landing of some jumps, especially in the triple axel, but overall it was a quite good skate even because he always manages to get high components for gorgeos skating skills and transitions. He did a final double axel-double toe that didn't count as it was the fourth combo. The technical score was pretty low and couldn't top Yuzuru Hanyu. 169.39
Javier Fernandez had a massive free skate today after a disappointing short program. He skated super clean with very difficult jumps. He nailed three quads, one toe, a salchow in combo with a triple toe and another salchow in the second half of the program. He did five more triples including a triple axel and a beautiful triple flip-single loop-triple salchow. 178.43
Takahiko Kozuka had a hard start to his free skate. He landed a quad toe but fell on another right after and touched down on triple axel. Then he regrouped and nailed all the other jumps doing a beautiful triple lutz-triple toe and a triple axel-double toe-double loop. 166.88

NRW Trophy: Ladies short program

NRW Trophy would have been a competition like others if one of the greatest skater of all times wasn't attending it. Yuna Kim is headlining the event along with Savchenko/Szolkowy, but the focus is mainly on the Korean skater as she competes for the first time in a year and a half. She nailed her triple lutz-triple toe and triple flip. She scored 72.27 (video link)

Ksenia Makarova did a good job in her short program today. She nailed her triple toe-triple toe combo and her triple loop. She scored 59.55.
Mae Berenice Meite skated well too taking advantage of her great jumping ability landing a triple toe-triple toe and a high triple flip. 54.56
Joshi Helgesson is 0.44 points above her sister Viktoria also skating here. Performing to a nicely choreographed Cirque du Soleil program, she landed a triple salchow-double loop with a little turn between te two jumps and a tano triple lutz. 54,42
Viktoria put some efforts in the landing of her triple toe-triple toe combo but later on popped a scheduled triple loop. 53,98

Grand Prix Final: Ladies free skate

There was any doubt Mao Asada was the best in this competition today. She skated brilliantly and that was maybe her best performance in the last three years. She nailed six triples and her only mistake was a doubled triple salchow. She won with 129.84 and 15 points between her and Ashley Wagner.
Ashley Wagner skated with great character. She had some nice jumping passes like her starting triple flip-double toe-double toe, but fell on triple salchow and again fell so hard on a double axel in sequence with a triple loop and for a moment seemed that she did hurt her hip but she recovered, continued and landed her final triple flip. 115.49
Akiko Suzuki had always delivered her free program in this season so far but today something was missing. She started very well with a triple flip-double toe-double loop and double axel-triple toe. Problems started to happen with her triple lutz which she popped, then fell hard on the triple flip and triple loop. I really thought she would have given up the medal but was rewarded 115.77 and was still able to get on the podium.
Kiira Korpi had a program filled with ups and downs as she usually does. She opened with a double toe-triple toe, popped the lutz,then nailed the triple flip and the triple loop-double toe,but doubled her second triple loop. She really feels the music and interprets her free program so well. She scored 111.52.
Elizaveta Tuktamisheva wasn't precise in the landing of her jumps but she held on everything. She opened with a triple lutz-triple toe with a step out on the second jump, double footed the second  triple lutz and did a good double axel-triple toe. 117.14
Christina Gao skated a very good free after a not so satisfying short.She opened with a triple flip-triple toe and did some other four triples and if she didn't fall on her second triple flip her program would have been very good. 105.98

Friday, December 7, 2012

NRW Trophy pairs short program

NRW Trophy takes place in the same days of Grand Prix final. The pairs competition is one of the most challenging of the event because it features world champions Savchenko/Szolkowy who didn't qualify for grand prix final because they withdraw from Trophee Bompard. In this competition they have demonstrated that they could have been the leaders in Sochi scoring 73,55 in the short program. They opened with a spectacular throw triple flip and side by side triple toe. They also changed their very bright costumes into some more sober ones.
Here is the video

James/Cipres are in second with 60,49. They have improved a lot in this season both technically and artistically and the short program at NRW showed that. They executed the same technical elements of Savchenko/Szolkowy, but obviously didn't receive the same goes or components.

Berton/Hotarek are in third with 58.85. They performed quite well landing a triple twist and a gorgoes throw triple loop, but the lowest base value of their jumps (they didn't do a throw triple flip as James/Cipres) and a touch down made by Stefania on the triple toe side by side cost them the second place.

All videos are available on the NRW official youtube page  (link)

Grand Prix Final: Pairs short program

Volosozhar/Trankov were the favourites for the gold, helped by the absence of Savchenko/Szolkowy and delivered those expectations with their best short program of the season and in front of a standing crowd. They opened with a huge triple twist, then did a side by side triple salchow and a throw triple loop. 73.46

Bazarova/Larionov always do side by side jumps very far one from the other but they executed he triple toe well as the throw triple loop and their gorgeos triple twist. They skated elegantly and earned 70.14, a new personal best.

Pang/Tong are the most experienced couple in this competition. They have been struggling with technical elements since last year, still they are amazing skaters able to create a special atmosphere everytime they take the ice. He opened the side by side triple toe doubling it landing it forward so it will have a negative goe. The other elements were absolutely stunning. 64.74

Duhamel/Radford had the most difficult jumping content of the competition. They did a good triple twist and throw triple flip, nailed their hardest jump, a triple lutz side by side with a touch down by Megan. 64.20

Kavaguti/Smirnov, the first on the three Russian couples skating today, struggled slightly on the triple twist and on the triple toe side by side where Yuko touched down. She also fell on the throw triple loop. With 58.32 they drop into sixth place.

Grand Prix Final: Men short program

Daisuke Takahashi - ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating NHK Trophy - Day 1
Daisuke Takahashi nailed his quad toe a lot better than he has done this season so far and landed all the other jumps perfectly (a triple lutz-triple toe and a triple axel). He then relaxed and performed amazingly as he used to do in his best competitions. He scored a season best of 92.29

Patrick Chan landed amazingly his quad toe and triple axel but when the hard jumps seemed to be passed he doubled a triple lutz and stepped out on the triple toe he tried after the lutz. That mistake costed him the first place. The program is stunning as he underlines every nuance of the music filling the rink with charisma and elegance. He scored 89.27 and got the second place.
Yuzuru Hanyu bended his knee so much for holding the landing of his quad toe, did an amazing triple axel and then struggled with the triple lutz-triple toe combo falling on the second jump. He was very nervous going into his short program but he did really held on everything. He didn't score a world record as in the previous competitions but did 87.17.

Takahiko Kozuka started off with a gorgeos quad toe, but later fell on triple axel. Then he did a very good triple lutz-triple toe. This program is detailed and Takahiko has a lovely musicality and artistry on the ice. 86.39

Javier Fernandez stepped out and fell on quad toe, did a solid triple axel and a triple lutz-triple toe. He didn't lose his focus despite his starting mistake and from that moment on performed well. 80.19
Tatsuki Machida is the "weakest" of the Japanese men skating in the final and the surprise of the fall season. He fell on triple axel, struggled with a triple flip and doubled a meant to be triple toe of the combination. He did a good triple lutz as solo jump. He was the only skater not attempting a quad toe in this competition. 70.58

Grand Prix Final: Ladies short program

The ladies did an amazing competition, they were all almost clean in everything. Four of them scored more than 60 points showing the high level of the event.
Mao Asada owned the best season score for a short program before this competition. She skated well nailing her triple flip (possibly under rotated)-double loop and her triple loop. Her program was very delightful in every part and she seems to have a lot of fun doing it. She didn't repeat the NHK Trophy score but she got 66.96.
Ashley Wagner performed a very fierce short program. She skated clean nailing her triple flip-double toe and a solo triple loop in the second half of the program. She scored 66.44 that is a new personal best for her.
Akiko Suzuki has had some problems with her short program this season but today performed very well nailing all of her jumps. She landed a triple toe-triple toe combo then changed her triple lutz that used to give her problems in this fall and did a triple flip as a solo jump executing it properly. She had a little struggle in the flying camel spin but apart from that her program was very clean. 65.00
Kiira Korpi is continuing to skate solid and clean. She was a little nervous on her jumping elements: she landed a triple toe-triple toe with some effort (the second toe could be under rotated) and a triple loop. She did a gorgeos step sequence that before in the season received a level four and a beautiful combo spin at the end of the program. 63.42
Elizaveta Tuktamisheva opened with a struggled triple toe-double toe (that was meant to be a triple-triple) and did a good triple loop. She seems to have grown a lot physically and maybe for that she dumped down her technical content. She received a very good score of 56.61.
Christina Gao skated very elegantly her short program but she wasn't clean at all. She stepped out of her triple toe missing the triple-triple combination and two footed her solo triple loop. 48.56

Junior Grand Prix Final: free skates recap


Elena Radionova won as anyone expected. She did a very good performance nailing all of her jumps starting with a stunning triple lutz-triple toe combo. She scored 118.50 in the free getting a negative goe on both her triple flips that got a wrong edge call. Her whole package and the best components scores of the night crowned her Grand Prix Final gold medalist.

Hannah Miller scored the fourth free skae of the night, but her margin from the short program was enough for assuring her the silver medal. As in the short program, she didn't attempt a triple-triple combination as the other competitors of the event, anyway she landed all the jumps she was planning to do with great quality and her interpretation was the best of the competition.

Anna Pogorilaya seemed a little bit out of focus at the very beginning of her free skate when she stepped out of her double axel, but from then on she has landed triple after triple with ease and determination. She nailed seven triples including a double axel-triple toe-double loop combo and a triple lutz-triple toe. 

Angela Wang, who was fourth after the short program, scored the second best free skate of the event performing a brilliant program (she nailed her triple lutz-triple toe-double toe combo) but that wasn't able to lift her into a podium position 


Maxim Kovtun had an extraordinary free skate landing all of his jumps. He opened with a beautiful quad toe-triple toe, then did a couple triple axels (one in combo with a triple toe) and four more triples. His jumping content is the highest of the field but he still lacks a little bit in the presentation of the program. He scored a season best of 149.78 (free skate video)

It wasn't an easy job for Joshua Farris to top Kovtun's free skate and actually he had a not so good free skate, still he was able to manage a silver medal. He held on almost all jumps, fell hard on his quad toe finishing on the boards and on a triple flip later. He scored 136.84 and dropped into second.

Ryuju Hino (JPN) skated very well overall landing a triple axel-triple toe, another triple axel in the second half of the program and five more triples. He called the wrong edge call on his triple flip and some other he struggled in the landing of other jumps but the technical content was high eough for assuring a third place finish.

Jason Brown, who was third after the short program, lost his medal because of his lack on the triple axel. He did one in the short program, but here he wasn't even able to do a single one, losing completely a jump in his technical content. He always has a very nice connection to the music but a missing jump difficulty and some mistakes here and there caused him to lose a medal.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Junior Grand Prix Final: short programs recap

As expected, Elena Radionova is leading the competition but with just one point over the second ranked Hannah Miller. She opened with a trademark triple lutz-triple toe combo but then got the wrong edge call on her tiple flip and did a little step out on the landing of the double axel so she got negative goes for these two elements. Anything else was perfectly executed as she received a level four for all spins and steps scoring the best components of the competition too. 60.90

Hannah Miller was the only lady not attempting a triple-triple combination and her strategy paid her well in the short program. As Radionova, she got a level four for all of her elements. Her winning point was her combo, a triple loop-double loop, placed in the second half of the program so that she scored 59.18 and got in second place.

Anna Pogorilaya sits in third with 57.94. She nailed her triple lutz-triple toe but, as her compatriot she started  the triple flip from an outside edge. 
Angela Wang (4th), Satoko Miyahara (5th) and Leah Keiser (6th) weren't able to land their triple lutz-triple toe and at the moment they are pretty far from the podium potitions. (Wang is 7 points behind Pogorilaya).

Another expected leader, Joshua Farris won the short program over Maxim Kovtun of Russia with 74.53.
He didn't perform as clean as usual, since he struggled in the landing of his triple axel, but his overall polish and some two gorgeos jumps (triple lutz-triple toe and a solo triple flip) where enough for the lead.

Maxim Kovtun is exactly two points behind (72.53) and has all the rights for fighting for gold tomorrow. He was clean technically except for his final triple flip, wrong edge and little turn on the landing.

Jason Brown challenged himself landing a fully rotated triple axel when this jump is not one of his favourites and one of those he really struggles with. He nailed it here, but then doubled his triple flip and got 69.43. He was the only one who received a level four for all of his elements.

Fedorova/Miroshkin of Russia scored a season best score of 54.37 and are the current leaders after the short program. They opened with a double twist executed just after a cantilever that is a ery unusual transition. They then did a good throw triple salchow and a side by side double axel.

Purdy/Marinaro of Canada did qualify as the first team but had to give up the short program win to the Russians due to a struggled landing on side by side double axel. They did a good triple twist and a throw triple salchow. They also received the highest components of the competition. 51.83

Davankova/Deputat performed very clean their short program and placed third despite they qualified as fifth. They landed a side by side double axel, a throw triple salchow with a long preparation going into it and a good triple twist.

Grand Prix Final_Dance Preview

In ice dance the Grand Prix final is the first event of the season where the greatest teams fight against each other. 
Davis/White and Virtue/Moir will compete together for the first time since World team Trophy 2012. These two couples have dominated the ice dance's scene for he last three years and probably will be those who will challenge for an Olympic gold next season.
Virtue/Moir have won anything in their skating career except the Grand Prix Final title. The two are usually less technically consistent than direct rivals Davis/White at the beginning of the season and had struggled with injuries few times so that the gold at final has been won by the US skaters for three consecutive years.
For what we saw in this fall season, this result could happen again this year, as the Canadians have two amazing programs (maybe more artistically convincing than Davis/White's) but they have been struggling with both getting lower levels in the Polka and step sequences (they never got a level 4 for a Polka).
So technically Davis/White should be superior, though they have had some struggles as well. Anyway they own the best score of the season of both segments and are in the way of their 14th consecutive grand prix win.

The third spot of the podium is quite open to any other team qualified for the final. 
Pechalat/Bourzat seem to be the closest to that result and actually they are trying to reduce the gap between them and the two elite couples. They have had brilliant results this season so far, even if it looked like they weren't satisfied with their scores, they have improved themselves a lot with difficult programs.

All the other European teams attending the final improved from last year, but maybe the biggest step forward has been made by Russian Bobrova/Soloviev, who, after a good silver medal at European Championships, performed unimpressive programs at Worlds. They changed coach and style giving themselves a new freshness.

In the NHK Trophy dance preview, I pointed out how terrible Ilinykh/Katsalapov's free dance was. I hoped I would have changed my mind after that competition but that didn't happen, even because Elena was sick and didn't interpret the music at all. Nevertheless I have to admit that the music choice is the only weakness they have: their technical abilities are amazing they have such difficult transitions in their programs and they are definitively outstanding athletes.

Lastly, Cappellini/Lanotte were in anyone's eyes when they almost beated Virtue/Moir at Skate Canada's short dance. Under the guidance of Igor Shpilban, they have made a qualitative leap and despite some rough mistakes (as the twizzles at Trophee Eric Bompard where Luca fell) they could be competitive for a European medal.

Gold: Davis/White (USA)
Silver: Virtue/Moir (CAN)
Bronze: Pechalat/Bourzat (FRA)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Grand Prix Final_Ladies Preview

Almost everyone is expecting Ashley Wagner to be the gold medalist at 2012 Grand Prix Final. Ashley has dramatically improved from last year as I have said in other posts before and she looks very promising not only for this competition, but for th entire season too. She has been very consistent in the fall and collected three golds in a row (Japan Open, Skate America, Trophee Eric Bompard) qualifying first for the final. She is very consistent in jumping and she is the most expressive female skater at the moment. If she skates as she has done before in the season, she is likely going to win and that could be a strong boost of confidence for fighting for a gold medal at the upcoming World Championships. 
However she might try some riskier elements in this more challenging competition and that amazing consistency couldn't be a key point for her any more. Indeed at Worlds 2012 she was one of the favourites for a medal finish, but because of an attempted triple-triple combo (which she failed) she didn't completely deliver her short program and had to give up a medal.

The figure skating world is still waiting for a Mao Asada's comeback since 2010/2011 season where she was a shadow of herself. She seemed to have achieved that in the following season, but from that moment on she started to produce rollercoaster competitions. During this fall the same happened: she had a quite good Cup of China, performed brilliantly in the NHK short program but collapsed in the free skate landing three of seven attempted triples. She surprisingly won the competition despite that poor outcome and an outstanding performance by Akiko Suzuki who was skating there too. For someone it was the nth proof that the current judging system is not working properly, actually it was a sign of the extreme importance of the grade of execution in the scoring. Mao was able to get that score because she was given very high goes even on single jumps so that she didn't lose much on the technical content. Anyway her basic skills alone won't be enough for this competition, so she will need to improve her consistency in her jumping, especially if she wants to get her triple axel back later in the season.

On the other hand, Akiko Suzuki proved to be very solid with her free skate, but hasn't delivered her short program yet, and that brought her away from two possible grand prix wins. She is a delightful skater with one of the best free skate choreographies of the season and if she fixes her "Kill Bill" short program she could repeat her last year's result in the final. 

The other three competitors in Sochi will more hardly get on the podium but for them qualifying for the final has been a success itself. All three qualified for the first time in their career. 
Christina Gao took advantage from Lipnitskaya's injury (who for that had to withdraw) and could really challenge herself for a future qualification at Worlds 2013 during Nationals. 
Elizaveta Tuktamisheva is the only Russian female skater who will attend the final but maybe this will be a disadvantage for her when she will compete at Nationals (just two weeks later) trying to get one of the three spots available for Worlds.
Kiira Korpi was a delightful surprise of this fall, since despite her age she continues to improve year after year. If she's not making the competition at this event, this season she could expect from herself something bigger at European Championships.

Gold: Ashley Wagner (USA)
Silver: Akiko Suzuki (JPN)
Bronze: Mao Asada (JPN)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Grand Prix final_Men's preview

For the first time in history Japan has qualified four men for the grand prix final, something that the great Russian team alone has been able to do in the past years. The Japanese team is clearly the richest in the world with a lot of different talented single skaters.

Anyway the national champion Daisuke Takahashi was the only one of the four (actually the only one of the six finalists) who had not won a Grand Prix this season getting the silver medal at both Cup of China and NHK Trophy. Daisuke is one of the best male skater in terms of interpretation and the ability of portraying the music while skating. After having some disappointments last season, especially at Worlds where he lost the title with a perfect free skate, he started to get his technical repertoire even riskier. As a result he lost his consistency and some of his great connection with the music in the attempt of landing multiple quads.

Yuzuru Hanyu instead is a rising star in the men’s field. He hasn’t been very consistent so far, but he is an amazing talent and could improve to become the best male skater in history. He has an almost perfect short program, built for getting lots of points. His free skate is not so accurate choreographically and he is always very focused on jumping passes so that his interpretation and transitions are poorer than what he shows in his short.  But his technical content his extremely high with two quads and two triple axels in the second half of the program. If he can skate clean in both programs he is going to win or at least finish second after a perfect Patrick Chan.

Patrick Chan is looking for redemption after a couple of bad skates in the previous competitions. He had some disastrous performances at Japan Open and Skate Canada, improved at Cup of Russia’s free skate and owns the best overall score of the season but still he is not very solid yet. His biggest problem is consistency on the triple axel.

Javier Fernandez was the one who beat Patrick at Skate Canada. Javier is a strong competitor and has jumping consistency since early in the season and showed that in his first Grand Prix but at NHK Trophy, where he was strong of a win, he skated an almost perfect short program and then collapsed in the free with several falls. Still he has the most difficult  technical content of the competition (attempts three quads in the free skate) even if that doesn’t always come up with the highest scores.

Former world medalist Takahiko Kozuka and Tatsuki Machida will be the other two Japanese men attending the Final. Takahiko Kozuka was an expected entry into this competition, as he was the second Japanese men after Daisuke Takahashi until last season and his beautiful qualities are already known worldwide. On the other hand Tatsuki Machida surprisingly got on the podium with compatriots Kozuka and Hanyu at Skate America, and more surprisingly  won Cup of China over Takahashi.

The competition here is going to be very challenging even because none of these skaters are completely solid on their jumping elements but they have all very risky programs. I would predict that Hanyu will have a great short program compared to others but he is kind of a rollercoaster in the free skate being able to fall even on a spin. Patrick Chan probably remains the favourite in the men’s field if he doesn’t bomb as he did at Japan Open.


Gold: Patrick Chan (CAN)
Silver: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
Bronze: Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Grand Prix Final Schedule

Sochi, Russia (all times are GMT +4)

The Sochi's Iceberg Skating Palace

Friday, November 7th
Ladies short program: 15.00-15.50
Dance short program: 18.15-19.10
Men short program: 19.35-20.25
Pairs short program: 20.50-21.45

Saturday, November 8th
Ladies free skate: 15.15-16.10
Free Dance: 17.15-18.15
Men free skate: 18.40-19.40
Pairs free skate: 20.05-21.10

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Junior Grand Prix Final singles preview

When the senior season starts off the whole attention is on it and the Juniors don't seem so appealing any more. The junior circuit is not only played by younger skaters but it's a completely different story if compared to the Seniors. The Junior Grand Prix Final will take place just few days before the Senior one in Sochi. Actually, it is going to be a great competition from some points of view. The single's event will be dominated dominated by USA and Russia.

In the ladies competition, three US skaters qualified for the final, but the win is in the young Radionova's hands. The Russia 13 years old skater won both her Grand Prixs with stunning performances in which she shined for her technical abilities (triple lutz-triple toe seems to be so easy for her) and she scored the best components scores of the category. She scored around 180 overall in both events, more or less 15 points more than any of her rivals.
Angela Wang was a kind of surprise for me at Grand Prix USA where she got the bronze medal after being 8th in the short program. She has some nice jumps too but she is not as consistent as Elena Radionova.
Other competitors are Anna Pogorilaya (RUS), Hannah Miller (USA) the only lady not having a triple-triple in her repertoir at the moment but with some more maturity in her skating, Leah Keiser (USA) and Satoko Miyahara (JPN).

As for the men, the battle for gold will be between US Joshua Farris and Russian Maxim Kovtun. They both won both of their Grand Prixs and could land a quad toe. Joshua Farris has a very elegant style that reminds me of Jeremy Abbott with long beautiful lines. He nailed his quad toe only at Grand Prix USA (turned into triple the one he attempted in Slovenia) but anything else in his skating is very well executed. On the other hand, Maxim Kovtun is pretty consistent on his quad (did it in combo in Croatia) but he has not the same skating quality Joshua has, plus he usually flutzes. 
Jason Brown of USA could be considered the most mature men of the competition in terms of interpretation and connection with the music, but his technical content is the weakest of all. He is the only one who has not a triple axel (he tried one in Turkey in the short and in the free, but got a under rotation on one and got the downgrade call on the other).
Other competitors are Boyang Jin (CHN) who could also land a quad toe, Keiji Tanaka (JPN) and Ryuju Hino (JPN).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NRW Trophy_entries and schedule

SCHEDULE (all times are GMT +1)

Friday, December 7th 
Pairs Short program: 19.10

Saturday, December 8th 
Ladies Short program: 11.00
Men Short program: 16.00
Pairs Free skate: 21.00

Sunday, December 9th 
Ladies Free skate: 11.00
Men Free skate: 16.45

The Pairs event will be dominated by Savchenko/Szolkowy who had to withdraw from a Grand Prix competition and couldn't make it to th final that will take place in the same days in Sochi.
Some competition will come from Berton/Hotarek, who are competing here two weeks before their Nationals. The Italian team looks improved from last year as they got more solid on technical elements such as the triple twist that was a weakness for them last year. This is going to be a test competition for them before Europeans and Worlds where they will need to fight against emerging couples as the French Popova/Massot and James/Cipres also competing at NRW Trophy.

The men's competition seemed to be a lot more interesting few days ago when everybody thought Plushenko would have been there, but he decided to skip this competition in order to prepare for Nationals (24-30 December). Although, the competition hosts some big names as well. Michal Brezina and Artur Gachinsky look for redemption after a not brilliant fall season and try to get in a good shape for Europeans where both have been medalists before.

The ladies competition is the event everyone is looking for for the season debut of Olympic Champion Kim Yuna. She will present her new programs there after a stop season. Other competitors are Valentina Marchei who looks very improved from the last seasons, Viktoria and Joshi Helgesson and Ksenia Makarova who will need to get the minimum technical score for Worlds (if she will qualify against all of her compatriots)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

NHK Trophy Ladies result


Mao Asada was visibly more nervous than yesterday and probably for that missed some jumps: she doubled a loop, a lutz and a flip and singled a salchow for a total of three triples (with a double axel-triple toe combo). She was very disappointed at the end of the program, she had ten points of lead on Suzuki after the short. As she competed today she didn't deserve a first place nor to score 117.32 just a point less than the cup of China free skate, where she skated a lot better. Anyway she is a delightful skater and I just hope she will get better in the jumping as the season goes on.
Akiko Suzuki has got one of the best free skate of the season choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo. She skated super clean with seven triples all flawlessly executed. She did a couple of lutzes, a flip, a stunning double axel-triple toe and two triple loops. She is always very solid in the free skate but she has struggled in the short program so far in the season. She scored 126.62 that is a new personal best.
Mirai Nagasu despite the expectations, at least mine, she skated brilliantly with six triples (but some of them could be called under rotations or downgrades) but anyway, the program overall was very good. She scored 115.50.
Zijun Li was seeking her first senior podium today after being third in the short program. That was not easy for her, since Suzuki, who was fifth in the short, had a gorgeous free skate, but she performed very well nailing six triples including a stunning triple flip-triple toe. She is a packaged skater with amazing spins and good steps. Here she got 114.49 that is a new Chinese record for the ladies. She didn't medal today, but she could be a real contender in the future.
Zawadzky needed a silver medal for making it to the final and that was not an easy job after the seventh place finish of the short. She scored just a point less than the one she received at Cup of Russia. She started well with a tiple lutz and a triple toe-triple toe but later on fell on the second triple lutz and doubled her flip. 105.35

NHK Trophy Men Result

Yuzuru Hanyu - ISU Grand Prix NHK Trophy - Day Three
Yuzuru Hanyu could have skated better, but the same won on the free and overall. He landed both his quads, struggling a little bit on the salchow and landed two stunning triple axels in the second half of the program. He did some mistakes at the end like a fall on triple lutz and a unusual fall on a spin. He scored 165.71 and won the competition.
Daisuke Takahashi has a very ambitious program for him with difficult elements that distract him a little bit from interpreting the music. He was quite disastrous at Cup of China and improved his score of twenty points. He neilde one quad toe, the second one was two footed, did two triple axels, and some other triples getting 164.04.
Ross Miner had an excellent skate where he landed almost anything he was supposed to. That was one of the best performance from a US skater in a long time. He nailed a quad salchow and a couple of triple axels. Later on he attempted  a triple lutz-triple toe but doubled the toe. Anyway he landed four more triples with ease and he showed himself as a competitor for gold at Nationals. 161.96
Javier Fernandez struggled a lot in his free skate and lost an expected medal but qulified for grand prix final. He executed a stunning quad salchow and some good triples in the second half of the program, but stepped out on the first quad toe and fell on the second, fell within a transition and didn't land any triple axel. 146.55
Dornbush had problems at the beginning of the program with his two quads attempt, one he doubled and fell on the second but then skated very well nailing two triple axels and a stunning triple lutz-triple toe with both hands up on both jumps.147.51

Friday, November 23, 2012

Yuzuru Hanyu short program analysis

After seeing Yuzuru Hanyu at 2012 Worlds it was very clear for everybody that the kid would have done something special in the future. I just didn't expect it to happen so soon.
The Japanese skater is just 17 but already medaled at words at his debut last year. After that amazing result, under the coaching of Brian Orser, Yuzuru started the season better than always scoring a world record at the very first grand prix of the season. And that was not a fluke, because at NHK Trophy he was able to top the previous world record with 95,32 in front of the home crowd.

I remember Brian Orser being interviewed before the 2010 Olympics about who he tought would have been the favourite for the gold in the men event. In the "quad or not quad" debate, he answered Stephane Lambiel because he had both quad and artistry. But then Evan Lysacek won without that difficult jump and for this men's figure skating has changed so much that now the bar is not "the quad" anymore, but "how many quads".
Yuzuru is one of those who have a pretty consistent quad toe in the short program (nailed it both at Skate America and NHK Trophy). As others, he decided it to be his solo jump. The solo jump needs to be preceeded by steps, which is a very hard job if you are doing a quad after those steps. Some of the skaters don't even attempt them and that costs them points on the goe. This is not his case, since he does some steps before his toe (not actually very difficult steps but enough for getting +2 or +3 on a well executed jump).

 As some have said, that score of 95.07 was the result of the introduction of the new rule for that you receive a bonus for jumps executed in the second half of the short program. Indeed he placed both his triple axel and the triple lutz-triple toe combo in the second half getting two more points overall on the base value of the jumps (last year the base value of triple axel plus triple lutz-triple toe combo was 18.60, while this year is 20.46 with the bonus).
He is very solid on both jumping passes and his triple axel is outstanding everytime. In last year's free skate he did the axel directly taken from a spread eagle and  I have actually the feeling that he could do anything before and still land it. In the short he has a very difficult transition going in, with several steps and a final left outside to inside edge counter turn as the entrance of the axel.
His triple-triple combo is always easy and perfectly executed.

Yuzuru got a level four for any spin he does in his short program (at Skate America got a level three in the sit spin).
Flying Camel spin: the camel spin is always very hard for a man, because the natural lack of flexibility does not allow difficult position but since Yuzuru is very young compared to others, he can still count on a good stretch and a donut position.
Combo sit spin: I think that at Skate America he was missing a feature for getting level four, but at NHK he did a variation so that he was given the highest level. Features were
1. Backward entrance
2. Change of edge (from outside to inside)
3. Increase of speed
4. Difficult variation
Camel combo spin: it is a level four for features
1. All three basic positions (sit, camel and upright)
2. Jump executed withing the spin landing on the same foot
3. Change of edge (on the camel position from inside to outside)
4. Difficult variation

As for steps Yuzuru haven't received a level four yet, but since he got it in the previous seasons, he just needs to refine a little bit the footwork.

Yuzuru Hanyu Short Program isu protocol comparison

SA 2012
NHK 2012
GPF 2012

4 toe
Flying camel spin
3,84 (4)
4,13 (4)
4,13 (4)
Combo sit spin
3,39 (3)
3,93 (4)
3,71 (4)
3 axel
3 lutz-3 toe combo
7,69 (< and fall on the toeloop
Step sequence
4,37 (3)
3,3 (3)
5,30 (4)
Camel combo spin
4,21 (4)
4,43 (4)
4,14 (4)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

NHK Trophy Ladies preview

Three ladies are trying to qualify to Grand Prix Final at NHK.
Mao Asada is the one who will very likely go there as she won Cup of China three weeks ago. Mao Asada is missing the Grand Prix Final since Seoul 2008 where she won. She didn’t qualify in 2009 and 2010 and had to withdraw last year. Mao has become a little bit inconsistent in the past two years, especially for the struggles she have had with her triple axel and sometimes with the rotation on easier jumps. At Cup of China she looked pretty strong on the whole and she has delightful programs. As far as she avoids the triple axels which is an element she does not land constantly, she is kind of sure to be on the top (maybe Ashley Wagner alone could top her).

The second Japanese lady could qualify for the final too. Akiko Suzuki won the silver at Skate Canada behind Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond who wasn’t able to get a second assignment at NHK replacing Czisny who is still recovering from injury. At Skate Canada Akiko struggled in her short program but won the free with about 120 points (a score three points more than Asada’s free skate) getting, in my opinion, underscored on components. She is the 2011 NHK Trophy champion and could defend pretty well her title.

While the Japanese ladies, as favourites in the upcoming event, are almost sure to get to the final, other skaters need to fight for the last available spot.
Agnes Zawadzky is one of those. She earned the bronze medal at Cup of Russia with two very good programs. She has always been kind of inconsistent jumper but not this year yet and with a silver medal she is in the final (could possibly with a bronze medal too).

Mirai Nagasu was supposed to skate just at Cup of China, but since Polina Shelepen withdrew from NHK, Mirai had a chance of a second grand prix. At Cup of China she wasn’t so brilliant and her future perspective aren’t very bright considering that USA has two spots for ladies at next worlds and the national field is on a higher level at the moment. She placed fourth there struggling a lot on rotating her jumps (she got three under rotations and two jumps were downgraded). Her possibilities of being on the podium at NHK depend on how Zawadzky performs.

Gold: Mao Asada (JPN)
Silver: Akiko Suzuki (JPN)
Bronze Agnes Zawadzky (USA)

NHK Trophy, Dance preview

The dance event is a very predictable one, especially during the grand prixs when the top three teams are assigned in six different competitions.
NHK is predictable as well with an almost sure gold to Davis/White and a possible challenge between the Shibutanis and Ilinykh/Katsalapov (even if it is pretty sure that the Russians will take the silver).

Davis/White debuted at Skate America, the first of the grand prixs, and still own the season best score.
They do have a brilliant balletic short dance to Giselle and a not so loved free dance to Notre Dame de Paris.
Technically they are always very prepared since the beginning of the season and they showed it this year too (despite some little troubles in their free at Skate America). Anyway, the question is: can they mantein a margin of lead in the second half of the season when Virtue/Moir seem to be slightly stronger?
Meryl and Charlie chose a free dance trying to make up the gap with the Canadians in terms of connection and chemistry between them. They are very excited of their Notre Dame program and said that they finally found that extra thing in their skating (read the interview here) but  they actually didn't show it very much in their previous competition. On the other side their free dance has some amazing elements, like the spin and all the lifts, that highlight their musicality and commitment.

Talking about free dance, I felt really uncomfortable with Ilinkh/Katsalapov's. The Russian team has immensly improved from last year and will likely get the silver here but their music choice is not the best of all in my opinion. I really hated how speaking parts and then screams were put above the music. Anyway I have to say that their skating abilities are always beautiful, I just prefered a more classic style for them.

The Shibutanis instead were unfortunately protagonist of a unlucky skating moment. At Cup of Russia, in the middle of their "Memoirs of a Geisha" routine Alex stopped for a leg pain, discussed with coaches and then continued. He was in real pain at the kiss and cry and I wish he recovered in these two weeks. During that hard moment his sister Maia was so sweet and worried about him that that turned into an overcoming thing to me. They placed fourth at Cup of Russia and almost surely won't go to the final but I really love their skating and their new free dance is the best they have ever had.

Gold: Davis/White (USA)
Silver: Ilinykh/Katsalapov (RUS)
Bronze: Shibutani/Shibutani (USA)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NHK Trophy, Men preview

NHK Trophy is the last of the grand prix events of the season. This competition will decide the last skaters who will qualify for the final in Sochi.
In the men’s event three spots are still available and will probably go to Japanese Daisuke Takahashi and Yuzuru Hanyu who got a silver medal in the previous grand prixs and Javier Fernandez, the winner of Skate Canada.
Yuzuru Hanyu debuted at Finlandia Trophy and then skated at Skate America. Yuzuru usually has some problems with finding the physical form at the beginning of the season and struggles a little bit more in the first competitions than at Nationals or Worlds. Though he skated very well early in the season so far, even without finding consistency yet. He won Finlandia Trophy against team mate Javier Fernandez  with an outstanding free skate featuring two quads (a toe and a salchow) and two triple axels.
At Skate America he had a fabulous short program scoring a world record of 95.  . The world record came from the new rule that gives extra points on jumps executed in the second half of the short program (he does the triple axel and the triple lutz-triple toe in the second half). Anyway, Yuzuru owns the best score of the season for this segment and proved he can challenge the leaders of the sport both technically and components wise. At Skate America the Japanese kind of collapsed in the free skate, losing his ten points of lead to the second giving up the gold medal to Takahiko Kozuka, so at the moment it is just a question of consistency for him but there’s no doubt that the young man is incredibly talented.
Daisuke Takahashi disappointed a little bit at Cup of China where he was the absolute favorite for the gold but as Yuzuru he lost the gold against another Japanese, Tatsuki Machida who also qualified for the final. Everyone thought that Daisuke could have been the one able to beat Patrick Chan, as he did at World Team Trophy and at Japan Open in October. He is one skater that always pushes himself on an improvement year after year but this season he had a struggle in his Cup of China free skate. Maybe that was just a bad competition for him and will have a redemption in front of the home crowd.
Javier Fernandez was the most pleasing surprise of the 2011 fall season where he got medal after medal. I had high expectations on him heading to the European Championships but he struggled there and at Worlds not showing all of his potential. He came back strong this season with ambitious programs and won against a not so brilliant Patrick Chan at Skate Canada. He still struggles a little bit on his lutz but did put a quad toe in his short program and attempts three quads in the free (was able to do two of them at Skate Canada), one in the second half of the program and looked pretty consistent on them.
Considering the level of this guys, I don’t think any other skater could get to the podium here, actually all the three can be equally finish on any spot of the podium, depending on how they will perform this week.

It is so hard to predict, but here my picks
Gold: Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
Silver: Javier Fernandez (ESP)
Bronze: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)