Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Japan going gold for at Cup of China

There were rumors about Japan not sending its athletes to Cup of China for political issues, but, on the contrary, they are sending their best skaters: Mao Asada and Daisuke Takahashi.
Takahashi won’t have a very challenging competition from Cup of China’s competitors (as what we saw in the past years) and is the absolute favourite for the gold. He debuted his new free skate at Japan Open and won it over some of the best skaters in the world. The key point, again, will be the quad, that Daisuke has decided to attempt, like a lot of his colleagues, both in the short program and in the free (where maybe he will try for two of them). As for artistry and program components he has no rivals in this competition.
Two North Americans and a French skater will try to skate off Takahashi for a gold medal. Adam Rippon and Kevin Reynolds would probably win if they could skate as one, instead, one has the qualities the other doesn’t.  Kevin Reynolds is a superb jumper, a true quad-man but he is lacking of anything else. On the contrary, Adam Rippon is not very consistent on his jumping (except for his supreme triple lutz, so good that he could try a quad lutz) but has a special sensibility for music, lovely spinning  and a very classic and lyrical style.
The French man, Brian Joubert, seemed to be very solid at home Worlds last year, where he was lifted by the crowd. However, his skating is good as it is his jumping, considering that he is not so artistically gifted, and in the last years he used to be not solid in the first part of the season, so he could be second, as he could be last.
Going back to Japan’s expectations of a medal, take a look out for Tatsuki Machida, surely the weakest of the four men who will compete in the grand prixs, but still he is sixth on the grand prix standings so far, thanks to a bronze medal earned at Skate America.

Gold: Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
Silver: Brian Joubert (FRA)
Bronze: Tatsuki Machida (JPN)
As for the ladies,  Mao Asada will be the top contender for sure. Mao Asada had two disappointing seasons in the last years for several personal troubles. She missed the grand prix final and the world podium twice and while she has immensely grown artistically in many’s  opinion, her trademark jumping has worsened (or at least her consistency) due to technical changes wanted by her coach Nobu Sato. She seemed to have found her skating back last year and she reached some good results (won National Championships and got the silver at Four Continents) but her showing at World championships was kind of disappointing.
As in the men’s competition the quad is a key point, for Mao Asada the triple axel is the key. And I am afraid to say that not attempting it will be a factor  for her. I was present at her practices at the last Worlds (video 1, video 2), where she tried that jump over and over and I admire her will strength because she didn’t give it up even if none was rightly executed, but doing that element, especially if she fails it, she spends so much energy, that the rest of the program probably is not going to be better. Since it is not a solid element for her at the moment, it would be less risky going for other jumps and trying to built up her reputation in front of the judges in terms of components score. However components should grow in any case this year, because she has a brilliant free skate to the Swan Lake music in which she highlights all of her strengths. (I am working on a step sequence analysis of that free skate, so if you are interested it will be up in the next days).
Her biggest rival is Julia Lipnitskaya from Russia who makes her senior debut at this event. Julia recently won Finlandia trophy against Kiira Korpi who will be competing in China too. She is a very talented skater, she has an astonishing jumping repertoire featuring triple lutz-triple toe and a trademark double axel-triple toe-double toe combo. She has good spins, in which she shows her immense extensions, but, of course, doesn’t have on her side the maturity of her rivals. Anyway, if she is consistent as she has always been, she will be surely land on the podium.
Mirai Nagasu could finish on the podium as well (she won the silver last year in the same competition) but I would suggest to take an eye out for Zijun Li, as Lipnitskaya coming from the junior circuit, who last year won the bronze medal at Youth Olimpics behind Tuktamisheva and Sotnikova. She is a delightful skater, very light and elegant, but I am not sure she is going to be competitive for a medal (I assure beautiful spins, anyway).

Gold: Mao Asada
Silver: Julia Lipnitskaya
Bronze: Mirai Nagasu


  1. Is Lipnitskaya eligible for 2013 Worlds and Sochi?

    Also I LOVED your Mao step sequence analysis! I understand them so much better now! I can't wait for the Yuna vs Mao showdown at Worlds! :)

  2. Lipnitskaya will be 15 next june, so won't be elegible for senior worlds or euros until 2015. The age limit is 16 for the next season, then it will change to 15 from 2014-2015 season, but it will be too late for Julia.

    I am glad you liked it,it took some efforts, but it was worth it! (at least I had the opportunity to watch Mao's program over and over ;) )