Sunday, October 27, 2013

World silver medalists Carolina Kostner and Denis Ten to compete at Cup of China

The Cup of China is the third of the grand prixs of the season. The competition will feature three of the silver world medalists and will be a key to understand how the Olympic season may unfold.

Denis Ten, Carolina Kostner and Savchenko/Szolkowy are the frontrunners and the favourites for a gold finish, but the competition won't be easy for them.

Denis Ten will attend his only grand prix event here, as he withdrew from Skate America due to illness. Worlds 2013 were the only major international competition where Ten did medal, not because he ever lacked potential, but his unconsistency, that may reappear, has prevented him from success. Quality is definetely what brings him to the top of the elite male skaters and could win this competition by skating relatively safe.
Takahiko Kozuka is competing in Beijing too and, as Ten, was assigned to Skate America where he didn't shine and won't probably qualify for the final. Other competitors will be Florent Amodio, Maxim Kovtun, Kevin Reynolds, who, if he competes as he did at Worlds, could make his several quads count towards a medal, and Han Yan, bronze medalist at the 2013 Four Continents.

Carolina Kostner will make her season debut this week, presenting for the first time her new programs on Humoresque (short) and Sheherazade (free). The 2012 world champion has had her finest seasons in this last quadriennal and aims to do something special in her final year in the competitive scene. Olympics seasons have never been a hit for her (9th in 2006 and 16th in 2010), therefore her goal is to compete in Sochi according to her standards and the grand prixs will be a first clue. In any case, that has to be considered that Cup of China may not require her to showcase her complete technical package, as she has an edge on the others components wise.
Besides, her major competitors here, Kanako Murakami and Adelina Sotnikova, haven't started the season incredibly strong; Murakami is known for building up her condition as the season goes on, while Sotnikova is going for a very demanding jumping content (she is trying triple lutz-triple loop) in a bid to be prepared to fight for an olumpic spot.
Take an eye out for Zijun Li, who mesmerized at the World championships last year and who has been pretty consistent throughout the entire last season.

Men: 1. Denis Ten, 2. Takahiko Kozuka, 3. Han Yan
Ladies: 1.Carolina Kostner, 2. Zijun Li, 3. Adelina Sotnikova

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Duhamel/Radford hold into first, Gracie Gold outskates veterans and newbies at Skate Canada (short program recap)

The pairs short program was the opening event of Skate Canada International taking place this weekend.
Duhamel/Radford are in the lead as expected with 69.57, even though no one expected them having such a tough bunch of competitors. Berton/Hotarek and Sui/Han, relatively in second and third, skated brilliantly, both teams scoring a personal best around 69.
The Italians, coming from a fifth place finish at Skate America last week, improved their short program of almost six points, getting a new national record.
Sui/Han were spot on as well: they nailed a beautiful triple twist (level four and positive goe across the board) and an easy throw triple flip. The positive surprise of their performance was the side by side triple toe, usually a nemesis for them, nicely executed.
That has to be said that Duhamel/Radford weren't at their best instead, as they fought with the landing of the throw triple lutz and the triple lutz side by side. However, the highest base value of the program and their superiority components wise, cause them to hold the first place.

In the ladies event Gracie Gold is surprisingly leading the short program, followed by Julia Lipnitskaia and Akiko Suzuki.
The 17 years old recently coached by Frank Carroll, skated impecably, hitting a triple lutz-triple toe combo and scoring 69.45 points (the second best short program score of the season).
Three points behind, Julia Lipnitskaia was clean too, but she received lower components scores.
Akiko Suzuki skated last and showcased all her maturity and artistry. She nailed a stunning triple flip and double axel as well as fabulous steps. A under rotation on the triple toe-triple toe was the mistake that caused her to drop into third place.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Skate Canada schedule

Saint John, Canada  (GMT -4.00)
25th-27th October

photo by Eline Paasomen

Friday, October 25th
14.30: Pairs short program
16.30: Ladies short program
20.00: Short Dance
21.40: Men short program

Saturday, October 26th
13.00: Pairs free skate
15.10: Ladies free skate
17.30: Free Dance
20.10: Men free skate

Skate Canada preview: home athletes going gold for

photo by eelinpaas

This is the week of Skate Canada international that will take place from the 25th and the 27th at St. John. In this event, Canada will try to take gold in all te categories. A Canadian win is much expected in the dance and pair event, where Virtue/Moir and Duhamel/Radford will hardly be obstructed.
As always in the grand prix series, Virtue/Moir will face their contestants no sooner than the final, but it will be interesting to see if the olympic champions will keep up with Davis/White who excelled at Skate America this past couple of days, or if they will present the same technical troubles they had at Finlandia Trophy.
Duhamel/Radford will have no problems getting to the highest spot of the podium as well. Podium contenders are Berton/Hotarek who finished fifth at Skate America, and Sui/Han who skipped almost the entire last season due to injury.

The ladies competition is more anyone's game as Yuna Kim, the world medalist assigned to Skate Canada, will skip the fall season. Kaetlyn Osmond, being the defending champion, is a valid candidate to the title but a foot injury could prevent her from that. 
Akiko Suzuki of Japan may fight for gold too, but maybe Julia Lipnitskaya will be the frontrunner here considering her technical abilities. Besides, Lipnitskaya has started her season strong, defeating the same Suzuki at Finlandia Trophy.

The men's event will probably be the toughest of all, with the presence of Hanyu, Chan, Oda and Abbott.
Patrick Chan has used his audience to weak grand prix performances in recent years and last season he disappointed at Skate Canada as he lost the title to Javier Fernandez. This week Yuzuru Hanyu may defeat the Canadian champion, but will need a strong jumping performance  (which he delivered two weeks ago at Finlandia Trophy) in order to make up a components score gap.
Nobunari Oda started the season brilliantly, winning at Nebelhorn Trophy with a renewed style and magnificent quads.

Men: 1. Yuzuru Hanyu, 2. Patrick Chan, 3. Nobunari Oda
Ladies: 1. Julia Lipnitskaya, 2. Akiko Suzuki, 3. Kaetlyn Osmond
Pairs: 1. Duhamel/Radford, 2. Berton/Hotarek, 3. Sui/han
Dance: 1. Virtue/Moir, 2. Weaver/Poje, 3.Riazanova/Tkachenko 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Machida wins Skate America, Rippon and Aaron follow him on the podium

Tatsuki Machida is the unexpected winner of Skate America 2013. After winning the short program with the brilliant score of 91 points, he repeated in the free skate, nailing two quads, two triple axels and several other triples all cleanly landed. This win, which put him above Daisuke Takahashi and Takahiko Kozuka, showed that the Olympic qualification for Japan is anything but settled.

The oter two spots of the podium have been taken by US Adam Rippon (silver) and Max Aaron (bronze). They both didn't hit their quad as they hoped, but were overall clean enough to get a medal. Max Aaron had a nice come back from the short program, where he had ranked sixth, attempting three quads. He fell on the first quad toe, but nailed the two salchows (the first one with a hand down). Adam Rippon, instead, had planned one quad lutz that caused him a very hard fall and finished against the board, but he shined for the rest of his Afternoon of a Faun free skate.

Daisuke Takahashi had a hit and miss free skate as he landed almost everything he wanted, yet he struggled with the landing of most jumps and popped a loop and a salchow.
Jason Brown, second after the short program, had some troubles with his triple axel, and even if his Riverdance choreography is incredibly complex and captivating, he hasn't quite the jumping content of the elite senior skaters and finished in fifth.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Skate America schedule and Preview

Skate America is going to be the opening event of the six grand prixs of this season. The event will take place from 18th to 20th October in Detroit (GMT -4.00). Here is a provisional schedule:

Friday 18th
19.00: Men short program and short Dance
Saturday 19th
12.00: Pairs short program and Ladies short program
19.00: Men free skate and free Dance
Sunday 20th
14.30: Pairs free skate and Ladies free skate

The event will start off with the men competition, in which Daisuke Takahashi of Japan is the frontrunner. However, considering hius weak performance at Japan Open few weeks ago, Takahashi could leave the door open to others on the way to the top of the podium.
Denis Ten, the unexpected silver medal from the last worlds, coul be a tough competitor. He is one of the most complete male athlete of this time but inconsistency has always taken him away from medal finishes since London 2013. This competition will be a first chance to prove that his Canadian triumph wasn't a fluke.
Takahiko Kozuka may as well put some pressure on his compatriot. After having struggled throughtout the last season, he had a brilliant performance at Japan Open finishing in second (behind a mesmerizing Fernandez) proving solidity on quads.
It will be inteesting to see what the US men can come up with, as the battle for the Olympic qualification is wide open. Max Aaron is the favourite among the American athletes in this competition, and will probably remain the leader as far as his quads stay still.
EDITED: Denid Ten has withdrawn due to illness

As for the ladies, Mao Asada is the ultimate frontrunner. She looked in great shape at Japan Open and in this competition she won't find anyone who could match her artistry and technical prowess at the same time.
Talking about technical prowess, the young Russian girls could make the competition tough for the defending skate America champion Ashley Wagner. 
Elena Radionova and Elizaveta Tuktamisheva will represent Russia in this first event. While Tuktamisheva has struggled at Finlandia Trophy and could me not at her best, Radionova, here debuting in a senior A competition, looks as strong as ever (she did win at Nebelhorn Trophy against Miki Ando).
Ashley Wagner had a strong beginning to the season as well, hittin a triple flip-triple toe at Japan Open. Besides, at this stage Ashley Wagner is bound to be credited a considerably high components score, so that if she does anything she plans to do, she will restrain the Russian skaters.

The pairs and the dance events will be more predictable. Volosozhar/Trankov and Davis/White are in a lock for gold in their own discipline as bot teams will face their main contestants no sooner than the grand prix final.
Among the pairs, the Canadians Moore-Towers/Moscovitch will assure themselves the silver medal while Denney/Coughlin and Castelli/Shnapir will fight for the third place.
In the dance events Cappellini/Lanotte and the Shibutanis are medal contenders.

Men: 1. Denis Ten, 2.Daisuke Takahashi, 3. Takahiko Kozuka
Ladies: 1. Mao Asada, 2. Ashley Wagner, 3. Elena Radionova
Pairs: 1. Volosozhar/Trankov, Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, 3. Castelli/Shnapir
Dance: 1. Davis/White, 2. Cappellini/Lanotte, 3. Shibutani/Shibutani

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Japan Open and Finlandia Trophy 2013 recap


As you probably know, Japan Open is a team competition where single competitive or former skaters from Japan, Europe and North America perform teir free skate. The event was won by Japan.
Among the ladies Mao Asada was the star of the competition scoring 135 with her new free skate. She was technically strong (maybe stronger than ever so early in the season) nailing almost all of her jumps.

Ashley Wagner debuted her Romeo and Juliet program with success. Her interpretation and music selection were quite unusual (and it is somewhat early for judging weather it is going to be her masterpiece or not) but she demonstrated to be incredibly solid on her jumps even nailing the triple flip-triple toe combo.

Javier Fernandez won the men competition with an incredible performance. He was near to perfection jump wise and sent a clear message to his competitors qith his tree quads.

Daisuke Takahashi was rather disappointing as far as jumps are concerned (he fell on quad toe and missed a triple axel), but his Beatles medley free skate showcases his amazing flow and edge work.

Takahiko Kozuka came in second with a brilliant performance, in which his only mistake was a popped triple axel.
Jeremy Abbott performed his 2011-2012 free skate as he has decided to use it in the olympic season. Although the quad toe still remains his nemesis, he nailed some good jumping passes such as a couple of triple axels.


In the dance competition of Finlandia Trophy, Virtue/Moir won debuting their new free dance. In both sections they struggled with some technical elements, as they often do in the fall season. Their free dance, scored about a hundred points, is a return to a classic and lyric style that emphasizes their strenghts.

Yuzuru Hanyu defended his title with ease performing a stunningly difficult program. He landed two quads, two triple axels and other four triples scoring a monstrous 180.

Julia Lipnitskaya defended her title as well overskating Akiko Suzuki and Elizaveta Tuktamisheva.
Julia was almost perfect with her seven triples free skate, while Suzuki struggled here and there popping few jumps.
Tuktamisheva, who was in sixth after the short program, has a come back free yet some mistakes couldn't allow her to a higher rank.