Friday, November 29, 2013

Golden Spin of Zagreb 2013

Golden Spin of Zagreb, one of the most prestigious B skating competition in the fall season, will take place in the Croatian capital from 5th untill 8th of December. The competition that so often hosts high level, skaters this year lists some elite athletes, especially in the ladies event.

The Golden Spin will be in the spotlight of many fans as it has been chosen as the season-debuting competition by Yuna Kim, who has missed the entire grand prix season due to an injury had in September. It seems that the injury had been caused by over-training, so that the Korean Olympic champion had decided to avoid an early appereance on the international stage and opted for a competition schedule very similar to that that brought her to win Worlds last year. She will therefore debut her programs, Send in Clowns for the short and Adios Nonino by Piazzolla for the free skate. Taking place simultanously with the grand prix final, comparisons between her and the other female skaters competing in Fukuoka, Mao Asada above all, will be immediate.

Yuna Kim won't be the only elite skater in the ladies event, as Miki Ando and Elizaveta Tuktamisheva will be in Zagreb as well. Miki Ando, who will participate at Japanese Nationals in the next month, is slowly coming back to the competitive skating by attending several B competitions. She is not as solid as she used to be before 2011: she has competed at Nebelhorn Trophy, where she ranked second behind Radionova, and in Graaz last week where she was beated by Courtney Hicks. Her strategy seems to go in the direction of presenting a relatively simple jumping content in order to nail everything as planned.
Elizaveta Tuktamisheva is supposed to compete as well. Her fall season has been a rollercoaster due to phisical problems and she will need a good outing to build up her confidence towards the Olympic qualification at Russian Nationals.

In the men event, Michal Brezina is the frontrunner whose goal is to put together two clean performances with the quad salchow that seems to be starting to work.

5-8 dic
Thursday, 5th December
 17.30 short dance
 20.30 men short

Friday, 6th December
13.40 ladies short
16.45 pairs short
19.00 free dance

Saturday, 7th December
11.00 Men free skate
13.30 pairs free skate
15.10 ladies free skate

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rostelecom Cup ladies preview

In the ladies event, Carolina Kostner is the only one who has to fight her way in order to qualify for the final. Julia Lipnitskaia instead is pretty sure to go to Fukuoka as she won at Skate Canada with a brilliant score that should allow her to get a spot to the final even if she ranks fourth at Cup of Russia (goal more than achievable for her).
The former world champion got the bronze medal at Cup of China, where she was expected to win, and therefore she needs to win in Moscow or score something close to two hundreds points overall (she would need to score higher that Radionova did at NHK Trophy). Carolina had a tough competition in China and she didn’t look as consistent as she has been in the past years, struggling on several jumps maybe due to a back injury had in September that prevented her from having  a solid preparation. She has an edge over Lipnitskaia when it comes to the components score, but if she doesn’t compete somewhat clean, she won’t make up with the technical content of the young Russian skater.
Talking about Russian skaters, Elizaveta Tuktamisheva is listed to compete at Cup of Russia too, but her participation is still in doubt due to a back injury. She wouldn’t be in the final contention anyway, so withdrawing could be a wise decision, even though she may want to have the highest exposure to competitions as possible.
Kanako Murakami is looking for a better performance as well as at Cup of China she performed way below her standards. She can’t fight for the final as well but a good competition may help her in order to get an Olympic spot.

Rostelecom Cup Men preview

Tatsuki Machida Tatsuki Machida of Japan ends his skate during the men's short program at Skate America 2013 at Joe Louis Arena on October 18, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.

In the men competition, two are the skaters who aims for the final: Tatsuki Machida and Maxim Kovtun. Tatsuki Machida of Japan surprised anyone by winning the title at Skate America where not only did he make the final a very achievable goal, but also showed himself as a tough contender to get a spot in the Japanese Olympic team. Winning a Grand prix event he gained 15 points in the standings and he needs to rank no lower than fourth in order to qualify for the final.
The qualification will be slightly more difficult for Maxim Kovtun, who got the silver medal at Cup of China and therefore needs at least another silver medal. Kovtun is still a very young skater (he debuted in the senior circuit some months ago at Europeans) and may not have the experience to nail a crucial competition in front of the home crowd yet as he will have the attentions on himself as Plushenko has recently withdrawn. Come what may, it is pretty reasonable to consider him a medal favorite given the difficulty of his programs that feature five quads and three triple axels in total.
Surprisingly not in the battle for the final, Javier Fernandez will want here to redeem himself after a not so brilliant competition at NHK Trophy where he ranked fifth. He won’t qualify for the final even if he wins the competition, but as a reigning world medalist it would be important for him to compete according to his standards and giving himself a boost of confidence as the Olympic season progresses. He claimed that after NHK Trophy some judges advised him  to go back to the Chaplin free program of last year, and it will be interesting to see whether he took or not that advice.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Trophee Eric Bompard Men and Ladies Preview

In the Men event at Trophee Eric Bompard, Patrick Chan is the absolute frontrunner as he demonstrated to be quite ready for the Olympic season at Skate Canada, where he wasn’t perfect, but good enough to win by a landslide. His main competitors are Yuzuru Hanyu, who came in second at Skate Canada, and Han Yan, who made history being the first Chinese man to win a grand prix senior competition ever.
As far as grand prix final qualification is concerned, both Chan and Yan are sure to achieve it as long as they reach the podium at Trophee Bompard , while for Hanyu the question is more complicated; he is bound to go to the final just if he wins the competition (result that he could pursue skating the way he did at Finlandia Trophy where he pulled off an incredible free skate) and he needs to get on the podium to have a chance to qualify, but even then he will have to wait to see how the Rostelecom cup unfolds.
Talking about the ladies, the competition, and therefore the battle for the final, will be between Ashley Wagner, Adelina Sotnikova and Anna Pogorilaya. Ashley Wagner, winner of the silver medal at Skate America and TEB defending champion, is the favorite for the gold. She usually is very solid and consistent during the fall season and with the new entry of the triple flip-triple toe she is the very probable winner of the next grand prix competition.
Anna Pogorilaya is the surprising winner of Cup of China. That has to be said that the quality of the overall competition wasn’t exceptional and Anna, debuting there in the senior grand prix, outskated Sotnikova and world champion Kostner with two clean programs filled in with triple-triples getting a 180ish total score. However, with her win, she is in a good track to get to the final since all she needs to do is to get on the podium this week (or even a fourth place finish will do).  Aiming to the final as well, Adelina Sotnikova got the silver at Cup of China. She was very solid in the short program, in which if she hits her jumps she gets a lot of points for the quality of her skating, her spins and steps. She is not that consistent in the free skate instead, where she usually struggles on several elements. As she has already won a silver medal, a second place finish should assure her the final.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NHK Ladies preview

The ladies event at NHK Trophy will be highlighted by the presence of Mao Asada who, after winning Skate America three weeks ago, has become the first lady to win all of the six grand prix events in her career. Moreover, considering that she could pull off a similar competition as she did in her first grand prix, she is a big favorite even  on home ice. Her triple axel is not a completely solid element for her yet and she still has some issues with under-rotating jumps, but her performances are successful overall and she is much more mature and appreciated  by the judges as far as components score is concerned.
There will be other two Japanese ladies at NHK: Akiko Suzuki and Satoko Miyahara.  For Akiko Suzuki this is going to be the second grand prix, having skated at Skate Canada where she got the silver medal behind Julia Lipnitskaia. She skated strong overall, despite some mistakes that caused her the gold medal and is looking for at least a silver medal here.  Satoko Miyahara, instead, is debuting internationally in the senior circuit. Satoko has a tendency to under-rotate her jumps, but when she hits them she become a very pleasant and artistic skater.
Elena Radionova and Gracie Gold will be aiming for a medal as well. Elena , competing in the senior circuit for the first year, has won the bronze medal at Skate America. Although she might be considered the most promising skater among the young Russians, she is not at consistent as others and the gap in the components score with the veterans ladies is, in case of an overall clean competition, bound not to be made up. Gracie Gold surprised everyone gaining a brilliant score in the short program despite having had a tough early season due to coaching changes. Frank Carroll seems to have done a great job with her and she might improve visibly after a couple of weeks.  
Gold: Mao Asada
Silver: Akiko Suzuki
Bronze: Gracie Gold

NHK Trophy Men's preview

Daisuke Takahashi Daisuke Takahashi of Japan performs during the Japan Open 2013 Figure Skating at Saitama Super Arena on October 5, 2013 in Saitama, Japan.

The men’s competition at NHK is going to be one of the toughest of all.
Javier Fernandez will make in Japan his grand prix debut and skate against Daisuke Takahashi, Nobunari Oda, Jeremy Abbott, Max Aaron, Adam Rippon and others.
The Spanish European champion has started the season brilliantly, winning Japan Open and nailing all his best tricks (alas three quads in the free skate) and looks as strong as ever. Therefore, he is likely going to win the competition, even if a strong field features the Japanese grand prix.
Daisuke Takahashi, who has been beated by Fernandez at Japan Open, will need a mighty good performance on the home ice in order to qualify to the final as he dropped down to fourth at Skate America.
This competition will feature skaters who have already won a medal in a grand prix this season and for that aiming to qualify for the final.
Adam Rippon and Max Aaron were the silver and bronze medalists at Skate America, where they both overskated Daisuke Takahashi.  Adam Rippon was one of the few surprises of the American grand prix as he did beyond expectations  attempting a quad lutz in both short and free program. Although none of the two tries were completely successful, he managed to get enough points with an overall solid performance.
Gold: Javier Fernandez
Silver: Daisuke Takahashi
Bronze: Adam Rippon