Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 ISU Grand Prix Round 5: Internationaux de France Preview & Predictions

Gotta keep this short and sweet-- the event is about 5 minutes from starting as I type this sentence!!

MEN 
GOLD: Shoma Uno (JPN)
SILVER: Alexander Samarin (RUS)
BRONZE: Alexei Bychenko (ISR)

DARK HORSE: Max Aaron (USA), Vincent Zhou (USA)
WILD CARD:  Misha Ge (UZB), Javier Fernandez (ESP)

Fernandez as a wild card?? Why not? Whether his poor showing in China was due to illness or some other force, it still leaves me with no idea what to expect. And let’s face it… even if he improves on last time, he still might not make the podium.

LADIES:                       
GOLD: Alina Zagitova (RUS)
SILVER: Maria Sotskova (RUS)
BRONZE: Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)

DARK HORSE: Mai Mihara (JPN)
WILD CARD: Polina Edmunds (USA)

I’d rather see Osmond win again, but between The Red Ballerina (Zag)’s bonus point strategy and the remarkable consistency between both Russian ladies… I think they have the edge(s) here. And if you’ve seen the now 19 year-old Edmunds lately, you might understand when I say it’s kinda like she’s a kid from a TV sitcom that you come back to a couple years later and say Wow, she’s not like I remember her AT ALL. Then to make things a little more complicated, her comeback started with a poor showing at Finlandia Trophy (13th). Hoping the best for her here, of course.


PAIRS
GOLD: Tarasova/Morozov (RUS)
SILVER: James/Cipres (FRA)
BRONZE: Peng/Jin (CHN)

DARK HORSE: Della Monica/Guarise (ITA), Ilyushechkina/Moscovitch (CAN)
WILD CARD: Jones/Boyadji (GBR)

A tip I just learned: Zoe Jones (of Jones/Boyadji) is 37 YEARS OLD.
She’s like the USA’s Deanna Stellato, if Stellato was 37 YEARS OLD. (She’s only 34.)
Welcome to what is already my favorite story of the Internationaux de France.

DANCE
GOLD: Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA)
SILVER: Weaver/Poje (CAN)
BRONZE: Chock/Bates (USA)

DARK HORSE: Stepanova/Bukin (RUS)
WILD CARD: Guignard/Fabbri (ITA)


Because I don’t think C/B can challenge Wea/Po… especially now that Wea/Po has its secret WeaPo(n) of “Je Suis Malade” back. (see what I did there)

2017 NHK Trophy Roundup

I managed some pretty good guesses on my NHK picks… the only completely-out-of-nowhere interloper on the podium was Sergei Voranov. Clearly I should have given him more credit! After all, he has managed 7 GP medals since 2007, not to mention a bronze at the GP Final in 2015. It’s just that he tends to come undone in his free skates, when endurance comes into play a lot more (and of course him being 30 years old doesn’t help the endurance battle much!). Anyway, props to him for his first-ever GP gold!

A few other thoughts about the men:

*   Let Yuzuru Hanyu’s cringe-inducing fall on a practice quad lutz serve as a PSA that what happened to him could happen to ANY of the guys currently training quads so hard.  The risk factor is so very high, and we tend to forget when so much is going well… Hopefully Hanyu will make a full recovery, and Brian Orser & Co. will work OVERTIME keep him from trying to rush things.

*  Though he couldn’t have beaten Voronov on the technical side, I was rather disappointed to see Jason Brown go down on both triple axel attempts (effectively ending any chance at podium finish). Not sure if I’ve seen that since… maybe when he was first including them? (Maybe not even then!)

*  Adam Rippon’s first major event since breaking his foot earlier in the year was just that—an EVENT! And then to add icing to that cake, the guy turns 28 that weekend and ends up being the youngest of the three men on the podium (with bronze going to 29 year-old Alexei Bychenko).  

I’ve actually got nothing to say about pairs this time; the podium unfolded as I figured it would, and the front-runners for that sole U.S. Olympic spot (The Knierims) were middle of the pack instead of at the bottom. Side by side jumps were a no-go. Again. I’m bored talking about this already. NEXT!

About the ladies—I got this podium right too, so just a couple things:

*  Much as I wish Satoko Miyahara’s “first major event since…” proved as successful as Rippon’s, it clearly was not. Will she turn out to be someone who peaked in the wrong part of the Olympic cycle? Last year at this time I’d have thought her to be a lock for PyeongChang. But stack last weekend’s efforts against those of Mai Mihara, Wakaba Higuchi, and senior newcomer Marin Honda… and suffice to say the pressure is on. Japan Nationals, by the way, start December 20.

*  Meanwhile, the U.S. Nationals will start on December 29—and if GP performances are indicative of anything, I’d say Mirai Nagasu is gaining ground and Mariah Bell is losing it, even though neither one of them has done better than 4th (Nagasu’s placement at NHK). But we’ve also seen many a skater flounder on the circuit only to completely kill it at Nats (Karen Chen and Polina Edmunds come to mind), so…

*  Gotta give a little shoutout to Russia’s Alena Leonova, who has struggled since her 2012 peak amongst the deep pool of Russian girls-to-women. She threw down the cleanest FS at NHK that anyone’s seen from her in EONS. Even though I’ve never been much of a fan, it was quite gratifying to see. (Russian Nats, by the way, are on a similar schedule to Japan Nats and will start on December 20.)

And finally, a few words about the stunningly low FD score of the UK’s own comeback kids, Coomes/Buckland. Though they were 5th after the SD with a decent score of 65+, their FD only brought in a 92.51 (25 points less than Virtue/Moir, and 12 points below 4th place-finishers Sinitsina/Katsalapov). I did something I rarely do, especially at GP events—broke out the protocols and tried to make sense of Coo/Buck’s harsh score. As you might guess in an ice dance event with no egregious errors, it was all about LEVELS:

**Only ONE level 4 (their curve lift)

**A level 2 for their diagonal step sequence, netting them only a 6.07 compared to a 10.64 for Cappellini/Lannotte

**Level 3s for most everything else, including twizzles (a 5.77 for them vs. an 8.14 for the level 4 twizzles of Sinitsina/Katsalapov) and their dance spin (a 5.46 vs. a 6.80 for S/K).


Coo/Buck’s total NHK score of 158.15 was light years behind the personal best they obtained at Nebelhorn earlier this season (a 177.13, which would’ve put them in virtual tie with S/K here). The good news, though, is that they’ve presumably got much more time to work than others I’ve mentioned here… their next pressure-cooker event isn’t until Europeans in January.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

2017 ISU Grand Prix Round 4: NHK Preview & Predictions

Here are my picks for Stop #4 on the GP Circuit (NHK Trophy)...

PAIRS
GOLD: Sui/Han (CHN)
SILVER: Stolbova/Klimov (RUS)
BRONZE: Astakhova/Rogonov (RUS)

DARK HORSE: Seguin/Bilodeau (CAN)
WILD CARD: Scimeca-Knierim/Knierim (USA)

Everyone above has already skated at a GP event this season except the Knierims. Much as I’d love to predict a podium finish for them outright… well, as I said… we’ve seen all the others :) 

LADIES
GOLD: Evegenia Medvedeva (RUS)
SILVER: Carolina Kostner (ITA)
BRONZE: Polina Tsurskaya (RUS)

DARK HORSE: Satoko Miyahara (JPN)
WILD CARD: Mariah Bell (USA), Mirai Nagasu (USA)

Medved and Kostner finished 1-2 at Rostelecom a few weeks ago, and I don’t see a lot coming between them doing the same this weekend. At least, not a lot I feel super-confident about: Tsurskaya (making her GP debut) was a top-rank junior competitor, and  Miyahara is the 2015 World Silver Medalist… who hasn’t competed in a major event since last year’s GP Final. I can’t wait to see her back in action this weekend, but is there some rust to shake off those itty-bitty blades? We shall see.

MEN

GOLD: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
SILVER:  Jason Brown (USA)
BRONZE: Alexei Bychenko (ISR)

DARK HORSE: Adam Rippon (USA)
WILD CARD: Dmitri Aliev (RUS)

BIG NOTE ON THIS ONE… earlier today (Thursday), there were reports (and corresponding video) that Hanyu had taken a hard fall on a quad lutz in practice, causing him to refrain from any jumping for the rest of the day. As of this moment, he’s still competing as far as I know. But if he ends up scratching this event, that’s why. Or if he dials back his quads… that’s why.

But as long as he’s still gonna give it a go, I’ll keep him at the top of my predictions. I just don’t see anyone else coming close… which is why I’ve got Brown down for another silver GP medal here. (Though Bychenko will surely have the tougher jumping passes…)

IF Hanyu scratches, consider my predictions to be Brown-Bychenko-Rippon, with Aliev as the Dark Horse.

DANCE

GOLD: Virtue/Moir (CAN)
SILVER: Cappellini/Lanotte (ITA)
BRONZE: Hubbell/Donohue (USA)

DARK HORSE: Coomes/Buckland (GBR)
WILD CARD: Siuitsina/Katsalapov (RUS)

Another late development at NHK was that Coomes/Buckland was coming in to replace Tobias/Tkachenko (ISR). That’s great news for us C/B fans, who have watched Penny agonize over a gob of months as she underwent surgery for a shattered kneecap (have you SEEN the scar on that?? Quite terrifying), pulled through all the therapy, and then kicked off this season with a pair of wins at Nebelhorn and Cup of Nice. I honestly don’t know how those victories will stack up against the top 3 here at NHK. I don’t think they’re quite at GP podium status yet. But I can’t wait to see them try…

As always, the Asian schedule will make it tough for me to follow all the NHK action in real time. But I’ll be keeping up with it all weekend anyway, so look for me on Twitter @KLBSt8ofSk8!



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

2017 Cup of China Roundup

I was due for a not-so-good week of predictions, and the results from last weekend’s Cup of China definitely fit that bill. I nailed down 3 of the 4 winners, but yikes! Not much else… at least some of those guesses were still in the ballpark. Some notes:

DANCE

*   Good Lord that Papadakis/Cizeron “Moonlight Sonata” free dance is a sight to behold. This weekend was my first time seeing it, and more than one genuine Oh, WOW came out of me during their inventive-yet-still-buttery lifts and spins. They are clearly not looking to forfeit their chance at OGM status.

*  I did it again—overestimated Bobrova/Soloviev’s finish… but I thought the fluke mistake they made at Rostelecom on their dance spin made most of the difference. Apparently not!

*  Thoughts on new Chock/Bates FD (“Imagine”): I like the contrast from last year’s “Under Pressure”. I like the universal idealistic theme. I like the whole package! And yet I wonder if it’ll be enough to let them shine in a crowded field of stars. What did YOU think?


LADIES

*  Alina Zagitova FTW I got right, but man this was a tough field… the top FOUR ladies had point totals over 200! And 5th through 7th place were within 5 points of 200! By comparison, only Skate Canada winner Kaetlyn Osmond broke 200 at that event… and the score earned there by bronze medalist Ashley Wagner would only have been good enough for 8th (!!) place in China.

*  While I’m very eager to see Satoko Miyahara return to competition next weekend at NHK, Wakaba Higuchi’s efforts are definitely growing on me.

*  Elena Radionova’s bronze medal may not seem like much, considering she came in 4th at Rostelecom (which means she’s far from a GPF lock). But if I were on the Olympic selection committee in Russia, her 3rd place here would be noteworthy for a few reasons:  1) Because she racked up over 200 points earning it, 2) Proving she held her own in a ladies event that may prove to be the toughest of the GP season, and 3) and she did so with all the pressure and disadvantages that come with being the final skater in such a competition.

MEN

*  What happened to Javier Fernandez? As I mentioned in the preview, I didn’t think he’d be in fighting shape to win against, specifically, the likes of Boyang Jin (who ultimately finished 2nd). But he was there without longtime coach Brian Orser, who was recovering from gall bladder surgery (word is that he’ll be back this weekend, accompanying Yuzuru Hanyu to NHK)… and probably more to the point, he was suffering “a stomach upset” according to IFS magazine. In any case, his 6th place finish at CoC takes him out of the running for the GP Final. Who will benefit? We’ll know for sure by the month’s end.

*  All apologies to Max Aaron! Vincent Zhou may have indeed been the U.S. man with the best chance at the CoC podium, as I suggested in my preview last week. But Aaron was the one that actually stood there when all was said and done (with Zhou finishing 4th). It was nice to see, too, given Aaron’s spotty history at non-Skate America GP events… 4th place at last year’s CoC was his best international finish until now.

*  Did I underestimate Mikhail Kolyada (who left CoC with his first GP title)? I named him a “dark horse” for the podium because he clearly had potential to be there… but he also hadn’t put together anything close to two clean programs in an event this season. He still hasn’t. His SP here, though, showed he is capable of landing one of the highest-quality quad lutzes known to the sport. The more he stands up on it in competition, the more consistent a threat he’ll be. (He HAS, in the meantime, already punched his ticket to the GPF!)

PAIRS

*  Who will be reigning World Champs (and CoC winners) Sui/Han’s fiercest foe this season? Maybe the question is WHAT, not “who”… with that “what” being the calendar, and the fact that Sui has either endured injuries or surgery recoveries in three of the past five seasons. Stay injury-free, kids. Skating needs you!

*  With a relatively shallow pool of pairs at CoC, it looked like there was a chance for an Italian team to make the podium—which is noteworthy since neither of the top two Italian teams have done so in their several years of competition. Alas, neither Della Monica/Guarise nor Marchei/Hotarek got it done. (Honors instead went to Canada’s Moore-Towers/Marinaro, giving them the second GP bronze of their partnership.)

*  Meanwhile with US pairs… yet ANOTHER second-to-last finish (this time for Cain/LeDuc). At this point, Scimeca-Knierim/Knierim are all but guaranteed for the sole U.S. Olympic pairs spot if they simply show up!


Onward to NHK! My preview and predictions will be posted Thursday.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

2017 ISU Grand Prix Round 3: Cup of China Preview & Predictions

Stop #3 on this season's GP circuit is Cup of China! Here are my podium picks:


DANCE
GOLD:  Papdakis/Cizeron (FRA)
SILVER: Bobrova/Soloviev (RUS)
BRONZE: Chock/Bates (USA)

DARK HORSE: Zahorski/Guerreiro (RUS)
WILD CARD: McNamara/Carpenter (USA)

I’m most eager to see the debut of C/B’s Free Dance, which was just revealed in this IceNetwork article to be a customized version of John Lennon’s “Imagine”. Oh and by the way, there’s a pretty passionate rivalry continuing between this team, Rostelecom Cup Champs The Shibutanis, and Skate Canada bronze medalists Hubbell/Donohue.

LADIES
GOLD:  Alina Zagitova (RUS)
SILVER: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS)
BRONZE: Mai Mihara (JPN)
DARK HORSE: Gabby Daleman (CAN), Wakaba Higuchi (JPN)
WILD CARD: Marin Honda (JPN), Elena Radionova (RUS)

Zagitova is only 15, so it’s possible she is too young to compete in PyeongChang. But she had off-the-charts success in the junior ranks, and if her skate at Japan Open a month ago is any indication, she’s about to blaze a trail in seniors too. (And if that proves true, get ready for the “one of the best skaters in the world can’t compete at the Olympics?! Outrageous!” conversations that crops up every so often.)
NOTE: I have Daleman—current World Bronze Medalist—as a DH because I’m not fully convinced she can “put it all together” well enough yet… especially early in the season. The same could be said of Tuktamysheva or Mihara, though. So stay tuned.

MEN
GOLD: Jin Boyang (CHN)
SILVER: Javier Fernandez (ESP)
BRONZE: Vincent Zhou (USA)
DARK HORSE: Mikhail Kolyada (RUS)
WILD CARD: Kevin Reynolds (CAN), Yan Han (CHN)

Fernandez, I’ve heard, gets a late start on his training compared to others because he’s on holiday late in the summer (as are many in Europe). This Olympic season might be different, but I still expect Jin to come out on top at his “home” competition. And of the three U.S. men in attendance, Zhou is by far the one with the best shot at the podium.

PAIRS
GOLD: Sui/Han (CHN)
SILVER: Yu/Zhang (CHN)
BRONZE: Marchei/Hotarek (ITA)
DARK HORSE: Della Monica/Guarise (ITA)
WILD CARD: Moore-Towers/Marinaro (CAN)

Somehow there are NO Russian pairs at Cup of China this year. Does this mean the U.S. representatives (Cain/LeDuc) stand a chance, for once? Um… no. But the Italian representatives might. (Behind the Chinese teams, of course… let’s not get ridiculous.)


While I won’t be watching a whole lot of Cup of China (#CoC17) “LIVE”—if it works where YOU live, more power to you—I’ll be keeping up with it all weekend as best I can… Look for me on Twitter @KLBSt8ofSk8!

2017 Skate Canada International Roundup

The 2017 edition of Skate Canada International was another wild ride, with true triumph co-mingling with cringe-worthy mediocrity. My podium picks were spot-on for Dance (a fairly easy one) and Ladies (slightly harder), but not so much for the Men and Pairs disciplines…giving me 28.5 points out of 36  (and a .792 batting average for SkCAN.)

Here are some notes:

LADIES…
--Back to Back to Black to Black: Oh, what a time for a pair of Black Swan free skates to take place! We got Kaetlyn Osmond, Canada’s sweetheart—who triumphed at the most recent Worlds with a silver medal—skating the part well enough to win the event (definitely not her best, but still better than the others). Then we got Anna Pogorilaya, Russia’s most recent World Bronze Medalist—who crumbled like a pastry when we last saw her complete a competition—get chased around by Tchaikovsky’s music (and some particularly ominous-sounding cuts, at that) until this Black Swan all but drowned. If Pogo is healthy enough to compete at Skate America (her 2nd GP assignment), I can’t help but feel she should ditch the Swan and return to the Scheherazade FS that got her that World Bronze. It’s not like she’d be the first to re-visit a program this season…
--A few words about the three U.S. women that competed… 1) Seeing Ashley Wagner’s Moulin Rouge for the first time in 18 months felt better than I thought it would—maybe the fact that she rallied for a medal helped—but I’d still prefer a chance with the La La Land program that she ditched. 2) Courtney Hicks has a LOVELY footwork sequence for her Rohene Ward-choreographed SP, and did you notice that Wagner edged Hicks out for bronze by less than 1.5 points? (Hicks had the higher TES in the free skate, but Wags had the second-highest PCS of all the ladies.) 3) It’s looking like Karen Chen will put that peaks-at-the-best-times thing to the test in January, because she and her non-Carmen FS weren’t quite ready… and her 7th place finish at SkCan means she won’t have the GPF to worry about in December.
--Keep an eye on Marin Honda. A problematic SP took her out of the medals at SkCan, and even if it hadn’t, it’s anyone’s guess which two Japanese women will represent in PyeongChang. But her FS—the third-best at this event—is highly reflective of her promise.

DANCE…
--In a sea of revisited programs,Weaver/Poje’s choice to bring back 2011-12’s “Je Suis Malade” might be my favorite of all. (How can we miss the ones that have barely ever gone away?)
--Watching Hawayek/Baker do “Liebestraume” so nicely made me wish, once again, there was some way they could find their way to the U.S. podium. Yes, I know Hawayek botched her SD twizzles, but one look at the 24-point gap here between them (in 4th) and last year’s U.S. bronze medalists Hubbell/Donohue (in 3rd) and you know how far they still have to come…
--Meanwhile, Hub/Don. My goodness, they make me BELIEVE they could really fulfill their no-more-third-place-in-the-country goals… even if they had to settle for 3rd here. But they were less than one point from overtaking Weaver/Poje for silver. I smell determination in the air…

MEN
--While not the quad splatfest that was Rostelecom Cup, SkCan’s men were still largely a disappointment. No offense to Jason Brown, whose skating abilities remain top-notch, but when you nab a silver medal these days with no successful quads, a couple problematic landings, and a popped jump… there’s a bigger issue at hand.
--Shoma Uno was undeniably the best of the field, but his Turnadot FS was definitely a tour of hot and cold in terms of the jumps. And newcomer Alexander Samarin (RUS) has the kind of jumps right now to prompt Olympic team talk, but his artistry is most definitely a work in progress. The fact that he was able to medal at SkCan is as much a testament to flawed performances as Brown’s medal is.
-- Placements off the podium didn’t really tell the whole story, either. Youngsters like Cha Jun-hwan (S.KOR) and Nicholas Nadeau (CAN)—who finished 9th and 7th, respectively—showed a lot of promise, particularly in the FS. But at this event, it sucked to be 26. Patrick Chan’s lackluster free skate, which took him off the podium for only the second time in his 9 trips to SkCan, was the clearest evidence of guys-who-are-just-hanging-on-till-February. But Takahito Mura (JPN) finishing last? Not even coming close to breaking 200 points? Yeah… that should serve to remind that even some of the most reliable guys may not get the option of “hanging on”… their seasons may end in December or January.

PAIRS…
--Here’s the prediction I really screwed up. I picked China’s Peng/Jin to win largely because a) they had such a great freshman season together (including the GP Final!) and b) they defeated the likes of Stolbova/Klimov last month at Finlandia Trophy. So of course… here, they end up 5th. But I’ve gotta admit it was well worth it to see Duhamel/Radford come roaring back with their best free skate in a long time. (They were only able to manage 7th place at the Sochi Olympics, so I’m really pulling for them to have a great season—which I also presume to be their last.)
--I also only picked James/Cipres as a “dark horse” possibility for the podium, but I’m thrilled they got there—it’s their first time doing so outside of the French GP (with the ever-evolving name). The way they’ve pushed their own limits in the past year and a half-- after a coaching switch to John Zimmerman and Jeremy Barrett—continues to amaze me.
--Just not much to say about the U.S. pairs so far… two GP events, two 7th places in a field of 8. They’re simply not competitive these days. Mr. & Mrs. Knierim are scheduled to make their return to the GP in two weeks with NHK Trophy, so maybe I’ll set my alarm to wake up when that happens.


Remember, Cup of China starts in the wee hours of Friday morning! My podium picks will be up sometime this evening.

Friday, October 27, 2017

2017 ISU Grand Prix Round 2: Skate Canada International Preview & Predictions

Skate Canada International, aka the 2nd stop on this year’s GP circuit, gets the competition ball rolling around 3PM Eastern today (Friday). Here are my guesses as to how the podiums will look on Saturday:

LADIES:
GOLD: Kaitlyn Osmond (CAN)
SILVER: Maria Sotskova (RUS)
BRONZE: Ashley Wagner (USA)

DARK HORSE: Rika Hongo (JPN), Marin Honda (JPN)
WILD CARD: Anna Pogorilaya (RUS), Karen Chen (USA)

Y’all know I like me some big, beautiful Osmond jumps, and last year she started to get her groove in a big way at this event (finishing 2nd behind Evgenia Medvedeva). The World Champ isn't here this time, so I’ll pick the reigning World Silver Medalist instead. As for the 2016 WSM (Wagner), I’m sorta reserving judgment on these “revisited” programs of hers—“Hip Hip Chin Chin” for the SP; Moulin Rouge (supplanting her planned La La Land) for the FS—because I’m admittedly disappointed, particularly about Rouge 3.0. But, as I say… trying to reserve judgment for now.

On the other hand, Chen recently announced she was bailing on her new Carmen FS in favor of an even newer one—a self-choreographed routine to Bill Conti’s Slow Dancing in the Big City. Color me intrigued.

DANCE:
GOLD: Virtue/Moir (CAN)
SILVER: Weaver/Poje (CAN)
BRONZE: Hubbell/Donohue (USA)

DARK HORSE: Loboda/Drozd (RUS)
WILD CARD: Hawayek/Baker (USA)

Meanwhile… we’ve got V/M doing Moulin Rouge (1.0) and W/P bringing back the Je Suis Malade FS that they initially used way back in 2012! Never a dull moment. AND we have perennial U.S. Bronze Medalists Hub/Don declaring third place isn’t good enough for them anymore. But can they do better than bronze here? Stay tuned…

MEN:
GOLD: Shoma Uno (JPN)
SILVER: Patrick Chan (CAN)
BRONZE: Jason Brown (USA)

DARK HORSE: Takahito Mura (JPN), Alexander Samarin (RUS)
WILD CARD: Keegan Messing (CAN)

At the top I have the World Silver Medalist that is determined to give Yuzuru Hanyu a run for his money, both at home and abroad, this season. Following him are two guys known more for their impeccable artistry… that’s because Mura has become more inconsistent with time, Samarin is making his senior GP debut (translation: he’s a teenager), and former U.S. competitor Messing pretty much puts the WILD in “wild card”.

PAIRS:
GOLD: Peng/Jin (CHN)
SILVER: Duhamel/Radford (CAN)
BRONZE: Savchenko/Massot (GER)

DARK HORSE: James/Cipres (FRA)
WILD CARD: Ilyusheckina/Moscovitch (CAN)

I went largely with how everyone’s competed so far this season to make these determinations—and both Duh/Rad and Sav/Mas look to be doing some fine tuning yet on their respective programs. Attention James/Cipres (whose FS to “Say Something” is a worthy follow up to “Sounds of Silence”) and Ilyu/Mosco (who are reportedly landing throw quad salchows in practice): this is your cue to push and pull for the podium!


Look for me on Twitter (@KLBSt8ofSk8); I’ll be live-tweeting and/or commenting with the hashtag #SCI17 throughout the weekend!