Monday, June 23, 2008

Start Your Engines: GP Showdowns to Watch, Pt. 1

This week brings us a mere 4 months from the start of the 2008 ISU Grand Prix Series. Is it eight or so crazy weeks of fierce competition and stage-setting for the second half of the season… or two months of choreographic fine-tuning and costume missteps?

Whatever it is, I sure wish it would show up on our TVs beyond NBC’s Skate America coverage. What is the month of November without treasure-hunting for GP coverage on ESPN? But that’s another topic for another post.

In comparing current ISU rankings, passable knowledge of skaters’ strengths/weaknesses, and a smattering of other factors, I’ve assembled a list of what I see as THE MOST INTERESTING SHOWDOWNS for this upcoming GP series.

For Skate America: Lysacek (ranked #4 in the world) vs. Weir (ranked #6). Good Lord, I can already smell the hype NBC can (and probably will) cook up on this one. THEY MET…THEY (virtually) TIED… AND NOW THEY’RE BACK FOR MORE. Throw in the fact that Kevin VanDerPerren (#8) is their closest competition, and it seems like an easy way to stack the deck early.

For Skate Canada: Virtue/Moir (#4) vs. Davis/White (#7). Not that I expect anyone other than V/M to walk away with the dance title… but these two couples have drawn their fair share of comparisons, so it’ll be nice to see them as the front-runners. Especially since it would seem D/W are destined to be a couple-in-waiting until after Vancouver, at least as far as the US is concerned…

Which brings me to Cup of China. And in light of the news that broke late last week about yet another coaching shake-up, I can’t imagine a more interesting match than Belbin/Agosto (#2) vs. Domnina/Shabalin (#3). Barring an upset by Russia’s other entry (Khokhlova/Novitski, #5), this will the first time the co-proteges of
Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponossov go head-to-head. Yikes. Bring your popcorn.

I’ll cover the other three MOST INTERSTING SHOWDOWNS next time.

Rather than feature any of the aforementioned skaters in today’s Clip of the Day, I’d rather show the coaches I just referred to… back when they were skaters. Check out at the 1980 OGM-winning performance of Linichuk and Karponossov... and if you watch the whole thing, you'll see they might hold a special appreciation for Tanith and Ben's "Cotton-Eyed Joe" dance from last season.


SusanAtLifeskate said...

Nice analyis of the matchups for the coming season! I found your blog through Required Elements, another skating blog. I added you to my blogroll. Look forward to reading more of your writing!

Kelli Lawrence said...

Thanks Susan... and welcome! Spread the word when you can, I'm still pretty green on promoting this!