Thursday, November 4, 2010

2010 Cup of China: Airdates and Predictions

If you know your time zones, you’re probably aware that Cup of China has the least compatible timetable of all the GP events when it comes to U.S. viewing. I’ll run the streaming times for IceNetwork, in hopes that it serves a better purpose for my non- American readers :-) (ALL TIMES EASTERN)

Friday, Nov. 5

2:45 a.m.: Short dance
4:30 a.m.: Ladies short program
6:25 a.m.: Men's short program
8:25 a.m.: Pairs short program

Saturday, Nov. 6

2:00 a.m.: Free dance

3:55 a.m.: Ladies free skate

6:05 a.m.: Men's free skate

8:25 a.m.: Pairs free skate

The Universal Sports schedule is as follows…

Friday, Nov. 5

5:30-7 p.m. : Ladies Short Program and Short Dance (repeats at 11a.m. Saturday)

10-11:30 p.m.: Men’s and Pairs Short Program

Saturday, Nov. 6

2:30-4 p.m.: Ladies Free Skate and Free Dance (repeats at 6 p.m.)

10-11:30 p.m.: Men’s and Pairs Free Skate

As for NBC, last week’s Skate Canada coverage will be this SATURDAY 4-6, as the Sunday 4-6 slot is occupied by the Disson show Shall We Dance on Ice. For whatever reason, NBC is NOT scheduled to run any of Cup of China on the main network; I presume they already had the time slot committed to something else.

Now let’s see if I can do better on predictions this time…

For the LADIES:

Gold: Akiko Suzuki (JPN)

Silver: Miki Ando (JPN)

Bronze: Mirai Nagasu (USA)

This was originally intended to be Kim Yu-Na’s season debut, which presumably would’ve made predictions a little easier. Fellow Korean Kwak Min-Jung (who, like Kim, is no longer training with Brian Orser as I understand it) skates in her place, but I don’t see her in the medal hunt quite yet. Soooo… the front runners appear to be Ando, Suzuki, Alena Leonova (RUS), and Nagasu. At this point, Ando feels like an also-ran to me. She’s usually got the jumps, but is sorely lacking any spark. She’s quite capable of winning this, but I’m going with Suzuki anyway—technically I think she still lags behind Ando, but she makes up for it with the passion with which she skates. Plus I saw both their new free skates via the Japan Open last month, and doing so only reinforced my feelings on both of them.

As for Ms. Nagasu, I’m just surprised to still see her on the roster after hearing about her off-season stress fracture. If she’s back to top form I daresay she’s as capable of a win here as the Japanese contingent… but for now, I’ll keep the expectations relatively low with a guess for third. (Leonova’s the only one that strikes me as having a chance at it besides her.) I’d love to see USA’s Amanda Dobbs make Top 5 here, but I don’t think it’ll happen unless several of the previously mentioned ladies crash and burn… last time I looked, Dobbs doesn’t have the jumping chops yet.


Gold: Pang/Tong (CHN)

Silver: Iliushechkina/Maisuradze (RUS)

Bronze: Yankowskas/Coughlin (USA)

Apparently P/T’s biggest competition (for the 100th time) in this event, Zhang/Zhang, are out of the GP series this season because he (Zhang Hao) broke his finger. So I don’t see much of a challenge for the reigning World Champs. Last week’s winners (Iliushechkina/Maisuradze—still in search of a nickname for them; any ideas?) are probably the next-best in a relatively weak field… and though I’m on the fence for which U.S. team to predict for bronze, I’m leaning Yankowghlin because they ended up so close to a medal at NHK… and I feel more secure about their individual jumping passes than Evora/Ladwig. (I’d be happy to see the latter in medal position too—just for the record.)

For MEN:

Gold: Takahiko Kozuka (JPN)

Silver: Tomas Verner (CZE)

Bronze: Brian Joubert (FRA)

Criminy—talk about your wild cards! In this corner we have Joubert, who, if he wins, will be the first singles skater in the history of the Grand Prix to win all six events at one time or another. (But can he come back strong after last season?) Over in this corner we have Kozuka, who is one of my favorite all-around skaters at the moment, and quite capable of pulling the “upset”—see 2008 Skate America for more details. (But does he have a consistent quad yet?) Then take a look in that corner, and you see Tomas Verner, who had a Joubert-like season of his own last year—complete with the coaching change. (But is he ready to prove what he’s made of?)

Who we don’t have is Verner’s teammate Michal Brezina; he apparently underwent some groin-related surgery (yeow!) and is out for at least this event if not TEB as well. Seeing only a couple other players in this game—Sergei Voronov (RUS) and Brandon Mroz (USA) among them, and both largely dependent on their quads to have a shot—I went with personal preference here. Not the best way perhaps, but maybe it’ll clear the way for Joubert to meet his GP goals. (He never seems to win when I pick him to win…)


Gold: Pechalat/Bourzat (FRA)

Silver: Faiella/Scali (ITA)

Bronze: Bobrova/Soloviev (RUS)

Weren’t Faiella/Scali going to retire? I guess now that they’ve had a taste of the podium with their world bronze medal, they might be one of those “one-more-year” teams… wondering if they can do even better next time, now that some of the top teams have retired. Maybe, but I’m still picking frequent rivals Pech/Bour to defeat them here with their Chaplin-inspired free dance (which they discuss a bit in this article from IceNetwork).

Although the USA has produced back-to-back bronze medals thus far (thanks to the ShibSibs and Chock/Zuerlein), the team we’re sending this time with the most GP experience is the Hubbells (HubSibs? Nah, maybe not)… who should be very pleased if they crack the Top 5, as their best finish last year in the GP was 6th. But I think a medal is pretty unlikely. Our other entry is Isabella Cannuscio/Ian Lorello, fresh off the JGP circuit and making their senior debut in Beijing.

For the Clip of the Day I’m showing Sergei Voronov’s FS from 2009’s edition of this event… he won bronze last year and I want the SkateGods to know I’m not purposely underestimating him by predicting him out of the medals here :-)


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