Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Showdown Highlights of the 2011 ISU Grand Prix (Part 1)

As with last year, I’m going to start the Grand Prix showdowns by looking at the first three events of the 2011-12 GP season… and of course, these are subject to change as athletes withdraw from events, get injured, etc.


The 2011 season kickoff looks like it will find its biggest star in 2010 OGM Evan Lysacek, who is currently scheduled to compete. If he’s there, he will meet up against current World silver medalist Takahiko Kozuka, fan favorite Florent Amodio… and Michal Brezina, who had TWO quads at Worlds and might be quite the force if he can stay injury-free this coming year.

The other highlight at SkAm should be the ladies event, which will be a sort of re-match between potential World bronze medalists Alissa Czisny, Carolina Kostner, and Ksenia Makarova. Kostner won that battle, as you know, but Czisny was seen to be a fall-on-a-triple-lutz away from it in April. And while Makarova didn’t quite have the jump content to stay in the race at Worlds, she was in 3rd after the SP and could very well come back with a new trick or two up her sleeve in the fall.


The pairs event could prove quite interesting here, as it features what I’m calling The Next Big Thing (current World silver medalists Volosozhar/Trankov) vs. The Big Little Thing (tiny Chinese phenoms and Junior World champs Sui/Han).

The men will see another Patrick Chan/Daisuke Takahashi showdown (good luck beating Chan on his home turf, Dice-K), while the ladies will see something both very new (the senior debut of Russia’s Junior World silver medalist Elizaveta Tuktamisheva) and something kind of new (Akiko Suzuki as the sole Japanese entrant; no standing in Asada’s or Ando’s shadow this time).


As for ice dance, keep your eyes on it when we arrive at CoC. With no Canadian teams scheduled to compete, no Davis/White here, and the French team Pechalat/Bourzat taking a break after back-to-back events (SkAm and SkCan), the frontrunners appear to be Bobrova/Soloviev of Russia and current World bronze medalists the Shibutanis (USA). Could the young ShibSibs pull in their first senior GP victory this fall? This event may hold the answer…

Pairs also ought to be interesting at CoC (as usual), with home country faves Pang/Tong and Zhang/Zhang competing against each other for the first time in over a year… add Russia’s Kavaguti/Smirnov into the mix, and I see an above-average early-season event taking place!

I’ll take a closer look at the second half of the upcoming GP season next week. Happy Independence Day to all my U.S. readers!

1 comment:

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