Thursday, December 8, 2011

Le 2011 Grand Prix Finale At-A-Glance

Welcome to Quebec City… the capital city of the Quebec province, home to the stunning Chateau Frontenac, and the only place I’ve ever been where I could find Crush Crème Soda (with pink labels on the bottles). My husband and I spent part of our honeymoon in Vieux-Quebec back in 1997, and hope to get back there someday. It won’t be anytime soon, unfortunately… so I’ll have to report on the ISU Grand Prix Final and Junior GP Final from my home office, as usual.

(And as you might guess—especially with it not being readily available on IceNetwork—I’m not going to do much with the JGP this week except take note of the placements, especially when they involve Americans.)

Here’s the IceNetwork schedule for the Senior GPF this weekend:

Friday, Dec. 9

1:00 p.m.: Senior ladies short program
2:05 p.m.: Senior short dance
8:00 p.m.: Senior pairs short program
9:15 p.m.: Senior men's short program

Saturday, Dec. 10

3:40 p.m.: Senior ladies free skate
4:55 p.m.: Senior men's free skate
8:15 p.m.: Senior pairs free skate

Sunday, Dec. 11
1:50 p.m.: Senior free dance

And here’s the schedule for Universal Sports, as posted at the USFSA site a few months ago (please note that NO schedule was posted at the Universal web site as of Thursday evening)

Friday, Dec. 9
Ladies short & Short dance (LIVE) - 1-3 p.m.
Pairs short & Men's short (LIVE) - 8-10:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 10
Men's free (LIVE) - 5-6 p.m.
Pairs free (LIVE) - 8:30-10 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 11
Free dance - 5-6 p.m.
Ladies free & Men's free (NBC re-air) - 8-10 p.m.**

** Which means, I believe, that you should be able to see the Ladies and Men's Finals on NBC Sunday afternoon. (UPDATE: A Tweet from Michael Weiss-- who's doing commentary this weekend-- says it'll be at noon Eastern time Sunday.)

So real quick, here are the senior GP Final entrants (last names only) as well as a brief list of some of their strengths/weaknesses:

MEN: Chan, Takahashi, Abbott, Brezina, Fernandez, Hanyu

Chanplus: Reigning World Champion, home-country fave, judges love his mastery of everything artistic
Chanminus: Occasionally falls all over the place,

DiceKplus: Can (at least) match Chan artistically
DiceKminus: Not as many consistent quads, occasionally falls all over the place

Abbottplus: Breathtaking choreography and execution
Abbottminus: Is zero-for-2 on quad attempts this year

Brezinaplus: Solid triple axel, two quads in arsenal
Brezinaminus: Stamina issues; sometimes listens to bad (coaching) advice

Fernandezplus: Wonderful jumping technique; arsenal includes two quads
Fernandezminus: Hasn’t yet earned the component love from judges

Yuzuruplus: Is developing strong sense of artistry at early age
Yuzuruminus: Lacks the experience of his competitors

LADIES: Tuktamysheva, Kostner, Suzuki, Czisny, Leonova

NOTE: Mao Asada was scheduled to compete, but returned to Japan today when she learned her mother is critically ill. It happened too late for an alternate to be brought in.*** UPDATE*** The Japanese press is reporting that Asada's mother has now passed away. She was only 48. Very sad. Prayers and peace to the Asada family.)

Tuktaplus: Has a triple lutz/triple toe, jumps are technically superb, she is waay younger than all other ladies here
Tuktaminus: Triple flip occasionally a problem, not as artistically advance as others

Kostnerplus: Fast, has elegant lines, has an occasional triple toe/triple toe
Kostnerminus: No triple lutz at all, let alone a 3lutz/3toe

Czisnyplus: Is a spinner extraordinaire, amazingly smooth, may try her own triple lutz/triple toe
Czisnyminus: Is frequently dinged for underrotated jumps, still battles nerves on occasion

Suzukiplus: Wonderfully musical, skates with obvious joy
Suzukiminus: Jumps can be inconsistent

Leonovaplus: Very animated; jumping technique seems improved over last year
Leonovaminus: See Suzukiminus

PAIRS: Volosozhar/Trankov, Savchenko/Szolkowy, Kavaguti/Smirnov, Zhang/Zhang, Takahashi/Tran, Duhamel/Radford

Vol/Trankplus: Power skaters, very consistent, great chemistry
Vol/Trankminus: Still lacks team experience of other top couples

Sav/Szolplus: Power skaters, reigning world champs, inventive FS
Sav/Szolminus: Occasionally self-destructs mid-program

Kav/Smirplus: Artistically more delicate, jumping has improved
Kav/Smirminus: Throw jumps aren’t as steady as other two

Zhang/Zhangplus: Tons of experience, huge throw jumps
Zhang/Zhangminus: Can seem emotionally detached from programs

Taka/Tranplus: Young, budding talent with fresh music and moves
Taka/Tranminus: Inexperience amongst veterans

Duh/Radplus: Power skaters, good jumping
Duh/Radminus: Have been known to engage in (unintentional) bloodshed during programs

DANCE: Davis/White, Virtue/Moir, Shibutani/Shibutani, Bobrova/Soloviev, Pechalat/Bourzat, Weaver/Poje

Davis/Whiteplus: To-swoon-for twizzles, reigning world champs, FD that many are already saying should become “their signature dance”
Davis/Whiteminus: As White demonstrated at Cup of Russia, they are hardly infallible as skaters. A stumble like he took there in the SD could make all the difference in a tight race with V/M.

Virtue/Moirplus: Reigning OGMs, home country advantage, charming FD
Virtue/Moirminus: though they haven’t competed head-to-head since Worlds, V/M’s FD has not scored as highly as D/W’s in both couples’ two outings so far this season.

Shibsplus: Classic dance style, well-established for their ages
Shibsminus: Current free dance might be seen as too similar to previous free dance

Bobroplus: Classic Russian style, FD is drama-riffic
Bobrominus: Drama-riffic might cross the line to overwrought

Pech/Bourplus: Strong, inventive, Bourzat skating healthy again (following a bronchitis-laced trip to Skate America)
Pech/Bourminus: in a likely battle for bronze, Pech/Bour could be outdrama-ed by either Bobrova/Soloviev or Weaver/Poje

Weaver/Pojeplus: Home country advantage; plus their stock continues to rise even with V/M on the scene full-time
Weaver/Pojeminus: Weaver can’t seem to get the strap fixed on her FD costume (KIDDING)

Enjoy the weekend of skating, everyone!


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