Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Cup of China Preview/Predictions

Get your (figurative) Cup of China ready with your beverage of choice... here comes the preview!

Gold—Cappellini/Lanotte (ITA)
Silver— Shibutanis (USA)
Bronze—Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA)

Dark Horse: Ilinykh/Zhiganshin (RUS)

With the exception of the Shib Sibs, I haven’t yet seen any of this CoC ice dance field this season. That makes it a little tough to predict; I can’t even lean on personal preferences! So I’m going on reputation... which means reigning World Champs Cappellini/Lanotte should have a fairly easy time of it, and the Shibs stand a good chance of being runners-up. I’ll say the young French team for bronze, if only because I’ve no idea what to expect from the new Russian pairing of Ilinykh/Zhiganshin... except that one of them has an Olympic Bronze Medal. So, potential abounds... dark horse vote it is!

Gold—Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS)
Silver—Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS)
Bronze—Polina Edmunds (USA)

Dark Horse: Li Zijun (CHN) or Kanako Murakami (JPN)

The Best in Boneless Skating returns! Lipnitskaia makes her GP season debut in China with an R&J (Romeo & U-no-who) free skate planned. She’s another sight-unseen choice for gold here; Tuktamysheva has had a great season so far but was finally starting to look a little tired at Skate America a couple weeks ago. Probably still good for silver, though. At bat for the U.S. is Polina Edmunds in her first-ever senior GP event, and I think she’ll do well—after all she’s already got one international victory under her belt this season (U.S. International Classic). The other U.S. ladies in attendance—Christina Gao and Ashley Cain—are relative wild cards, with only Cain having made an earlier appearance this season (3rd at Ondrej Nepala Trophy).

Gold—Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
Silver—Yan Han (CHN)
Bronze—Maxim Kovtun (RUS)

Dark Horse: Nam Nguyen (CAN) or Richard Dornbush (USA)

Get out your Winnie-the-Pooh box of Kleenex, because our reigning OGM is back in action starting this weekend! And get ready for POTO (Phantom of the Opera) Hanyu-style, because that’s his FS music this season. (SIGH.) I don’t have a good enough case for any of his competitors to force an upset, but if he loses, we’ll surely get into it in great detail next week. In the meantime, have you seen the FS selections for the others I’ve listed here? They include “Fly Me to the Moon” for Yan (not the Sinatra version though)... Coldplay selections for Dornbush, in what I found to be a surprisingly good program when I saw it... and would you believe “Exogenesis: Symphony” by Muse for Kovtun? I’ve no idea how similar the cuts are to what Jeremy Abbott used in what now has to be considered one of his most iconic programs, but I guess we’re about to see how the pieces fit on a new athlete—ready or not.

Gold—Peng/Zhang (CHN)
Silver—Bazarova/Deputat (RUS)
Bronze—Calalang/Sidhu (USA)

Dark Horse: Della Monica/Guarise (ITA)

Take a look at the eight entries in this division and you’ll likely say the same thing as I did: Who the heck are these people? The only noteworthy team is Peng/Zhang, and the only note I took watching them at Skate America was “underwhelmed”. Still, they’ll probably prove to be the best of the bunch. I put Bazarova/Deputat second simply on recognition of Vera Bazarova’s name (Deputat is a new partner for her), and even Calalang/Sidhu of the U.S. doesn’t bring a lot of name recognition. But if they manage a medal at CoC this weekend, that could change in a hurry.

Coverage starts on IceNetwork at 3AM ET Friday... I will NOT be up that early, but should definitely be watching (and live-Tweeting, and yawning) by the time the Men’s SP starts 3 ½ hours later. Follow me @KLBSt8ofSk8 or use #COC14 to follow the whole event!