Thursday, November 13, 2014

2014 Rostelecom Cup Preview/Predictions

Rostelecom Cup is upon us this Friday and Saturday! The headliners are sparse, but that doesn't mean it's destined to be dull viewing. On the contrary, these are the events that are capable of real breakout performances by relative unknowns. Here's what I'm seeing for medals this time:

Gold—Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)
Silver—One of the Marias (RUS)
Bronze—Mirai Nagasu (USA)
Dark Horse: Rika Hongo (JPN) or The Other Maria (RUS)

Pogorilaya's got the jumps she needs to win, and she's got them consistent enough to know this won't be much of a contest now that OGM Adelina Sotnikova is out of this event (and the GP series as a whole) with an injury. I know so little about the other two Russian skaters in this event, I've written the above so they're interchangeable. Still, in a relatively thin field I'm guessing (heavy emphasis on the word guess) the judges might choose a relatively untested new Russian skater over a GP veteran that's constantly getting dinged for underrotations (that would be Nagasu). Hongo did well enough at Skate Canada that I'll give her a dark horse shot at a medal here. 
Gold—Stolbova/Klimov (RUS)
Silver—Tarasova/Morozov (RUS)
Bronze—Denney/Frazier (USA)
Dark Horse: Astakhova/Rogonov (RUS)
So far, this has not been a great season for reigning Olympic medalists. Of the ones who have chosen to compete we have those that got injured early on (Volosohzhar/Trankov), those that got injured very recently (Sotnikova), and those that got the living daylights smacked out of them on a 6-minute warmup last week (Yuzuru Hanyu). And of those competing medalists NOT injured, we have upsets big and small (see Cappellini/Lanotte and Denis Ten). So all that being said, reigning OSMs Stolbova/Klimov might be doing well just to finish this week's event injury-free and on the podium somewhere. But I'll go ahead and predict them for gold. Why? Because, once again, it's a surprisingly shallow talent and/or experience pairs pool here at Rostelecom Cup. 

Gold—Javier Fernandez (ESP)
Silver—Jason Brown (USA)
Bronze—Max Aaron (USA)
Dark Horse: Michal Brezina or Sergei Voronov

Fernandez is, in a way, a tentative choice after seeing his Skate Canada debut (and upset) and reading this week that he's suffering from tendinitis in his knees. But I can see him winning this time on the considerable strength of his "Black Betty" SP. Particularly since the Japanese men's representative this time is Takahiko Kozuka-- who started the season with two startlingly weak placements (6th at Japan Open; 8th at Skate Canada). I'd love to see him bounce back in Russia, but I'm not betting a placement on it. Two previous GP medalists this season (who happen to represent the US) get the nod from me instead.
Gold— Chock/Bates (USA)
Silver— Stepanova/Bukin (RUS)
Bronze— Ilinykh/Zhiganshin (RUS)
Dark Horse: Coomes/Buckland (GBR)

Oh, the drama! This will be, I think, the first major competition that pits against each other two Russian teams that did a partner change-up in the off season. It's GP event #2 for Ilinykh/Zhiganshin, and it's the GP debut of Sinitsina/Katsalapov, but I'm picking Skate America bronze medalists Stepanova/Bukin to finish higher than both of them. (Not to mention U.S. Nationals front-runners Chock/Bates to finish higher than ALL of them.)

#COR14 is the hashtag if you plan to follow along on Twitter (I just checked it... sorry some of these tags have been inaccurate!). Ladies SP starts at 7AM ET here in the States. I'll be watching live, at least on Friday! Hope you can join me.

NOTE: IceNetwork had Friday's start time as 6AM earlier in the week, but apparently they were off by one hour. Consequentially, I had it listed as 6AM in my original post. Apologies to anyone that got up too early!!!!!


SFM said...

LOL @ the " Silver—One of the Marias (RUS)," comment!

The ladies SP was interesting. I am slightly surprised. I still think Anna is poised to win this one despite a shaky short, being just a step away from the leader, unless she implodes.

Mirai could have possibly been the leader after the SP had those pesky jumps been rotated. Come on girl ... you can do it!!

SFM said...

Wow!! Congratulations to Rika Hongo ... way to go! Very, very happy for her. I had a feeling she could break through here. Anna P. was off her game, for sure. Mirai Nagasu is showing promise. She just needs to hang in there, that is all one can do.


Your dark horse pick wins the day! My fantasy picks are down the drain, but it's all good, as quite honestly, this is a pleasant surprise.