Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2015 Four Continents Predictions

15 countries are represented this week at Four Continents Championship in Seoul, South Korea. Here’s who I’m picking for the podium:

GOLD—Weaver/Poje (CAN)
SILVER—Chock/Bates (USA)
BRONZE—Shib Sibs (USA)
Dark Horse: Gilles/Poirier (CAN)

The Shibs and G/P were So. Very. Close. in points at the Grand Prix Final. Will be interesting to see if it’s the same story here.

GOLD—Duhamel/Radford (CAN)
BRONZE—Pang/Tong (CHN)
Dark Horse: Peng/Zheng (CHN)

Yes, you read that right... Pang/Tong are competing here. (Though I’ve no idea why. Did they lose a bet with the government or something?)  I’m sure they’ll still be competitive; however, knowing what sort of stunning tricks D/R and S/H have been executing this year, I’m putting P/T third.

GOLD— Takahito Mura (JPN)
BRONZE—Jason Brown (USA)
Dark Horse: Denis Ten (KAZ) or Adam Rippon (USA)

Can Rippon “kill it” here like he did in Greensboro? I’m still hedging my bets, but I sure hope so.

GOLD—Gracie Gold (USA)
SILVER—Satoko Miyahara (JPN)
BRONZE—Rika Hongo (JPN)
Dark Horse: Alaine Chartrand (CAN) or Samantha Cesario (USA)

Picking bronze is tough here. Hongo was my choice because of her surprising GP success this year, but the same could be said of Chartrand. And Cesario’s last spin as Carmen! I know she needs more speed out there, but I like her so much. I say she’s got a shot.

What do YOU say?

2015 U.S. Nationals: Looking Back

Some lingering thoughts, a few weeks removed, about Nationals:

LADIES... From the “love it when I’m wrong files”... Ashley Wagner throwing it down and kicking last year’s Nationals in the face with her toepick. Should have seen that coming but I totally went the other way. Now I’m back to being excited to watch her skate rather than nervous...

Karen Chen—I didn’t pick her to do as well as she did because my note on her after watching Sectionals was this: TINY. Tango-ish music. (wearing) Red/black. Fast. But falls derail her a bit. I believe she hit just about everything jump-wise at Nats, so my theory shall go untested this year...

I picked Hannah Miller (who finished 9th) as the out-of-“nowhere girl”; this honor instead goes to either Chen or Mariah Bell (who finished 6th). Fun fact: on Twitter I gave a shoutout to Bell and joked that it was high time she got a Wikipedia bio page... then Bell herself “favorited” my tweet... and sure enough, a couple days later bloomed this! (I’m sure I had soooo much to do with it, heh)

MEN... For the second year in a row, it was all about the guy who came in second! Lucky for Jason Brown (one of my few accurate predictions), HE was that #2 guy last year and surely understands the he-won-the-free-and-he-should’ve-won-it-all hubbub that now surrounds current silver medalist Adam Rippon. But my goodness, what a fine collection of performances for our U.S. podium! Now, if at least two of those guys can re-deliver at Worlds... and yep, a quad (and/or a decently credited attempt) could help as well. But I’m not getting into that whole discussion today...

I chose Nathan Chen for bronze, so obviously I need to improve my Chen-choosing (with Karen Chen—no relation—on the ladies podium). Apparently a heel injury put his breakout-senior-year plans on hold, and with a pair of triple axel-free programs he finished a very respectable 8th. Let’s root for him to get the best of what sound like fairly chronic injuries for such a young guy. Similar best wishes abound for Stephen Carriere, who took my “nowhere man” prediction a little too seriously when he had to withdraw from Nationals at the last minute.

One more quick thing... I predicted Max Aaron for the podium, but as you know by now, he had to settle for 4th despite very solid SP and FS outings. It’s such an irony, at least on the international front, that our most reliable quad man (or really, ONLY reliable quad man) competes at a time when three of the most artistically gifted guys in the world happen to share national ice with him. Given that Brown once again outscored him with zero quads, and Rippon and Farris did so with majorly flawed versions (so say Rippon's scores, at least), I have to wonder where Aaron will go from here. Got to be pretty frustrating.

PAIRS... Like the ladies, I got these predictions just “off” enough to be completely useless! But no complaints; the judges got this right. It was nice to see Scimeca/Knierim step up their game with the quad twist and generally perform better than they have all season. Now, if they and ALL the top pairs teams can just stay together and build some momentum... (and yes, I’m aware S/K are engaged!)

DANCE... No real surprises here in the top placements, but the individual scores told a couple of interesting tales. Chock/Bates and the Shib Sibs were very close points-wise in the SD, though the Shibs ultimately stayed in second by a fair margin. Meanwhile, as I indicated in an earlier post, bronze medalists Hubbell/Donohue were the only top team to LOSE overall points this season compared to 2014. Plus, while they are scheduled to attend Worlds next month, it’s the 4th place team (Hawayek/Baker) that was chosen to compete at 4CC this week... meaning, among other things, that H/D cannot defend the title they won there last year.

What did YOU love the most about 2015 Nationals? What left you shaking your head in disbelief? What do you hope you never see again?! Leave it in the comments!