Thursday, November 24, 2016

State of the 2016 NHK Trophy: Previews/Predictions (ALL disciplines)

It’s Thanksgiving here in the States, so I’m going to make this relatively short and sweet because I’ve got a meal for 13 people to oversee/complete!

And the events, in order of occurrence…


GOLD: Du/Rad
SILVER:  Peng/Jin
BRONZE: Wang/Wang

DARK HORSE: Kayne/O’Shea

It’s another small pairs field at NHK; only 7 teams will compete. But the reigning World Champs (Du/Rad) are among them, and I think will easily defeat their closest competition (Peng/Jin, in my estimation) unless they skate super sloppy. Americans Kayne/O’Shea are my Dark Horse pick, but in this case it’s more like “best possibility to win 4th” because I don’t think they can reach the Chinese teams in terms of content.


GOLD: Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)
SILVER:  Satoko Miyahara (JPN)
BRONZE: Wakaba Higuchi (JPN)

DARK HORSE: Alaine Chartrand (CAN)

Another tough ladies field awaits us… but I think Pogo’s still got the upper hand here. Miyahara’s got the skating I prefer, but her tiny jumps are coming under increasing scrutiny and I don’t expect that to change here. Higuchi (impressive with a bronze in Paris a few weeks ago) seems very capable of claiming the remaining NHK medal… but as always this season I’m keeping an eye on the powerful Canadian skater du jour and this time it’s Chartrand.

Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen are the U.S. reps; both should finish within the top 6. What actually happens might be something else entirely…


GOLD: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
SILVER:  Nathan Chen (USA)
BRONZE: Jason Brown (USA)

DARK HORSE: Aleksei Bychenko (ISR)

With Hanyu skating relatively healthy (as far as I know), I don’t see how he does anything but win NHK for what would be the third time. His closest competition in the jumps department will be recent record-setter Chen; assuming he can hold it together a little better in the FS this time, his first GP medal may be imminent. Brown’s technique and artistry (and possible quad) put him in good standing to medal here as well. Bychenko is my dark horse because I spent a fair portion of SkCAN (his previous GP event, where he ended up winning his first-ever medal) wondering Why didn’t I make him my dark horse?? (I’m kinda weird that way.)  


GOLD: Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA)
SILVER:  Virtue/Moir (CAN)
BRONZE: Cappellini/Lanotte (ITA)

DARK HORSE: Sinitsina/Katsalapov (RUS)

Ah, THIS is where it could get really interesting. It’s the first GP of the season (or ever?) pitting the reigning French powerhouse against the once and future Canadian powerhouse. Virtue/Moir almost lost SkCAN to Chock/Bates on the relative weaknesses of their FD. My guess is that, rather than change up what they’re doing yet, they’re waiting to see how they measure up to Papa/Ciz before making adjustments (with Worlds in mind). Papz/Ciz outscored V/M in Paris so barring disaster, I think they’ll take NHK too.

The U.S. is represented this time by Cannuscio/McManus (aka CanMan) and Hawayek/Baker (don’t have a good nickname for them yet). Mid-pack is my guess for both of them.

This is the last GP event before the FINALS in a couple short weeks, so let’s enjoy it! See you on Twitter… and back here next week (with results/analysis on this one coming after results/analysis for Cup of China). 

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