Friday, February 8, 2019

2019 Four Continents Predictions (Pairs and Dance)


GOLD: Sui/Han (CHN)
SILVER: Peng/Jin (CHN)
BRONZE: Kayne/O’Shea (USA)
Dark Horse(s): Moore-Towers/Marinaro (CAN), or any other U.S. team

It probably should be noted that an already small field of competing pairs teams (11) has shrunk even smaller (8) with the absence of the Australian, North Korean, and Japanese teams. That leaves 3 Canadian teams, 3 U.S. teams, and 2 Chinese teams. That’s it! But of those remaining, the Chinese are the most reliable to do well (especially Sui/Han, despite the fact that injuries take them out of half the season more often than not). I’m giving the other podium nod to K/O because they historically have done well at 4CC (including winning it last year)… and I’m hoping for a strong rebound after that heartbreaking missed final lift at Nats.

GOLD: Hubbell/Donohue (USA)
SILVER: Weaver/Poje (CAN)
BRONZE: Gilles/Poirier (CAN)
Dark Horse: Chock/Bates (USA)

Hawayek/Baker won this last year—and they’ll be competing this year—but last year most of the bigger names were bypassing 4CC while they prepped for their Olympic close-up. My choice for bronze is more of a sentimental one; G/P seem to get outscored technically on a regular basis, but DANG do I enjoy their Vincent FD this season.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

2019 Four Continents Predictions: Ladies and Men

Once again I didn’t get an analysis of the last event I posted about (U.S. Nats) posted before the next big figure skating event (Four Continents Championship/4CC) was begging our collective attention.

At least this time I kind of have a good excuse. My current state of blog-post-pokiness has increased since early January because that’s when rehearsals started for a local production of Singin’ in the Rain… and I made it into the cast! Just in the ensemble, mind you—something I’ve done many times before—but it’s special to me for many reasons. Mostly because I turned 50 last August, and will be tap-dancing on stage among a cast that is largely half my age, and the last time I got to tap on stage I was… um… about half my age! Also because this is my first time at a new theater (new to me; the theater has been around 60 years or so, I think). Also because the show is based on one of my favorite films of all time! So anyway, we were learning choreography in January and are “putting it all together” in February (with performances in March). It’s great fun, but if you’ve ever been in a stage production of any kind you know it takes a LOT of time.

Fortunately, though, the week leading to opening night—also known as Tech Week, but better described as Hell Week—doesn’t come till the end of February, somewhere between 4CC and Worlds. (Whew.) Which brings me to the event at hand this week!

GOLD: Rika Kihara (JPN)
SILVER: Kaori Sakamoto (JPN)
BRONZE: Mai Mihara (JPN)
Dark Horses: Bradie Tennell (USA) & Lim Eun-soo (KOR)

There are 22 ladies representing 12 different countries this time, yet three ladies from ONE country (Japan) are likely to dominate. It’s not a slam dunk—several competitors have the goods to spoil that sweep, including the two I mentioned above. And here’s the crazy thing: SO good are the three representing Japan this time, it’s hard to find one who’s completely dominating. Sakamoto won Japan Nationals, for instance, but if Kihara hits her triple axels at 4CC, look out. I’ve actually put her in front here as a litmus test as to where I may put her when it’s time to make Worlds predictions.

GOLD: Shoma Uno (JPN)
SILVER: Cha Jun-wan (KOR)
BRONZE: Vincent Zhou (USA)
Dark Horses: Keegan Messing (CAN), Kozuki Tomono (JPN), Jason Brown (USA)

Uno doesn’t seem to skate clean all that often, but what he gets done is often extraordinary nonetheless, putting him right up there with Nathan Chen and (of course) Yuzuru Hanyu. But both of them tend to beat him when going head to head, and neither of them are here—which should also leave room on the podium for both Zhou and South Korea’s breakout star of the season (Cha).

Pairs and Dance predictions for 4CC coming shortly!