Thursday, October 31, 2013

2013 Cup of China Predictions

Oh, how the time gets tight when the GP events start up in the middle of the night! (In my neck of the woods, that is.)

Here's the Cup of China schedule... remember highlights will air on NBC from 1:30-3:30 Eastern. And the predictions...

Gold- Carolina Kostner, ITA
Silver- Kanako Murakami, JPN
Bronze- Li Zijun, CHN

Dark Horse: Agnes Zawadzki, USA

Kostner’s take on Scheherazade makes its season debut this weekend, so that alone may be reason enough to get up at 4:40AM Eastern time (in the U.S.) and watch the Ladies final live on Saturday morning. I don’t know if I’d go THAT far :-), but I’ve no reason to doubt that she is the favorite this weekend with very good reason. Murakami just missed the world podium last spring, so I expect she’ll give Kostner a decent run for her medal money here. Li was one of the more successful up-and-coming teens on the senior circuit last season, so this debut on “home ice” should be a great opportunity to see how she’s coming along. She managed 5th at this event last year, so bronze would be a nice step up. But she’ll have to hold off Zawadzki first, who earned her first GP bronze at Rostelecom Cup last season... and is, of course, one of the most likely contenders for That Third Spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

And everyone I just mentioned should probably watch out for the three Russian teens also in China: Nikol Gosviani, Anna Pogorilaya, and Adelina Sotnikova. They finished 6th, 5th, and 3rd respectively in Russian Nationals; Sotnikova is the only one with senior GP experience under her belt.

Gold- Florent Amodio, FRA
Silver- Takahiko Kozuka, JPN
Bronze- Denis Ten, KAZ

Dark Horses: Song Nan, CHN/Yan Han, CHN

Welcome to my long shot of the week! With Ten arriving to China at far less than 100 percent (illness, back pain) and Kevin Reynolds struggling with boot issues and withdrawing from the event altogether, the search for a favorite is a lot tougher. I adore Kozuka (as you probably know), and would love to see him win here, but his jump consistency—particularly with his biggest point-getters—isn’t what it once was. As for Amodio, he’s got increasingly consistent quads, new coaches, and reportedly a finer-tuned work ethic. I’d say he’s got as good a shot at victory here as anyone.

Nonetheless, watch for home country faves Song and Yan... the latter is making his senior GP debut... both men can deliver some pretty sick quads. Ricky Dornbush of the USA could also be in the mix if his jumps are on.

Gold-Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy, GER
Silver-Pang Qing/Tong Jian, CHN
Bronze-Anastasia Martiusheva/Alexei Rogonov, RUS

Dark Horses: Peng/Zhang, CHN and Scimeca/Knierim, USA

Here’s a jaw-dropping Fun Fact for you: if Pang/Tong medal at this event, it will be the 29th medal they’ve won in GP events ALONE. Surely they’ve already set some kind of record, or will by the end of this season... and they’re not even at the top of their game anymore! (Nor would any of us be if we were still doing throw triple salchows into our mid-30s.) Anyway, I see silver for them here, with Sav/Szol taking the top spot. I’m really not sure about bronze—this is a “when in doubt, go with the Russians” sort of wager. (Um, Scimeca/Knierim? That’s your cue to prove me wrong.)

Gold-Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat, FRA
Silver- Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev, RUS
Bronze- Madison Chock/Evan Bates, USA

(Really, Really) Dark Horse (because there isn’t a particularly deep field beyond the three I mentioned above): Aldridge/Eaton, USA

It’ll be an easy win for P/B... or will it?? At Worlds, they seemed to be all set to claim their second straight bronze medal, but Bob/Solo went lights out on their FD while the French faltered. Bronze went to the Russians. Still, I give the advantage to P/B most any day of the week... and I’m hopeful their much-discussed Little Prince and his Rose FD will be worth the wait. 

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