Thursday, November 7, 2013

2013 NHK Trophy Preview and Predictions

NHK 2013 officially gets underway at 12:50 AM FRIDAY (U.S. Eastern time), so get your video source lined up (Here’s the schedule of events, according to IceNetwork)  and see if your guesses for the podium match mine...

Gold- Mao Asada, JPN
Silver- Akiko Suzuki, JPN
Bronze- Elena Radionova, RUS

Dark Horse: Gracie Gold, USA

Notes: Here they are again—Asada and Suzuki, skating it out on home country ice. Suzuki won this in ’11. Asada won it last year (and a couple other times ahead of that), though it was by the slimmest of margins in ’12—five-hundredths of a point! Remember that? One of those cases where she was saved by her short program...

As for this year? With Asada trying her triple axel on a regular basis again in both programs (and usually landing it in some fashion at least once), I’ve got to give her the edge... though I’d admittedly find some delight in seeing Suzuki take the title one more time.

Bronze is a tough call this time too—we’ve got Radionova here; she won bronze at SkAM three weeks ago. We’ve also got Gold, who won bronze at SkCAN two weeks ago. Both have consistent triple lutz/triple toes in both programs, but... I’m giving the advantage to Radionova because she’s more consistent in general right now. On the other hand—she might be due for an off day, just as Gracie might get even better than SkCAN as her training under Frank Carroll progresses. So your guess is as good as mine who’s got this!

Gold- Javier Fernandez, ESP
Silver- Max Aaron, USA
Bronze- Nobunari Oda, JPN

Dark Horse: Adam Rippon, USA

Notes: The reigning World Bronze Medalist Fernandez should not have any big difficulty winning this. SHOULDN’T. Doesn’t mean there isn’t a margin for mucking up, but if he can keep his crazy good jumps under control, I think he’s got it. As for the rest... I’m looking at recent outings when I put Aaron in the silver spot and Oda in bronze. Could easily be reversed, but—again, based on the past couple weeks—I think Aaron’s improving on the season while Oda’s best might already be behind him. The Dark Horse here could be Rippon, or Takahashi, or Abbott for that manner, but Rippon’s the one of the three who has delivered the GP goods so far this season.

Gold-Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov, RUS
Silver- Sui Wenjing/Han Cong, CHN
Bronze-Peng Cheng/Zhang Hao, CHN

Dark Horse: Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir, USA

Notes: With Volo/Trank skating as impressively as they have this entire year (last season included), anything less than gold for them here would be a substantial upset. Silver and bronze seems destined for both Chinese teams; I’m choosing the new and improved Sui/Han over Peng/Zhang because they have more mileage as a team—but Zhang may have more “mileage” than Sui + Han put together, so you never know! Not much here in the way of outside shots at the podium, but I’m choosing Castelli/Shnapir on the chance that they hit their throw 4sal (or whatever monster throw they’re currently working on).

Gold-Meryl Davis/Charlie White, USA
Silver- Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte, ITA
Bronze- Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov, RUS

Dark Horse: Maia & Alex Shibutani, USA

Notes: Gold is sewn up, right? And so is silver, don’t you think? Bronze is another story, and it’s an interesting one as we’ll have the Russians (I/K) free dancing to Swan Lake while the Americans (Shib Sibs) do their MJ medley. Tchaikovsky vs. Jackson! Who will the odds favor? If the NHK crowds have anything to do with it I’m guessing they get a lot noisier for the Shibs—but, unless I/K have a major error, I’m hard-pressed to think the judges would lean towards “the Swans”. What do you think?

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