Monday, November 15, 2010

ISU Grand Prix: Rostelecom Cup Preview

Next weekend, November 19-20 to be exact, the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating makes its 5th of 6 stops in Moscow for what was formerly known as the Cup of Russia. Many skaters have already completed their two assigned Grand Prix events and are anxiously awaiting the results of the last events to see who will qualify for the Grand Prix Final in December.

Patrick Chan, who won Skate Canada despite 4 total falls, is arguably the favorite here. His Phantasia program is wonderful and he usually racks up very high components scores. Jeremy Abbott is also a forced to be reckoned with if he can overcome some of his inconsistencies with the mental side of the sport. I really enjoyed Javier Fernandez' free skate at Skate Canada so I will be looking forward to another solid performance from him again. Tomas Verner and Samuel Contesti also have the potential to make the podium if they can skate clean.

Miki Ando is definitely the most consistent of the ladies field here, and based on the past grand prix events, the lady who can stay on her feet wins the gold. There are a lot of women in this field who, in my opinion, are more talented and much more artistic than Miki, particularly Akiko Suzuki and Ashley Wagner, but they are hit or miss in terms of landing jumps and skating clean. I have never been a fan of Ksenia Makarova but she made a splash with silver at Skate Canada and will have the home crowd behind her here, though that may help her or hurt her. I am a big fan of young American Agnes Zawadzki and while she had a disappointing free skate at Skate Canada, I think she is really going to make a big jump here and reach the Podium.

Pairs is pretty wide open here with only one team considered to be among the world's best, Kavaguti & Smirnov, though they are coming off of a disappointing 2010 Olympic season and this is their only Grand Prix event. I really have no clue what is going to happen here in pairs so my fantasy picks are going to be pretty blind. I do, however, look for Takahashi & Tran to make a fairly strong showing. The American team of Evora & Ladwig has some of the best elements in the world and if they can put together two clean programs, they have a good shot at the podium. Paige Lawrence & Rudi Swiegers were also pretty solid at Skate Canada so let's see if they can repeat that here.

After disappointing falls in both of their programs at Cup of China and a 20 point loss to Pechalat & Bourzat, I expect Faiella & Scali to come back with a vengeance and win the ice dance competition here. One of their falls was due to a costume malfunction that they have hopefully corrected and with more practice time under their belt, I expect their free skate to be electrifying. Bobrova & Soliev of Russia also put up two strong programs to win silver at Cup of China so they'll look to make the podium again on their home turf. The young Canadians Paul & Islam blew me away at Skate Canada and people are already calling them the younger versions of Virtue & Moir. Madison and Keiffer Hubbell of the USA also have the potential to make the podium if they can avoid some of the mistakes they made at Cup of China. I really enjoy their free skate this season and hope to see them skate it clean.

Here is the live streaming schedule; the events I plan to live-blog are highlighted below:

Friday, Nov. 19
7:00 a.m.: Men's short program
8:50 a.m.: Pairs short program
11:00 a.m.: Ladies short program
12:50 p.m.: Short dance
Saturday, Nov. 20
6:45 a.m.: Men's free skate
9:00 a.m.: Pairs free skate
10:40 a.m.: Ladies free skate
12:40 p.m.: Free dance

Fantasy Update:
Overall Ranking     58          65
Overall Points       7756     7744

As soon as opens up the week 5 fantasy competition, I will post my picks as well as Skategate's

**BackStage Barbie  **Skategate  **Shared Picks

1) Patrick Chan (Canada)
2) Tomas Verner (Czech Republic)
3) Alban Preaubert (France)
4) Samuel Contesti (Italy)
5) Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)
6) Tatsuki Machida (Japan)
7) Artem Borodulin (Russia)
8) Artur Gachinski (Russia)
9) Konstanti Menshov (Russia)
10) Javier Fernandez (Spain)
11) Anton Kovalevski (Ukraine)

12) Jeremy Abbott (USA)

1) Myriane Samson (Canada)
2) Elena Glebova (Estonia)
3) Valentina Marchei (Italy)
4) Miki Ando (Japan)
5) Akiko Suzuki (Japan)
6) Sofia Biryukova (Russia)
7) Alena Leonova (Russia)
8) Ksenia Makarova (Russia)
9) Ashley Wagner (USA)
10) Agnes Zawadzki (USA)
1) Lawrence/Swiegers (Canada)
2) Berton/Hotarek (Italy)
3) Takahshi/Tran (Japan)
4) Gerboldt/Enbert (Russia)
5) Kavaguti/Smirnov (Russia)
6) Novik/Kuznetsov (Russia)
7) Evora/Ladwig (USA)
8) Simpson/Miller (USA)

Ice Dance:
1) Paul/Islam (Canada)
2) Mysliveckova/Novak (Czech Repulic)
3) Hoffman/Zavozin (Hungary)
4) Faiella/Scali (Italy)
5) Bobrova/Soloviev (Russia)
6) Gorshkova/Butikov (Russia)
7) Ilinykh/Satsalapov (Russia)
8) Hubbell/Hubbell (USA)

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