Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2011 Skate Canada: Ladies Preview

This is shaping up to be one of the most competitive fields of the season and I for one am still quite uncertain of my podium picks. This ladies event is a mixture of experienced skaters still trying to make a splash internationally and up-and-comers looking to make their mark early. The ladies short program is the kick-off event for Skate Canada at 2:05pm EST on Friday October 28th. They finish up with their free skate on Saturday October 29th at 12:15pm. I'll be blogging sporadically and tweeting and re-tweeting as much as I possibly can.
Against my better judgement, I'm going going to say that Mirai Nagasu (USA) has finally conquered her demons and will proudly stand atop the Grand Prix podium. She normally struggles in her first event of the season, but this year she started at Nebelhorn Trophy and pulled out a win, so let's hope she's worked out the jitters. She'll be chased closely but Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS), one of the Russian babies. She is making her senior Grand Prix debut, but already has in impressive resume behind her and has seemed un-phased by the international spotlight thus far. Look for her to come out guns ablaze with triple-triple combinations. Ashley Wagner (USA) has always played second fiddle to the top US ladies but after a coaching change to John Nicks and a coastal changed, she seems poised to take her career to the next level. I spoke to her in person a few weeks ago and said that she is tired of being the "almost girl" and wants to get to move up the podium and make it to Worlds. Rachael Flatt (USA), once a favorite, has been demoted to dark horse after an injury mishap at Worlds and her current status as a Stanford Engineering student. In recent interviews she's spoken about being exhausted from hours a day in the car and lack of sleep, which is not conducive to maintaining elite status and racking up international medals. Akiko Suzuki (JPN) had a solid 2010 Grand Prix, taking two silvers, but faltered in the final and missed the podium. She again failed to make the podium at Japanese Nationals and was left off the Worlds team. This is a season of redemption for her, and like Alissa Czisny, she'll need to up the technical ante to maintain her position at home and continue on to Worlds. Alena Leonova (RUS) had the best 2011 Worlds finished of this field, 4th, but I'm not convinced that she is in the top tier of ladies yet. She has the technical goods when she hits, but I'm not a fan of her style. This is a critical year for her and she must bring home medals to assert her status as the top Russian lady over the upcoming youngsters. Cynthia Phaneuf (CAN) is another touch-and-go skater as she has moments of brilliance (her 2010 Skate Canada short program) and moments of disaster (the rest of her 2010-2011 season). Normally I'd call her a threat to medal, but given her history, I think this field is just too deep.

My Podium Predictions:
1) Mirai Nagasu (USA)
2) Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS)
3) Ashley Wagner (USA)

Competitive History:

Adriana DeSanctis (CAN)-14th 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 8th 2003 Junior SBC CUP, 8th 2002 JGP Final

Rachael Flatt (USA)-12th 2011 Worlds, 4th 2011 Four Continents, 6th 2010 Grand Prix Final, 2nd 2010 Skate America, 2nd 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 182.49 at 2010 Winter Olympics

Sarah Hecken (GER)-6th 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 11th 2011 Worlds, 11th 2011 Europeans, 2nd 2010 NRW Trophy, 10th 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 3rd 2010 Ice Challenge; PB: 155.83 at 2011 Worlds

Amelie Lacoste (CAN)-16th 2011 Worlds, 9th 2011 Four Continents, 5th 2010 Skate America, 3rd 2010 Skate Canada; BP: 156.26 at 2010 Skate Canada

Alena Leonova (RUS)-4th 2011 Worlds, 5th 2011 Europeans, 9th 2010 Cup of Russia, 3rd 2010 Cup of China, 1st 2010 Coup de Nice, 3rd 2010 Finlandia Trophy; PB: 183.92 at 2011 Worlds 

Mirai Nagasu (USA)-1st 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 3rd 2011 Four Continents, 2nd 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 4th 2010 Cup of China; PB: 190.15 at 2010 Winter Olympics

Cynthia Phaneuf (CAN)-13th 2011 Worlds, 6th 2011 Four Continents, 4th 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 4th 2010 Skate Canada; PB: 177.54 at 2010 Worlds 

Akiko Suzuki (JPN)-7th 2011 Four Continents, 1st 2011 Triglav Trophy, 5th 2010 Grand Prix Final, 2nd 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 2nd 2010 Cup of China; PB: 181.44 at 2010 Winter Olympics

Elizaveta Tuktamisheva (RUS)-2nd 2011 World Junior Championships, 1st 2010 Junior Coup de Nice, 2nd 2010 Junior Grand Prix Final, 1st JGP Romania, 1st JGP Germany; PB: 172.78 at 2010 JGP Germany 

Ashley Wagner (USA)-3rd 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 5th 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 167.02 at 2010 Rostelecom Cup

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