Monday, November 7, 2011

2011 NHK Trophy: Ice Dance Preview

The Ice Dance event at NHK trophy is sure to be an exciting one as one of these teams will win their first Grand Prix Gold! Three of these teams have won medals before, but never a Gold and it's shaping up to be a dog fight for the top of the podium between these three teams-Canadians, Americans, and Russians-which happen to be the super powers in ice dance currently. These nations won the first three ice dance titles of the 2011 Grand Prix Season and whoever takes the title here will tip the scale in their country's favor. Both events technically take place on Friday November 11th with the short at 12:55 a.m. EST and the free at 10:00 p.m. EST.
After much thought, I really like Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (CAN) to win this event, though not by a huge margin. They have the highest score of the season of all the teams competing, and that was from Skate Canada where they made errors in the free skate. They have a very fiery, passionate short dance juxtaposed with an elegant, romantic free dance which I consider a winning combination for them at this event. Many thought Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani (USA) to be under-marked at Cup of China for how clean and technically proficient they were, but that, especially in ice dance, is how the cookie crumbles. Their scores in both phases were lower than those of the Canadians at their event. It is my opinion that they are being marked lower in the short dance because they are a sibling team and cannot explore the relationships that others have in this segment. Their free is where they can shine, though some judges may hold it against them that they're doing a piece in the realm of last season's free dance. Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) are one of the most passionate and intense teams on the scene these days and though I admire them for that, they tend to get messy and make major mistakes in high-pressure competitions. They should medal easily unless they make several big mistakes, but they'll need to go error-free to challenge for Gold. Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt (USA) are coming off of a win at Ice Challenge last weekend and they have great style, but their scores aren't at the level of the above mentioned teams, unless of course major errors are committed. Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam (CAN) are a favorite team of mine, though their programs haven't been well received this season, which judges demonstrated at Skate America by awarding lower program components scores. Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi (GER) started the season off well, medaling at two Senior B events, though their free dance needs a lot of work before they'll contend for major medals.

My Podium Predictions:
1) Weaver & Poje (CAN)
2) Shibutani & Shibutani (USA)
3) Ilinykh & Katsalapov (RUS)

Competitive History:

Lorena Alessandrini & Simone Vaturi (ITA)-2nd 2011 O Nepela, 16th 2011 Worlds, 6th 2011 Winter Universiade, 2nd 2010 Coup de Nice; PB: 115.32 at 2011 Europeans

Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov (RUS)-7th 2011 Worlds, 4th 2011 Europeans, 3rd 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 4th 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 154.50 at 2011 Worlds

Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt (USA)-1st at 2011 Ice Challenge, 6th 2010 Skate America, 6th 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy; 138.07 at 2011 Ice Challenge

Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam (CAN)-8th at2011 Skate America, 4th 2010 Skate Canada, 2nd 2010 World Juniors; PB: 138.16 at 2011 Skate Canada

Cathy Reed & Chris Reed (JPN)-4th 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 13th 2011 Worlds, 2nd Asian Winter Games, 7th 2010 Skate America, 7th 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 133.33 at 2011 Worlds

Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani (USA)-2nd 2011 Finlandia Trophy, 3rd 2011 Worlds, 2nd 2011 Four Continents, 3rd 2010 Skate America, 3rd 2010 NHK Trophy, 5th 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy; PB: 163.79 at 2011 Worlds

Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (CAN)-2nd at 2011 Skate Canada, 5th 2011 Worlds, 4th 2011 Four Continents, 4th 2010 Grand Prix Final, 4th 2010 Skate America, 2nd 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 160.32 at 2011 Worlds

Nelli Zhinganshina & Alexander Gazsi (GER)-4th at 2011 Skate America, 1st 2011 O Nepela, 2nd 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 11th 2011 Worlds, 7th 2011 Europeans, 1st 2011 Bavarian Open, 1st 2010 P Roman, 2nd 2010 NRW Trophy, 3rd 2010 O Nepala, 4th 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy, 6th 2010 Mont Blanc Trophy; PB: 140.95 at 2011 Worlds

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