Monday, November 7, 2011

2011 NHK Trophy: Men's Preview

This is always a great event, simply because Japan has great men's talent, never mind the rest of the field. The men's competition is the headlining event in Japan, which is unfortunately the middle of the night here in the US. We'll see the short program Saturday November 12th at 2:30 a.m. EST and the free skate at 10:55 p.m. EST the same day.
Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) is the reigning champion in this event and has quite a good chance of repeating. Both of his programs are stylish and innovative, specifically his bluesy free skate. His TES & PCS in both programs from Skate Canada this year outscore those of his biggest competitor Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) from Skate America. Neither man put together two clean programs in his first Grand Prix, but Takahashi's programs seem to have more potential, especially in program components. Brandon Mroz (USA) can be a podium threat if he lands his now famous Quad Lutz cleanly. He is a strong jumper and needs to pull really high GOE marks to make up for the higher PCS marks some of the other competitors will pull in. His personal best score came last season in his first Grand Prix, so he has a good shot at debuting strong again this season. Tomas Verner (CZE) was all over the place last season, from exquisitely entertaining to downright sloppy.  If we get "Good Tomas" he is almost guaranteed the podium, but if not, he could finished near the bottom. Ross Miner (USA) is a fighter and after finishing 9/10 in the short program at Skate Canada, he came back with a strong 5th in the free skate. He has a lovely long program this season and though he does not have a Quad, he almost always receives positive GOEs on his triples as well as level 4 spins. Tatsuki Machida (JPN), Konstantin Menshov (RUS), Armin Mahbanoozadeh (USA), Samuel Contesti (ITA) were all up and down last season and each has podium potential if they can skate both programs to the best of their ability and hope for mistakes from the top contenders. We'll call this "pulling a Van Der Perren" in reference to his surprise silver at Skate America this season.

My Podium Predictions:
1) Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
2) Takahiko Kozuka (JPN)
3) Brandon Mroz (USA)

Competitive History: 

Samuel Contesti (ITA)-3rd 2011 O Nepela, 18th 2011 Worlds, 6th 2011 Europeans, 1st 2011 Mont Blanc Trophy, 4th 2010 NRW Trophy, 4th 2010 Cup of Russia, 4th 2010 Cup of China, 3rd 2010 Finlandia Trophy; PB: 226.97 at 2009 Worlds

Takahiko Kozuka (JPN)-3rd at 2011 Skate America, 2nd 2011 Worlds, 4th 2011 Four Continents, 3rd 2010 Grand Prix Final, 1st 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 1st 2010 Cup of China; PB: 258.41 at 2011 Worlds

Tatsuki Machida (JPN)-1st 2011 Triglav Trophy, 4th 2011 Asian Winter Games, 11th 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 5th 2010 Cup of China, 1st 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy; PB: 217.48 at 2010 Four Continents

Armin Mahbanoozadeh (USA)-10th at 2011 Skate America, 7th 2011 Four Continents, 3rd 2010 Skate America, 4th Nebelhorn Trophy; 211.17 at 2010 Skate America

Konstantin Menshov (RUS)-7th 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 7th 2011 Europeans, 10th 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 2nd 2010 Coup de Nice, 6th 2010 Finlandia Trophy, 2nd 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy; PB: 202.62 at 2011 Europeans

Ross Miner (USA)-6th at 2011 Skate Canada, 11th at 2011 Worlds, 7th at 2010 Cup of China, 9th at 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 217.93 at 2011 Worlds

Brandon Mroz (USA)-3rd 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 2nd 2010 Cup of China; PB: 216.80 at 2010 Cup of China

Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)-3rd at 2011 Skate Canada, 5th at 2011 Worlds, 1st at 2011 Four Continents, 4th at 2010 Grand Prix Final, 1st at 2010 Skate America, 1st at 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 264.41 at 2008 Four Continents

Tomas Verner (CZE)-12th 2011 Worlds, 3rd 2011 Europeans, 5th 2010 Grand Prix Final,
1st 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 3rd 2010 Cup of China; PB: 232.67 at 2008 Europeans


  1. Agree 100% we are synched up on this.

  2. I agree with top 2, but think Verner will be 3rd, simply because Mroz doesn't have the PCS if he doesn't land the jumps; however, if Mroz lands those quads...then yep, bronze for him - for sure!