A few Grand Prix thoughts

So assignments came out Monday, and we’ve had time to digest retirements, non-retirements, and Jeremy Abbott apparently not retiring but skipping the Grand Prix anyway(if it gets him to Boston, we should be glad for it).  A few thoughts:

Of course the initial rosters and the final lineups for these events can often be very different, thanks to all the withdrawals that happen in the meantime, but it feels even more this year like multiple skaters on the roster won’t show up.  We can’t even be completely sure yet that Patrick Chan and Mao Asada will, and even if they do, there are multiple older skaters I suspect will either decide to retire or just get injured.  Perhaps the real intriguing entries are Kavaguti & Smirnov and Bobrova & Soloviev, who’ll be factors for gold at their events-if they show up, but who knows if they will.

Though even more eye-raising is the lack of Adelina Sotnikova.  Haven’t seen any announcements about exactly what she’s up to at this point, but that she’s not on this roster does not look promising for her continuing her career…

Then there are the skaters you are really happy to see make the circuit.  I’m especially happy about Laurence Fornier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorenson making it in(have there been Danish skaters on the circuit before?  I mean, ever?)  On the other hand, tough breaks for quite a few skaters who only got one assignment, especially Sinitsina & Katsalapov and Coomes & Buckland, who really should’ve gotten two, although at least they’re more likely than not to pick up a second.  Meanwhile, we’ve got poor Mirai, who’s been in this position before, and it took a while for her to get her second event that time.

Speaking of U.S. ladies, it seems the failure of the USFSA’s gamble on Liza T last year did not prevent them from attempting it again, apparently hoping Julia L doesn’t recover in time and Gracie has a clear path to gold at Skate America this year.  Although given how inconsistent she’s been lately, perhaps we shouldn’t rely on that anyway.  Poor Ashley has it much harder, going up against Liza T at her first event and Mao at her second, and at the latter especially that’s just for starters.

To sum up the 2014-2015 figure skating season

Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford storming the pairs field and winning everything in sight, with him coming out in the process.

Ashley Wagner owning it at Nationals and reestablishing herself after being written off *again*

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Trophé Eric Bompard Predictions

Considered just doing one prediction for each field, but in the end decided to try to predicted all the podiums:

Men: Tatsuki Machida, Denis Ten, Richard Dornbush.  Yeah, predicting some shock for this one, but at least Dornbush has medaled on the circuit already.  I suppose Yan may recovered quicker from what happened in China than I’m thinking, but I’ll believe that when I see it.

Ladies: Elena Radionova, Ashley Wagner, Julia Lipnitskaia.  I continue to be an optimistic as possible when it comes to Ashley, and the way Julia truly seems to be struggling with her life in general at the moment really does make this one plausible enough.  Though I also suspect poor Samantha Cesario will come in fourth again and her fans will be livid.

Pairs: Stolbova & Klimov, Sui & Han, James & Cipres.  Although I think there are at least three teams that could win bronze as easily as the other two, but of them James & Cipres have home ice advantage.

Ice Dance: Papadakis & Cizeron, Gilles & Poirier, Hubbell & Donohue.  Although I regret that I don’t think Paul & Islam are going to medal, but lately they’ve been below Gilles & Poirier again.  At least they got ahead of them for the right season.

Writing loose thoughts while watching NBC’s Recap

Beforehand, I’m definitely left wondering who ought to get the responsibility of stopping the athlete when someone really needs to stop them from going on the ice.  It was certainly super-irresponsible of Brian Orser to let Hanyu make the decision to skate, but maybe he wouldn’t have had there been rules in place to make that decision his responsibility, or perhaps the Japanese team officials would’ve had it been their responsibility.

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I suppose this sort of thing was inevitable

Given how big figure skating in Japan is these days, and there have already been animes & mangas telling stories about fictional skaters, sooner or later they’d take interest in the real ones.

"The comic book about me and my life will be published soon! It's getting very funny!"

“The comic book about me and my life will be published soon! It’s getting very funny!”

Hearing that there’s going to be a manga about Plushy makes me wonder what other skaters could use a manga of their lives. Indeed, I wonder if there have even been some done already word hasn’t reached the west about.  The Japanese skaters, obviously, would all be good subjects(Shizuka Arakawa especially; she’d look beautiful drawn manga style). Johnny Weir might be a good one, although the true bishonen from his era was always Jeffrey Buttle(or maybe Stephane Lambiel, who is also big in the country).  The Japanese being prejudiced against both the Koreans in general and Yu-Na in particular I suppose that would be too much to hope for, which is a pity.  Maybe Julia Lipnitskaia, but they might want to wait a few years; most of her story hasn’t happened yet, probably.  The Japanese seem to still generally be less interested in the couples disciplines where they still lack skaters, but Team Canton would make for great drama, and Marlie would look great.

I was never more prescient

11 out of 12 medalists right, and 8 out of 12 placements right, nailed two of the podiums.  Seriously, I am quite smug about this, even though I decided one of the ones I got right by literally flipping a coin.  Conclusions besides that:

Ice dance is going to be a free for all for at least a few months next season.  Maybe then Ilinykh & Katsalapov or Sinitsina & Katsalapov or some other team will establish dominance, but this result, combined with the possible impending split, is positive anarchy.  Not that I’m complaining.  I now seriously hope for Weaver & Pojé to win Worlds(or at least some big competition or other) before they are through.

Not sure if anyone should’ve actually won the bronze in her place, but Carolina was overscored here.  Sorry, but she was.  She just should not have broken 200.  Meanwhile, Lipnitskaia may be looking like the next big lady, but wait until she’s a little older to form any conclusions.  Gracie & Ashley both showed themselves still capable of great things next quadrennium(the one in the short and the other in the free) and her fellow Russians may be even more of a threat.

All together a competition of hope rather than success for the US, between no medals but lots of berths for next year.  In ice dance, it looks like it may fall to Chock & Bates to break through to the top, but they’ve still got work to do there.  Never really though Max Aaron was the man to break through anyway; we’ll have to wait to see what Joshua Farris can do and if Jason Brown can top his assets off with the quad.

And while I was typing all this, Lynn Rutherford just tweeted that Steuer has confirmed Savchenko is teaming up with Bruno Massot!!  I think I must now end this post to sit about in shock for a few minutes.  I’m not sure I ever *really* believed this idea about her going on without Szolkowy, and that is one random partner.  How far can she really get with him, and what country are they going to represent(can she really get French citizenship by 2018?)?  Are they really going to last through this next season that they’re going to have to sit out….

So who’s left for Worlds?

And now Florent Amodio has had it for the year, apparently without replacement, a very, very sad but very, very understandable decision, especially since if he went and failed to preserve the two spots, he’d have hell to pay which he doesn’t really need right now(France has probably lost them now, but nobody will blame Besseghier, hopefully).  Trying to handicap the fields still standing:

Men: This looks to be between Hanyu and Fernandez on paper, but they’re both capable of giving it away.  Even if they both make the podium, bronze is even wider open.  It could easily go to Kozuka, Machida, Yan, Kovtun, or even Abbott or Reynolds, but lately none of those except Machida has been at all consistent.  On paper I’d go with Hanyu, Fernandez, Machida, but really, I have no idea.  My crazy hope is that Jeremy wins bronze, of course, especially since I’m fairly certain Max can at least top ten.

Ladies: I’ve got the feeling Mao’s going to deliver at her final competition.  Also, Lipnitskaia’s going to be determined to get on the podium in this one, and if she skates clean, the only person likely to beat her in this field is Mao.  Bronze is more open, but after her Olympics, I’ll go with Carolina for Asada, Lipnitskaia, Kostner.  Though I wouldn’t be surprised if Gold sneaked past the last either.

Pairs: And on paper Savchenko & Szolkowy should win their epilogue, and I think they will too; they had to really blow it for Stolbova & Klimov to pass them in Sochi.  But the latter will get a lot of boosting from the judges with V & T not competing, which against this field they might not even need anyway.  For the bronze, I have flipped the coin between the two Canadian teams, and have predicted Duhamel & Radford to repeat(maybe they could even beat S & K in the short?  That would be nice for that program), for Savchenko & Szolkowy, Stolbova & Klimov, Duhamel & Radford.

Ice Dance: This is probably I & K’s to lose, but I’ve got the feeling they might actually lose it; P & B are breathing down their necks, and are they really ready to handle the pressure of the first Worlds where they expected to win, when they’ve never even been the favorites for the podium before?  In fact, looking at the rest of the field, I think they could slip down to bronze or even off the podium completely.  But after everyone’s performance at the Olympics, I’m going to go with my heart and say that while I & K hold on to the bronze(perhaps narrowly over Cappellini & Lanotte, and much to the anger of their fans) they are beaten to the silver by Weaver & Pojé, who can also benefit by finally being the top Canadians and possibly the judges feeling guilty, so a podium of Pechalat & Bourzat, Weaver & Pojé, Ilinykh & Katsalapov.