With Skate America in the bags, it's time for our friends up north to strut their stuff as competition gets underway tomorrow in Ottawa, Ontario at Skate Canada.
The pairs event looks very good in Ottawa. Nice matchup between Dube and Davison, last seasons bright up and comers, and the dynamic Russians Kawaguchi and Smirnov. In Quebec City last season, these two teams won the silver and bronze, respectively, and look to reach the top of the podium this season. Standing in their way is the breakout American team of McLaughlin and Brubaker fresh off of great skates at Skate America where they won the silver. Two other American teams to keep an eye on as well including Vise and Trent and Evora and Ladwig. Both teams have been known to do well in the past, look for the throw quad salchow from Vise and Trent (which they did successfully at last years Eric Bompard Trophy). Sadly, reigning Canadian National Champs Langlois and Hay had to withdraw from the event due to injury.
The ladies event has some big names competiting. The field includes the reigning World Silver medalist, Carolina Kostner of Italy who has to be figured as the favorite here. Chasing her (and with a good shot at defeating her) are a string of very talented ladies. Canadian National Champ Joannie Rochette is in the field looking to get her season started well. As we learned from Skate America, never count out the Japanese! Fumie Suguri, the veteran of the field, and Nana Takeda, the newest star on the Japanese scene, will look to claim the title for themselves. In my opinion, it's now or never for Suguri. She needs to prove that she's still a contender or retire, it's getting really deep in Japan. The U.S. has three entries of its own that could spoil the top of the podium. Beatrisa Liang, Alissa Czisny, and Caroline Zhang all get their Grand Prix underway in Canada. Key for the U.S. ladies will be full rotation of those jumps, all three U.S. entries have had trouble in the past completing the rotations, and the judges are being very picky about that (poor poor Evan!).
The dance event had potential to be stellar here with a big Canadian showdown, but with the retirement (and marriage!) of Dubreuil and Lauzon and the injury of Virtue and Moir, it's weakened quite a bit. Nonetheless, it has become a great opporotunity for the # 2 Ice Dance team in the U.S., Davis and White, to shine and steal the spotlight! Their chief competition will come from the French team of Pechalat and Bourzat. French team beat Davis and White at last seaons Skate America in Reading, PA but the Americans were able to get past them at the World Championships in Sweden. Navarro and Bommentre, also of the U.S., have a great shot at their first Grand Prix medal in Ottawa. Their competition for the podium may well come from fellow Americans Wester and Barantsev who were right behind them at last seasons Four Continents Cup. I might be completely wrong and the other two American teams might be battling the 2007 Junior World Champions, Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev, for the spots on the podium...I don't know exactly how to place them in the field. Sadly, it would appear no Canadians are in medal contention in Dance...how very sad.
The men's event also took a big hit with the retirements of both Buttle and Lambiel who were scheduled to compete in Ottawa. Nontheless, it will still be a great event. First we'll have to see if Evan can get those jumps fully rotated, straight from Everett to Ottawa he hasn't had time to really go back and fix some of the issues he experienced in Everett so he'll have to work on the fly. Canada's best hope comes in National Champ Patrick Chan. Patrick made a splash last season and if Skate America is any indication, he totally has it in him to beat Lysacek (similar quality that Kozuka has). Russia has a serious contender in Sergei Voronov. 4th at last seasons European Championships (actually beating Joubert in the free), he has become very consistent on his quad and is well liked by international judges. My new motto this season, never count out the Japanese, Yasuharu Nanri is in the field and could be a factor. Brandon Mroz of the U.S. will compete in his first event as a Senior and looks to impress while Ryan Bradley gets his Grand Prix season underway.
I had put my predictions up earlier in the season but I'm gonna adjust them a little due to the changes in line-up.
GOLD-Dube and Davison
SILVER-Kawaguchi and Smirnov
BRONZE-McLaughlin and Brubaker
GOLD-Davis and White
SILVER-Pechalat and Bourzat
BRONZE-Bobrova and Soloviev (last minute change!)
Last season I had the great fortune of attending Skate Canada but this year look to Lake Placid Skater for some live event reporting!