So it's that time of the week when we figure skater bloggers all start blabbing about and predicting results for the next Grand Prix Event. This time it's Cup of Russia taking place in Moscow. And like another one of my fellow bloggers, I will not base my predictions on hair-do's.
The deepest field is the men. If you had asked me before the Grand Prix started who was going to win this one, I would have told you easily Joubert. Now I'm not so sure given the results we've seen this season but I think he still has to be the favorite. Joubert always finds a way to skate great (that rhymed!) in Russia so plus I'm sure he's not happy about what went down in Paris...I give him the edge. Challenging him will be several men, chief among them, American Jeremy Abbott who tango'd his way to victory in China. His component scores are great this season and if he hit's the jump, he could easily upset Joubert. Kevin Van Der Perren makes his return to competition after sitting out of Skate America (never found out why he withdrew?) and could challenege as well. Tomas Verner is in the field but limped his way to Bronze in China. He'll have to improve to challenge. Alban Preaubert who was amazing in France, beating Joubert for the second time this season, is also among the competition. He appears to be having an "up" year so he's one to watch. Finally, Russian Sergei Voronov will look to steal the show in his own back yard. This will be a good one to watch for sure...there are even people I didn't mention who might be in the mix as well!
The ladies event features yet another trio of American ladies (Why is it that the U.S. got so many ladies entries for the Grand Prix). Meissner will attempt to rebound, again, after performing poorly at Skate America. Alissa Czisny will attempt to sizzle once more after a great program that earned her a bronze medal at Skate Canada. Rachael Flatt will attempt to get some respect from the judges and hit the podium. Challenging the Americans will be Fumie Suguri, who had a bit of a resurgence at Skate Canada, winning the silver and looking like a contender once more. Julia Sebestyen is amongst the competitors, but sometimes she's not much of a competitor. Carolina Kostner will look to rebound from her slight meltdown in Canada and actually make the podium this time.
The top three teams here are pretty established and should have no problems medaling. The Chinese, Zhang and Zhang, look to impress again after a solid victory at Cup of China. Russians Kawaguchi and Smirnov look to take the spoils in their own back yard. Volosozhar and Morozov look to improve upon their silver in China. These three teams, barring craziness, will be the podium, but who knows the order?
In Ice Dance, the Russians are looking for a one-two punch. Clear favorites are Domnina and Shabalin who squeaked by Americans Belbin and Agosto in China. It's a little tighter for silver and bronze with Russians Khoklova and Novitski and Americans Davis and White looking evenly matched. Cappellini and Lanotte of Italy might surprise, but they would have to squeeze every piece of 'Love Story' mojo out of the program, a tall order indeed.
My Medal Call (I'm not sticking with the original predictions!)
GOLD - Joubert
SILVER - Abbott (Fingers crossed!)
BRONZE - Verner
GOLD - Flatt (Would love to see Meissner)
SILVER - Suguri (Would love to see Flatt)
BRONZE - Kostner (Would love to see Czisny)
GOLD - Zhang and Zhang
SILVER - Kawaguchi and Smirnov
BRONZE - Voloshozhar and Morozov
GOLD - Domnina and Shabalin
SILVER - Khoklova and Novitski (one mistake and their toast!)
BRONZE - Davis and White (Capable of the silver!)