Okay...so NHK Trophy starts in less than 12 hours (how many of you will be snuggled up to your computer at 1:30 am on Ice Network?) so I need to get the previewing done. NHK, is of course, the last of the Grand Prix Events, then it's on to Korea for the Final.
The heavy favorite to win amongst the women would definitely have to be Mao Asada. However, her recent meltdown in Paris makes me think her Japanese teammate, Yukari Nakano may have a fair shot at the title. Either way, if these two ladies are "on" they will dominate the leaderboard. A pair of American ladies look to try to make the podium. Ashley Wagner will attempt to better her 4th place Cup of China finish, while Nagasu will attempt to do the same after her 5th place Skate America finish. I'd also keep an eye on Laura Lepisto...the judges seem to like her skating despite her lack of difficult technical skill.
The Ice Dance competition is a bit weakened since Virtue and Moir have withdrawn from the Grand Prix season. This is a prime opportunity for Italians Faiella and Scali to earn their first Grand Prix gold. They'll be chased by Pechalat and Bourzat of France and Samuelson and Bates of the United States. Look for these three teams to compose the podium.
The mens event also features a big withdrawl. Without Takahashi in the field, Nobunari Oda becomes the big Japanese star in the event. He'll be challenged by a couple of Americans, Weir and Carriere, who both are looking for tickets to Korea. Nobunari will, no doubt, have to deal with the relentless Japanese press at the event, that may be a distraction as well. Kevin Reynolds of Canada and Adrian Schultheiss of Sweden will also look to skate well.
The pairs competition will feature veteran Chinese team of Pang and Tong who will attempt to skate better than they did in China. They will be challenged by Dube and Davison of Canada, who skated well at their last event. Americans Inoue and Baldwin will look to improve upon a poor skate in Everett.
My Medal Call
GOLD - Asada
SILVER - Nakano
BRONZE - Nagasu
GOLD - Faiella and Scali
SILVER - Samuelson and Bates (going on a limb here!)
BRONZE - Pechalat and Bourzat
GOLD - Weir
SILVER - Oda
BRONZE - Reynolds (I may be way off here...but I'm thinking about Skate America)
GOLD - Pang and Tong
SILVER - Dube and Davison
BRONZE - Inoue and Baldwin