So next week (Wednesday to be exact) the 2009 Four Continents Cup begins in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
I'm beyond excited...why? For the first time I get to attend this event (I arrive Wednesday and am there for the entire event)! Also, it's the Olympic Test Event (I couldn't score 2010 Tickets so it's the next best thing). And, this event is bringing crazy talent...it's like a mini Worlds (I suspect competitors want to get a feel for the Olympic venue and ice).
So usually the competitors at this event are slightly watered down, but it appears this year this will be a jam-packed! No news of any withdrawals or substitutions yet...fingers crossed!
Solid Pair's field that will include our reigning National Champs McLaughlin and Brubaker. This will be their first big senior international as Keauna was too young last season. The event will also feature Denney and Barrett who almost upset McLaughlin and Brubaker in Cleveland. Also competing for the U.S. will be Inoue and Baldwin. China is sending an extremely strong team including Pang and Tong and Zhang and Zhang. Both teams have won this event in the past, recently went 1-2 at the Grand Prix Final, and have to be considered the favorites in Vancouver. The crowd in Vancouver will have to strong teams to cheer for. Canadian Champs Dube and Davison look to keep the momentum going from their win in Saskatoon and Duhamel and Buntin look to continue their solid season. Both teams are capable of doing very well here.
The Men's event looks to be sensational! First, Patrick Chan looks to wow them at home. He's coming off a nice win at Canadian Nationals and hopes to erase the bad memories of the Grand Prix Final. Team USA looks extremely strong as well. Jeremy Abbott, who has been a roll lately, will look to continue to dominate the leader board. Brandon Mroz looks to recreate his success in Cleveland and get some more experience before L.A. Evan Lysacek will hope to do better than his bronze medal from Nationals and last years Four Continents Cup, he has an opportunity to put himself back into the spotlight internationally after a somewhat dull fall. As if that wasn't enough, Japan also has an amazing team with Takahiko Kozuka, who has also been superb this season, and Nobunari Oda who recently won the Japanese National Title. Talk about a competition!
The Dance event will be a duel between the U.S. and Canada (nothing wrong with a little friendly border rivalry!). Virtue and Moir will make their international season debut here, attempting to assess where they are in the judges eyes. They will face stiff competition from newly crowned U.S. Champs Davis and White who are in the midst of a 'dream season' and look very strong. Given the mileage Davis and White have on their programs compared to Virtue and Moir, it may be extremely close between the two. I expect the battle for the bronze to come down between Samuelson and Bates of the United States and Crone and Poirier of Canada. Both teams have had similar results internationally this season. Navarro and Bommentre of the U.S. will try to make up some of the ground lost to Samuelson and Bates in Cleveland.
The ladies event looks to be a preview of the World Championships. First from Japan, Mao Asada, Fumie Suguri, and Akiko Suzuki are quite capable of sweeping the podium. Asada and Suzuki were apart of the Japanese sweep of the NHK podium and Suguri is skating as well as she has in years. Also, both Suguri and Asada have past experience with this event; both have netted victories here. Let's not also forget that this season Asada has made Triple Axels look easy! Suzuki is attempting to make the case that she deserves a spot on the Japanese World Team. How deep is skating in Japan...Ando and Nakano aren't even competing! But there are many that stand in their way, for instance, Yu-Na Kim! Yu-Na trains in Canada and might have a slight advantage from the shorter travel distance (and having one of Canada's favorite sons as a coach...shout out to Brian Orser!). She also, arguably, can bring in the highest point total in the event. Even with technical errors at the Grand Prix Final she was able to go toe-to-toe with Asada. The U.S. will put its best foot forward with our new National medalists. Caroline Zhang will hope to continue to be consistent with her jumps and increase her speed in her skating. Flatt, who hasn't had a problem with consistency, will look to break into the top bracket of elite skaters at a big international event. Alissa Czisny will look to prove that her National title was deserved and that she can hang with the 'big girls.' And finally, I know the crowd will go nuts for Joannie Rochette, who just gave the performance of her life at Canadian Nationals and has looked fantastic this season. This event could be the perfect springboard to L.A. for her.
The schedule for this event is very relaxed so I'll have plenty of time to post reactions and pictures once I get settled in Vancouver. I will post predictions too but I'm gonna wait until Tuesday to make sure I have the most up-to-date athlete list. Stay tuned!