Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Number Crunch!

One of the most exciting aspects of the final event in the Grand Prix series is the race to the Grand Prix Final. At this point many have already sewn up births while others are desprately trying to get in. Here's the breakdown:

The Men
Three men have already qualified for the Grand Prix Final: Nobunari Oda, Evan Lysacek, and Brian Joubert. Johnny Weir looks very solid to make the final. The only way he doesn't make it is if the stars misalign and the crazy off chance he would loose a two (or three)way tie breaker...it ain't gonna happen so I say he's as good as in. Weir was totally helped by three things: Plushenko only did one event, Chan is only doing one event, and the Japanese meltdown at NHK. So basically two spots are up for grabs and five guys have a shot yet...it's unlikely that Kozuka or Verner could hang on to those spots. For Kevin Van der Perren and Jeremy Abbott, a win and a win only will get them to the final. Daisuke Takahashi and Samuel Contesti can qualify with a win...they can qualify with silve rmedals too, bronze medals only work if certain skaters are ahead of you (i.e. skaters that can't make the final!). Finally, Michal Brezina has the easiest route...a medal of any color will guarauntee him a spot, anything less and he needs help from other skaters. While Patrick Chan cannot make the final, his placement will be a huge determining factor on who does and does not make it.

The Pairs
Like the men, three teams have qualified for the final: Shen and Zhao, Pang and Tong, and Kavaguti and Smirnov. The remaining three spots are up for grabs. Currently Zhang and Zhang sit on the bubble with Volosozhar and Morozov and McLaughlin and Brubaker rounding out the top six. Hard to see the bottom two teams staying there. Four teams competing at Skate Canada have an opportunity to make the final. Denney and Barrett could make it with a win. A silver would only work if all the top teams competing in the event finished behind them. Savchenko and Szolkowy can clinch a spot in the final with a gold, a silver medal puts them into a tie breaking situation and they have to hope that their combined scores hold up. If they only get a bronze, everyone eligible for the Grand Prix Final would have to finish behind them in order for them to qualify. Third team with a shot is Dube and Davison who would qualify with a gold or silver. Bronze puts them into that tie breaker (no team wants to be there). Fourth means they need help from the other teams. The team with the easiest path is Mukhortova and Trankov. Any medal gets them to the final and even fourth place gives them a shot if they win a tiebreaker.

Isn't this fun...I love crunching these numbers!

The Ladies
Three women have locked spots in Tokyo: Kim Yu-Na, Miki Ando, and Alena Leonova. Unlike the other disciplines I've looked at so far, the skaters currently sitting 4th and 5th in the standings are as much in this as those competing. Both Ashley Wagner and Rachael Flatt will keep a close eye on Skate Canada even though they aren't competing. Would take a miracle for Mao Asada to qualify, she's currently 6th in the standings. Six women competing at Skate Canada have a chance to make the final. Laura Lepisto and Mirai Nagasu would need a gold medal coupled with some disastrous performances from some of the skaters with more points than them. While they mathematically have a chance, seems unlikely they'd get that much help. Alissa Czisny and Caroline Zhang are in a similar situation. Realistically they need gold medals and then need Suzuki to struggle. Silvers put them in that dreaded tie breaker and even then don't guarantee them a spot even if they win the tiebreaker depending on how others skate. Bronze medals just will not cut it. Joannie Rochette has more wiggle room than she probably anticipated after Cup of China. Gold gets it done. Silver gets it done unless Czisny or Zhang win, then she would need a little help from Suzuki and win a tie breaker (this all seems a bit unlikely as well). Another bronze medal would be scary and put her right on the bubble, she'd need for certain skaters to be behind her and she'd qualify 6th. If I was Joannie Rochette, I'd avoid 3rd place. It's simple for Akiko Suzuki...finish in the top four. Her win in China trumps the tie breaker in that case. Even in 5th she could squeak through but then it isn't guaraunteed.

Ice Dance
In Ice Dance three teams have locked spots for the Grand Prix Final: Davis and White, Belbin and Agosto, and Cappellini and Lanotte. For Kerr and Kerr, it's like Johnny Weir, crazy crazy things would need to happen for them not to qualify so I say they are in too. That leaves only two spots available (all of this made less complicated with the withdrawal of Faiella and Scali). I have a hard time envisioning a scenario where either Khoklova and Novitski (who botched their chances with a 4th place finish in Lake Placid) and Crone and Poirier qualify or the remaining two spots don't go to Virtue and Moir (who currently have 15 points) and Pechalat and Bourzat (who have 13). The only other teams even with a mathematical shot are Bobrova and Soloviev and Samuelson and Bates who would basically have to win (which would be crazy!) in order to make it. If they even managed to get a silver (slim possibility for Samuelson and Bates) then it would take one of those celestial alignments for it to work out. Basically, what I'm saying here is, this one is in the bag with Virtue and Moir and Pechalat and Bourzat getting in.

So who do you think will make the final when the dust settles? Also, the Junior Grand Prix will take place at the same time and the list of competitors for that event has been chosen already.


jumping clapping man said...

johnny's involvement in the GP final could be his deal breaker, as far as whether he can be competitive and consistent enough at nationals...so, i really hope he's there. although not being there would allow him to "save up" more energy for the end of the season, i think it would also lower his competitive profile and pull him further out of the running for the top 3 at nationals. GO JOHNNY!

Anonymous said...

This is a make or break season for Johnny. I cannot see him sticking around for another 4 years. Skaters like Plushy or Chan are a lock for the Olympic but if Johnny screw up at the Nationals, he's toast unless he wins Grand Prix final. Call it an insurance chip. I don't see him beating a clean Oda or Evan at the Grand Prix final though if all three skates clean. He needs to up the difficulty of his triple combos and footwork.