So part two in our Grand Prix Soap Opera unfolds this weekend in Kingston, Canada. In my estimation, this is one of the more watered down fields but should be exciting none-the-less.
The Pairs field is by far the weakest in the event with no Olympic or World Medalist in sight. The strongest team in the field is the 2009 World Junior Champions Iliushechkina and Maisuradze of Russia, but i think this is completely open for almost any team in the event to nab a medal here. Past that team it's a quite a hodge podge of competitors. Two American teams have had some competitive success in the past but never at a Senior Grand Prix events. The British team have knocked on the door before but never walked through. The three Canadian teams have never medaled at a Grand Prix event however Dylan Moscovitch and partner Kirsten Moore-Towers skated well at this event last season and Megan Duhamel has medaled on the Grand Prix with former partner Craig Buntin. A young Chinese team rounds out the mix. Your guess is as good as mine as to how this will shake out! Medal Predictions: (GOLD) Iliushechkina and Maisuradze, (SILVER) Dong and Wu, (BRONZE) Simpson and Miller
The women's field is interesting as there are some veterans in the field mixed in with some of the young up and comers...a clash of experience vs youthfulness if you will. For the veterans you have Japan's Fumie Suguri and Switzerland's Sarah Meier. For the youngn's you have Agnes Zawadzki of the U.S., Haruka Imai of Japan, and Russia's Ksenia Makarova. The story may be told, however, by the skaters in between such as Cynthia Phaneuf and Alissa Czisny. It's such a weird field to attempt to predict outcomes with. Alissa has a tendency to skate well at this event so I suspect she will do well here but the experience a competitor such as Suguri brings to the table can't be overlooked...but is she "over-the-hill" so to speak. In the end I have to look at results when I make my predictions so I'm going to go with perhaps an unorthodox approach here. Medal Predictions: (GOLD) Agnes Zawadzki, (SILVER) Fumie Suguri, (BRONZE) Alissa Czisny
The Dance field took a blow when Virtue and Moir had to withdraw due to Tessa's surgery. That does allow the opportunity for Crone and Poirier of Canada to set themselves apart. In order to win they'll have to get past the Kerr's of Great Britain and that won't be easy. The British duo are consistent crowd favorites but lost a little cred with the judges last season so the door is open for the Canadians. The bronze battle will likely come down to 2009 Junior World Champs Chock and Zuerlein of the U.S. and 2010 Junior World Silver Medalists Paul and Islam of Canada. Medal Predictions: (GOLD) Kerr and Kerr, (SILVER) Crone and Poirier, (BRONZE) Chock and Zuerlein
The mens field is definitely where there are the most fireworks. World Silver Medalist Patrick Chan leads an impressive group of men including Japan's Nobunari Oda, Adam Rippon of the U.S., Spain's Javier Fernandez (a name you may not have heard but a impressive skater you'll hear more of this season!), and France's Alban Preaubert. I'm thinking Nobunari will have put his World Championship disaster behind him (he failed to make the free skate) and skate well on the Grand Prix as he did last season. Chan enters this event healthy unlike last season adding to the dynamic of the competition. Some outside shots at the podium may come from the always entertaining Kristoffer Berntsson of Sweden and Canada's jumping machine Kevin Reynolds. In the end, I think this one will be told by who can land jumps with solid components...I think that makes this a three man race for the Gold. Medal Predictions: (GOLD) Nobunari Oda, (SILVER) Patrick Chan, (BRONZE) Adam Rippon
I will not be live tweeting during the majority of the competition this weekend. I will post my flash comments as I watch the events on demand and of course will keep up with twitter when I can. Plenty of people will be tweeting though! Follow in particular @FSOnline, @Xanboni, and @JoyousJulie