Fantasy skating round three is underway as we get set for the third stop on the2010 Grand Prix tour, and once again I’ve hit the proverbial brick wall in an attempt to choose between my heart choice and my head choice. Only this time, I found those options overlapping, and instead of easing the dispute, it simply made it worse.
The first problem was choosing between Miki Ando, Akiko Suzuki, and my golden girl (not to show the slightest bias…), Mirai Nagasu.
After the end of last season, I would have chosen Mirai without a second thought. However, she’s been sidelined for much of the summer with injury, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how prepared (and healthy) she really is.
What I’m seen of Miki so far has looked much improved, and technically she has the potential to be great.
Then there’s Akiko. She’s just fabulous. She may not have the technical content of the top ladies, but if others falter, she could prevail.
So far this season, the ladies competitions have been my downfall in Fantasy Skating, so I figured, why not take a chance on my girl Mirai (who, to justify, should have the best PCS of the competition)?
The men’s competition could be as unpredictable as ever, also. Brian Joubert, Tomas Verner, and Takahiko Kozuka appear to be the front runners, but Joubert struggled last season and changed coaches for this year, Verner can be unpredictable, and Kozuka has the skills, but perhaps not the experience to put together two clean programs.
Throw in Samuel Contesti, Sergei Voronov, and Brandon Mroz and it’s anyone’s game. No one in the field is entirely consistent, so it will all come down to who lays it on the line when it counts.
The pairs event looks like a chance for some younger/less experienced teams to step up and make the podium. Here again I felt the tug of my emotional favorites yanking against the force of reality. Yet, once again, I found myself taking a chance. While the young Russian team of Lubov Iliushechkina/Nodari Maizuradze are fresh off a victory in Canada, it was far from perfect. They’re still young, and the pressure of repeating their results may be too much.
Meanwhile, Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig of the US are skating with something to prove of a different kind – that they really do belong on the international scene. Their breakout year last year ended happily with Olympic and World performances to be proud of. I expect to see them build on that success with new confidence this season.
As for the rest of the field, it’s so hard to predict what these young couples will bring to the ice. So we’ll have to see…
With the exception of Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat from France and Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy, the dance field is wide open as well. I fully expect these two to take the top two spots on the podium, but it will be fun to watch as the rest of the field lays their claim to bronze.
The season after the Olympics always brings a new wave of skaters to the forefront, and this year seems to be no exception. With several of the “stars” either out with injury or simply not competing this year, the Grand Prix events are a great chance to get to know some new young teams. It’s also a chance to get a glimpse of the future of skating, and I have to say, I’ve been impressed. It’s nice to have the familiarity of the top names, (and, of course, the event promoters prefer having some celebrity to work with!), but I’m quite enjoying the opportunity to once again be refreshed in the sport, and to be reminded the dedication of these athletes as they work to compete not only with other skaters, but with the ever-changing, growing demands of the sport we all love!
Looking forward to sleeping early, and rising even earlier to watch the events unfold from Beijing!
Oh yeah, my picks: