We had the most wonderful snow storm this past weekend. And yes, I think snow is wonderful. In December, at least. My back yard was like a wonderland…and I was like a kid in a candy store when it started snowing. Moving from a real live “winter wonderland” into a land of cold-but-dry midwest winters is rough, especially when winter means skating season in its peak!
We’re in for another big storm this weekend, but the biggest storm is headed for Beijing, as the top 6 skaters/teams in each discipline take to the ice to prove their “regular season” successes were more than just luck. The competition will be tougher than it has been all season, so these athletes know they better be prepared.
Here’s how things break down.
Men: World Champ Daisuke Takahashi seems the likely choice for “favorite.” However, he hasn’t had the most spectacular of Grand Prix seasons. He has just the 4th highest season best of the Final competitors – 234.79 (Kozuka – 248.07, Chan – 239.52, Oda – 236.52), and he’s looked a bit off more than once so far. With his countrymen hot on his heels and Chan anxious to skate two programs worthy of his monumental scores, Dai better up his game. Don’t forget the impending “Battle of the MJs” between Amodio and Verner. Florent got his in first this season, and the impression was created with raving reactions from the audience (albeit not-quite-so-raving reviews from skating fans who saw too much standing and not enough skating). However, Verner’s attempt paled in comparison. Tomas still had a very solid GP season, and his short program is simply divine. But that long…well, I just hope he doesn’t have to skate right after Amodio this weekend.
Ladies: Miki Ando has the best score this season – 174.47 – over fellow Japanese skater Akiko Suzuki (172.74) and Alissa Czisny (172.37). Carolina Kostner and Kanako Murakami have the same season best score of 164.93. Yet again, the only constant for this event is that no one has had a spectacular season. In fact, despite some wonderful moments (Alissa’s gold at Skate Canada, Ando’s jump clinic at Cup of China, Murakami’s delightful short program), the ladies season has been a bit of a mess. Very few clean programs, and many cases of “she who falls the least wins.” There are some unlikely names on this Final list for that very reason! There’s just truly no way of guessing what will happen here.
Pairs: Savchenko and Szolkowy have the edge in season best score over Pang and Tong, 197.88 to 189.37. The other four couples are competing in the Final for the first time. Don’t forget the kids from China, though. Sui and Han made a big splash on the senior circuit, proving they can hang with the big kids. They are passing on the Junior Grand Prix final to compete at the senior level, so no doubt they’ll be eying a spot on that podium…Moore-Towers/Moscovitch and Bazarova/Larionov better watch their backs!
Ice dance: Davis and White looked to be the runaway favorites all season long, and they are certainly still highly favored here. But their season best is only 3.39 higher than that of the French team of Pechalat and Bourzat (165.21, 161.82 respectively.) The French team has gained ground, and they may have the best free dance of the season. I’m looking forward to seeing Meryl and Charlie skate their free dance to it’s full potential, and they will likely have an edge in the short dance. But they won’t be able to take this one without a fight, that’s for sure. Beyond that, however, it would appear to be a battle for bronze between several teams that have looked good at times this year, but don’t quite have the fire power to play with Davis and White just yet. Still, it should be a very competitive event, as usual!
My Fantasy picks have been made, and as always, a vlog with those picks is coming soon.
What are your thoughts heading into this weekend? These should be the best 6 competitors in their disciplines…do you agree? Who are you most surprised to see in Beijing? Who do you think will make the biggest splash? Let me know!
Next week I hope to look a little closer at the not-so-new-but-reemerging Code of Points debate. Hopefully this weekend will paint a clear picture of how the system is really working…and we’ll go from there.
My Twitter presence this weekend may be limited due to a heavy work schedule (hate it when “real work” gets in the way of my skating work!) but we shall see. I will certainly be letting you know how much live play-by-play I’ll be available for, so check twitter.com/FromTheBoards for all the info!