Grand Prix Final: Preview
24 skaters/couples from eight ISU members will compete in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final this week in Fukuoka, Japan.
Six skaters/couples in each category qualified in the six events of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series: Hilton HHonors Skate America, Skate Canada International, Lexus Cup of China, Rostelecom Cup in Russia, Trophée Eric Bompard in France and NHK Trophy in Japan.
World Champion Patrick Chan (CAN) is aiming for his fourth Grand Prix Final title. He leads the Grand Prix standings and set a new highest total score of 295.27 points at the event in France. Competition should come from Tatsuki Machida (JPN/seasons best 265.38 points) and Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN/seasons best 263.59 points). Chan and Machida qualified with two wins for the Final.
Nobunari Oda (JPN/seasons best 262.98 points) and newcomers Han Yan (CHN/seasons best 245.62 points) and Maxim Kovtun (RUS/seasons best 240.34 points) want to challenge for the podium as well.
Mao Asada (JPN) and Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS) lead the Ladies with two wins on the Grand Prix series each. Asada scored a seasons best of 207.59 points while Lipnitskaia earned a seasons best of 198.23 points. The challenge should come from Ashley Wagner (USA/seasons best 194.37) and the squad of three Russian Ladies Adelina Sotnikova (season’s best 189.81 points), Elena Radionova (191.81 points) and Anna Pogorilaya (184.69 points). All four Russian Ladies compete in their first Grand Prix Final. Lipnitskaia qualified last year, but withdrew due to injury.
Reigning World and Grand Prix Final Champions Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov (RUS) and current World silver medalists Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (GER) headline the Pairs standings. Both teams advanced with two gold medals from the circuit to the Final. The Russians posted a new highest total score of 237.71 points at Skate America while the Germans have a season’s best of 206.33 points.
Qing Pang/Jian Tong (CHN/season’s best 194.38 points) are coming with a gold and a silver medal from their events to Fukuoka. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) earned a season’s best of 208.45 points on their way to Fukuoka while reigning World bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) return with a seasons best of 190.89 to the event. The only newcomers to the Final are Cheng Peng/Hao Zhang (CHN/seasons best 187.19 points).
World Champions Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA/seasons best 188.23 points) will meet World silver medalists Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN/seasons best 181.03) for the first time this season. While these two teams are the only ones to qualify with two victories and are the top favorites, the battle for the bronze will be tough.
Reigning World bronze medalists Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS/seasons best 168.32 points), two-time European Champions Nathalie Pechalat/ Fabian Bourzat (FRA/seasons best 171.08), Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN/seasons best 175.73 points) and Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA/seasons best 168.49) all have a shot at the podium. All couples have competed in the Final before.