At the end of the week, the figure skating world has two events on the agenda: the Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka and a smaller competition in Zagreb, Golden Spin, where Yuna Kim debuts her programs. With an eye on Yuna and the other one on the top skaters in Fukuoka I’ll say just that: what a weekend this will be!
by Florentina Tone
Yuna left for Zagreb on December 3, at noon, and an impressive group of journalists watched her leaving. And when you see that large smile on her face, during the brief interview she gave at the airport, before embarking to Zagreb, you know that Golden Spin will be a piece of cake for Yuna. She’ll definitely win the event – no questions about that. Emotions are coming from the fact that Zagreb will host the premiere of both her programs. On their facebook accounts and especially on the “All that Yuna” account, fans of the Korean skater counted the days till the beginning of Golden Spin and created wonderful photo-collages to accompany Yuna’s first international competition: „D-04!!!! Countdown to Golden Spin of Zagreb where Yuna debut new SP ‘Send in the Clowns’ and LP ‘Adios Nonino’”.
According to Yonhap News Agency, on her departure to Zagreb, Yuna said her goal was to skate clean: “I started my season later than others, and I’ve worked much harder to make up for the time. The biggest goal is to skate clean programs and leave a good impression, and also give myself good memories. It’s not as big of an event as a Grand Prix stop, and I hope to stay relaxed on the ice”. Having already won the gold medal in Vancouver, the Korean skater says she doesn’t feel any pressure when it comes to the Olympics in Sochi next year: “I’ve already achieved my dream of winning an Olympic gold medal, and I feel absolutely no pressure to win. I think I should be able to skate more relaxed than in the past. But I don’t want to look ahead to the Olympics just yet. I want to skate well in my first event of the season”.
Yuna Kim will enter the competition on Friday (6th of December), with the short program, and her fiercest opponent will be Miki Ando, from Japan. The free skate is scheduled on Saturday, 7th of December. For a few days, her presence in Zagreb will likely be the most important event in the capital of Croatia – and let me tell you, the small airport outside Zagreb will prove itself scanty for the fans of Yuna accompanying her at Golden Spin.
The rest of the elite skaters will be in Fukuoka, Japan, for the ISU Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating. Those six athletes/couples in every event will fight tooth and nail for international acknowledgment, in an attempt to position themselves as higher it can be, approaching the Olympic Games in Sochi, in February next year.
The Grand Prix Final is, indeed, the moment of truth, the moment we’re all been waiting for since the beginning of the Olympic season: Meryl Davis and Charlie White will meet their rivals in the ice dancing event, the Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir; and so is the case with Tatiana Volosozhar&Maxim Trankov and Aliona Savchenko&Robin Szolkowy in the pairs event (to name the fiercest duels in Marine Messe arena in Fukuoka).
According to the scores received all along the season, the Americans Davis and White are the favorites when encountering the Canadians (188.23 points vs. 181.03 points). Of course, this will be the best moment for Virtue and Moir to try to fill the gap, with only two months left till the Olympics. The battle for the bronze medal in Fukuoka will be tough, involving all the four couples left – Weaver&Poje, Péchalat&Bourzat, Cappellini&Lanotte, Bobrova&Soloviev. To give you an idea, the third score of the season – 175.23 points – belongs to the Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.
Before going further, let’s take a look at the best scores of the season, at the end of all six Grand Prix Events:
ICE DANCE – best scores of the season
1. Meryl Davis and Charlie White: 188.23 points (Skate America)
2. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir: 181.03 points (Skate Canada)
3. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje: 175.23 points (Skate Canada)
4. Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov: 171.89 points (Trophée Eric Bompard)
5. Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat: 171.08 (Trophée Eric Bompard)
6. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte: 168.49 points (Skate America)
ICE DANCE – the actual competitors at GPF in Fukuoka
1. Meryl Davis and Charlie White
2. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
3. Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev
4. Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat
5. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje
6. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte
In the pairs event, as mentioned above, the fight for the gold will involve the Russians Volosozhar&Trankov and the Germans Savchenko&Szolkowy – though, at this point, the Russians seem almost unreachable, with more than 30 points advance. The Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch will join the battle for the podium, though I wouldn’t leave out any of the pairs in Fukuoka. To get a feeling of the pairs encounter in advance, I’ll give you the best scores of the season:
PAIRS – best scores of the season
1. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov: 237.71 points (Skate America)
2. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch: 208.45 points (Skate America)
3. Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy: 206.33 points (Rostelecom Cup)
4. Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov: 201.61 points (Rostelecom Cup)
5. Qing Pang and Jian Tong: 194.38 points (Cup of China)
6. Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek: 193.92 points (Skate Canada)
PAIRS – the actual competitors at GPF in Fukuoka
1. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov
2. Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy
3. Qing Pang and Jian Tong
4. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch
5. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford
6. Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang
In the men’s event, Patrick Chan stands in the same position as Volosozhar&Trankov in the pairs, having 30 points over his main opponents, Tatsuki Machida and Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan. Chan’s main competitor according to the scores received all along the season, the Japanese Daisuke Takahashi – defending Grand Prix Final Champion – is the big absentee of the event: following an injury on his right leg (a bruised tibia, as a matter of fact), he had to withdraw from the Grand Prix Final in homeland Japan, being replaced by the first alternate, another Japanese skater, Nobunari Oda.
MEN – best scores of the season
1. Patrick Chan: 295.27 points (Trophée Eric Bompard)
2. Daisuke Takahashi: 268.31 points (NHK Trophy)
3. Tatsuki Machida: 265.38 points (Skate America)
4. Yuzuru Hanyu: 263.59 points (Trophée Eric Bompard)
5. Nobunari Oda: 253.16 points (NHK Trophy)
6. Yan Han: 245.62 points (Cup of China)
MEN – the actual competitors at GPF in Fukuoka
1. Patrick Chan
2. Tatsuki Machida
3. Yuzuru Hanyu
4. Maxim Kovtun
5. Daisuke Takahashi (WD; replaced by the first alternate, Nobunari Oda)
6. Han Yan
From where I stand, the Top 3 scores of the season (Mao, Julia, Ashley) will translate itself into the podium of the Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka. But I wouldn’t want to leave out the three remaining Russian skaters, Elena, Anna and Adelina. Such an important event, with four Russians in it – what an accomplishment! Fingers crossed for these young and talented skaters, all happy and smiley in the airport, at their arrival in Japan. My personal favorite at this particular event: the wonderful Mao Asada. I truly love her short program.
LADIES – best scores of the season
1. Mao Asada: 207.59 points (NHK Trophy)
2. Julia Lipnitskaia: 198.23 points (Skate Canada)
3. Ashley Wagner: 194.37 points (Trophée Eric Bompard)
4. Akiko Suzuki: 193.75 points (Skate Canada)
5. Elena Radionova: 191.81 points (NHK Trophy)
6. Carolina Kostner: 190.12 points (Rostelecom Cup)
LADIES – the actual competitors at GPF in Fukuoka
1. Mao Asada
2. Julia Lipnitskaia
3. Ashley Wagner
4. Anna Pogorilaya
5. Adelina Sotnikova
6. Elena Radionova
Best of luck to all of them, in Fukuoka and in Zagreb!