Russian teen could steal Skate Canada spotlight | Figure Skating | CBC Sports

Figure SkatingRussian teen could steal Skate Canada spotlight

Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 | 10:56 AM

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Russian junior champion Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, 14, will make her senior Grand Prix debut at this week's Skate Canada International event in Mississauga, Ont. (Feng Li/Getty Images) Russian junior champion Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, 14, will make her senior Grand Prix debut at this week's Skate Canada International event in Mississauga, Ont. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

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While most Canadian fans are looking forward to the season debuts of Patrick Chan and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Russian junior champion Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, 14, has the potential to set the world on fire in her first senior Grand Prix appearance this week at Skate Canada International.
With the season-opening Skate America event in the books, it's time to preview the second in the six-event ISU Grand Prix series. Skate Canada International takes place this weekend in the suburban Toronto community of Mississauga, Ont.

Men: Chan has challengers

On the heels of Wednesday's news that American Brandon Mroz's quad Lutz jump has been confirmed by the ISU as the first one ever performed in competition, it begs the question: how high is up? The top two men competing at Skate Canada intend to find out.

Reigning world champion Patrick Chan of Canada has a solid quad toe that he's planning in both the short and free but he's decided to suspend working on other quads for the moment despite having landed quad Salchows in practice.Chan's biggest threat should come from 2010 world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Daisuke Takahashi of Japan, who's looking to overcome a disappointing fifth-place finish at last year's worlds.

One of the surprises from Skate America was Belgian Kevin van der Perren's winning a silver medal. He will be looking to capitalize on that momentum with another medal in Mississauga. It will by no means be a walk in the park for anybody, as there are other quality competitors like two-time junior world champion Adam Rippon of the U.S., and reigning junior world champion Andrei Rogozine of Canada looking to make their mark.

Ice dance: Virtue & Moir heavy favourites

In ice dance, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 Olympic and world champions and current world silver medalists, should have no problem securing their third career Skate Canada title.

It would have been great to see their training mates and rivals, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, go up against French champions Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, but Pechalat and Bourzat were scratched from the list of competitors on Wednesday. This was presumably due to Bourzat's bronchitis, which was the reason cited last weekend for their Skate America gala cancellation after winning a silver medal. Look for the Italian team of Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte to also challenge for the podium.

Ladies: Russian teen on the scene

In the ladies' event, 14-year-old Elizaveta Tuktamisheva is ready to set the world on fire with her debut at the senior Grand Prix level. The 2011 Russian junior champion, 2011 junior world silver medallist and 2011 Japan Open champion has the potential to be fabulous, though her presentation and style seem a bit old-fashioned to me. That said, this girl can skate (and jump!) when it counts. It's just that I'm a sucker for passion that reaches into the audience, and this is where Tuktamisheva still needs to evolve.

Cynthia Phaneuf, the two-time Canadian champion, has exactly that kind of reach, and if she skates well she could win her first Skate Canada title since 2004. It seems there are as many wild cards as competitors in this event, but specifically keep your eye on Americans Rachael Flatt and Ashley Wagner, Canada's Amelie Lacoste, and Japan's Akiko Suzuki.

Pairs: Dube, Wolfe potential spoilers

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov should have no trouble taking the top spot in the pairs event. They began skating together in May of 2010 after both had enjoyed immensely successful partnerships with other skaters. Less than 11 months later, this team had already won the Russian national title as well as a silver medal at the 2011 world championships. The real question is, who else will join them on the podium?

The first names that jump off the page are the Chinese team of Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, who are two-time junior world champions and are still age-eligible for junior competition. They've already clinched a spot in the Junior Grand Prix Final based on a pair of wins this season in the Junior Grand Prix series. Another dazzling young team is Japan's Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran, who finished with a bronze medal at last year's junior worlds.

All three Canadian teams could do well in Mississauga: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are in their second season together and finished seventh in the world last year, while Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers earned a bronze medal at this event a year ago. The spoiler could be Jessica Dube (the 2008 world bronze medallist with former partner Bryce Davison), who is competing with brand-new partner Sebastien Wolfe in their first Grand Prix event together.

Pj's picks for gold

Men: Patrick Chan (Canada)
Ladies: Mirai Nagasu (United States)
Pairs: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov (Russia)
Dance: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)

It's Skate Canada week, and CBCSports.ca is keeping you connected right now in our live blog. Get the latest news, notes, photos, video and tweets from our own Pj Kwong and Samantha Houghton, who are live on the scene in Mississauga, Ont., and join the conversation by posting your comments.

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