Virtue & Moir go Carmen vs. Carmen at Skate Canada | Figure Skating | CBC Sports

Figure SkatingVirtue & Moir go Carmen vs. Carmen at Skate Canada

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | 08:28 AM

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Canada's Tessa Virtue, left, and Scott Moir are skating to Canada's Tessa Virtue, left, and Scott Moir are skating to "Carmen" this season. So is one of their competitors. (Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images)

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Skate Canada International is being held in Windsor, Ont., this weekend, and figure skating fans will have the chance to see three of the four current world champions unveil their new programs.

Ice dance champs Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are set to skate their highly anticipated Carmen free routine for the first time. In an interesting twist, so are Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte.
Skate Canada International is being held in Windsor, Ont., this weekend, and it's not just another step on the six-rung Grand Prix series ladder. It's a chance for figure skating fans to see three of the four current world champions unveil their new programs.

True, two-time reigning world champion Patrick Chan has competed already this season in the Japan Open, but that event doesn't really "count" in terms of the competitive season, except in terms of bragging rights. Chan's sub-par performance and last-place finish there have some people wondering if he has lost his way.

My take is that Chan is a skater who seems to do his best when he has a mountain to climb. The mountain in Windsor consists of proving that he is still world-championship worthy while facing off against some stiff competition.

Florent Amodio of France is fifth in the world, Kazakhstan's Denis Ten is seventh, and Spain's Javier Fernandez is ninth. Those placings might indicate that they are far enough away from Chan as to not be considered contenders in this event, but each of these skaters has the potential to deliver. The problem is that none of them is consistent enough yet in competition to be relied upon.

Look for the short program to matter more in this event than the others.

Ice dance: Carmen vs. Carmen

I've been scratching my head ever since I learned that Italian ice dancers Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte would be skating to Carmen under the guidance of coach Igor Shpillband.

Shpillband is the former coaching partner of Marina Zueva, and part of the team who, presumably, would have known about the decision by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to use Carmen for their free dance this year.

Carmen needs a diva-like presence. Virtue is that presence.

I know that there is lots of eye-rolling out there for using this music. I'm not against using Carmen, especially since I have enormous faith that Virtue and Moir will be able to deliver the quintessential Carmen.

Ladies: Gracie Gold a potential spoiler

Last year's Skate Canada event heralded the arrival of one of Russia's young superstars. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won the ladies' competition, with world bronze medallist Akiko Suzuki of Japan finishing second.

The thing is, they each won one segment of the competition. They will face off again in Windsor.

Watch for Gracie Gold as a potential spoiler in her first senior Grand Prix assignment. She's the American junior champion and has set the skating world on fire with her silver medal in her first appearance at the junior world championships last spring.

Pairs: Savchenko & Szolkowy heavily favoured

It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany will take the pairs title at Skate Canada.

What I'm waiting for is the season Grand Prix debut of Canadian pairs champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. They finished fifth at worlds and have made no bones about saying that they not only want to be on the podium, but on top of the podium.

Windsor is where that ambition needs to start taking shape.

Pj's gold-medal picks:

Men: Patrick Chan (Canada)
Ladies: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (Russia)
Dance: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)
Pairs: Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy (Germany)

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