The first thing I want to say about the upcoming Trophee Eric Bompard is that the men's event jumps off the page as a real mixed bag.
It's kind of like looking in the fridge at leftovers and putting them all together for dinner -- you just don't know if it's going to be good or not. Fingers crossed that the men in this event will make it special.
As far as ISU Grand Prix events are concerned, the man in this event with the best placement so far this season is France's Florent Amodio, who finished fourth at Skate Canada.
Here is what has happened so far with the rest of this week's contenders: former world champion Brian Joubert withdrew from Cup of China with stomach pain following a seventh-place finish in the short program; Nan Song was carried off the ice in Shanghai following a collision in warmup with Adam Rippon, resulting in a mild concussion; and Jeremy Abbott and Tomas Verner finished fifth and eighth, respectively, at Skate America, which were surprisingly poor results given the talent and experience of both skaters.
In other words, tossing a dart at a dartboard could have the same result as my educated guess of Amodio taking the men's title in Paris. Stay tuned though, as any of the men I mentioned has the ability to take the title.
On to the women.
I cannot wait to see Ashley Wagner compete. She burst out of the gate at Skate America with guns blazing and took the title. Decisively. I love the fact that she takes me back to a time of consistently great American skating women. Wagner is aggressive and strong on the ice with the right amount of grace and solid technical elements.
Wagner's teammate Christina Gao won the silver medal at Skate America and I am looking forward to seeing her pitted against one of my favourite young Russian skaters, Julia Lipnitskaia, who also won a silver medal in her first Grand Prix this season at Shanghai.
I was delighted to see that the French ice dancers Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat are using a Rolling Stones medley for their free program. I think it's fresh, light-hearted, and we can just watch and enjoy it without having to think too hard. As world bronze medallists, the French champions are the frontrunners in this week's field.
I want to see how the rest of the podium plays out. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy, Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko of Russia and Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier finished 2-3-4, respectively, when they first met this season at Skate Canada. Based on the quality of their material, I think the Canadians could make a move on the podium in Paris.
There is a snag. As of early Wednesday, it was reported in the German press that Savchenko and Szolkowy would have to decide whether or not to compete in France. It appears as if Aliona Savchenko has been suffering with the flu and is on antibiotics. This has meant that they have not been able to train. In checking on the ISU website for Grand Prix entry lists, there is a line through their names which means they have withdrawn.
This is a shame, not only because I am sure this is a huge disappointment for the skaters, but because this would have been a chance for Duhamel and Radford to see if they could further close the point margin between these two teams.
Duhamel and Radford have made no bones about the fact that finishing fifth in the world is not good enough. They said at the outset of this season that there were about 16 points separating them from the top of the world podium in 2012.
At Skate Canada, Duhamel and Radford were a little less than 11 points behind Savchenko and Szolkowy.
Pj's Podium Picks:
Men: Florent Amodio, France
Ladies: Ashley Wagner, United States
Ice Dance: Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, France
Pairs: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, Canada
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