The men’s field is a bit of a hodge-podge of entries promising a huge range of ability and skill.
The competition should come down to a couple of names: namely the defending world champion Evan Lysacek from the United States and the Czech Republic’s Tomas Verner.
At the first Grand Prix event, the Trophee Eric Bompard in France, Verner took the silver medal and set himself up with a very strong short program but faltered in the free to eventual gold medallist Nobunari Oda of Japan. For Lysacek, his main competition was also Oda at the Grand Prix event in China, and although his free program was stronger than his short, he had to settle for silver. Both men will have to finish no lower than second in order to secure their chances for a spot in Tokyo.
It would be outside the realm of normal thought to have anyone seriously challenging the defending world champion Yu-Na Kim for the women’s title. The Korean sensation was nothing short of brilliant in her first Grand Prix outing in France where she claimed new personal and season’s best scores for the women’s field in the free and overall totals.
Kim’s strongest challenger should be the 2008 world junior champion Rachael Flatt of the U.S. Although Flatt’s debut this season was weak - a fourth place finish in China - her tenacity and consistency as a competitor is well known making her a threat here.
The pairs gold medallists from the Grand Prix of China event in pairs were three-time world champions and two-time Olympic bronze medallists from Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao.
Before seeing them back on the ice after an almost two and a half year absence, I was sure they would be sentimental favourites coming into the season. Since seeing them, in my mind at least, they have upgraded to real contenders for Olympic gold. Chinese teammates and 2006 Olympic silver medallists Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang, who earned silver at the same event, are expected to be Shen and Zhao’s closest rivals here.
In the ice dance event it would be reasonable to expect that the 2006 Olympic silver medallists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto of the U.S. will dominate here. Having won the Grand Prix in China, they will be looking for a win here to secure their spot for the Final. Their closest challengers should be the Italian team of Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, second-place finishers at the Grand Prix event in Russia.
Grand Prix of Figure Skating coverage will continue on television and with our online chat this weekend on CBCSports.ca. Check the website for schedule details.
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?