Canada's Nam Nguyen could outshine Russians at Rostelecom Cup
Look for Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier to continue to dominate in ice dance
In the fall figure skating roadshow known as the Grand Prix Series, it's the Rostelecom Cup event in Russia that comes next.
None of the events will be more interesting than the women as Russian teenagers have dominated the field and earned every gold medal so far.
Alexandra Trusova, 15, is one of those women who is looking to add another title to the one she took at Skate Canada in October. There is very good reason to think she can do it.
But 19-year-old Evgenia Medvedeva, the two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist, will be looking to redeem herself after a disastrous fifth-place finish at the same event.
Two-time world medallist Satoko Miyahara, on the other hand, doesn't need to prove anything to anybody and finished confidently with a silver medal a week ago at the Cup of China.
Canadian national champion Nam Nguyen was dazzling on his way to a silver medal at Skate Canada. This is a man who has been ranked as high as fifth in the world but who has also been plagued with inconsistent performances in competition. If Nguyen pulls out the same calibre of programs, then he could very well take the title in Russia.
There are two names that jump from the entry list and who can challenge. The first is Dmitri Aliev, who finished with a bronze at Skate America. The other is Shoma Uno, the 2018 Olympic silver medallist who was stunning (to the audience at least) at the Grand Prix of France though he finished eighth.
Ice dance will be the moment for Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier to confirm that their win at Skate Canada was no fluke and they are ready to take their place among the world's contenders.
Gilles and Poirier certainly have the technical goods but, in a field crammed with outstanding technicians, it's their artistry that sets them apart with their ability to transport you through their expressive and innovative choreography.
Russia's Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov also took home gold in their first Grand Prix and will be hoping that home-ice advantage will propel them to the top.
Russia's pairs always find themselves in the mix in any competition and this will be no exception. The podium could easily be filled by Russian teams, where any of the three entries could claim the top spot.
Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii were the surprise winners at Skate Canada by 16 points, easily edging out the two-time European champions Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, who finished with the bronze.
That sweet taste of success will undoubtedly be the motivation for Boikova and Kozlovskii, who will secure a spot to the Grand Prix final taking place next month if they finish no lower than second.
Rounding out the Russian complement of pairs is a new team. Ksenia Stolbova's name will ring a bell as she and former partner Fedor Klimov won silver medals at the Olympics, European championships and world championships in 2014.
Stolbova has formed a partnership with Andrei Novoselov and this will be their highly anticipated competition debut.
Pj's Podium Picks:
- Men: Nam Nguyen, Canada
- Ice Dance: Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, Canada
- Women's: Alexandra Trusova, Russia
- Pairs: Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii, Russia