I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for the next competition season to start. Summer already seems to be going very quickly which is terrifying and not good – the only good thing about it is that there will be competitions to watch. The Grand Prix assignments came out a short while ago which fuelled my excitement and intrigue for this coming season even further. I watch all disciplines of figure skating, but I am most invested in the Ladies so I thought I’d have a little chat about the Grand Prix Ladies announcements and the skaters I’m most looking forward to seeing because I don’t feel qualified to talk about the others in depth (although perhaps I’m not qualified enough to talk about the Ladies either, you can let me know in the comments ;)) Brace yourself, this is going to be a long post!
What I love about this season in particular, is that you really cannot predict who is going to win each event because there are so many great skaters who could be on the podium and make the GP final depending on how they and everyone else skates on the day. I love the unpredictability and I already know that I’m going to be sitting on the edge of my seat and shouting at my laptop screen. I am particularly looking forward to seeing how Eteri Tutberidze’s team of juniors moving up to senior will fair… Nevertheless, I’m going to attempt to predict the podiums which is so difficult and I guarantee I’ll be completely wrong, but I like to have a bit of fun. (Please disagree with me and let me know what you think down below!)
Before I start, I just want to say it’s interesting that the Russian federation have seemingly paired their skaters against each other at competitions, for example Medvedeva and Trusova are against each other at their two events. This is very interesting and I’m wondering if it’s to see how these Juniors now Seniors will fair against these more experienced skaters…
The Grand Prix series starts off with Skate America and the skaters are currently (who knows if there will be withdrawals/replacements) Veronik Mallet, Wakaba Higuchi, Kaori Sakamoto, Mako Yamashita, Elizabet Tursynbaeva, Eunsoo Lim, Stanislava Konstantinova, Anna Shcherbakova, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Karen Chen, Bradie Tennell and a TBD from the USA. I’m interested to see who the USA’s TBD skater will be: potentially Starr Andrews as she only has one assignment at the moment, maybe Megan Wessenberg as she was at this competition last year or maybe even Hanna Harrell as she won the Pewter medal at the US National Championships last year and is age eligible, although I suspect she will do another round on the JGP. I would love for the USFS to take a risk on Gracie Gold again and have her compete, but who knows if she would be ready and I don’t think she would actually meet the criteria to compete at a Grand Prix so I reckon I’m just being wishful. Hopefully Bradie Tennell can skate well as I’m sure she’d like to win a medal again at home – maybe she’ll be more confident with her lutz-loop and it’ll be interesting to see Karen Chen again as she didn’t really compete last year. I saw on Instagram that Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was practicing two triple axel’s in combination so perhaps we’ll see that in the long program. She is paired against Anna Shcherbakova in both their assignments; if Shcherbakova can land her quads that I’m sure she will be bringing, perhaps she will beat Tuktamysheva… Konstantinova is skating to Moulin Rouge in her free skate for which I am intrigued as it is such overused music so hopefully she can do something new with it. I feel like Tursynbaeva has rocketed into being a serious medal contender following her medals at the end of last season; I’m sure she’ll be bringing her quad salchow to her free skate and it would be wonderful it we could see her do it (or attempt) in combination. I’ve also seen her practicing triple axels so maybe we’ll see that too. I cannot wait to see Wakaba Higuchi’s short program to Bird Set Free which is also choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne so I’m expecting great things.
My Skate America podium prediction: 1) Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, 2), Anna Shcherbakova 3) Kaori Sakamoto
Next up there is Skate Canada with Aurora Cotop, Gabrielle Daleman, a TBD from Canada, Rika Kihira, Mai Mihara, Yelim Kim, Young You, Evgenia Medvedeva, Serafima Sakhanovich, Alexandra Trusova, Alexia Paganini and Bradie Tennell. So we have another Russian head to head between Medvedeva and Trusova and I cannot wait to see these two! I wasn’t a fan of Medvedeva while she was with Eteri Tutberidze because she was so predictable (I’m not hating on her consistency because that is admirable and shows what a good skater she is) that it made the competitions rather dull to watch because she was definitely going to win, but since she switched to Brian Orser I have gained so much respect for her and it seems as if she really enjoys skating and is doing it for herself more than anything else. I won’t forget how surprised she was when she won the bronze medal at Worlds last year and her smile seemed bigger than it had done when she won all of those gold medals. She is skating to Exogenesis: Symphony, Part 3 by Muse for her short program and I’ve loved this music since I saw Ashley Wagner skate to it so I’m looking forward to seeing how Medvedeva interprets it. I’ve heard she’s been working on a quad salchow too so let’s see if anything happens with that. Now I adore Alexandra Trusova (she’s probably my second favourite skater) and I’ve been following her since her JGP debut. I know a lot of people think she has no artistry, but you cannot deny that she is trilling to watch from an athletic point of view. I really enjoyed both her programs from last year and I think the choice of music from Game of Thrones is great as it’ll allow her to be the warrior and fighter that she is. I cannot wait to see her quads – maybe she could win the event, I certainly hope she does. The big question is how many quads will she do?? Will we see a quad lutz-triple loop? I am so ready to see her skate again because she’s a little jumping bean and is fabulous. Again, I hope Bradie Tennell can skate well given she has two competitions back to back and I really hope Gabrielle Daleman is healthy and happy and can fight to maybe win her first GP medal. It is probably unlikely given the calibre of those she is competing against, but you never know. I’m looking forward to seeing Alexia Paganini again after her disappointing skate at Worlds and from what I’ve seen of it, I’m liking the look of Rika Kihira’s free skate. I believe she is planning a quad salchow as well as her triple axels. I also saw this morning that Young You has a triple axel in her program (I’m not sure which one) so yay, lots of fantastic jumps here for sure!
My Skate Canada podium predictions: 1) Rika Kihira, 2) Alexandra Trusova, 3) Evgenia Medvedeva
Then it’s time for the Internationaux de France where we’ll see Loena Hendrickx, Laurine Lecavelier, Mae Berenice Meite, a TBD from France, Wakaba Higuchi, Kaori Sakamoto, Yuna Shiraiwa, Alena Kostornaia, Maria Sotskova, Alina Zagitova, Mariah Bell and Ting Cui. Interestingly Higuchi and Sakamoto are up against each other again so I wonder if that was a deliberate pairing like the Russian skaters. Loena Hendrickx has grown on me and I think she has become a stronger skater this last season so I’m intrigued as to how she will continue to grow. I’m delighted that Maria Sotskova has an assignment as I didn’t think she would get one; she had a rough season last year after a consistently good one the previous year so I hope she can return to her former glory. I’m so excited for Mariah Bell’s short program which is choreographed by Adam Rippon again. I adored her short program last year and I think the two of them working together is a great partnership and from what I’ve seen on Instagram it looks like a lot of fun. She’s also really come into her own this year and I’d love for her to be a podium contender because her skating is gorgeous. I’m also looking forward to seeing Ting Cui’s senior debut – hopefully she won’t let her nerves get the better of her as she tends to do. And then we have another pairing of Alena Kostornaia versus Alina Zagitova as if they don’t compete against each other enough when they’re training together. I don’t think Alina Zagitova is unbeatable anymore (although I still love her as a skater), but I hope she’ll have some more unusual programs this year. I’m not sure Kostornaia’s Twilight program will show her maturity now as a senior skater, but we’ll see; she’s still a versatile and delicate skater. Everyone knows Eteri Tutberidze and her skaters like to win and it’ll fascinating to watch them both fight against each other there.
My Internationaux de France podium prediction: 1) Alina Zagitova, 2) Alena Kostornaia, 3) Kaori Sakamoto
Then we have Cup of China with Gabrielle Daleman, Hongyi Chen, Yi Zhu, a TBD from China, Viveca Lindfors, Marin Honda, Mai Mihara, Satoko Miyahara, Elizabet Tursynbaeva, Sofia Samodurova, Anna Shcherbakova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. Oh, there are a lot of talented skaters towards the end of that list! Another head to head between Shcherbakova and Tuktamysheva with Samodurova thrown into the mix. I am still obsessed with her Burlesque program from last year and I cannot wait to see what she does next. She’s such a consistent skater which is wonderful to see and I’m interested to see how she’ll fair against all of Eteri’s juniors now seniors. Again Tursynbaeva is a wildcard against the Japanese and Russian skaters. I really enjoy Mai Mihara’s skating and she always has the most gorgeous dresses.
My Cup of China podium predictions: 1) Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, 2) Anna Shcherbakova, 3) Sofia Samodurova (oooh, a I predict a Russian sweep apparently!)
And next up is Rostelecom Cup where we will see Ekaterina Ryabova, Loena Hendrickx, Hongyi Chen, Lauren Lecavalier, Satoko Miyahara, Yuna Shiraiwa, Yuhana Yokoi, Stanislava Konstantinova, Evegnia Medvedeva, Alexandra Trusova, Alexia Paganini and Mariah Bell. I have to be honest and say I’m surprised that Konstantinova has two assignments because I think she can be quite unreliable, but I’m glad the Russian federation is continuing to give her a chance. I feel a bit sorry for Alexia Paganini against Medvedeva and Trusova again because they’re just such powerful skaters. I have to say, I’m surprised that Zagitova won’t be skating at home, but I’m looking forward to seeing the Russian fans going mad for the other skaters.
My Rostelecom Cup podium predications: 1) Alexandra Trusova, 2) Evgenia Medvedeva, 3) Satoko Miyahara
And then the final event is NHK Trophy which was my favourite event last year. This time it will decide the final with Viveca Lindfors, Mae Berenice Meite, Rika Kihira, Mako Yamashita a TBD from Japan, Eunsoo Lim, Alena Kostornaia, Sofia Samodurova, Alina Zagitova, Starr Andrews, Karen Chen and Ting Cui. I’m excited that Viveca Lindfors has two assignments after her Bronze medal at Europeans – that’s great for Finland! Rika Kihira won this event (and all her others except from Worlds last year) so I hope she can do it again. I’m glad Starr Andrews has an assignment this year and I’m looking forward to seeing Sofia Samodurova compete against Alina and Alena. I hope Karen Chen can make her mark as a competitor again.
My NHK Trophy podium predications: 1) Rika Kihira, 2) Alina Zagitova, 3) Alena Kostornaia
So that’s all my current thoughts on the Ladies GP assignments and I’m looking forward to the bloodbath that will ensue. Seemingly my final predications will be, Rika Kihira, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Alina Zagitova, Alexandra Trusova and then I think the last two spaces depend on who gets the highest points… Probably Anna Shcherbakova is in there too… I’m not too sure how it’s all calculated. So who knows if I’ll be right – I’ll probably be way off because I haven’t seen how anyone is skating at the moment and I’m basically basing this off the last two seasons. Let me know if you have any predications for this season in the comments and thank you for reading my ramblings!