by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
In 2018, the Rostelecom Cup is the fifth of the six Grand Prix competitions. In the Western countries this event is often called the Cup of Russia which had been the real name before Russia found a sponsor. Like in many years before, it takes place in Moscow‘s Megasport Arena, which is situated some miles northwest of the Kremlin and from downtown. This rink is well-known all over the world and also easy to recognize by TV-viewers because of its bright colorful seats for the spectators. It had also served for the World Championships 2011, which had been removed from Tokyo to Russia after the earthquake, tsunami and disaster of a nuclear power station in Japan in March 2011, just one week before the planned schedule.
The biggest star and men‘s gold favorite is Yuzuru Hanyu who plans his second Grand Prix after winning in Finland. Everything but gold again would be a big surprise and only possible if he is in bad shape. Hoping for the other medals are Mikhail Kolyada from Russia, Keegan Messing from Canada, Artur Dmitriev junior and Andrei Lazukin from Russia as well as Kazuki Tomono from Japan.
In the ladies competition, the 2018 Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova from Russia hopes to win her second Grand Prix after Helsinki. The other top skaters are Mako Yamashita and Yuna Shiraiwa from Japan, Sofia Samodurova and Polina Tsursakaia from Russia and Elizabet Tursynbaeva from Kazakhstan. A bis question mark is Gracie Gold who had been invited in May for a comeback. She arrived in Moscow on Wednesday, but she has not done any smaller competition which U.S. Figure Skating normally requires some weeks before a Grand Prix. Karen Chen has had injury problems for a long time, but she withdrew so late that no alternate could be invited. This is an unfair and not sportsmanlike behavior.
In pairs, the 2018 world silver medalists Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov from Russia are the favorites. The other medal candidates are U.S. skaters Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, the two Russian pairs Daria Pavliuchenko & Denis Khodykin as well as Alisa Efimova & Alexander Korovin. The Italians Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise also have a chance for a spot on the podium.
In Ice Dance, Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin from Russia should normally be the best. Other candidates for a medal are Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin from Spain, Natalia Kalisek & Maskym Spodyriev from Poland plus U.S. dancers Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko. The other U.S. team of Madison Chock & Evan Bates withdrew too late to invite somebody else, which is, like in the case of Karen Chen, not a fair and sportsmanlike behavior because all of them had already withdrawn from their first Grand Prix and knew probably much earlier that they cannot compete in Russia either.