2009 Four Continents Entries - And Some Predictions

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The 2009 Four Continents Championships has the best line up in many years -- perhaps ever.  The competition is being held in the venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and Four Continents is the test event.  For that reason most countries, for once, are sending their "A" players so they get some experience in the place they hope to compete in February 2010.  If the Canadian, Chinese, Japanese and American skaters do not take home the vast majority of the medals next week, then the Universe is seriously out of balance.


Other Grand Prix Final results for comparison.

Carolina Kostner  GPF - 3
Yukari Nakano  GPF - 5
Miki Ando  GPF - 6

Our Predictions

Chairman Mao is our favorite to win at Four Continents, followed closely we expect by Yu-Na Kim.  But considering how close these two are it should be quite a battle getting there.  Asada is the reigning World Champion and Kim the reigning bronze medalist.  These two ladies placed 1-2 at the Grand Prix Final with Kim trailing Asada by 2.2 points, and with Asada winning the Free Skate and Kim the Short Program.  So all in all, we are really looking forward to seeing this event.

Joannie Rochette and Fumie Suguri are likely to be the two ladies fighting for the bronze medal.  An American lady winning a medal we view as only a distant possibility.

If Alissa Czisny wants to reach the podium she better bring her A-game for both the short AND the long.  At. U.S. Nationals a strong Short Program was followed by a timid Free Skate with appropriately weak element scores.  It is unlikely ISU judges will reward her as generously in Program Components as did the U.S. judges if the technical marks are not there also.

For the remaining two American Ladies we are mostly curious ourselves to see how the ISU judges rate the technically strong but boring Rachael Flatt, and what they do with Caroline Zhang whose technique leaves much to be improved upon and who we feel hides behind the music without really expressing it.  Even with these limitations, however, these two ladies will more than likely crack the top ten, and might even eek up to near the top five.


Other Grand Prix Final results for comparison.

Johnny Weir  GPF - 3
Thomas Verner  GPF - 4
Brian Joubert  GPF - w

Our Predictions

While there are many fine skaters in the other three events, the Men's event has the most depth and should prove the most interesting of the Championships, if they skate up to their potential.

U.S. National Champion, and Grand Prix Final gold medallist Jeremy Abbott is the favorite to win the Men's event, but he should get stiff competition from Takahiko Kozuka who placed second at the Grand Prix Final, and Nobunari Oda who did not qualify for the Grand Prix Final, but beat Kozuka at the Japanese National Championships.  Oda missed out on the 2007/08 season due to a suspension and other issues, but has come back strong this season, and is in the thick of it for Four Continents and potentially Worlds.

Patrick Chan also must be considered a medal contender, but after a fifth place finish at the Grand Prix Final, more than 32 points behind Abbott, he will have to be at his best to have a chance for the gold medal.

Evan Lysacek is in somewhat the same position as Chan.  He has the tools and the reputation to be a contender for a medal, but the gold seems just a bit out of reach.  Lysacek has more or less given up on the quad, deciding to throw one at U.S. Nationals only after the Short Program when it was clear he needed something to help overtake Jeremy Abbott.  His attempt in Cleveland wasn't really close (under-rotated with a fall).

Brandon Mroz was the only man to land a clean quad at U.S. Nationals in the Free Skate.  For that I guess we should start calling him the "Wizard of Mroz."  But only if he keeps it up.  This is Mroz's first season as an ISU senior, and it will be interesting to see how seriously the ISU judges take him here and at Worlds.  His results in the Grand Prix were inauspicious, but he has improved since then.  Some find his style of performance boring, but I rather like it.  It certainly makes pretty pictures.  Next week in Vancouver we will see what the ISU judges think.




Other Grand Prix Final results for comparison.

Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Stanislav MOROZOV   GPF - 4
Yuko KAWAGUCHI / Alexander SMIRNOV  GPF - 5

Our Predictions

This event seems to be a no-brainer, with Pang & Tong and Zhang & Zhang placing in the top two, and Dube & Davison pulling in the bronze medal. The remaining Canadian and American teams are likely to fill out the remaining two top five places, but mainly because they are the only ones really left to fill in those places.  Of the 11 entries, nine are from Canada, China and the U.S.

For the three U.S. teams what will matter most is putting out clean skates and racking up enough points to be taken seriously to at least crack the top ten at Worlds.  The same is pretty much true for the second and third Canadian teams also.



We would love to fill up this big empty space with something additionally profound about the pairs event, but after the top three teams the field is so weak there really isn't much else to say.  Staying awake for this event is going to be a challenge.


Ice Dance


Other Grand Prix Final results for comparison.

Isabelle DELOBEL / Olivier SCHOENFELDER  GPF - 1
Oksana DOMNINA / Maxim SHABALIN  GPF - 2
Federica FAIELLA / Massimo SCALI  GPF - 4
Tanith BELBIN / Benjamin AGOSTO  GPF - w

Our Predictions

Odds are the Ice Dance event will have an all Canadian-U.S. podium.  Virtue & Moir as reigning World silver medallists are favorites for the gold, and to maintain their position as a favorite to win the World Championship they pretty much have to win in Vancouver.

Following their impressive performances at U.S. Nationals and a third place finish in the Grand Prix Final Davis & White seem on track for the silver medal in Vancouver.  After placing seventh at 2007 Worlds and sixth in 2008, the chance of moving up into the top five would be enhanced by a strong showing at Four Continents.  Basically Virtue & Moir and Davis & White have the same goals, to crush the rest of the entries and separate themselves from the rest of the pack

The bronze medal at Four Continents shapes up to be a competition between the remaining Canadian and American couples.  It would not be surprising, in fact, if the the top six places in Dance went to the six Canadian and American entries.

Based on competition scores, and what we have seen this season, our pick for third place is Samuelson & Bates.  They will have to fight for it though.  They have good technique and outgoing personalities in their performances, though Bates comes across as being a bit too tall for Samuelson and his somewhat goofy persona may not be what international judges want in a Senior team.  Going up against two Canadian teams for third place, Samuelson & Bates must also contend with the juggernaut which is the Skate Canada political machine within the ISU -- added to the fact the competition is being held in Canada.  That alone is worth at least an extra 10 points for each Canadian couple.

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Copyright 2009 by George S. Rossano