Vancouver, BC, Canada
Day 1 (Thursday)
Day 2 (Friday)
Day 3 (Saturday)
by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
The Grand Prix Final and the Junior Final are held in the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Center, some miles southwest of downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, from December 6 to 9. The six best skaters or couples from the two series in each of the eight categories will compete.
The Grand Prix Series with a Final started for Seniors in 1995 and for Juniors in 1997. For about ten years the two Finals have been held together. This allows the top junior skaters to watch the top senior skaters who often are their idols. The ISU saves money because they have to hold only one event and with the same judges and specialists for Seniors and Juniors. For spectators there is also an advantage: They can see more competitions and many of them will see the future stars for the first time because only few spectators go to junior events. Since 2011, all junior competitions including this final are live streamed for free on the ISU homepage. Canadian Ted Barton commentates in English language. The senior competitions cannot be live streamed for free because many TV stations all over the world spent a lot of money for the rights to transmit them. This money, the advertisement and the entry fee pay the two Finals.
In the Senior Menís competition, the favorites are the 2018 World Champion, U.S. skater Nathan Chen and the 2018 silver medalist, Japanese skater Shoma Uno. The other four skaters are Michal Brezina from the Czech Republic, Sergei Voronov from Russia, Junhwan Cha from South Korea and Keegan Messing from Canada. Messing was invited as first alternate because the big star Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan withdrew a week before the Final because of an ankle injury which he has since the Rostelecom Cup in mid-November.
Three skaters from Russia and three from Japan will compete in the Senior Ladies event, skaters from other countries had no chance. The favorite is Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova from Russia who wants to beat three very good ladies from Japan: Rika Kihira who landed triple Axels in her Grand Prix, Satako Miyahara and Kaori Satamoto. The two other Russian ladies are Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, also a triple Axel jumper, and Sofia Samodurova.
In the Senior Pairs event, the two top teams are Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov from Russia as well as Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres from France. The four other pairs are Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert from Russia, their team mates Daria Pavliuchenko & Denis Khodykin, the Chinese pair of Cheng Peng & Yang Jin plus the Italian team of Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise.
Favorites in the Senior Ice Dance competition are world silver medalists Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue. But they must beat two Russian teams who have improved much this season: Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin as well as Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov. The other three couples are Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri from Italy, Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker from the United States as well as Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerreiro from Russia.
The prize money for each skater and each couple (together) is in US-Dollars:
(*) Junior couples receive 50% higher prize money than Junior singles.
The Junior Men's event is quite open. The six participants are Camden Pulkinen and Tomoki Hiwatashi from the USA, Petr Gummenik from Russia, Adam Siao Him Fa from France, Koshiro Shimada from Japan and Stephen Gogolev from Canada who came as alternate for U.S. skater Andrew Torgashev who suffers from a foot injury.
In the Junior ladies competition, Alexandra Trusova is the favorite because she is the only woman in the world to have landed quads in international competitions (which are only allowed in the free program for Juniors). Four other Russian ladies are qualified: Alena Kostornaia, Anastasia Tarakanova, Anna Shcherbanova (who has landed quads in national competitions) and Alena Kanysheva. The only non-Russian Junior Lady is Yelim Kim from South Korea.
In the Junior Pairs event, Russia dominates as well with five of the six teams: Polina Kostiukovich & Dmitri Ialin, Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov, Kseniia Akhanteva & Valerii Kolesov, Apollinariia Panfilova & Dmitry Rylov as well as Anastasia Poluianova & Dmitri Sopot. Sarah Feng & TJ Newman from the United States are the only non-Russian Junior Pair.
In Junior Ice Dance, the two Russian couples of Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov as well as Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Nikita Nazarov are slighty favorized. The other four couples are Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko from Russia, Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesik from the USA, Majorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha from Canada and Marina Kazakova & Georgy Reviva from Georgia.