Grand Prix Comes to Mississauga, ON
Skate Canada International is the second Grand Prix in this and most other seasons, and this year is held in the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, near the airport of Toronto. It is one of the favorite rinks of Skate Canada, many events including several Grand Prix having been organized there.
The ladies competition promises a very high level. The Russian World champion Evgenia Medvedeva - after winning Japan Open in early October (where there was only a free program) - will do her first complete international competition. She certainly is the favorite, but several very strong other ladies will challenge her.
Satoko Miyahara, fifth at the World Championships in Boston, is the most renowned one and won the U.S. Classic in Salt Lake City in September. Kaetlyn Osmond from Canada was first at the Finlandia Trophy three weeks ago and also has a chance to be on top. In Finland, she had beaten the 2015 World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva who tries to get in the same shape as two years ago and certainly still is a medal candidate.
Mirai Nagasu from the USA had won the Autumn Classic on Montreal four weeks ago with excellent 189 points and also has aspirations for the podium. The second Canadian lady Alaine Chartrand from Toronto should not be neglected for a good position.
Other good skaters are Rika Hongo (fourth at Autumn Classic) and Yuka Nagai (third at last yearís Skate Canada), both from Japan, Da Bin Choi and Na Hyun Kim, both from South Korea and Joshi Helgesson from Sweden who trains with Brian Orser in Toronto. Veronik Mallet from the Quebec school of Annie Barabť withdrew three days before the event.
The menís field is also very strong and interesting. Super star and Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu plans to do his second competition of this season after easily winning the Autumn Classic a month ago. Patrick Chan, fifth in Boston, will try to beat him and also is a hot medal candidate although he was only second at the Finlandia Trophy behind Nathan Chen (who does not compete at Skate Canada).
Another man who has an eye on the podium of Skate Canada International is Grant Hochstein from Artesia in California. He was fifth at the Lombardia Trophy in Italy in September and tenth at the World Championships in Boston.
Misha Ge from Uzbekistan was second behind Hanyu in Montreal and is also a strong skater. The second Canadian Kevin Reynolds tries to continue his comeback after being second at the Ondrej Nepela Memorial four weeks ago. Alexander Petrov from Russia won the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany in September, but is not really a top skater.
Skaters with smaller medal chances are: Liam Firus from Canada, Han Yan from China, Michal Brezina from the Czech Republic who trains with Rafael Arutunian in Lakewood, California since this summer, Junior World champion Daniel Samohin from Israel, who was not in good shape at the Finlandia Trophy (13th), Takahito Mura from Japan (who was second in Salt Lake City in September) and Ross Miner of Boston.
The main point of interest in ice dancing is the comeback of the 2010 Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir who won their first competition of the season in Montreal a month ago with 189 points (which is absolute world class). It will be interesting to see if they can beat the World bronze medalists Madison Chock & Evan Bates. The Americans were second at their first two competitions in Germany (behind Cappellini & Lanotte) and Slovakia (behind Bobrova & Soloviev).
Other medal candidates are the 2014 world champions Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte from Italy who won the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany and Canadians Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier who were third at the same competition. Russians Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin were the surprise winners of the Finlandia Trophy and beat there Hubbell & Donohue (who are not at Skate Canada). All of them might win medals.
No big medal chances can be expected for Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam from Canada, Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu from China, Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorenson from Denmark (who train in Montreal), Cecilia Torn & Jussiville Partanen from Finland and the U.S. team of Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker. But all of them are strong couples.
Favorites in the pairs competition are the two time world champions Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford. They easily won the Finlandia Trophy in spite of some mistakes. Their countrymen Lubov Iliushechkina & Dylan Moscovitch also have hot medal chances, as well as Yuka Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov from Russia who were second in Bratislava. Kavaguti has recovered well from her Achilles tendon rupture almost a year ago.
Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier who won the silver medal at Skate America last week certainly want to get a second medal in Canada and may be the first skaters to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Marseille, France in December. They are the only skaters this year who compete at both North American Grand Prix.
The three other pairs at Skate Canada are Xiaoyu Yu & Hao Zhang from China, Nicole della Monica & Matteo Guarise from Italy and the third Canadian pair of Brittany Jones & Joshua Reagan.
Vera Bazarova & Andrei Deputat withdrew three days before the competition. There were rumors that the pair split, but coach Oleg Vasilliev told Russian media that this is wrong. He said an ankle injury of Deputat prevents them from competing in Canada. Too late for an alternate pair to replace them at the competition.
Ladies Event - The ladies competition was the first one at Skate Canada International 2016 in Mississauga, Ontario to finish. Several skaters of world class competed, so it had a very good level. Especially in the free program, nobody had a bad day and everybody made few mistakes if any at all.
Men's Event -The level of the menís competition was a bit disappointing and did not reach the level of the ladies this time. Especially the big names made several mistakes, but were ahead nevertheless. In the short program, Kevin Reynolds was the only one out of 12 skaters without serious mistakes. In the long program, Michal Brezina, Misha Ge, Alexander Petrov and again Kevin Reynolds skated almost clean or made not more than one mistake, while the others made more.
Pairs Event - The pair skating competition at Skate Canada 2016 in Mississauga had a mixed level. The teams who placed first, second and fourth place were good, the others less so. The big favorites and two time world champions Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford from Montreal won the event easily with 218.30 points.
Dance Event - The ice dance competition was the greatest highlight of Skate Canada 2016 in the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. It had the highest general level, the dancers made almost no mistakes and there was no fall at all. Especially the spectators who like contemporary music were delighted. The short dance was the absolute highlight because most of the chosen Blues, Swings and Hip Hops have a wild, hot and crazy sound and were interpreted in a very attractive way. The Blues and Swing versions of today are much hotter than those from 10 or 20 years ago, the Hip Hop is new for seniors anyway.