by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(24 October 2019) The second Grand Prix in 2019 is Skate Canada International in the wine city of Kelowna, British Columbia. The biggest star is the two time Olympic gold medal winner Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan who plans to compete in Canada again a bit more than one month after his first competition at Autumn Classic in Oakville near Toronto. A huge crowd of Japanese fans are therefore heading to Kelowna and many hotels are booked out. If the student of Brian Orser does normal no other competitor should be able get as many points as him. But several other skaters hope for silver and bronze medals, for example European bronze medalist Matteo Rizzo from Italy, the two Canadians Nam Nguyen and Roman Sadovsky, Brandon Kerry from Australia and the second Japanese skater Keiji Tanaka. Russian skater Mihkail Kolyada had to skip the whole fall season because he has to undergo a sinus surgery and is replaced by Julian Yee of Malaysia. U.S skater Camden Pulkinen gives his senior Grand Prix debut.
In the ladies competition, Alexandra Trusova from Russia is the favorite after performing a free program with three quad jumps at the Ondrej Nepela Memorial in the Slovac capital of Bratislava or with even four quad jumps at Japan Open. But U.S. skater Bradie Tennell certainly would not like to be defeated again by another 15-year-old teenager from Russia after being second behind Anna Shcherbakova last week at Skate America. Another medal candidate is Japanese skater Rika Kihira who is known for her triple Axels. Two time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva, who trains with Hanyu in the Cricket Club in Toronto, would like to show that she still is an excellent skater. The two South Korean ladies Young You and Yelim Kim are also quite strong. Canadian lady Aurora Cotop withdrew three days before the competition and was replaced by Veronik Mallet who had just competed at Skate America, but none of the two would have or is expected to win a medal. Serafima Sakhanovich should also not be neglected although she has not been in top shape lately.
One week after their victory at Skate America, World bronze medalists Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue hope to win Skate Canada again, like last year, and guarantee their ticket to the Grand Prix Final in Torino, Italy in December. Their biggest rivals may be Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier from Canada. But the U.S. team of Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker will try not to make this easy, as well the Spanish team of Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin. One week after Skate America, the third U.S. team of Caroline Green & Michael Parsons will compete again. The two Russia nice dance couples Betina Popova & Sergey Mozgov as well as Sofia Evdokimova & Egor Bazin do not seem to be strong enough to win a medal in Kelowna.
In the pairs competition, the 2019 World silver medalists Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov from Russia will try to skate better than in Salt Lake City in September where thy were beaten by U.S. champions Ashley Cain & Timothy LeDuc, who do not compete in Canada. Since this June, the Russians have been training with Marina Zueva in Florida. They will face strong competition from Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro who were seventh at Worlds 2019 in Japan. Other medal candidates are Russians Aleksandra & Dmitri Kozlovskii and the two Canadian teams of Liubov Iliushechkina & Charlie Bilodeau as well as Evelyn Walsh & Trennt Michaud. If the two Californian pairs of Alexa Scimeca Knierim & Chris Knierim and Jessica Calalang & Brian Johnson want to win a medal, they have to skate better than at their first competition of the season in Germany and at Skate America.