by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(30 October 2019) The 2019 Internationaux de France de Patinage, in the University and 1968 Olympic City of Grenoble, in the Alps of Southeastern France is the third Grand Prix of this season. The rink is called "Pole sud“ (South Pole) and is about two miles south of downtown. Grenoble has no airport because of surrounding mountains. Therefore all skaters, coaches, officials and spectators who come by plane, arrive at Lyon airport, which is about 50 miles northwest of Grenoble, and go to Grenoble by bus, train or car in about one hour. This is the third year this competition has been held in Grenoble.
In the ladies competition, the favorites come from Russia again. Alena Kostornaia, in 2018 second of Junior Worlds, and the 2018 Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova will fight for the gold medal. Their main rivals will be the three Japanese skaters Wakaba Higuchi, Kaori Sakamoto and Yuna Shiraiwa. The third Russian skater is Maria Sotskova. The U.S. skaters in Grenoble are Mariah Bell and Starr Andrews. If Bell is in good shape, she can also hope for a medal.
The big favorite among the men is World Champion Nathan Chen two weeks after his successful first Grand Prix at Skate America in las Vegas. Other medal candidates are Shoma Uno from Japan, who was not yet in top shape at the Finlandia Trophy in early October, Alexander Samarin from Russia and Kevin Aymoz from France whose hometown is Grenoble and who was in excellent shape at Autumn Classics in Canada in September. The second American Tomoki Hiwatashi, Junior World champion seven months ago, gives his senior Grand Prix debut.
In the pairs competition, there is no clear favorite because the French pair of Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres skips this year‘s Grand Prix Series. Therefore the two U.S. teams of Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier as well as Ashley Cain & Timothy LeDuc have a chance to win. Other medal candidates are the two Russian teams of Daria Pavliuchenko & Denis Khodykin and Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov, the Austrians Miriam Ziegler & Severin Kiefer and the Germans Minerva Fabienne Hase & Nolan Seegert.
In ice dance, the big favorites are the reigning world champions Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron from France for whom Grenoble is their first international competition pf the season, after a national competition in late September. The rest of the field can only hope for silver or bronze, especially the Americans Madison Chock & Evan Bates and the Italians Charlene Guigard & Marci Fabbri. Outsider chances fro a medal may have Olivia Smart & Adrian Diaz and Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerreiro from Russia. The suitcases with the skates of all five ice dance teams from Montreal (except Gabriella Papadakis) got temporarily lost in Brussels where they changed flights. They arrived, however, later that evening, the day before practice started.