by George Rossano
Standings after Trophy Eric Bompard. Competitors who have qualified thus far in bold.
(21 November 2012) With only NHK remaining, the last of the six Grand Prix of Figure Skating competitions, there are several slots available in each discipline to qualify for the 2012 Grand Prix Final, thanks to the few skaters who have won both their events thus far, leaving open many possible qualifiers to be decided at NHK next weekend.
In the first five competitions, only Ashley Wagner has won both her events. The top four ladies at NHK are likely to be Mao Asada, Akiko Suzuki, Agnes Zawadski and Mirai Nagasu. The most likely outcome is that Asada and Suzuki will vie for first and second at NHK, and Zawadski and Nagasu for third and fourth. In that case, Asada and Suzuki make the final, followed by Lipnitskaia. The sixth slot would then go to the skater with 22 points and the best tie breaker.
There are several other plausible results possible at NHK, and some not so plausible, including one where Asada, Suziki, Zawadski and Nagasu all end up with 24 points along with Lipnitskaia. Of these, all but the one with the lowest tie breaker would qualify for the final.
Our prediction (just for the fun of it) is the final will consist of Wagner, Asada, Suzuki, Korpi, Lipnitskaia and Tuktanysheva (beating Zawadski on a tie breaker at 22 points)
The Men's division is just as fluid as the ladies. So far this season, no man has won both their events. The only possibility left for that is if Javier Fernandez wins NHK. The likely top four at NHK are Fernandez, Yazuru Hanyu, Daisuke Takahashi, and Sergei Voronov. If Fernandez and Hanyu place first and second in either order they both make the final, followed by Machida.
But like the Ladies, there are other plausible outcomes at NHK that could scramble the deck.
Given the strengths of the skaters, and the several likely places that could earn them qualification to the final, our prediction is the final will consist of Chan, Kozuka, Fernandez, Hanyu, Machida and Takahashi.
The pairs field at NHK is relatively weak, and there are only two unclaimed slots to fight for. The favorites are Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov and Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch. If the Russians win they qualify with 28 points, and the Canadians also qualify with 22 points on the first tie breaker.
For a U.S. team to make the final, divine intervention would be needed for Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir to win at NHK. This would be a spoiler scenario for the Canadians who could then only earn a potential 22 points, but would fail to make the final on a tie breaker. Any scenario for Caydee Denney & John Coughlin to qualify for the final requires Bazarova & Larionov to fall on their swords and place fifth or lower and Morre-Towers & Moscovitch to place third or lower at NHK.
Our prediction for the final: Volosozhar & Trankov, Pang & Tong, Kavaguti & Smirnov, Duhamel & Radford, Bazarova & Larionov and Moore-Towers & Moscovitch.
Only three of the eight entries at NHK have earned any points in the Grand Prix, so the dance qualification is a bit of a no-brainer. Is there anyone who does not expect Meryl Davis & Charlie White to win the event, earn 30 points in the Grand Prix, and qualify? With Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov more than likely to place second, they qualify as well, and there you have it, the last two slots decided.
Should Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani place second they would end up with 22 points. But even pushing Ilinykh & Katsalapov down one place in the results to third at NHK, the Russians still qualify with 24 points. There doesn't seem to be any other teams at NHK capable of pushing the Russians down further in the results to prevent them for qualifying. For the Shibutanis to qualify, they would need to place second or better and the Russians would have to self destruct, a scenario we consider unlikely.
Our prediction for the final: Virtue & Moir, Davis & White, Pechalat & Bourzat, Bobrova & Soloviev, Cappollini & Lanotte, and Ilinykh & Katsalapov.
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