(27 November 2021) The 2021 Grand Prix Final will be held December 9-12 in Osaka, Japan. Six entries each will complete in Women's, Men's, Pairs and Ice Dance categories for both Junior and Seniors. The qualifiers for the senior categories were determined from the result of the six Grand Prix competitions that began with Skate America and ended with Rostelcom Cup.
The results of the Final should provide a good indication of the prospects for the competitors at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China. The Games open just eight weeks after the conclusion of the Final.
The results of the Grand Prix also provide a useful report card for the quality of skating in the ISU member countries.
Kamila Valiyeva (RUS) — 30
Russia is the first nation to earn five spots in any discipline in Grand Prix Final history (since 1995). Four of the Russians are coached by Eteri Tutberidze. One Olympic medal contender not present in the final is Aleksandra Trusova, who won at Skate America, but did not compete in her second event due to injury. But first she will have to make the Russian team, more than likely having to beat out Tuktamysheva for the third spot on the Russian team.
No U.S. women qualified for the Grand Prix Final and no U.S. woman even made a Grand Prix podium this season, for the first time ever. The best finishing U.S. woman was Alysa Liu, over 128 cumulative points (sum of two competitions) behind the leader. The women's skating program in the U.S. remains in complete disarray. Time for soul searching and house cleaning after the Beijing games for this discipline in the U.S.
Yuma Kagiyama (JPN) — 30 points
2021 World silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama, won both of his Grand Prix competition this season. Nathan Chen was third at Skate America, where his unbeaten streak since 2018 was broken. He remains the favorite for the Final, and the Beijing games as well, but he will be hard pressed by the other top men. Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu missed both his Grand Prix competitions due to an ankle injury, thought to be due to his quest to achieve a quad Axel. Hanyu needs to decide in the time time left before the Olympics, whether he wants to be a three-time Olympic champion or a two-time champion who came close to landing a quad Axel.
Three U.S. men qualified for the Grand Prix Final, but the positive news for the U.S. men ends there. The other U.S. men in the Grand Prix placed so far down in the standings, there seems little to be optimistic about.
Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov (RUS)
Russia qualified four pairs for the Final, a new record. Sui & Han are looking to cap their career with Olympic Gold in their home country, but they will have stiff competitions from the current Russian World Champions Mishina & Gakkiamov, and the other leading Russian team.
Two U.S. teams qualified as alternates. A U.S. team has not made the final since 2015. The Grand Prix is proof the U.S. pairs program remains lost in the wilderness. When U.S. pairs are overtaken by a relatively new Japanese team (and deservedly so) you know the U.S. pairs program remains in serious trouble, as it has been for many years.
Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
It appears inevitable that Papadakis & Cizeron, four-time World champions, and Sinitsina & Katsalapov, the reigning World champions, will be fighting for the top two podium positions at both the Final and the Beijing games. Hubbell & Donohue, Gilles & Poirier and Chock & Bates are closely matched in points this season, and will most likely be vying for the bronze medal at the Final and the Beijing Games.
The retirement after this season of Hubbell & Donohue, and possibly Chock & Bates, will leave the U.S. dance program significantly weakened. Carreira & Ponomarenko and Hawayek & Baker both seem to have stalled out, with only Green & Parsons showing significant improvement this season.