2017 Cup of China Dance Preview

This promises to be a fascinating event.  First, the field is extremely stacked with three top teams competing here all who are current or former World medalists, and all who want a spot on the Olympic podium this season.  There are also several new and up and coming teams, looking to start making a name for themselves in preparation for the next Olympic cycle.  Additionally, there are 10 teams competing here, but only four countries are represented, China, France, Russia, and the US, so there are also mini national competitions going on between these teams.

Three teams are making their Grand Prix debuts, including former Junior World Champions McNamara and Carpenter.  Angelique Abachkina is the youngest lady at this event at age 17, while Ekaterina Bobrova is the oldest at 27.  Quinn Carpenter is 21 while Evan Bates and Dmitri Soloviev are 28.  Chock and Bates and Bobrova and Soloviev have scored over 180 points in their careers, while Papadakis and Cizeron have a personal best above 190.

Papadakis and Cizeron are going into only their fourth season on the Grand Prix, after missing the 2015 season due to injury.  They have won four medals, including three gold, and have qualified for the Final twice, winning medals both times.  They started their season with a gold medal at Finlandia Trophy.  Their short dance had a Level 4 rhumba, twizzles, and lift, with Level 3 on their non touching step sequence and partial step sequence.  They had all positive GOEs, worth 9 points, and program components in the mid to high 9s.  They even received five 10.00 marks.  Their free dance had Level 4 twizzles, lifts, and spin, with Level 3 on their circular step sequence.  They had a fall during their diagonal step sequence, which dropped it to a Level 2 and made the element worth only 2.60 points after all the deductions.  In contrast, their other step sequence was still only a Level 3 but was worth 9.85 points, so the fall cost them dearly.  The rest of their program was fairly strong, and they still managed to earn 13 points from GOEs and receive program components in the mid 9s.  They have the 2nd best short dance, 6th best free dance, and 5th best total scores.

Bobrova and Soloviev won a silver medal at Rostelecom Cup.  They need a gold medal to guarantee their spot in the Final, while a silver will keep them in contention.  Their short dance in Russia featured Level 4 twizzles, non touching step sequence, rhumba, and lift with Level 3 on their partial step sequence.  They earned all positive GOEs and had program components in the low to mid 9s.  While they have some of the best raw technical scores this season, they can still improve their GOEs and especially their program components.  However, their GOE and program component marks were higher than they received at Pndrej Nepela Trophy earlier this season, and they improved their levels as well.  Their free dance earned Level 4 for the twizzles, lifts, and the straight line step sequence with Level 3 on their diagonal step sequence.  Their GOEs were all positive, except for their spin, which had a bit of a hiccup and only received Level 2, earning 11 points.  Their program components were similar to earlier in the season in the low to mid 9s.  They have the 5th best short dance, 6th best free dance, and 6th best total scores.

Chock and Bates are coming off a disappointing season where they finished 2nd at US Nationals for the second year in a row, and then finished 7th at Worlds, tying their worst performance ever.  They have not competed yet this season, so they are a bit of a wild card in this event.  There is no denying they are a top team and should land on the podium, but it’s a little harder to predict if they will have the programs at their best capacity in regards to levels and performance quality.  This will be their 7th season on the Grand Prix, and they have medaled 8 times.  The last time they won gold was back at Skate America in 2015.  They have qualified for the Final each of the past three seasons, and they won silver twice, but finished 6th last year.

While they are not necessarily medal contenders at this event, this will be the first match up between McNamara and Carpenter and Pogrebinsky and Benoit.  Pogrebinsky and Benoit made their senior debut last season, despite finishing just 3rd at US Nationals as juniors the year prior and not medaling at Junior Worlds.  That year, McNamara and Carpenter won the gold medal at Junior Worlds but decided to stay junior for one more season.  They failed to make the podium last year, and are making their senior Grand Prix debut at this event.  Pogrebinsky and Benoit have never come out on top of McNamara and Carpenter, but they also have a year of senior experience under their belt.

McNamara and Carpenter are making their Grand Prix debut at this event.  They are the 2016 World Junior Champions.  They kicked off their senior careers with a 5th place finish at the Autumn Classic International and an 8th place finish at Finlandia Trophy.  At the Autumn Classic International, they earned Level 4 for the twizzles and lift in their short dance with Level 3 on their non touching step sequence.  They scored all positive GOEs and had program components in the low to mid 7s.  Their free dance earned Level 4 for their lifts and twizzles, with Level 3 on their serpentine step sequence.  They again earned all positive GOEs and had program components slightly higher in the mid to high 7s.  At Finlandia, their short dance again earned Level 4 for the twizzles and lift but only a Level 2 on their step sequence and their program components were similar in the low to mid 7s.    They had a major error on their free dance at Finlandia, with a fall during their spin.  It only earned a Level 1 and taking into account the deduction, was only worth .70 points.

Pogrebinsky and Benoit are entering into their sophomore season on the Grand Prix.  They finished 4th at Lombardia Trophy to start their season.  At Lombardia Trophy, they earned Level 4 on their curve lift and twizzles in the short dance, with Level 3 on the non touching step sequence, but they only earned Level 1 on the rhumba.  They received all positive GOEs and had program components in the mid 7s.  Their free dance featured a Level 4 spin and lifts, with Level 3 on their twizzles.  They earned all positive GOEs and had program components in the low to mid 7s.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Papadakis/Cizeron

Silver: Chock/Bates

Bronze: Bobrova/Soloviev

 

Bios of the competitors:

Chen/Zhao, CHN: They placed 1oth at Four Continents.  They finished 9th at Cup of China last season.  Their personal best is 128.55.  She is 23 and he is 25.

Wang/Liu, CHN: They finished 16th at Worlds and 7th at Four Continents.  They placed 9th at Skate Canada and 6th at Cup of China last season.  Their personal best is 158.36.  She is 23 and he is 23.

Wang/Zhao, CHN: This is their Grand Prix debut.  She is 19 and he is 22.

Abachkina/Thauron, FRA: They finished 8th at Junior Worlds last season.  They won gold at JGP France and bronze at JGP Japan last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where they placed 5th.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 152.17.  She is 17 and he is 22.

Papadakis/Cizeron, FRA: They are the reigning World Silver Medalists and European Champions.  They won gold at Trophee de France and silver at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won silver.  They are the 2015 and 2016 European Champions, 2015 and 2016 World Champions, and 2013 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 196.04.  She is 22 and he is 22.

Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS: They finished 5th at Worlds and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They won silver at Rostelecom Cup.  They are the 2013 World Bronze Medalists, 2013 European Champions, 2011 and 2012 European Silver Medalists, 2016 European Bronze Medalists, and 2007 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 186.68.  She is 27 and he is 28.

Zagorski/Guerreiro, RUS: They placed 5th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  Their personal best is 173.02.  She is 23 and he is 26.

Chock/Bates, USA: They finished 7th at Worlds and are the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They won silver at Skate Canada and silver at Rostelecom Cup last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they placed 6th.  They are the 2015 World Silver Medalists, 2016 World Bronze Medalists, 2015 and 2016 Four Continents Silver Medalists, and 2013 Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 189.01.  She is 25 and he is 28.

McNamara/Carpenter, USA: They placed 7th at Junior Worlds.  They won gold at JGP Czech Republic and gold at JGP Slovenia last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  They are the 2016 World Junior Champions and 2015 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 163.65.  She is 18 and he 21.

Pogrebinsky/Benoit, USA: They finished 7th at Skate America and 6th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  Their personal best is 167.81.  She is 19 and he is 22.