2017 Cup of China Ladies Preview

Three strong Japanese ladies are competing at this event, and with only two spots on the Olympic team, placements here matter when deciding who will head to Korea.  But there are still some dangerous Russian skaters as well as the reigning World Bronze Medalist in the mix.

Alina Zagitova and Amber Glenn are making their Grand Prix debuts at this event.  This is a relatively young field, with Alina Zagitova the youngest at 15 and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva the oldest at 20.  Of the eleven skaters competing in this event, a whopping seven have scored over 200 points in their careers.

Alina Zagitova is making her Grand Prix debut after winning the World Junior title last season.  She kicked off her first senior season with a gold medal at Lombardia Trophy.  At that event, she landed a triple lutz + triple loop and a triple flip in her short program, both in the bonus.  She fell on her double axel but that was the only negative GOE she received for the program.  She earned Level 4 for all of her spins and steps, and despite the fall, she still earned GOEs totaling 5.5 points.  Her program components ranged from 7.70-8.20, fairly strong for a first year senior competitor.  Her free skate is completely backloaded, with all seven of her jumping passes in the bonus, including a double axel + triple toe and a triple lutz + triple loop.  They lutz + loop combo earned positive GOEs and was worth 13.61 points.  In fact, she earned positive GOEs on the entire program, many in the 2s and 3s, and netted 13 points total.  She again achieved Level 4 on all of her spins and the step sequence and her program components were higher than the short program, in the mid 8s.  She has the 5th best short program, 2nd best free skate, and 2nd best total scores.

Wakaba Higuchi won bronze at Rostelecom Cup a few weeks ago.  She can guarantee herself a spot in the Final with a gold medal, while a silver or bronze would keep her in the running.  Her best short program came at Lombardia Trophy and included a triple lutz + triple toe and a triple flip both in the bonus.  She earned all positive GOEs, netting her 7 points over the base value.  She earned Level 4 for all of her spins and her step sequence and had program components in the mid 8s.  At Rostelecom Cup, her triple + triple was under-rotated, but she did max out her levels.  She has hit her triple lutz + triple toe combinations at both her events this year, and earned all Level 4s at Rostelecom Cup with program components in the mid 8s.  She has the 4th best short program, 3rd best free skate, and 3rd best total scores.

Mai Mihara is starting her sophomore season on the Grand Prix after winning bronze in her debut last season at Skate America.  She started this season with a silver medal at the Autumn Classic International.  Her short program included a triple lutz + triple toe and a triple flip, but she received an edge call.  Her program components were in the mid 7s to low 8s.  Her free skate featured a triple lutz + triple toe at the beginning of the program and in the bonus but she again received an edge call on her flip and popped the last jump in the program into a double.  She received all positive GOEs except for the flip and her program components were in the high 7s to mid 8s.  She has the 7th best free skate and 7th best total scores.

Marin Honda finished 5th in her Grand Prix debut in Canada last week.  Her short program was not strong enough to finish in the top 6 at that event, but at the US International Figure Skating Classic, she landed a triple flip + triple toe and a triple loop with all positive GOEs and program components in the mid 7s.  Her free skate included a triple flip + triple toe and an under-rotated double axel + triple toe.  She also under-rotated a triple flip, but has five jumping passes in the bonus.  Her program components were in the low to high 7s, but were higher with some marks in the 8s at the US International Figure Skating Classic.  She has the 9th best free skate and 8th best total scores.

Elena Radionova finished 4th at Rostelecom Cup, placing off the podium for the first time in her Grand Prix career.  She has qualified for each of the last four Grand Prix Finals, and she’ll need to win a gold medal here to give herself a chance at qualifying.  Her triple lutz + triple toe in the short program was under-rotated at both Rostelecom Cup and Ondrej Nepela Trophy but her program components were strongest in Russia, where she received marks in the mid to high 8s.  Her free skates have been full of problems from receiving no credit for an intended triple loop at both events, edge calls on her flip at Nepela Trophy, and an under-rotation on her opening triple lutz + triple toe at Rostelecom Cup.  Her program components were best in Russia, ranging from 8.36 to 8.75.  She has the 8th best short program score.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva is starting her 7th season on the Grand Prix and has won seven total medals.  She has qualified for the Final three times, most recently in 2014, and won gold that year.  She placed 6th at Lombardia Trophy and then won bronze at Finlandia Trophy to start her season.  At Lombardia Trophy, her short program included a triple toe + triple toe and a triple lutz (fall).  Her program components were also on the lower side, in the mid 7s.  Her free skate started with a popped lutz and she did not hit a triple + triple combination.  Her program components were slightly better, in the high 7s to mid 8s.  At Finlandia Trophy, she again his her triple toe + triple toe and stood up on her lutz, earning all positive GOEs.  Her program components were higher, in the mid 7s to low 8s.  Her free skate had a triple toe + triple toe in the bonus but she under-rotated a flip and fell on it.  Her program components were similar to Lombardia.  She has the 9th best short program score.

Gabrielle Daleman is entering her third season on the Grand Prix, but has never finished higher than 4th place.  She had a breakout end to her season, medaling at both Four Continents and Worlds.  She had a bit of a disappointing start to this season, finishing 6th at Finlandia Trophy.  Her short program there started with her signature triple toe + triple toe, but she didn’t receive the +3 GOE she normally gets.  She also had a solo triple lutz that she fell on and she only earned Level 2 for all of her spins, leaving lots of points on the table.  Her program components were in the high 7s to low 8s.  Her free skate did not even place her in the top 6 at that event.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Alina Zagitova

Silver: Wakaba Higuchi

Bronze: Mai Mihara

 

Bios of the competitors:

Gabrielle Daleman, CAN: She is the reigning World Bronze Medalist and reigning Four Continents Silver Medalist.  She placed 4th at Skate American and 4th at Trophee de France last season.  Her personal best is 214.15.  She is 19 years old.

Xiangning Li, CHN: She placed 14th at Worlds, 13th at Four Continents, and 11th at Junior Worlds.  She finished 10th at Cup of China last season.  Her personal best is 179.42.  She is 17 years old.

Ziquan Zhao, CHN: She finished 15th at Four Continents.  She placed 11th at Cup of China last season.  Her personal best is 149.12.  She is 19 years old.

Wakaba Higuchi, JPN: She placed 11th at Worlds and 9th at Four Continents.  She won bronze at Rostelecom Cup.  She is the 2015 and 2016 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  Her personal best is 217.63.  She is 16 years old.

Marin Honda, JPN: She is the reigning World Junior Silver Medalist.  She finished 5th at Skate Canada.  She is the 2016 World Junior Champion.  Her personal best is 201.61.  She is 16 years old.

Mai Mihara, JPN: She finished 5th at Worlds and is the reigning Four Continents Champion.  She won bronze at Skate America and placed 4th at Cup of China last season.  Her personal best is 218.27.  She is 18 years old.

Dabin Choi, KOR: She placed 10th at Worlds and 5th at Four Continents.  She finished 7th at Skate Canada and 9th at NHK Trophy.  Her personal best is 191.11.  She is 17 years old.

Elena Radionova, RUS: She finished 4th at Rostelecom Cup.  She is the 2015 World Bronze Medalist, 2015 European Silver Medalist, and 2013 and 2014 World Junior Champion.  Her personal best is 211.32.  She is 18 years old.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, RUS: She placed 4th at Skate Canada and won bronze at Cup of China last season.  She is the 2015 World Champion, 2015 European Champion, 2013 European Bronze Medalist, and 2011 World Junior Silver Medalist.  Her personal best is 210.40.  She is 20 years old.

Alina Zagitova, RUS: She is the reigning World Junior Champion.  She won gold at JGP France and bronze at JGP Slovenia last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where she won gold.  This is her Grand Prix debut.  Her personal best is 218.46.  She is 15 years old.

Amber Glenn, USA: This is her Grand Prix debut.  Her personal best is 183.60.  She is 18 years old.