2017 Cup of China Men’s Preview

Two men are making their Grand Prix debut at this event, including World Junior Champion Vincent Zhou.  Out of this group, only Javier Fernandez qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season.  Vincent Zhou is the youngest competitor at 17 years old, while Kevin Reynolds and Grant Hochstein are both 27.  Boyang Jin and Javier Fernandez both have personal best scores above 300.

This will definitely be a quad heavy event.  Fernandez, Aaron, Jin, and Zhou all have two quads in their short programs while Kolyada has one.  In the free skate, Jin and Zhou plan four quads, Aaron and Kolyada have three, and Fernandez has two.  Fernandez and Aaron’s hardest quad is the salchow, while Kolyada and Jin’s hardest quad is the lutz.  Zhou stands alone with the quad lutz and the quad flip in his arsenal.

Javier Fernandez is starting his 9th season on the Grand Prix.  He has won ten medals, including five consecutive golds.  He has qualified for the Final five times, medaling three times, but he has never won gold.  He won gold at the Autumn Classic International to start the Olympic season.  He landed a quad toe + double toe and a quad salchow in his short program with all Level 4 spins and step sequences.  He earned all positive GOEs worth 10 points and had program components in the low to mid 9s.  His one big technical weakness at that event was not landing a quad + triple combo, and not having at least one quad in the bonus.  He finished nearly 12 points behind Hanyu in the short program at the Autumn Classic International.  Hanyu landed a quad toe + triple toe in the bonus that earned 18.86 points, while Fernandez’s quad toe + double toe as the opening element in his program earned 13.60 points.  The five point gap in one element makes up half the difference between their scores.  His free skate included a quad toe and a quad salchow + triple toe.  He had a downgraded triple salchow (with a fall), popped triple axel, and an edge call on a triple flip.  He also only earned a Level 2 for his step sequence but his program components were in the low to mid 9s.  He has the 3rd best short program, 5th best free skate, and 4th best total scores.

Max Aaron is entering his 5th season on the Grand Prix, and has won three medals.  His last medal was a gold at Skate America in 2015.  He won silver at the US International Figure Skating Classic to start his season.  His short program includes a quad toe and a quad salchow + triple toe.  His program components were in the low to high 7s.  His free skate included a quad toe + double toe (likely triple), quad salchow, and a quad toe in the bonus.  He also completed two triple axels in the bonus along with a triple salchow + single loop + triple salchow combination.  His only negative GOE came on the quad salchow and his program components were in the mid 7s to low 8s.  He has the 7th best free skate and 6th best total scores.

Mikhail Kolyada won bronze at Rostelecom Cup, his first Grand Prix medal, with a new personal best free skate score.  A gold medal here would all but guarantee him a spot in the Final while a silver or bronze would keep him in the running.  His cleanest short program this season was at Finlandia Trophy, where he landed a quad toe + triple toe and he earned all positive GOEs.  However, he had much higher program components at Rostelecom Cup, ranging from the mid to high 8s.  He has a quad lutz, quad salchow, and quad toe planned in his free skate but hasn’t landed all three of them in competition yet.  In fact, he had three falls in his free skate at Rostelecom Cup.  As he had done earlier this season, he earned Level 4 on all of his spins and step sequence and his program components were again highest at Rostelecom Cup in the high 8s to low 9s.  These are all the more impressive considering his three falls.  He has the 7th best short program, 4th best free skate, and 7th best total scores.

Boyang Jin will be competing for his third season on the Grand Prix, and has won three silver medals.  He has qualified for the Final one time, in 2015.  He won gold at Finlandia Trophy earlier this season.  His short program there featured a quad lutz + triple toe and a quad toe (under-rotated and fall) in the bonus.  His program components were in the mid to high 7s.  His free skate includes a quad lutz, quad salchow (under-rotated and fall), quad toe + double toe (under-rotated), and a quad toe.  He also under-rotated and missed the second triple in his triple + triple combination  and fell on an under-rotated triple + triple combination late in the program.  He has difficult content, but last season it took him a long time to be able to land everything cleanly.  He lost about a point from his technical score after GOEs were taken into effect.  His program components were in the low to high 7s.  He has the 10th best short program and 10th best total score.

Vincent Zhou is making his Grand Prix debut after winning the World Junior title last season.  He won silver at Finlandia Trophy in his senior debut.  His short program at that event was a bit of a rough go with an under-rotated quad lutz and triple axel, but he landed a quad flip + triple toe with positive GOEs.  After the GOEs were factored in, however, he lost nearly 5 points on his technical score.  His program components were also on the lower side in the high 6s to low 7s.  His free skate included a quad lutz, quad flip, quad salchow, and quad toe.  He popped a triple axel but that was the only major error in the program.  His program components were better, in the mid 7s.  These are likely to improve as the season goes on, as he gets more comfortable and well known on the senior circuit.  He has the 8th best free skate score.

Han Yan is competing for his 5th season on the Grand Prix and has won two total medals, however he had the worst finish of his career last year, placing 10th at Skate Canada.  He qualified for the Final his first year on the Grand Prix back in 2013.  He has not competed in a Challenger Series event this year, but did take home a gold medal from the International Cup of Nice, a Senior B event.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Javier Fernandez

Silver: Vincent Zhou

Bronze: Mikhail Kolyada

 

Bios of the competitors:

Kevin Reynolds, CAN: He placed 9th at Worlds and 12th at Four Continents.  He won bronze at Skate Canada last season.  He is the 2013 Four Continents Champion.  His personal best is 253.84.  He is 27 years old.

Boyang Jin, CHN: He is the reigning World Bronze Medalists and finished 5th at Four Continents.  He placed 5th at Skate America and won silver at Cup of China last season.  He is the 2016 World Bronze Medalist, 2016 Four Continents Silver Medalist, and 2015 World Junior Silver Medalist.  His personal best is 303.58.  He is 20 years old.

Han Yan, CHN: He placed 10th at Four Continents.  He finished 10th at Skate Canada and 5th at Cup of China last season.  He is the 2013, 2015, and 2016 Four Continents Bronze Medalist, and 2012 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 271.55.  He is 21 years old.

He Zhang, CHN: This is his Grand Prix debut.  His personal best is 196.20.  He is 20 years old.

Keiji Tanaka, JPN: He placed 19th at Worlds and 13th at Four Continents.  He finished 7th at Rostelecom cup and won bronze at NHK Trophy last season.  He is the 2011 World Junior Silver Medalist.  His personal best is 248.44.  He is 22 years old.

Mikhail Kolyada, RUS: He placed 8th at Worlds and is the reigning European Bronze Medalist.  He won bronze at Rostelecom Cup.  His personal best is 279.41.  He is 22 years old.

Alexander Petrov, RUS: He finished 4th at Junior Worlds.  He placed 7th at Skate Canada and 6th at Cup of China last season.  His personal best is 243.47.  He is 18 years old.

Javier Fernandez, ESP: He finished 4th at Worlds and is the reigning European Champion.  He won gold at Rostelecom Cup and gold at Trophee de France last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he placed 4th.  He is the 2015 and 2016 World Champion; 2013 and 2014 World Bronze Medalist; and 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 European Champion.  His personal best is 314.93.  He is 26 years old.

Alexander Majorov, SWE: He placed 23rd at Worlds and 11th at Europeans.  He finished 12th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  He is the 2011 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 228.97.  He is 26 years old.

Max Aaron, USA: He finished 5th at Rostelecom Cup and 4th at Cup of China last season.  His personal best is 261.56.  He is 25 years old.

Grant Hochstein, USA: He placed 9th at Four Continents.  He finished 11th at Rostelecom Cup.  His personal best is 237.25.  He is 27 years old.

Vincent Zhou, USA: He is the reigning World Junior Champion.  He won silver at JGP Japan and bronze at JGP Estonia last season.  This is his Grand Prix debut.  His personal best is 258.11.  He is 17 years old.