2017 NHK Trophy Ladies Preview

Of those, finished competing on the Grand Prix this season, Wakaba Higuchi stands at 24 points, while Elena Radionova has 20.  They will both need some help from other competitors to have a chance at making the Final, so the event is wide open at this point, but a few spots could be filled this weekend.

This is a bit of a rematch of Rostelecom Cup, as Medvedeva, Kostner, Nagasu, and Bell are all competing again here.  Medvedeva and Kostner took the top two spots in Russia, while Bell got the best of Nagasu on the US side.  This will actually be the third time this season that Bell and Nagasu have competed against each other, and both have come out on top once.

Medvedeva has won gold at Skate America, Skate Canada, Trophee de France, Rostelecom Cup, and the Grand Prix Final.  If she wins gold here this weekend, she’ll only need to win gold at Cup of China to have won every single event on the circuit, despite this being just her third season competing.

Both Yuna Shiraiwa and Polina Tsurskaya are making their Grand Prix debuts.  Shiraiwa is the youngest at 15, while Carolina Kostner is the oldest at 30.  Eight of these ladies have scored over 190 points, while three have scored over 200 in their careers.  Medvedeva currently holds World record scores in every category.

Evgenia Medvedeva won the gold medal at Rostelecom Cup.  All of her short program jumps are in the bonus, including her triple flip +triple toe and her triple loop.  She has earned all Level 4s at both of her events this season (including the earlier Ondrej Nepela Trophy) and had positive GOEs on all of her elements.  In Russia, she netted 9 points from GOEs alone.  Her program components were in the mid 9s and she earned three 10.00 marks.  She reworked her free skate layout after Nepela, moving one of the jumping passes out of the bonus.  She still has a triple flip + triple toe and a triple salchow + triple toe.  She earned all Level 4s and all positive GOEs, except for her final double axel which she fell on, extremely unusual for her.  Even with the fall, she still earned 13 points from GOEs and had program components in the mid 9s, including three 10.00 marks, although they were all from the same judge.  She needs a gold or silver medal to guarantee her spot in the Final, while a bronze would keep her in the running.  She has the best short program, best free skate, and best total scores.

Carolina Kostner won the silver medal at Rostelecom Cup, behind Medvedeva.  She hit her triple toe + triple toe combination for the first time this season in her short program and also landed a triple loop.  She earned all Level 4s and had all positive GOEs worth 7 points.  Her program components were in the high 8s to mid 9s, not her best for the season.  Out of three events, she has not landed a triple + triple combination in her free skate, although Rostelecom Cup was her cleanest performance to date with no popped jumps or falls and she did add a double axel + half loop + triple salchow combination.  She received all Level 4s and positive GOEs totaling 11 points.  Her program components were in the high 8s to mid 9s.  She needs a gold medal to guarantee her spot in the Final, while a silver would keep her in contention.  She has the 3rd best short program, 5th best free skate, and 5th best total scores.

Rika Hongo placed 6th at Skate Canada.  Her short program had an under-rotated triple flip + triple toe and a triple lutz.  Her program components were in the low to mid 7s.  Her free skate was riddled with jump problems, including four under-rotation calls, but she does have a triple flip + triple toe and a double axel + triple toe + double toe planned.  Her program components were slightly better in the mid to high 7s.

Mirai Nagasu placed a disappointing 9th at Rostelecom Cup.  In her short program, she has stood up on triple axel at both of her events this season, earning a negative GOE at the US Figure Skating Classic and under-rotating it in Russia.  At Rostelecom Cup, her triple + triple combination was also downgraded and she fell, and she fell on an under-rotated triple lutz, giving her no clean jumping passes in the short program.  Despite that, her program components were still fairly good in the mid to high 7s.  She landed a quality triple axel in the free skate at the US International Figure Skating Classic, and while she stood up on it in Russia, it was under-rotated.  She also under-rotated two other jumps, which was better than the four jumps she had under-rotated at the US Classic.

Mariah Bell finished 6th at Rostelecom Cup and won’t be able to qualify for the Final, but could still compete for a medal here.  She hasn’t hit her triple lutz + triple toe cleanly in the short program this season but twice she has received all positive GOEs on everything else in the program and her program components were much better in Russia, scoring in the mid 7s.  She has hit her triple lutz + triple toe combination in her free skate twice with positive GOEs, and she fully rotated all of her jumps, much better than at the US Figure Skating Classic.  Her program components were what really held her back, scoring in the mid 7s, although this was better than she received earlier in the season.

Satoko Miyahara is competing in her first event of the season.  She won the silver medal right behind Medvedeva at the Grand Prix Final last year, but then had to miss the rest of the season.  It has been 11 months since she has competed, so this will be the first real test if she’ll be competitive for an Olympic medal in a few short months.  If she medals here, she’ll have a chance to qualify for the Final at Skate America.

Polina Tsurskaya is a bit of a wild card at this event.  She won two gold medals on the Junior Grand Prix last season with some of the highest junior marks recorded.  She had to have surgery and missed the Junior Grand Prix Final.  She placed 3rd at Russian nationals as a junior and a disappointing 10th at Junior Worlds, but that likely was not her at her best.  The surgery was on her knee and this will be a better indicator of how well it has healed and whether she can land all of the jumps without an issue.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Evgenia Medvedeva

Silver: Carolina Kostner

Bronze: Satoko Miyahara

 

Bios of the competitors:

Alaine Chartrand, CAN: She placed 11th at Four Continents.  She finished 11th at Skate Canada.  Her personal best is 186.11.  She is 21 years old.

Carolina Kostner, ITA: She finished 6th at Worlds and is the reigning European Bronze Medalist.  She won silver at Rostelecom Cup.  She is the 2014 Olympic Bronze Medalist; 2012 World Champion; 2008 and 2013 World Silver Medalist; 2005, 2011, and 2014 World Bronze Medalist; 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2013 European Champion; 2009 and 2011 European Silver Medalist; 2006 and 2014 European Bronze Medalist; and 2003 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  Her personal best is 216.73.  She is 30 years old.

Rika Hongo, JPN: She placed 16th at Worlds and 10th at Four Continents.  She finished 6th at Skate Canada.  She is the 2015 and 2016 Four Continents Bronze Medalist.  Her personal best is 199.15.  She is 21 years old.

Satoko Miyahara, JPN: She won bronze at Skate Canada and silver at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she won silver.  She is the 2015 World Silver Medalist, 2016 Four Continents Champion, and 2014 and 2015 Four Continents Silver Medalist.  Her personal best is 218.33.  She is 19 years old.

Yuna Shiraiwa, JPN: She finished 5th at Junior Worlds.  She placed 4th at JGP Russia and won silver at JGP Germany last season.  This is her Grand Prix debut.  Her personal best is 186.80.  She is 15 years old.

Soyoun Park, KOR: She placed 8th at Skate America and 5th at Trophee de France last season.  Her personal best is 185.19.  She is 20 years old.

Alena Leonova, RUS: She finished 12th at Trophee de France last season.  She is the 2012 World Silver Medalist and 2009 World Junior Champion.  Her personal best is 191.39.  She is 26 years old.

Evgenia Medvedeva, RUS: She is the reigning World Champion and reigning European Champion.  She won gold at Rostelecom Cup.  She is the 2016 World Champion, 2016 European Champion, 2015 World Junior Champion, and 2014 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  Her personal best is 241.31.  She is 17 years old.

Polina Tsurskaya, RUS: She placed 10th at Junior Worlds.  She won gold at JGP Russia and gold at JGP Estonia last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final, but had to withdraw due to injury.  This is her Grand Prix debut.  Her personal best is 195.28.  She is 16 years old.

Nicole Rajicova, SVK: She finished 17th at Worlds and 6th at Europeans.  She placed 7th at Rostelecom Cup and 11th at NHK Trophy last season.  Her personal best is 179.70.  She is 22 years old.

Mariah Bell, USA: She placed 12th at Worlds and 6th at Four Continents.  She finished 6th at Rostelecom Cup.  Her personal best is 191.59.  She is 21 years old.

Mirai Nagasu, USA: She is the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalist.  She placed 9th at Rostelecom Cup.  She is the 2016 Four Continents Silver Medalist, 2011 Four Continents Bronze Medalist, 2007 World Junior Silver Medalist, and 2008 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  Her personal best is 194.95.  She is 24 years old.