2017 NHK Trophy Pairs Preview

Sui and Han won gold last week at Cup of China with a new personal best free skate score.  Their short program included a solo triple toe and a throw triple flip with Level 4 on everything but their death spiral.  Their throw triple flip was awarded all +3 GOE, receiving 7.60 points overall.  They had all positive GOEs, racking up 10 points, and had program components in the mid 9s.  They even earned five 10.00 marks coming from three different judges.  Their free skate started with a quad twist and also included a triple toe + double toe + double toe combination and a triple salchow.  Their throws were a triple flip and triple salchow, both which received very high GOEs.  They earned Level 4 on their lifts, and while they did earn a negative GOE on their side by side triple salchows, overall the program was so good, they earned 14 points.  Their program components were in the mid 9s and they received one 10.00 mark.  Despite setting up a sizeable gap between the other competitors and setting a new personal best, they still have some improvement they can make in their free skate, especially in regards to their levels.  They need a gold or silver medal to qualify for the Final, while a bronze would give them a solid chance.  They have the best short program, best free skate, and best total scores.

Stolbova and Klimov won silver at Rostelecom Cup.  At that event, they executed a throw triple flip and a solo triple toe (fall) in the short program.  They earned the most Level 4s of the season with their death spiral, pairs spin, lift, and step sequence.  Their program components were in the high 8s to low 9s, also their highest of the season.  Their free skate featured throw triple flip and throw triple salchow (fall) along with side by side triple salchows and side by side triple toes (fall and missed combo–intended to be triple toe + double toe + double toe).  They earned Level 4 on their lifts, death spiral, and spins and despite the falls, had program components in the high 8s to mid 9s.  They need a gold medal to qualify for the Final, while a silver would keep them in contention.  They have the 6th best short program, 7th best free skate, and 7th best total scores.

Astakhova and Rogonov won a bronze medal at Rostelecom Cup with personal best free skate and total scores.  Their short program included a side by side triple salchow and throw triple flip.  While they had earned Level 4s on all of their elements at both Nepela Trophy and Finlandia Trophy, they only earned Level 4 on their lift, death spiral, and pairs spin in Russia.   In every short program this season, they have earned all positive GOEs, except for one slightly negative GOE at Finlandia.  They earned their best program components in Russia, in the mid 7s.  In the free skate, they hit their triple toe + double toe + double toe combination for the first time this season along with their side by side triple salchows.  They also hit a throw triple flip and throw triple loop.  They earned Level 4 on their lifts and spins, whereas they had received Level 4 on their twists and death spiral at their earlier events.  Their program components were in the high 7s to low 8s.  They need a gold medal to give themselves a solid chance of qualifying for the Final.  They have the 9th best free skate and 8th best total scores.

Seguin and Bilodeau finished 5th at Rostelecom Cup, and likely won’t be able to qualify for the Final, however they could still compete for a medal here.  They hit their side by side triple salchows in the short program along with their throw triple lutz.  They earned Level 4 on their lift, death spiral, and pairs spin but only a Level 2 on their step sequence, which had previously earned Level 4 at the Autumn Classic International.  They had all positive GOEs and their program components were their best of the season, in the mid to high 7s.  They missed their triple toe + double toe combo in the free skate but hit their side by side triple salchows.  They landed their throw triple lutz and throw triple loop.  They earned Level 4 on only one lift and their side by side spins, and only earned a Level 1 on their pair spin.  Their program components were in the mid to high 7s.

Scimeca and Knierim had to sit out most of last season as she battled a life threatening illness that required several surgeries.  They still managed a top 10 finish at Worlds with a new personal best short program score.  If they can medal here, they’ll have a chance to qualify for the Final in a few weeks at Skate America.  This will be their fifth Grand Prix season and they have medaled twice, qualifying them for the Grand Prix Final once.  They kicked off their season with a silver medal at the US International Figure Skating Classic. Their short program included doubled salchows and a throw triple flip.  They earned Level 4 on their lift and death spiral and only a Level 1 on their pairs spin.  Their program components were in the low to mid 7s.  Their free skate did not include their signature quad twist.  They singled their side by side salchows and completed a double toe + double toe sequence.  They did land a throw triple salchow and throw triple flip.  They earned Level 4 on their lifts, death spiral, and pairs spin.  Their program components were in the high 7s to low 8s.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Sui/Han

Silver: Stolbova/Klimov

Bronze: Astakhova/Rogonov

 

Bios of the competitors:

Ziegler/Kiefer, AUT: They finished 18th at Worlds and 9th at Europeans.  They placed 6th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 180.60.  She is 23 and he is 27.

Seguin/Bilodeau, CAN: They placed 11th at Worlds.  They finished 5th at Rostelecom Cup.  They are the 2015 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 208.30.  She is 21 and he is 24.

Sui/Han, CHN: They are the reigning World Champions and reigning Four Continents Champions.  They won gold at  Cup of China.  They are the 2015 and 2016 World Silver Medalists; 2012, 2014, and 2016 Four Continents Champions; and 2010, 2011, and 2012 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 232.06.  She is 22 and he is 25.

Suto/Boudreau-Audet, JPN: They finished 17th at Worlds and 10th at Four Continents.  They placed 8th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 164.96.  She is 19 and he is 24.

Suzaki/Kihara, JPN: They placed 13th at Four Continents.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 130.85.  She is 17 and he is 25.

Astakhova/Rogonov, RUS: They won bronze at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 199.11.  She is 20 and he is 29.

Stolbova/Klimov, RUS: They finished 5th at Worlds and 4th at Europeans.  They won silver at Rostelecom Cup.  They are the 2014 Olympic Silver Medalists; 2014 World Silver Medalists; 2014 and 2015 European Silver Medalists; 2012 European Bronze Medalists; 2011 World Junior Silver Medalists; and 2010 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 229.44.  She is 25 and he is 27.

Scimeca Knierim/Knierim, USA: They placed 10th at Worlds and 6th at Four Continents.  They are the 2016 Four Continents Silver Medalists and 2014 Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 207.96.  She is 26 and he is 30.

 

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