2017 Skate America Ladies Preview

We’ve reached the final Grand Prix event of the season and five of the spots in the Grand Prix Final have been secured.  Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova have each qualified with 30 points, while Kaetlyn Osmond, Carolina Kostner, and Maria Sotskova each have 26 points.  Wakaba Higuchi currently sits in the final spot with 24 points.

This is the most clear cut event in terms of qualification scenarios.  If either Ashley Wagner or Polina Tsurskaya win, they qualify for the Final.  If another lady besides these two wins the event, Wagner can qualify with a silver medal if she scores at least 235.76 points (which would be in World Record score territory).  Tsurskaya would only need 209.51 points to qualify with a silver medal, just a hair less than she scored at NHK Trophy.  If none of these conditions are met, Higuchi will hang on to the last spot.

While the qualification scenarios are clear, the field is not.  While Wagner won a bronze medal this season, it was a bit of a gift as she didn’t place in the top 3 in either segment of the event.  Gabrielle Daleman is a reigning World medalist and has been putting out great short programs but has been really struggling through her free skates.  Satoko Miyahara is still coming back from injury and isn’t back to the form that qualified her for the Final last season.  And Bradie Tennell could be a spoiler in her Grand Prix debut, especially if she earns higher program components than she received at Lombardia Trophy.  If any one of these ladies can put together two clean skates, the podium picture might look very different.

Polina Tsurskaya won bronze at NHK Trophy in her Grand Prix debut with personal best scores across the board.  She even broke 200 points for the first time in ISU competition.  Her short program includes a triple lutz + triple toe and a triple loop.  She earned Level 4 on all of her spins and had all positive GOEs worth 6 points.  Her program components were in the mid to high 7s.  Her free skate was very strong with a triple lutz + triple toe and a double axel + triple toe + double toe in the bonus.  She has five jumps in the bonus and earned all positive GOEs worth 11 points.  She earned Level 4 on all of her spins and the step sequence and had program components in the low to mid 8s.  She has the 8th best short program, 7th best free skate, and 6th best total scores.

Ashley Wagner won a bronze medal at Skate Canada.  Her short program ranked her 7th at that event after she under-rotated her triple flip + triple toe combo and her solo triple loop.  She also only earned Level 3 on two of her spins.  She didn’t do herself any favors on GOEs and only earned a slight bonus.  Her program components were decent in the low to mid 8s.  Her short program was also riddled with errors and she was only 4th in that segment.  She under-rotated her triple flip + triple toe, triple loop, triple loop + double toe, and had an edge call on her triple lutz.  In fact she only had one clean triple in the entire program.  Her program components were in the low to high 8s.

Gabrielle Daleman placed 6th at Cup of China after winning the short program.  She landed a triple toe + triple toe with almost all +3 GOEs, earning 10.60 points overall.  She also had a triple lutz in the bonus.  Her program components were in the low to mid 8s.  She has competed at two events this season, Cup of China and Finlandia Trophy, and at both events, her free skate did not even rank in the top 6 for the event.  She has the 6th best short program score.

Satoko Miyahara finished a disappointing 5th at NHK Trophy after qualifying for the Grand Prix Final last season.  Her short program had a triple lutz + double toe which was under-rotated and a triple loop.  She earned all Level 4 on her spins and only had a slightly negative GOE on the opening combo.  Her program components were in the low to mid 8s.  Her free skate had an under-rotated triple lutz + triple toe and an under-rotated double axel.  She earned Level 4 on two of her spins and the step sequence.  Her program components were a bit all over the board with some judges giving her marks in the 7s while others were in the 9s, but she averaged mid 8s.

Bradie Tennell is making her Grand Prix debut at this event after placing 4th at Lombardia Trophy earlier this season.  Despite only competing in one Challenger Series event early in the season, she had top ten scores until last week.  She has the highest international score by a US lady this season and could pull off a big upset by placing above Karen Chen and Ashley Wagner at this event.  Her short program has a triple lutz + triple toe and a solo triple loop.  She earned Level 4 on all of her spins and had all positive GOEs.  While her technical elements were all very solid, her program components kept her overall placement down with arks in the mid to high 6s.  Her free skate included a triple lutz + triple toe and she earned Level 4 on two of her spins and the step sequence.  She did earned one slight negative GOE on her solo triple loop and netted 9 points overall.  Her program components were still on the lower side in the mid 7s.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Polina Tsurskaya

Silver: Satoko Miyahara

Bronze: Ashley Wagner

 

Bios of the competitors:

Gabrielle Daleman, CAN: She is the reigning World Bronze Medalist and reigning Four Continents Silver Medalist.  She placed 6th at Cup of China.  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 8th at Cup of China.  Her personal best is 179.42.  She is 17 years old.

Satoko Miyahara, JPN: She finished 5th at NHK Trophy.  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.

Kaori Sakamoto, JPN: She is the reigning World Junior Bronze Medalist.  She finished 5th at Rostelecom Cup.  Her personal best is 195.54.  She is 17 years old.

Alena Leonova, RUS: She finished 6th at NHK Trophy.  She is the 2012 World Silver Medalist and 2009 World Junior Champion.  Her personal best is 191.39.  She is 27 years old.

Anna Pogorilaya, RUS: She finished 13th at Worlds and is the reigning European Silver Medalist.  She placed 9th at Skate Canada.  She is the 2016 World Bronze Medalist, 2015 and 2016 European Bronze Medalist, and 2013 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  Her personal best is 216.47.  She is 19 years old.

Polina Tsurskaya, RUS: She placed 10th at Junior Worlds.  She won bronze at NHK Trophy.  Her personal best is 210.19.  She is 16 years old.

Nicole Rajicova, SVK: She finished 17th at Worlds and 6th at Europeans.  She placed 10th at NHK Trophy.  Her personal best is 179.70.  She is 22 years old.

Karen Chen, USA: She finished 4th at Worlds and 12th at Four Continents.  She placed 7th at Skate Canada.  Her personal best is 199.29.  She is 18 years old.

Bradie Tennell, USA: She placed 7th at Junior Worlds.  This is her Grand Prix debut.  Her personal best is 196.70.  She is 19 years old.

Ashley Wagner, USA: She placed 7th at Worlds.  She won bronze at Skate Canada.  She is the 2016 World Silver Medalist, 2012 Four Continents Champion, and 2007 and 2009 World Junior Bronze Medalist. Her personal best is 215.39.  She is 26 years old.