2017 Skate Canada Dance Preview

Four teams at this event are making their Grand Prix debut, including reigning World Junior Silver Medalists Loboda and Drozd, while two of these teams qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season.  All Loboda is the youngest female competitor at 18, while both Tessa Virtue and Kaitlyn Weaver are 28.  Pavel Drozd is the youngest male competitor at 21, while Alper Ucar is 32.  Three teams have scored over 180 points, while two teams have scored over 190 points.

Virtue and Moir are the unquestioned favorite at this event, so the real competition will be for silver and bronze and to see how close they can get to Virtue and Moir.  As with any ice dance event, this will come down to levels, especially on the all important step sequences.  By the Olympics, top teams will want Level 4 on all of their elements and some of these teams have even been earning Level 2 on their step sequences.  Given that there can be up to a 1.5 point difference between levels, this can be a huge hit on the technical score.

Virtue and Moir will compete for their 8th season on the Grand Prix and have medaled 13 times, including 10 consecutive gold medals.  They have qualified for the Final six times, winning a medal five times.  Their first gold medal at the Final came last season.  After returning to competition last season, they were undefeated, and only lost a segment of competition once, the free dance at this event.  They won gold at the Autumn Classic International to start this season.  They earned Level 4 for their rhumba, twizzles, and lift in their short dance, with Level 3 on their non touching step sequence and partial step sequence.  They earned all positive GOEs, many of them +3, for a total of 11 points.  Their program components were in the mid 9s, and included two 10.00 scores.  Their free dance received Level 4 for their lifts, twizzles, and spin, with Level 3 on both step sequences.  Their program components were all positive, netting 16 points and their program components were in the mid 9s.  For this program, they earned three 10.00 marks.  They have the best short dance, best free dance, and best total scores.

Hubbell and Donohue are returning for their 7th season the Grand Prix, and have won 7 total medals.  They have qualified for the Grand Prix Final each of the last two seasons.  They won gold at the US Figure Skating Classic to kick off their season.  They earned Level 4 on their rhumba and Level 3 on their non touching step sequence and lift in the short dance.  They had all positive GOEs, earning 9 points, and had program components in the high 8s and low 9s.  Their free dance received Level 4 for their twizzles, spin, and lifts with Level 3 on their diagonal step sequence.  They earned all positive GOEs, earning 14 points, and had program components in the high 8s and low 9s.  They lost one point for an extended lift.  They have the 7th best short dance, 6th best free dance, and 6th best total scores.

Weaver and Poje are competing for the 11th season on the Grand Prix and have medaled 15 times.  The last time they failed to medal at a Grand Prix event was back in 2010 when they finished 4th at Skate America.  They have qualified for the Final five times, including winning gold twice, but they did not make the Final last season.  They won silver at the Autumn Classic International to start their season.  For their free dance, they are returning to Je Suis Malade, the program that put them on the map and was a breakout moment for their careers.  Their short dance featured Level 4 twizzles, and Level 3 partial step sequence, rhumba, non-touching step sequence, and lift.  They earned a slightly negative GOE on their twizzles and had program components in the mid 8s.  Their free dance received Level 4 on their lifts and twizzles with Level 3 on their spin and step sequences.  They had all positive GOEs, totaling 12 points and had program components in the mid 8s.  They have the 10th best short dance, 8th best free dance, and 8th best total scores.

Loboda and Drozd are making their Grand Prix debut after winning two medals at the Junior World Championships.  They competed for four seasons on the Junior Grand Prix, winning 8 medals and qualifying for the Junior Grand Prix Final three times (winning silver each time).  They made their senior debut at Lombardia Trophy where they won the silver medal.  Their short dance earned Level 4 on their twizzles and lift along with a Level 3 on their non touching step sequence.  They earned all positive GOEs and had program components in the mid 7s.  Their free dance received Level 4 for their lifts, twizzles, and spin with all positive GOEs and program components in the mid 7s.

Hawayek and Baker are starting their fourth season on the Grand Prix and have won one medal in their career: a bronze at NHK Trophy in 2014.  They won silver at the US International Figure Skating Classic earlier this season.  They earned Level 4 on their lift in the short dance and had program components in the mid to high 7s.  They also earned a one point deduction for a fall.  Their free dance received Level 4 for the twizzles, lifts and spin.  They had all positive GOEs, worth 10 points, and had program components in the high 7s to low 8s.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Virtue and Moir

Silver: Hubbell and Donohue

Bronze: Weaver and Poje

 

Bios of the competitors:

Soucisse/Firus, CAN: This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 154.60.  She is 22 and he is 23.

Virtue/Moir, CAN: They are the reigning World Champions and reigning Four Continents Champions.  They won gold at Skate Canada and gold at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won gold.  They are the 2010 Olympic Champions; 2014 Olympic Silver Medalists; 2010 and 2012 World Champions; 2008, 2011, and 2013 World Silver Medalists; 2009 World Bronze Medalists; 2008 and 2012 Four Continents Champions; 2009 and 2013 Four Continents Silver Medalists; 2006 and 2007 Four Continents Bronze Medalists; 2006 World Junior Champions; and 2005 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 198.62.  She is 28 and he is 30.

Weaver/Poje, CAN: They finished 4th at Worlds and 5th at Four Continents.  They won bronze at Rostelecom Cup and silver at Cup of China last season.  They are the 2014 World Silver Medalists, 2015 World Bronze Medalists, 2010 and 2015 Four Continents Champions, 2012 and 2016 Four Continents Bronze Medalists, and 2007 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 190.56.  She is 28 and he is 30.

Lorenz/Polizoakis, GER: They placed 19th at Worlds and 14th at Europeans.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 155.34.  She is 22 and he is 22.

Kaliszek/Spodyriev, POL: They finished 14th at Worlds and 8th at Europeans.  They placed 5th at Cup of China and 7th at NHK Trophy last season.  Their personal best is 157.15.  She is 21 and he is 23.

Loboda/Drozd, RUS: They are the reigning World Junior Silver Medalists.  They won gold at JGP Russia and gold at JGP Estonia last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where they won silver.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  They are the 2016 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 164.37.  She is 18 and he is 21.

Smart/Diaz, ESP: They placed 18th at Worlds.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 155.56.  She is 20 and he is 27.

Agafonova/Ucar, TUR: They finished 17th at Worlds and 11th at Europeans.  They placed 9th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 163.00.  She is 26 and he is 32.

Hawayek/Baker, USA: They finished 6th at Skate Canada and 4th at NHK Trophy last season.  They are the 2014 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 177.36.  She is 20 and he is 24.

Hubbell/Donohue, USA: They placed 9th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents.  They won silver at Skate America and silver at Trophee de France last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 5th.  They are the 2014 Four Continents Champions.  Their personal best is 180.82.  She is 26 and he is 26.