2017 Skate Canada Men’s Preview

Four of these men are making their Grand Prix debuts at this event, including World Junior Bronze Medalist, Alexander Samarin.  The youngest competitor is Jun Hwan Cha who is making his Grand Prix debut at age 18, while the oldest is Michal Brezina at age 27.  Only Shoma Uno has scored above 300 points, and additionally, only Patrick Chan has scored over 290.

This event will be very interesting as it will pit artistry against the technical side, as these competitors don’t have quite as much fire power as last week.  Shoma Uno is definitely the favorite coming into this event, and he has been able to add an impressive arsenal of quads to his programs while also maintaining artistic excellence in his programs.  He was finally able to master the nerves last season and medal at Worlds for the first time.  Jason Brown may only attempt one or two quads in his programs but his grade of execution scores and program components are often enough to keep him in the mix with the top men.  And Patrick Chan was once the technical leader among men, and for years was the only one attempting two quads in a free skate.  Now he seems to be falling behind and even his artistry can’t seem to hold him up, as he finished 5th at Worlds for the second consecutive season.

Shoma Uno is going into just his third season on the Grand Prix, but he has never not won a medal, and never finished lower than 2nd place.  He has also qualified for two consecutive Grand Prix Finals and won two bronze medals.  He started his season with a gold medal at Lombardia Trophy where he sset new personal best scores across the board and is the only man to score above 300 points so far this season.  He landed a quad flip and a quad toe + triple toe in his short program.  His quad combination was in the bonus and earned all positive GOEs, earning 18.26 points overall.  His program components were solid, ranging from 8.85 to 9.25.  His free skate included a quad loop, quad salchow, quad flip, quad toe + double toe, and a quad toe.  The last three quads were in the bonus, and he earned positive GOEs on all but the quad loop.  In addition, he landed two triple axel combinations.  His GOE earned him 23 points and his program components were in the high 8s to mid 9s.  He has the 2nd best short program, best free skate, and best total scores.

Jason Brown is starting his fifth season on the Grand Prix.  He has won four medals total but has never qualified for the Grand Prix Final.  He won silver at Lombardia Trophy to start his season.  His short program there included a downgraded quad toe with a fall, earning only 1.20 points.  He also received negative GOEs on his triple axel.  The rest of the program was strong with all positive GOEs and Level 4 on his spins and steps.  His program components were in the high 8s and low 9s.  His free skate did not include a quad attempt and he had his triple + triple combination judged under-rotated.  The biggest issue from a technical side is that with the repetition of jump rules and no quads, he has to complete two double axels in his program, which are worth only 3.30 points or 3.63 in the bonus.  He also could backload his program more to make up some of the points, as he has five of the eight jumping passes in the bonus.  His GOEs earned him 13 points and his program components were in the high 8s to mid 9s.  He has the 6th best free skate and 7th best total score.

Brown’s biggest challenge in catching up to Uno comes down to the technical score.  Brown is well known for completing his elements extremely well and for making up points on the grade of execution, however, the GOE is factored based on the base value of the element.  So the higher the base value, the higher the potential gain from a GOE.  In the free skate at Lombardia Trophy, Uno earned 10 points MORE from GOE than Brown.  For example, Brown completed a double axel that earned three +2s, three +1s, and one 0 which gave him .70 points.  Uno completed a quad salchow that earned one +2, four +1s, and two 0s but earned .80 in GOE.  So although Uno’s element was not judged to be as clean as Brown’s, he received more points overall.

Jorik Hendrickx is competing in just his fourth Grand Prix event and has never finished higher than 6th place.  He won gold at Nebelhorn Trophy with personal best scores across the board earlier this season to earn himself an Olympic berth.  His short program includes a triple lutz + triple toe and a triple loop but he earned Level 4 on all of his spins and step sequences and had positive GOEs on all of his elements.  His program components were in the mid 7s to low 8s.  His free skate again did not include a quad, but he earned Level 4 on the steps and spins and had all positive GOEs, earning 11 points.  His GOEs were slightly higher in the high 7s to mid 8s.  He has the 9th best total score.

Keegan Messing is competing in his second ever Grand Prix event.  He finished 11th at this event in 2015.  He won bronze with personal best scores at Autumn Classic International to start the season.  His short program includes a quad toe and a triple lutz + triple toe combination.  His program components were in the mid 8s.  His free skate had a quad toe and a quad toe + double toe in the bonus but he earned Level 1 on one spin and his step sequence in addition to under-rotating a triple loop and receiving an edge call on a triple flip.  His program components were again in the mid 8s.  He has the 9th best short program score.

Patrick Chan will be competing in his 11th season on the Grand Prix.  He has 15 medals, 12 of them gold, and has qualified for the Final eight times, medaling four times.  However, he missed the podium at a Grand Prix event as recently as 2015 and hasn’t medaled at the Final since 2013.  He has not competed yet this season as he was breaking in some new boots and decided not to compete in the Challenger Series.  He often played it safe last season and did not put the quad in his short program, but he is one of only a handful of men to score over 100 points in the short program and 200 points in the free skate, however, he has never done so at the same event.  In fact, his personal best score was set way back in 2013.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Shoma Uno

Silver: Patrick Chan

Bronze: Jason Brown

 

Bios of the competitors:

Brendan Kerry, AUS: He placed 15th at Worlds and 11th at Four Continents.  He finished 10th at Skate America and 10th at Trophee de France.  His personal best is 236.24.  He is 22 years old.

Jorik Hendrickx, BEL: He finished 21st at Worlds and 4th at Europeans.  He placed 9th at Skate America and 6th at Trophee de France last season.  His personal best is 253.06.  He is 25 years old.

Patrick Chan, CAN: He placed 5th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents.  He won gold at Skate Canada and gold at Cup of China last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he finished 5th.  He is the 2014 Olympic Silver Medalist; 2011, 2012, and 2013 World Champion; 2009 and 2010 World Silver Medalist; 2009, 2012, and 2016 Four Continents Champion; and 2007 World Junior Silver Medalist.  His personal best is 295.27.  He is 26 years old.

Keegan Messing, CAN: His personal best is 248.30.  He is 25 years old.

Nicolas Nadeau, CAN: He finished 12th at Junior Worlds.  This is his Grand Prix debut.  His personal best is 224.76.  He is 20 years old.

Michal Brezina, CZE: He placed 17th at Worlds and 12th at Europeans last season.  He finished 4th at Skate Canada and 10th at Cup of China.  He is the 2013 European Bronze Medalist and 2009 World Junior Silver Medalist.  His personal best is 243.52.  He is 27 years old.

Paul Fentz, GER: He finished 20th at Worlds and 10th at Europeans.  This is his Grand Prix debut.  His personal best is 225.85.  He is 25 years old.

Takahito Mura, JPN: He finished 8th at Skate Canada and 5th at Trophee de France last season.  He is the 2014 Four Continents Champion.  His personal best is 268.43.  He is 26 years old.

Shoma Uno, JPN: He is the reigning World Silver Medalist and reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalist. He won gold at Skate America and silver at Rostelecom Cup last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won bronze.  He is the 2015 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 319.84.  He is 19 years old.

Jun Hwan Cha, KOR: He finished 5th at Junior Worlds.  He won gold at JGP Japan and gold at JGP Germany last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where he won bronze.  This is his Grand Prix debut.  His personal best is 242.45.  He is 18 years old.

Alexander Samarin, RUS: He placed 8th at Europeans and is the reigning World Junior Bronze Medalist.  He won gold at JGP Russia and gold at JGP Estonia last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where he won silver.  This is his Grand Prix debut.  His personal best is 245.53.  He is 19 years old.

Jason Brown, USA: He placed 7th at Worlds and 6th at Four Continents.  He won silver at Skate America and finished 7th at NHK Trophy.  He is the 2013 World Junior Silver Medalist and 2012 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 273.67.  He is 22 years old.