Cup of China Ladies Preview

Four of the eleven skaters at Cup of China are making their Grand Prix debut, making this a relatively young group.  In her third year on the Grand Prix circuit, Mirai Nagasu is looking for her first medal.  She has the goods to win, placing 1st in the short at last year’s Worlds, but her nerves often get the best of her and cause her to make mistakes in the free.  She also has has problems with under rotation which she has worked to fix and the new rules should help with but she spent a chunk of the off-season off the ice with an injury so it’s unclear if she will be in top form here.  Miki Ando should have a good shot at adding to her gold medal collection after a great season last year.  She is coached by Nikolai Morozov who is having great success with his pupils during the Grand Prix thus far.  Akiko Suzuki is also a podium challenger when she is on and had quite the break through season last year.  Alena Leonova won two medals at the Grand Prix last year but had less competitive assignments.  She has also struggled with consistency and is being eclipsed by her countrymate Ksenia Makarova who won silver at Skate Canada.  Amanda Dobbs surprised everyone last season with a 6th place finish at US Nationals in singles and 7th place finish in pairs.  With her pairs partner retiring it will be interesting to see if the renewed focus on her singles leads to a medal here as she has some very lovely elements.

My podium predictions are:
Gold: Miki Ando
Silver: Mirai Nagasu
Bronze: Akiko Suzuki

Information on all of the skaters competing is below.

Diane Szmiett, CAN: Szmiett placed 10th at last year’s Four Continents with a personal best score in her short program.  She placed 8th at last year’s Cup of China with personal best total scores and free skate scores.  At her first stop on this year’s Grand Prix, she placed 12th at Cup of China.

Bingwa Geng, CHN: Geng placed 11th at last year’s Cup of China with personal bests in the short and free program.  She placed 18th at the 2009 World Junior Championships.

Quiying Zhu, CHN: Zhu placed 19th at last year’s World Junior Championships.  This is her Grand Prix debut.

Miki Ando, JPN: Ando placed 5th at the Olympics and 4th at the World Championships.  She won her Rostelecom and NHK Trophy assignments last season and placed 2nd at the Grand Prix Final.  She is the 2004 World Junior Champion and 2007 World Champion.  She is the only lady to ever land a quadruple jump in competition.

Akiko Suzuki, JPN: Suzuki placed 8th at the Olympics Games with personal best short and free program scores.  She also placed 11th at the World Championships and 2nd at Four Continents.  She won gold at last season’s Cup of China and placed 5th at Skate Canada to earn a berth to the Grand Prix Final where she won bronze. 

Min-Jeong Kwak, KOR: Kwak placed 13th in her Olympic debut with personal bests in the free skate and total score and finished 22nd at the World Championships.  She finished 11th at both her Grand Prix assignments last year.  This is her Grand Prix debut.

Alena Leonova, RUS: Leonova placed 9th at her Olympic debut with personal bests in the short program and total score and followed it up with a 13th place finish at Worlds.  She was 7th at the European Championships.  She won bronze at last season’s Rostelecom Cup and silver at the NHK Trophy to qualify her for the Grand Prix Final where she placed 6th.

Joshi Helgesson, SWE: Helgesson placed 9th last season at her third World Junior Championships with a personal best in the free skate.  She placed 9th at Skate America and 11th at Skate Canada last season.  Her older sister also competes for Sweden. 

Amanda Dobbs, USA: Dobbs placed 4th at the Four Continents Championships with personal best scores in the short program and free skate.  This is her Grand Prix debut.

Kristine Musademba, USA: Musademba won gold at her first Junior Grand Prix assignment last season before placing 10th at her second assignment.  This is her Grand Prix debut.

Mirai Nagasu, USA: Nagasu placed 4th at her Olympic debut with personal bests in the free skate and total score.  She placed 7th at the World Championships after a personal best short program.  She is the 2007 Grand Prix Final champion, 2007 US Junior Champion and 2008 US Senior Champion.  She won a silver and bronze medal at the World Junior Championships.  She placed 5th at Cup of China and 4th at Skate Canada last season.