Cup of China Ladies Preview

This event is filled with skaters who have had up and down seasons over the last few years and it really could be anybody’s game.

Julia Lipnitskaia is making her Grand Prix debut after winning every event she entered last season, including the World Junior title.  She made her senior debut at Finlandia Trophy earlier this season and showed some cracks when she finished 2nd in the short program, but she pulled up in the free skate to win the gold medal.  She is well known for her impressive flexibility, especially in her spins as well as her jump arsenal including triple+triples.  If she can hit her jumps, she can earn the gold medal here.

Kiira Korpi struggled with injuries last season but nearly beat Lipnitskaia at Finlandia Trophy.  Her style on the ice is mesmerizing and she can easily win the PCS scores but she’ll need to land her triple+triples and other jumps, especially in her free skate if she wants to win her first Grand Prix medal since 2010.

Mao Asada qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season after two medals on the Grand Prix but had to withdraw due to the sudden death of her mother.  While her free skate was one of the best choreographed of the season she struggled to land the jumps toward the end of the season and finished 6th at Worlds for the 2nd year in a row.

Mirai Nagasu could win the whole event or fall somewhere toward the middle of the pack.  She has a history of making silly mistakes in her programs such as falling out of spins that cost her big points.     She changed her coaching situation in the off-season and seemed much happier and relaxed on the ice at an exhibition performance in September.  She is also only scheduled for one Grand Prix event this season so she’ll want to put up a good score and get herself in a better position for two Grand Prix events in the Olympic year.  She had a decent showing at Finlandia but finished 3rd behind two ladies that are competing here by almost 20 points.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Julia Lipnitskaia
Silver: Mao Asada
Bronze: Kiira Korpi

Bios of the competitors:
Amelie Lacoste, CAN: She finished 16th at Worlds and 7th at Four Continents.  She placed 8th at Skate Canada.  Her personal best is 157.26.  She is 23 years old.

Bingwa Geng, CHN: She finished 11th at Four Continents.  She placed 8th at Cup of China last season.  Her personal best is 142.48.  She is 18 years old.

Zijun Li, CHN: She placed 5th at the World Junior Championships.  She won the silver medal at JGP Latvia and JGP Austria last season to qualify for the JGP Final where she finished 4th.  Her personal best is 157.70.  She is 15 years old. 

Ying Zhang, CHN: This is her international debut.  She is 15 years old. 

Kiira Korpi, FIN: She is the reigning European Silver Medalist.  She placed 6th at NHK Trophy and 5th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  She is the 2007 and 2011 European Bronze Medalist.  Her personal best is 169.74.  She is 24 years old.

Mao Asada, JPN: She placed 6th at Worlds and is the reigning Four Continents Silver Medalist.   She won silver at NHK Trophy and gold at Rostelecom Cup last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.  She is the 2010 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2008 and 2010 World Champion, 2007 World Silver Medalist, 2008 and 2010 Four Continents Champion, 2001 Four Continents Silver Medalist, 2009 Four Continents Bronze Medalist, 2005 World Junior Champion and 2006 World Junior Silver Medalist.  Her personal best is 205.50.  She is 22 years old.

Sofia Biryukova, RUS: She finished 4th at Cup of Russia last season.  Her personal best is 166.07.  She is 18 years old.

Julia Lipnitskaia, RUS: She is the reigning World Junior Champion.  She won gold at JGP Poland and Italy last season to qualify for the JGP Final where she won gold.  Her personal best is 187.05.  She is 14 years old.

Joshi Helgesson, SWE: She placed 10th at Europeans and 9th at Junior Worlds.  She placed 10th at Skate America last season.  Her personal best is 149.08.  She is 19 years old.

Mirai Nagasu, USA: She finished 5th at Skate Canada and won silver at Cup of China last season.  She is the 2011 Four Continents bronze medalist, 2007 World Junior silver medalist and 2008 World Junior bronze medalist.  Her personal best is 190.15.  She is 19 years old.