2014 Cup of China Men’s Preview

In a field normally dominated by men in their mid-20s, there are a lot of talented youngsters at this event.  Headlining the field is 19 year old reigning Olympic and World Champion Yuzuru Hanyu.  Hanyu put together impressive quad jumps with excellent artistry to capture Japan’s first ever Olympic gold in men’s figure skating.  He set a personal best world record short program score there, besting the 100 point mark.  He didn’t have a clean free skate but other competitors also faltered and he placed 1st in both segments of the competition.  He is closing in on the elusive 300 point mark for men and with several other top skaters taking the season off, he should be solely in the driver’s seat with his placements this season.

Maxim Kovtun had a great debut last year, winning two silver medals and qualifying for the Grand Prix Final.  He won his first Russian national title ahead of Evgeni Plushenko but after a disappointing 5th place finish at Europeans (behind two other Russian teammates) he was not named to the Russian Olympic team.  He ended his season with a solid 4th place finish at Worlds.  He has great jumps including quads but hasn’t quite developed the artistry and finesse to carry him if he makes mistakes on the jumps.

Han Yan also made the Final in his first season on the circuit last year and is the reigning Cup of China gold medalist.  He had a fairly unremarkable but solid season after that, finishing 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard and 7th at both the Olympics and Worlds. He has good jumps and is developing his artistic side but doesn’t quite have something yet that reaches out and grabs you and can get the lost in the shuffle.

Richard Dornbush had the short program performance of his life at US Nationals last year, hitting a clean quad and setting a record short program score at that event.  He had set himself up for a chance to go to the Olympics but fell apart in the free skate.    He is a very solid all around skater with good technical and artistic components but hasn’t been able to put together the whole package and skate two clean programs.  He took home the gold medal from the Lombardia Trophy earlier this season with a personal best free skate and total score.

Nam Nguyen skated two clean programs including a quad in his free skate in his debut at Skate America where he took home the bronze.  He has a charming personality on the ice and his La Strada free skate really grows on you throughout the program.  He has a chance to make the Final with another medal winning performance here.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Yuzuru Hanyu

Silver: Maxim Kovtun

Bronze: Richard Dornbush

 

Bios of the competitors: 

Nam Nguyen, CAN: He placed 12th at Worlds, 10th at Four Continents and is the reigning Junior World Champion.  He won bronze at Skate America.  His personal best is 232.24.  He is 16 years old.

Yuhang Guan, CHN: This is his Grand Prix debut.  His personal best is 144.34.  He is 21 years old.

Yi Wang, CHN: He placed 16th at Four Continents.  He finished 9th at Cup of China last season.  His personal best is 195.01.  He is 22 years old.

Han Yan, CHN: He finished 7th at the Olympics and 7th at Worlds.  He won gold at Cup of China and finished 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he finished 6th.  He is the 2013 Four Continents Bronze Medalist and 2012 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 246.20.  He is 18 years old.

Alexei Bychenko, ISR: He placed 21st at the Olympics, 15th at Worlds and 10th at Europeans.  He placed 11th at Skate America.  His personal best is 211.24.  He is 26 years old.

Yuzuru Hanyu, JPN: He is the reigning Olympic and World Champion.  He won silver at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won gold.  He is the 2012 World Bronze Medalist, 2011 and 2013 Four Continents Silver Medalist and 2010 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 293.25.  He is 19 years old.

Keiji Tanaka, JPN: He finished 17th at Four Continents and 7th at Junior Worlds.  He won gold at JGP Slovakia and gold at JGP Czech Republic last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where he finished 4th.  This is his Grand Prix debut.  He is the 2011 World Junior Silver Medalist.  His personal best is 210.02.  He is 19 years old.

Jin Seo Kim, KOR: He finished 16th at Worlds.  He placed 6th at JGP Latvia and 6th at JGP Estonia last season.  This is his JGP debut.  His personal best is 207.34.  He is 17 years old.

Maxim Kovtun, RUS: He placed 4th at Worlds and 5th at Europeans. He won silver at Cup of China and silver at Rostelecom Cup last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he finished 5th.  His personal best is 247.37.  He is 19 years old.

Richard Dornbush, USA: He finished 5th at Four Continents.  He placed 5th at Cup of China and 5th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  His personal best is 237.28.  He is 23 years old.

Misha Ge, UZB: He placed 17th at the Olympics, 27th at Worlds and 13th at Four Continents.  He placed 8th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  His personal best is 207.50.  He is 23 years old.