Cup of China Men’s Preview

Daisuke Takahashi headlines this event and should cruise to an easy victory.  He battled with Patrick Chan for the top podium spot on several occasions last season and finally claimed gold at the World Team Trophy with personal best scores across the board.  His skating skills and performance qualities are legendary but he’ll need a solid quad in both programs to stay in the mix on the World stage.

Brian Joubert rode his Matrix program to personal best scores and a 4th place finish for Worlds after dealing with injury most of last season.  The jumps are the highlights of his program and it will be interesting to see how he can build on the end of his season and find the right vehicle to exhibit his skills.

Tatsuki Machida won the bronze at Skate America as part of the Japanese sweep of the men’s podium.  He had a personal best performance at that event and has shown he is gunning for one of the spots on the Japanese team.  He’ll need a silver medal finish to give himself a shot at the Grand Prix Final and a gold medal to guarantee himself a place in Sochi.

Also in the mix are Adam Rippon, who just missed the podium at his two events last season but had a poor showing at Worlds and Nan Song who just missed the Final last season after winning a silver and bronze on the Grand Prix but struggled toward the end of the season.  If they can hit their quads and other jumps they both can make their way on to the podium.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Daisuke Takahashi
Silver: Tatsuki Machida
Bronze: Brian Joubert

Bios of the competitors:

Kevin Reynolds, CAN: He finished 12th at Worlds and 8th at Four Continents.  He placed 7th at Cup of China last season.  He is the 2010 Four Continents bronze medalist.  His personal best is 221.31.  He is 22 years old.

Jinlin Guan, CHN: He finished 10th at Four Continents.  He is the 2008 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 201.98.  He is 22 years old.

Nan Song, CHN: He placed 14th at Worlds and 11th at Four Continents.   He won bronze at Cup of China and silver at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  He is the 2010 World Junior silver medalist.  His personal best is 226.75.  He is 22 years old.

Yi Wang, CHN: This is his international debut.  He is 20 years old.

Brian Joubert, FRA: He finished 4th at Worlds last season and 8th at Europeans.   He is the 2007 World Champion, 2006 and 2008 World Silver Medalist, 2009 and 2010 World Bronze Medalist; 2004, 2007 and 2009 European Champion; 2003, 2005 and 2011 European Silver Medalist; and 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2010 European Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 244.58.  He is 28 years old.

Tatsuki Machida, JPN: He finished 7th at Four Continents.  He won bronze at Skate America.  He is the 2010 Four Continents Silver Medalist.  His personal best is 229.95.  He is 22 years old.

Daisuke Takahashi, JPN: He is the reigning Worlds and Four Continents Silver Medalist.  He won bronze at Skate Canada and gold at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won silver.  He is the 2010 Olympic Bronze Medalist, 2010 World Champion, 2007 World Silver Medalist, 2008 and 2011 Four Continents Champion, 2005 Four Continents Bronze Medalist and 2002 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 276.72.  He is 26 years old.

Sergei Voronov, RUS: He finished 17th at Worlds and 10th at Europeans.  He placed 7th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  He is the 2006 World Junior Silver Medalist and 2007 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 220.39.  He is 25 years old.

Adam Rippon, USA: He finished 13th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents.  He placed 4th at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  He is the 2010 Four Continents Champion and 2008 and 2009 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 233.04.  He is 22 years old.