NHK Trophy Dance Preview

The last Grand Prix event that Davis and White lost was the Final back in 2009 and they haven’t lost at a competition since Worlds in 2012.  They have the highest scores in all segments of competition this season and have a good lead over their rivals Virtue and Moir and should be untouchable here.  There is still some room for improvement as they received a Level 3 on their non touching step sequence in the Short Dance and Level 3s on both of their step sequences in the Free Dance at Skate America. They need a medal of any color to qualify for the Final.

Cappellini and Lanotte have a charming 42nd Street Short Dance that led to the silver medal at Skate America.  They received all Level 4s in the Short Dance at that event with positive GOEs and came very close to matching Davis and White on the technical score.  They lost a bit of ground in their Free Dance with a few Level 3s and even a Level 2 on their diagonal step sequence and they still have a ways to go in terms of program components if they hope to catch Davis and White.  They need a gold medal to guarantee a spot in the Final while a silver or bronze would keep them in the running.

The Shibutanis went with a Michael Buble theme for their short dance and it seems to suit them well.  The style plays in to their strengths as does the quick, technically demanding Finnstep.  However, they only received Level 2s on both segments of the Finnstep at Skate America and their short dance lift was also a Level 3.  They had a better time in the free dance, but both of their step sequences were a Level 3.  They had the same technical score as the Italians at Skate America but lagged behind in their program components.  They need a gold medal to guarantee a spot in the Final while a silver would keep them in the running.

Ilinykh and Katsalapov are making their season debut at this event.  After some interesting choices musically last season, they seem to be returning to their roots and the style that won them a Junior Worlds title and are going with Swan Lake for their free dance which should show off their classic Russian style and lines.  They won two silver medals last season and qualified for the Final but had their worst finish ever at Worlds.

Sinitsina and Zhiganshin are also making their season debut.  They won bronze on the circuit last year in their debut season and will be looking to continue their upward climb in a tough Russian field.  They’ll most likely be looking to edge out Riazanova and Tkachenko for the third spot on the Olympic team.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Davis/White

Silver: Cappellini/Lanotte

Bronze: Shibutani/Shibutani

 

Bios of the competitors:

Gilles/Poirier, CAN: They finished 18th at Worlds and 5th at Four Continents.  They placed 4th at Skate Canada and 6th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 157.83.  She is 21 and he is 22.

Kolbe/Caruso, GER: They placed 8th at Europeans.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Her personal best is 142.54.  She is 23 and he is 26.

Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA: They placed 4th at Worlds and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They won silver at Skate America.  Their personal best is 168.49.  She is 26 and he is 28.

Reed/Reed, JPN: They placed 20th at Worlds and finished 7th at Four Continents.  They finished 5th at Skate America.  Their personal best is 141.75.  She is 26 and he is 24.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov, RUS: They finished 9th at Worlds and are the reigning European Silver Medalists.  They won silver at Rostelecom Cup and NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 6th.  They are the 2012 European Bronze Medalists and 2010 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 169.14.  She is 19 and he is 22.

Sinitsina/Zhiganshin, RUS: They placed 6th at Cup of China and won bronze at Rostelecom Cup last season.  They are the 2012 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 153.81.  She is 18 and he is 21.

Davis/White, USA: They are the reigning World Champions and Four Continents Champions.   They won gold at Skate America.  They are the 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists, 2011 World Champions, 2010 and 2012 World Silver Medalists, 2009 and 2011 Four Continents Champions, 2008 and 2012 Four Continents Silver Medalists, and 2006 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 189.56.  She is 26 and he is 26.

Shibutani/Shibutani, USA:  They placed 8th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents.  They won bronze at Skate America.  They are the 2011 World Bronze Medalists, 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalists and 2009 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 163.79.  She is 19 and he is 22.