NHK Trophy Men’s Preview

Patrick Chan, Takahiko Kozuka and Tatsuki Machida have already earned their spots in the Grand Prix Final.  Five skaters are competing at this event for the three remaining spots in the Final.

Javier Fernandez stunned many by defeating Patrick Chan at home at Skate Canada to claim his first Grand Prix gold medal.  He is going for an ambitious program with three quads in his free skate including one in the bonus and he hit two of them at Skate Canada.  He also has the PCS skills to match and if he hits everything he’ll be tough to beat here.  He needs a 4th place finish or higher to guarantee himself a spot in the Final.

He’ll be facing off against his training mate Yuzuru Hanyu who won the short program at Skate America with a world record score.  The pressure proved to be too much for the young skater and he crumbled in the free skate but managed to hold on for a silver medal.  If he can handle the pressure in front of the home crowd, he could give Fernandez a run for his money.  He needs a bronze medal or better to qualify for the Final.

Daisuke Takahashi had a somewhat disappointing performance at Cup of China and was overtaken by his mostly unknown teammate Tatsuki Machida.  I didn’t feel that his free skate really showed off his skating to his fullest potential and his quad is still a work in progress.  He’ll need to show improvement if he wants to find himself on top of the podium at home.  He needs a bronze medal or better to qualify for the Final.

Sergei Voronov took home a bronze medal this season  from Cup of China but he doesn’t have much outside of the jumps.  He’ll need to hit everything if he wants to keep pace with the deep field here.  A silver medal will keep in the race depending on how everyone else places but a gold medal will guarantee him a trip to Sochi.

Adam Rippon finished behind Voronov at Cup of China and is still struggling with some of his jumps including his signature triple lutz as well as the triple axel.  He is still settling in with his new coach and will be looking for a medal here.  He needs a gold medal to qualify for the Final but that is likely going to be out of his reach unless the other skaters make mistakes.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Javier Fernandez
Silver: Yuzuru Hanyu
Bronze: Daisuke Takahashi

Bios of the competitors:

Kevin Reynolds, CAN: He finished 12th at Worlds and 8th at Four Continents.  He placed 5th at Cup of China.  He is the 2010 Four Continents bronze medalist.  His personal best is 221.31.  He is 22 years old.

Andrei Rogozine, CAN: He placed 7th at Skate Canada and 6th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  He is the 2011 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 200.13.  He is 19 years old.

Yuzuru Hanyu, JPN: He is the reigning World Bronze Medalist.  He won silver at Skate America.  He qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season and finished 4th.  He is the 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalist and 2010 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 251.06.  He is 17 years old.

Daisuke Murakami, JPN: He placed 6th at Skate America last season.  His personal best is 203.00.  He is 21 years old.

Daisuke Takahashi, JPN: He is the reigning Worlds and Four Continents Silver Medalist.  He won silver at Cup of China.  He qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season and 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 won bronze at Cup of China.  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.

Javier Fernandez, ESP: He finished 9th at Worlds and 6th at Europeans.  He won gold at Skate Canada.  He qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season and won bronze.  His personal best is 253.94.  He is 21 years old.

Richard Dornbush, USA: He placed 6th at Rostelecom Cup.  His personal best is 222.42.  He is 21 years old.

Ross Miner, USA: He is the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalist.  He placed 5th at Skate Canada.  His personal best is 223.23.  He is 21 years old.

Adam Rippon, USA: He finished 13th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents.  He placed 4th at Cup of China.  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.