Rostelecom Cup Dance Preview

Chock and Bates have come on strong this season and are knocking on the door of the World podium with scores in the top two so far this season in all segments of competition.  They took home their first Grand Prix gold medal earlier this season at Skate America and set personal bests across the board.  Their uplifting, triumphant take on the paso doble sets them apart from the rest of the field and their American in Paris free dance is sultry and technical.  Their challenge at this event will be to continue to build on their success and keep pace with Weaver and Poje.  They need a gold, silver or bronze medal to guarantee a place in the Final.

Stepanova and Bukin had a good showing at Skate America, taking home the bronze medal.  They did not set any new personal best scores and part of that may be due to their twizzle levels.  Their sit spin twizzles are innovative and a highlight in their programs, however, due to a technical error where they took off from the same edge for all three sets, they were only credited with Level 1 on the element and lost out on several points.  I really enjoy their Eleanor Rigby program and their contemporary style and feel it suits them well.  In the short dance they have to work on skating like seniors and upping their program components.  They need a gold medal to guarantee a spot in the Final.

Coomes and Buckland are starting their season here after winning their first European medal last season.  They have never won a medal on the Grand Prix but they have been showing steady improvement season after season and this might be their breakthrough year.  They will be competing next at NHK Trophy and have a chance for the Final if they win a medal here.

Hawayek and Baker are making their senior Grand Prix debut after winning the World Junior title last year.  They competed at the Nebelhorn Trophy earlier this year and took 4th.  Romeo and Juliet should be the perfect vehicle for their free dance with their long lines and general look on the ice.  They have everything they need to be on the podium if they can make the transition and skate like seniors and be rewarded with the appropriate PCS points but it may take a few outings to get there.  If they can medal here, they have a chance to claim a spot in the Final at NHK Trophy.

Sinitsina and Katsalapov are making their international debut after teaming up in the off-season.  They are coached by Marina Zueva and train alongside the Shibutanis.  As it’s their first season, it can be difficult to completely gel in the timing of side by side elements and have the matching legs and ease in the change of holds in the step sequences.  The biggest drama could come from the face-off between them and Ilinykh/Zhiganshin, their former partners, as to who finishes higher in the rankings.  If they medal here, they also have a chance to qualify for the Final at NHK Trophy.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Chock/Bates

Silver: Coomes/Buckland

Bronze: Stepanova/Bukin

 

Bios of the competitors:

Coomes/Buckland, GBR: They placed 10th at the Olympics, 9th at Worlds and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They finished 7th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 158.69.  She is 25 and he is 25.

Kim/Minov, KOR: They placed 6th at Junior Worlds.  They finished 5th at JGP Slovakia and 4th at JGP Belarus last season.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 133.35.  She is 16 and he is 21.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov, RUS: They placed 4th at Cup of China.  Their personal best is 144.70.  She is 20 and he is 22.

Sinitsina/Zhiganshin, RUS: This is their Grand Prix debut.  She is 19 and he is 23.

Stepanova/Bukin, RUS: They won bronze at Skate America.  They are the 2013 World Junior Champions and 2012 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 152.82.  She is 19 and he is 21.

Aldridge/Eaton, USA: They finished 17th at Worlds and are the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They finished 6th at Skate Canada.  They are the 2012 and 2013 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 144.95.  She is 20 and he is 22.

Chock/Bates, USA: They finished 8th at the Olympics and 5th at Worlds.  They won bronze at Cup of China and Rostelecom Cup last season.  They are the 2013 Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 167.59.  She is 22 and he is 25.

Hawayek/Baker, USA: They are the reigning World Junior Champions.  They won gold at JGP Mexico and gold at JGP Poland last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won silver.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 157.12.  She is 18 and he is 21.