2014 Skate Canada Men’s Preview

Javier Fernandez had an up and down season last year.  He has ambitious programs including three quads in his free skate and loads of triples to boot.  He failed to qualify for the Grand Prix Final but defended his European title.  At the Olympics he completed too many of the same type of jumps and had one jumping pass invalidated.  The value of that jump would have given him the bronze medal.  He had another strong but mistake-filled outing at Worlds but was able to defend his bronze medal.  He has all the tools to be at the top of the podium but he has a problem skating cleanly.  He often struggles early in the season as well and hasn’t competed at any Senior B or Challenger Series events yet this year.

Max Aaron also had a disappointing season last year.  After winning a medal at his first Grand Prix assignment, he finished 7th at NHK Trophy.  He placed 3rd at US Nationals and just missed out on the Olympic team.  He was named to the World team and finished 8th.  He started his season at the US International Figure Skating Classic and set a personal best score.  He also is capable of the jumps and putting three quads in his free skate.  His biggest weakness is his artistry which has been a focus for him the last few seasons.  Because his PCS scores are not as high as some of the other skaters, he has less room for errors on his jumps.

Takahito Mura did not make the Japanese Olympic team after placing 6th at nationals.  He went on to win gold at Four Continents.  He has one Grand Prix medal, a gold in 2012. He is a strong skater but hasn’t had his breakthrough yet on the international scene.  He competed at Lombardia Trophy earlier this season and came within 8 points of his personal best score.

Takahiko Kozuka also missed out on the Olympic team despite finishing 3rd at Japanese nationals.  He finished 2nd at Four Continents behind Mura.  He won a world medal in 2009 but hasn’t lived up to that potential since then.  He has struggled with jump errors in his programs and skating cleanly.  He has the performance capabilities to withstand some errors in his programs but he’ll need to make a lot less if he wants to return to the top of the rankings.

Also of note in this field are Michal Brezina, Adam Rippon and Florent Amodio.  All have shown moments of brilliance and great results but also major lows.  They all struggle with consistency and putting out clean programs when it matters.  They’ve also all had trouble with the quad.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Javier Fernandez

Silver: Takahiko Kozuka

Bronze: Max Aaron

 

Elladj Balde, CAN: He finished 18th at Worlds and 11th at Four Continents.  He placed 7th at Skate Canada last season.  His personal best is 205.19.  He is 23 years old.

Liam Firus, CAN: HE finished 28th at the Olympics.  His personal best is 189.06.  He is 22 years old.

Michal Brezina, CZE: He placed 10th at the Olympics and 4th at Europeans.   He placed 4th at Skate Canada and 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  He is the 2013 European Bronze Medalist and 2009 World Junior Silver Medalist.  His personal best is 243.52.  He is 24 years old.

Florent Amodio, FRA: He placed 18th at the Olympics and 13th at Europeans.  He placed 6th at Cup of China and 7th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  He is the 2011 European Champion, 2013 European Silver Medalist and 2012 European Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 250.53.  He is 24 years old.

Takahiko Kozuka, JPN: He placed 6th at Worlds and is the reigning Four Continents Silver Medalist.  He placed 6th at Skate America and won bronze at Cup of China last season.  He is the 2011 World Championships Silver Medalist, 2009 Four Continents Bronze Medalist and 2006 World Junior Champion.  Her personal best is 258.41.  He is 25 years old.

Takahito Mura, JPN: He is the reigning Four Continents Champion.  He placed 10th at Skate Canada and 6th at NHK Trophy last season.  His personal best is 242.56.  He is 23 years old.

Konstantin Menshov, RUS: He is the reigning European Bronze Medalist.  He placed 8th at NHK Trophy and 4th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  His personal best is 237.24.  He is 31 years old.

Javier Fernandez, ESP: He finished 4th at the Olympics and is the reigning World Bronze Medalist and European Champion.  He placed 5th at NHK Trophy and won bronze at Rostelecom Cup last season.  He is the 2013 World Bronze Medalist and 2013 European Champion.  His personal best is 275.93.  He is 23 years old.

Max Aaron, USA: He finished 8th at Worlds.  He won bronze at Skate America and finished 7th at NHK Trophy last season.  His personal best is 240.22.  He is 22 years old.

Stephen Carriere, USA: He is the 2007 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 219.76.  He is 25 years old.

Adam Rippon, USA: He placed 8th at Four Continents.  He won silver at Skate America and placed 4th at NHK Trophy last season.  He is the 2010 Four Continents Champion and 2008 and 2009 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 241.24.  He is 24 years old.