There won’t be a Japanese sweep this week at Skate Canada International as there was last week at Skate America in the men’s event (if only because there are only two Japanese men in the field this week). But like last week, it’s another deep field in the men’s competition, with four of the top ten at Worlds competing, including Canada’s own World champion Patrick Chan.
Related: Ladies’ preview
I must’ve switched my predictions at least eight times. There are a lot of potential unpredictability with this field, especially considering how much fire power there is. But either way, here’s a look at the guys this week at Skate Canada!
GOLD Nobunari Oda JPN – Well, we got a look at where Oda was with his win at Nebelhorn. It was nothing groundbreaking, but it showed that he was back in the game. We’ve come to expect consistency from him, but when he completely fell apart last season at Bompard with a seventh place showing and ditched the rest of his season due to injury, you wondered if he had plateaued. But at Nebelhorn, he showed that he was looking ahead after last season, with a quad in both programs. I think this week, rotated quads and consistency will get him a long way.
SILVER Patrick Chan CAN – He’s won his home Grand Prix three out of the four times he’s competed in it. The fourth time? He was sixth. Just going from his performance at Japan Open three weeks ago, where he fell four times and finished last by a big margin, it’s tempting to think that Chan might not be finding his stride just yet. But three weeks could have done wonders. I’ll hedge my bets and say that Chan is somewhere between four falls and clean.
BRONZE Javier Fernandez ESP – Hmm. Fernandez is such a jumping enigma. I’ll give you a quad toe and mess up a triple salchow. At Finlandia three weeks ago, he looked to on track for the title, only to pop a few jumps in the second half of his program to finish third. Skate Canada was the site of his breakthrough last season, and he could very well win this thing outright.
4. Ross Miner USA – Miner certainly has podium potential this week, though there is a bit of uncertainly, based on U.S. Classic last month, as to where his quad sal is right now. And considering he’s putting a good bit of emphasis on it (one in the short and at least one in the free), at least getting it fully rotated will be crucial for his success at Skate Canada.
5. Takahito Mura JPN – If I had to choose one wild card in this field, it would be Mura. He came out nowhere last season to grab second in the short program at Four Continents (he eventually finished fifth), and he could make some waves this week if he can put two solid programs together.
6. Florent Amodio FRA – Amodio’s first showing this season was at French Masters, and he looked decent, jump-wise, though the quad sal wasn’t there and there were a few mistakes in the second half of his free skate. Where does he fit in this week? I’d say somewhere in the middle, but we’ll have to see.
7. Artur Gachinski RUS – If I had to choose a second wild card (so many wild cards!) in this field, it would be Gachinski. He was on the podium at Worlds just two seasons ago, so you know he’s got the goods. But after a pretty demoralizing 18th at Worlds seven months ago, it’ll be interesting to see if/how he has shaken that off. Keep in mind that Gachinski has never finished higher than fifth at a Grand Prix, so early season may not be his strong point.
8. Denis Ten KAZ – Tough to tell how Ten is at this point in the season. Last year, it took a number of competitions for him to build confidence and consistency. And his seventh at Nebelhorn last month was likely not the start that he was looking for. This field is potentially deeper and definitely more decorated than the one he faced at Nebelhorn.
9. Liam Firus CAN – At U.S. Classic earlier this season, where Firus finished eighth in his senior international debut, I was commenting on how much there is to like about his skating. And yes, with this group, it is going to be tough for him to get up in the standings, but the experience will be valuable, and mistakes from the higher-ups could crack open some doors for the former Canadian junior champ.
10. Elladj Balde CAN – A solid fourth at Canadians last season, Balde made some leaps from his not-so-hot pre-nationals competitions. He was 14th at Nebelhorn, which wasn’t a terribly great sign for his success this week at his home Grand Prix.
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