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May 21, 2012

Grand Prix Assignments 2012-2013: Men and Ladies

The Grand Prix assignments for the 2012-2013 season have been released! Some observations/speculations for the men's and ladies' assignments:

-Johnny Weir actually appears to be somewhat serious about coming back, and managed to wrangle for himself two GP events: Rostelecom Cup and Trophee Eric Bompard. Mr. Weir has zero chances of winning at Rostelecom Cup and merely an infinitesimal chance to do so at Trophee Eric Bompard, though. Outside shot at the podium for both, though more so at Paris than at Moscow.

-in other news on the comeback front, neither Evan Lysacek and Evgeni Plushenko received official assignments, although both Skate America and Rostelecom Cup have TBA host pick spots. There's still the (hopefully distant) possibility that Mr. Lysacek may return and claim his host pick spot at Skate America, but Patrick Chan's presence in Moscow at the GP next year should all but guarantee that Mr. Plushenko will not skate in the GP next year. There's no point of losing to Mr. Chan on home territory if it could be avoided....

-the most boring GP event next year for the men should be the Cup of China. Utter cakewalk for Daisuke Takahashi barring a complete meltdown, as Brian Joubert has not looked on form early in the season for the past couple of seasons, and most of the other skaters are somewhat lacking in the PCS department (Kevin Reynolds, Nan Song, Artur Dmitriev Jr., Jinlin Guan, Samuel Contesti, etc.)

-it's not a surprise that someone like Jason Brown would stay in juniors as he's not very competitive on the senior level with his current jump repertoire, but it's somewhat puzzling that Han Yan and (to a lesser extent) Joshua Farris are going to stay junior. Perhaps Mr. Farris is staying junior due to the fairly deep US men's field, but it doesn't seem to make much sense for Mr. Yan to do the same.

-the most interesting GP events for the men should be Skate America (Michal Brezina, Yuzuru Hanyu, Takahiko Kozuka, Jeremy Abbott) or the NHK Trophy (Yuzuru Hanyu, Daisuke Takahashi, Javier Fernandez)

-"Alexandra" Majorov of Sweden skating at Skate America in the men's discipline?

-as for the ladies, it also appears that Miki Ando is also mounting a comeback campaign with her two GP assignments (Cup of China, Trophee Eric Bompard). With her purported split from Nikolai Morozov, it will be interesting to see what form Ms. Ando will be in next season, as well as the state of her programs.

-the ladies GP has some very deep fields, including the Cup of China (Miki Ando, Mao Asada, Carolina Kostner, Julia Lipnitskaya) and Trophee Eric Bompard (Carolina Kostner, Miki Ando, Julia Lipnitskaya, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Ashley Wagner).

-the next big wave of junior ladies is finally hitting the senior GP, with Kaetlyn Osmond, Zijun Li, Gracie Gold, Polina Korobeynikova, Julia Lipnitskaya and Polina Shelepen all moving up to the senior level for the time being

-reality checks: Mirai Nagasu with one assignment (Cup of China), Cynthia Phaneuf with none (but possible Skate Canada host pick?), Kiira Korpi with one (Rostelecom Cup), Alissa Czisny with one (NHK Trophy)

-Rachael Flatt and Christina Gao as two of the three host picks for Skate America? Looks like the USFSA is working hard to try to crown Ashley Wagner as Skate America champion next season.


  1. Another AnonymousMay 22, 2012 at 2:19 AM

    I think Chan's Rostel assignment may actually be a calculated move by the Russian Fed. Chan's not a consistent early season skater, and he can be beaten - Tomas Verner did it in 2010, at the same event, without massive political support like Plushenko will have. With an unsettled coaching situation and reportedly two new programs, Chan may take a while to get his season going. So this can give Plushenko a good shot at beating Chan, and then he proves that he's a serious contender and doesn't need to do Worlds in Canada to show that - and he certainly wouldn't win there.

    Considering Csizny's injury, I don't expect her at NHK, either.

    Takahashi wasn't great at his first GP last season; who knows what we'll see from him.

    Ladies is actually becoming quite interesting. It's the dance fields that are generally snooze-worthy - no real depth. But we saw that last year, with people like Carron/Jones and Isabella Tobias winning medals.

    1. I have little doubt that the Russian Fed is leaving their TBA spot for the possibility of Mr. Plushenko's return to the GP, but I doubt he will actually show up and take the spot. Yes, Mr. Chan is usually a sloppy mess during the GP, but Tomas Verner only won because Mr. Chan Zayaked (if Mr. Chan didn't Zayak he would've won even with his 4 falls) and the judges usually have no trouble handing him high PCS even with his sloppy skates, even more so now since he's a 2-time WC. I would think that Mr. Plushenko would want to preserve his health/body for Sochi, and not risk the possibility of damaging his reputation by losing at home. I expect him to show up at Russian Nats and Euros next season, no more--that should be enough to prove he is a "serious contender" without the risk of actually losing.

      But I hope I'm wrong, because I want to see if the judges would dare to give Mr. Plushenko 8s in transitions like they did at Euros this season when he's directly up against someone who actually has a lot of them. The contrast should be embarrassing enough.

      I don't expect to see Ms. Czisny at NHK either.

      Mr. Takahashi doesn't need to be great to beat the likes of Artur Dmitriev Jr., Nan Song, Kevin Reynolds, Adam Rippon. The only threat is a strong Brian Joubert, which is unlikely to happen given how Mr. Joubert's GP seasons have been of late. The entire field looks pretty boring: no interesting match-ups, and strong likelihood of sloppy podium finishes (including Mr. Takahashi himself),etc.

      I am agree that ladies looks v. interesting next season.

    2. I thought you liked Song Nan. Your Eric Bompard post suggested it anyway. I don't think he has a hope in hell of winning though, I mean he hasn't even placed in the top ten yet. No way he has the reputation to win unless Daisuke falls 15 times or something.

  2. I agree with Anon. Plushenko team is very calculated and this indeed may be their move to shake Chan at home, do Euros and skip worlds going into olympic year with the memory imprinted on everyone's mind of Plush' victory over Chan. I think its the best strategy for Plush and hes always been good at these mind games anyway. Otherwise I honestly dont see how he can manage to have a shot at that olympic gold.
    Although Im very saddened by miki's return, I also wonder if she will be her usual flat boring tone deaf self in competitions or not. It will also be interesting to see how Caro will handle the added pressures of a champion this season. Im sure the Gps will be telling.

    1. I think the best strategy for Mr. Plushenko is to preserve his body and health, and rack up his reputation by going to competitions he basically has no chance of losing on the road to Sochi (i.e. Russian Nationals, Euros). There's no guarantee that Mr. Plushenko can actually beat Mr. Chan even if the match-up is on Russian ground.

      I'm actually quite excited for the ladies GPs next season. The onslaught of the junior ladies moving up may change the whole dynamic, and some of the fields are actually quite deep and have very interesting match-ups.


    Apparently I'm the only one who wants Evan back and Johnny to go away, sigh. I agree it would be fun to get an early laugh at Plushenko's terrible transitions and upper-body movements. I'm betting he doesn't do much until Sochi, though, where he'll gain approximately 50,000 +GOE on everything and throw a tantrum when he finds out there's not really a platinum medal.

    1. Yes, you are the only one who wants Mr. Lysacek back and Mr. Weir to go away. Congratulations!

    2. Can we at least agree that Rachael Flatt should go away?

  4. You speak as if Chan is someone like Yagudin who won competitions based on the phenomenal quality of his skating.

    Seems pretty obvious to me that someone or some people have been buying Chan's wins over the last couple of years - since very few know who is involved or how it is actually happening, it remains to be seen if 'they' will continue to keep it up.

    Not to mention others with more clout/money than Chan's could start buying wins for a competing skater.

    In any case, if who I presume to be Chan's "sponsors" fail him in the future, he won't be so 'unbeatable' anymore, unless he himself can up his game by at the very least managing to stop falling, and even better, skate with some actual feeling.

    As for Plushenko, hope he retires and becomes a jump coach. Maybe he could help out Jason Brown.

    Like the person above me, I dread being subjected to Rachel Flatt's skating again. If she's as smart as her PR claims, why can't she find a way to play to her strengths and downplay her (many) weaknesses?

    I AM excited to see Johnny again though. Moro should not be so quick to count him out.

    1. Now, let's be fair here. Mr. Chan has indeed won competitions based on the quality of his skating. I may be harsh on his scores sometimes, but this season alone, I think he completely deserved to win Skate Canada, GPF, and 4CC overall. Undecided on TEB and Worlds.

      I am excited to see Mr. Weir again too. But realistically, the current field has passed him by....

    2. Can someone explain to me WHY we need to see Weir again? How many comebacks has he had now? Yes, I loved him years ago when he was good and artistic and deserved all his medals, but he's not keeping up with the way competitive skating is now. He also seems to put his ego before actually improving his skating. He can be fabulous all he wants off-ice, but I would want to see some really good, improved skating before getting excited about his latest "comeback."

      I'm not trying to argue just to argue. I genuinely don't get it. Agree to disagree and all that.

    3. Another AnonymousMay 25, 2012 at 3:54 AM

      We will see Weir again because the ISU provisions allow him to return to competition as a comeback skater. I'm not sure why you think he's had multiple comebacks; this is the only one.

      Also, how exactly do you know how well Weir will skate and what sort of programs he'll have, considering he is in training and hasn't competed in over two years?

      I'm looking forward to Weir's return. He may not contend for major medals, but he has a unique style that I've missed seeing.

  5. I'm so excited for the Grand Prix this year! Especially with some of the juniors hitting the stage and Johnny Weir.
    Honestly, I like PChan's skating - he has lovely lines and excellent speed - but the judges are pitting me against him. I hope Weir delivers something like his Zhivago program again...but as you said, realistically, he's out of the game.
    And of course Yuzuru - I can't wait to see his Wilson program and Takahashi is sure to deliver (knocks on wood fervently). Maybe PChan will clean up his programs this year? Ah, there's so much speculation in the air~

  6. So much for Daisuke's cakewalk.....