Um, here is my post about the halfway mark of the Grand Prix Final qualifying events. Yes, I am channeling Bon Jovi and yes, I apologize. But I love Bon Jovi.
Anyway, what do we know about the Grand Prix Final, which will take place in South Korea in December? It's hard to write a post like this, because there are some competitors who just haven't started their Grand Prix seasons yet. But I am too much of a sports addict not to provide some speculation on who is going to make the cut.
Now, remember, there are six Grand Prix events (and then the final), with skaters earning a range of points for first through eighth place. The top six skaters or teams in each category advance to the 2008 Grand Prix final. After half the competitions (Skate America, Skate Canada, and Cup of China) Here is the breakdown.
They'll Make it, I Swear (Ladies):
Yu-Na Kim (30 points): Kim has won both of her events so she's got the highest total you can have; she's definitely in. I also think she's the prohibitive favorite to win, as no one seems able to touch her. Japan's reigning world champion Mao Asada hasn't skated yet, though. If she has flutzing issues and Kim is relatively clean, Kim might still be the favorite. (But watch out for Asada's triple axel!).
Canada's Joannie Rochette (15 points, one more event): I loved Rochette at Skate Canada. She should definitely qualify for the final considering the field this weekend at Trophee Eric Bompard; I expect her to medal. And I think if she does, she's got medal chances at the final.
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Yukari Nakano (13 points, one more event): Nakano should qualify at the NHK Trophy with a first or second place. She showed earlier this year that she can beat Ando. And if she gets to the final, she'll be ready to pounce if Kim or Asada falter.
Fumie Suguri (13 points, one more event): A win at Cup of Russia, which is not unlikely if Carolina Kostner skates the way she did at Skate Canada, would just about guarantee this Japanese lady a spot and serve notice that will not be overlooked.
Mao Asada (0 points, two more events): She has yet to skate, but I expect big things from this world champion. She should medal in both of her events, and a win in one combined with some other medal would likely be enough for her to make the final.
Miki Ando (24 points): Ando will likely qualify, but unless others skate poorly, she might not be a factor in the final. Just not enough going on in her free skate aside from jumping for her to really be a contender with the ladies who have both technical and program component strength. Now, if she brings it with the quad she's always practicing, I might change my mind.
Livin' on a Prayer: The following are those on the "bubble." If the ladies above open a window, look at these skaters to try their best to jump through it.
Italy's Carolina Kostner (9 points, one more event): A gold or silver at Cup of Russia will only have her at 24 or 22 points, respectively. She'll have to do much better than she did at Skate Canada to have a hope of qualifying.
U.S.'s Rachael Flatt (9 points, one more event): Although I'm much more impressed with Flatt than the judges are (apparently), if she can skate the way she's been skating, maybe she can snag a medal at Cup of Russia and sneak in on someone else's mistakes. That's a big maybe.
We're Halfway There (Men):
Canada's Patrick Chan (15 points, one more event): All Chan needs is a fifth place finish at TEB to tie with U.S.'s Evan Lysacek at 22 points. I'm pretty sure he'll do better than that.
Japan's Takahiko Kozuka (15 points, one more event): Although he's got stiff competition at TEB, I think Kozuka will be safe for the final after this weekend.
France's Brian Joubert (0 points, two more events): If it's the great Joubert, he should be in, no problem. If it's the one with the blade (and mental) troubles, who knows.
U.S.'s Jeremy Abbott (15 points, one more event): I think Abbott should compete well enough at Cup of Russia for at least fourth place, which might be enough.
Soooo tough, it's tough (On the Bubble): Sorry for the large numbers under here, but this hard!
U.S.'s Evan Lysacek (22 points): He'll need some help in the way of mediocrity from fellow contenders in order to qualify.
U.S.'s Johnny Weir (13 points, one more event): There is going to be a lot of competition at NHK, both from the Japanese and from Weir's countryman, the surging Stephen Carriere. Can Weir do enough to ensure his spot in the final?
U.S.'s Stephen Carriere (13 points, one more event): Again, a lot going on at NHK. I don't see both Weir and Carriere qualifying.
U.S.'s Ryan Bradley (13 points, one more event): Look at all these bubble-licious Americans! (can't believe I just wrote that. That was worse than the Bon Jovi). I think the presence of so many American men in the mix is good and bad for US Figure Skating. It's great that they're showing a lot of talent, but no one is necessarily dominant, and can any of them compete for the top in the Grand Prix Final? I don't know. Bradley is surely going to try to follow up his great showing at Skate Canada with a medal this weekend, but it will be hard.
France's Alban Preaubert (0 points, two more events): How is he going to skate? Will he prove a spoiler?
Russia's Artem Borodulin (9 points, one more event): I wasn't very impressed with him at Cup of China, but he's skating at home next and maybe he can find enough magic to get on the podium. But the color of the medal would likely have to be gold if he even wants a sliver of a chance to get to the final...which is a tall order.
Baby, It's Ok (You're likely in) Pairs:
Germany's Savchenko and Skolkowy (15 points, one more event): I am predicting this team will qualify with a win at TEB this weekend.
China's Zhang and Zhang (15 points, one more event): Lots of tough pairs at Cup of Russia but this one will likely pull the win and the qualification off.
Russsia's Kawaguchi and Smirnov (15 points, one more event): They should medal at Cup of Russia, leaving them with at least 26 points, which would make them a no-brainer for the final at this point.
Canada's Dube and Davison (13 points, one more event): I would guess that they will get at least the silver at NHK, unless something goes terribly wrong.
They've Got Each Other, and that's a lot (but not necessarily enough to make the GP Final): Someone's not going to make the final. I think tie breakers will come into play here to decide between the following:
Ukraine's Volosozhar and Morozov (13 points, one more event): Probably looking at a medal at Cup of Russia. But which color?
U.S.'s McLaughlin and Brubaker (24 points): I think they are likely in...but they are going to have to sweat out the wait.
China's Pang and Tong (11 points): I thought we'd see a better showing from this pair at Cup of China, and now it'll likely take a first place finish at NHK (or possibly a tie-break) for them to make it (not out of the question though).
Russia's Mukhortova and Trankov (11 points, one more event): If this pair skates the way it did in the free skate at Skate America they haven't got a prayer.
They've Got to Hold On, to What they've got (A likely spot in the Grand Prix Final!, Ice Dancing!):
France's Delobel and Schoenfelder (15 points, one more event): They'll likely wrap this baby up at TEB this weekend.
U.S.'s Belbin and Agosto (26 points): I can't see this not being enough.
Russia's Domnina and Shabolin (15 points, one more event): Likely another win headed their way...
U.S.'s Davis and White (15 points, one more event): Even if they only win bronze at Cup of Russia, they'll have 26 points. Less than that, though, and it gets tricky.
They'll Give it a Shot (And hope they can sneak in to the Final):
Italy's Faiella and Scali (0 points, two more events): I think these two will have a score in the mid-twenties.
Great Britain's Kerr and Kerr (11 points, one more event): They looked good at Skate America but only got the bronze; it all depends how they do this weekend, but I see them medaling.
Russia's Khokhlova and Novitski (11 points, one more event): I don't see them winning Cup of Russia; a silver or bronze would give them 24 or 22 points, which means that qualifying for the final is not a sure thing.
Pechalat and Bourzat (11 points, one more event): It will take a big competition at NHK (and they'll be helped if Virtue and Moir don't compete there).
It Doesn't Make a Difference If They Make it Or Not (Because I will still be watching them):
U.S.'s Kimmie Meissner: Let's see if she can rebound from a disappointing Skate America.
Switzerland's Sarah Meier: I am waiting for consistency from this lovely skater.
U.S's Mirai Nagasu: Are her jumping issues (and any lingering injury) going to be ironed out by her next competition?
U.S.'s Ashley Wagner: She threw down the gauntlet at Cup of China, daring the judges to ignore her vibrant program and confident attitude. I'm excited to see her again.
Canada's Pairs Skaters Duhamel and Buntin: Not sure if they're my taste but I wouldn't ignore them.
U.S.'s Ice Dancers Samuelson and Bates and Canada's Crone and Poirier: On the rise...
Russia's Sergei Voronov: Kind of blew it with Skate Canada but he's not over.
Czech Republic's Tomas Verner: I think Cup of Russia is way too competitive for him to make the jump into the finals but he is another one worth paying attention to.