This weekend's Grand Prix is Skate Canada International in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. This event has been plagued by high-profile home-team withdrawals of Virtue and Moir and Dube and Davison. It's lost a lot of luster but it seems the perfect opportunity for some young teams and skaters to make a splash.
Why to Watch: Err...well...um...this competition is wide open, I think, and it provides an opportunity to watch a lot of younger pairs. And the bright side is that not a single one of these pairs have ever medaled in the senior Grand Prix before, so a whole bunch of newbies will be finding success this weekend! I wish I had some moneyball strategy to figure out who might be the breakouts here, but I do not...many of the pairs have come close to medalling before, so this is their shot to make the leap onto the podium. Particularly Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze of Russia, who are former world junior champs who came in fifth in Europeans a few seasons ago.
Keep an Eye out for: Meaghan Duhamel of Canada skating with her new partner, Eric Radford. Additionally, Americans Britney Simpson and Nathan Miller are making their senior Grand Prix debut.
1) Iliushechkina and Maisuradze (Russia)
2) Duhamel and Radford (Canada)
3) Dong and Wu (China)
Why to Watch: Well, Patrick Chan is here, obviously. I have no idea if he plans a quad or if he plans on landing both triple axels, but this is a big event for him. He started off last season injured and he definitely was disappointed in his Olympic experience and I assume even worlds, so we'll see if Chan can assert himself once again as a gold medal contender. Also, Nobunari Oda is coming off a disastrous world championships where he did not even make the cut for the free skate. Can he regroup and become a Grand Prix winner again?
Keep an Eye out for: Adam Rippon. He can be sublime when he's landing his jumps (particularly those pesky triple axels). He did great at the recent Japan Open. I am looking forward to his programs and to seeing if he can contend with the top men this season. And don't count out Canada's Kevin Reynolds. The boy can jump, he's come close to medaling in these events before, and he's always a threat.
1) Patrick Chan (Canada)
2) Nobunari Oda (Japan)
3) Adam Rippon (USA)
Why to Watch: I think it's going to be a contest of whether home team Crone and Poirier can make up for Virtue and Moir's absence and beat out popular British pair, Kerr and Kerr.
Keep an Eye out for: Bronze will be a fight, and Americans Chock and Zuerlein may make a run at their first senior Grand Prix medal, as will Carron and Jones of France.
1) Crone and Poirier
2) Kerr and Kerr
3) Chock and Zuerlein
Why to Watch: Alissa Czisny is here, and while she frustrates, she's such a lovely skater. And Skate Canada is traditionally her event. Could it be her year again? Also, Cynthia Phaneuf does not have any Grand Prix medals but she had somewhat of a breakthrough at worlds last season, finishing fifth. Can she build on that?
Keep an Eye out for: Agnes Zawadzki of the United States is the reigning world junior silver medalist and this is her first senior Grand Prix debut. Additionally, Russia's Ksenia Makarova was an impressive eighth place at the Olympics last season...I have a feeling she will be making her move to be a top contender soon. And don't forget Japanese stalwart Fumie Suguri, former world medalist.
1) Czisny (USA)
2) Makarova (Russia)
3) Suguri (Japan)