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Skate Canada Preview and Predictions (and withdrawal news)

The Grand Prix season continues this weekend with the second North American leg, Skate Canada.  The event takes place in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.  Also, we must report the news that France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat have withdrawn from the event because Bourzat is still suffering from bronchitis.  I was wondering how they could possibly compete again this week after seeing Bourzat look miserable at Skate America last weekend; here's to a quick recovery for Bourzat.

Ice Dancing

Why to Watch:  The Grand Prix debut of reigning Olympic champs Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.  This pair easily won the Finlandia Trophy earlier this season.  They won't have much competition here but we'll see how their scores compare to Davis and White's from last week.  Given that this is Skate Canada, I assume they'll be much higher.  They've got two great programs, though, and it will be great to see them again.

Keep an Eye Out For:  Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, coming off of a great Grand Prix season last year, they'll want to make a splash on their home turf.  I'll also look to the Italians Anna Cappelini and Luca Lanotte to see if they have regained medal-winning form.  And it's the Grand Prix debut of Madison Chock and Evan Bates.  I don't think any team has a lock on silver or bronze, so we'll see who steps up.

Men

Why to Watch:  Patrick Chan will have a new free skate here and will begin what will surely be a season of domination.  See it here first!  Daisuke Takahashi will have to prove last season's sloppiness is behind him if he wants to compete with Chan again.  

Keep an Eye Out For:  Last week's Skate America silver medalist, Kevin Van Der Perren, will be here, as will Skate America participant Denis Ten.  Will they be worn out or buoyed by having a Grand Prix under their belts? This will also be an important event for Adam Rippon.  I haven't read that he's trying that quad lutz he's been working on and if he is indeed quadless, he will have to really be clean.  It's also the season Grand Prix debut of national bronze medalist Ross Miner.

Pairs

Why to Watch:  Russia's Volosozhar and Trankov are enough to get me to tune in.  They should easily win here.

Keep an Eye Out For:  Fellow Russians Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze, who medaled on last season's Grand Prix, as well as Japan's Naomi Takahashi and Mervin Tran.  And of course, last season's Chinese darlings, Wenjing Sui and Cong Han.  Has their style matured over the year?  And don't count out the home country contingent, although they might need help from others by way of errors if they want to medal.

Ladies

Why to Watch:  I'll be honest, I'm excited to see if Russia's Elizaveta Tuktamisheva is ready for her Grand Prix close-up.  She's only 14 and won't be eligible for worlds for a few years, but she already won the Japan Open earlier this year.  She will hopefully be attempting a triple lutz/triple toe combination, which should rack up some points.

Another reason to watch is the US contingent.  Rachael Flatt, Ashley Wagner (both with new coaches), and all-grown-up (hopefully) Mirai Nagasu.  These women are all question marks for me as the season starts so I'm very interested in seeing what they can offer.  There has been very little news from the Mirai Nagasu camp this offseason.  Hopefully that is a good thing.

Keep an Eye Out For:  Akiko Suzuki of Japan is the only Grand Prix gold medalist in this group.  She's got a lot of experience.  And don't count out Alena Leonova of Russia. 

Predictions

Ice Dancing

1) Virtue and Moir (Canada)
2) Weaver and Poje (Canada)
3) Cappelini and Lanotte (Italy)

Men

1) Patrick Chan (Canada)
2) Daisuke Takahashi (Japan)
3) Adam Rippon (USA)

Pairs

1) Volosozhar and Trankov (Russia)
2)Takahashi and Tran (Japan)
3) Sui and Han (China)

Ladies

1) Elizaveta Tuktamisheva (Russia)Z
2) Mirai Nagasu (USA)
3) Akiko Suzuki (Japan)