The ISU International Grand Prix Series is in full swing. After the completion of the first round of Skate America in the United States, the event moves to Canada. From October 28 to 30, the second stage – Skate Canada – will take place at the Vancouver Ice Arena.
The clear favorites for this tournament are two-time world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan and 2023 world vice-champion, Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea. It will be interesting to see in what form they will take to the ice in the new season and how ready they are to defend their lead in this tournament.
The competition in Vancouver promises to be exciting and intense. Kaori Sakamoto will face a strong competitor from her own country, Rinka Watanabe. If she successfully performs her triple axel, the reigning world champion will have a lot of work to do!
The main favorite in the men’s competition appears to be the talented Korean Cha Jun-hwan. Last season he won silver at the World Championships, beating even American quad wizard Ilya Malinin. Joon Hwang’s performances clearly demonstrate that it is possible to combine highly technical elements with exquisite choreography and outstanding skating skills. He consistently performs only two types of quadruple jumps – quadruple toeloop and quadruple salchow – but even that is enough to bring him close to 300 points for two programs with flawless performances.
However, Jung-hwan will have to fight hard to win the Grand Prix in Canada. He has strong opponents in the form of three Japanese, who will definitely make the Korean keep his nerves in check. A particularly strong opponent will be the reigning champion of four continents, Kao Miura, who is characterized by both technical skill and artistry in his performances.
Italian Matteo Rizzo, who won silver at this year’s European Championships, also intends to fight for the top of the podium in Vancouver.
Japanese figure skater Kaori Sakamoto, a two-time world champion, faces the task of confirming her status as the favorite in the women’s competition in Canada. In the absence of Russian rivals, she usually wins without much trouble, not even resorting to performing difficult elements. Nevertheless, her position is not secure. She is afraid to take risks by making her program content more difficult and depends on the failures of stronger rivals. This time in Vancouver, she will face her compatriot Rinka Watanabe, who owns the triple axel. Rinka doesn’t usually have flawless performances, but maybe this time she will be able to displace Kaori from the first position. Or at least pose a serious threat to her.
Young 16-year-old Korean figure skater Kim Chae-young and American Lindsey Thorngren will also be competing for the podium. It should be noted that Lindsey trains under the guidance of former Russian figure skater Yulia Lautova.
Lindsay tried several times to perform triple axel and a cascade of triple lutz and triple loop at the competitions. Although the triple axel is no longer in her repertoire, she is still targeting the signature cascade.
Another American figure skater with African roots, Starr Andrews, will also be interesting to follow. She prides herself on representing black women in figure skating and is known for her original programs. Starr performed her program to her own vocals.
There is potential in the pairs competition for former Russian figure skater Anastasia Golubeva, who now pairs with Hector Giotopoulos Moore for Australia. They achieved the title of World Junior vice-champions last season and are now aiming to win medals in the adult competition.
However, the leaders are likely to be this year’s Four Continents Championships bronze medalists, Dinna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps. The Canadian pair are competing in their home arena, so their first place finish will come as no surprise. In addition, they have recently improved their two personal records – in the free skating program and in the total for both programs. Their good form at the beginning of the season shows their determination to achieve victories.
The dance competition promises a tense showdown between the 2023 World Championships bronze medalists, Canadian pair Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, and the 2023 European Championships silver medalists, British pair Lila Fir and Lewis Gibson.