Last places in the Grand Prix final at stake at the Rostelecom Cup; broadcast program

The Grand Prix figure skating season has been one to seize ahead of this week’s Rostelecom Cup, which will be broadcast live on Peacock on Friday and Saturday.

Take your pick on how Olympic favorites emerge.

Yuzuru Hanyu, the biggest name in all of skating, didn’t compete at all this fall and might not until the Olympics. Nathan Chen suffered his first loss since the 2018 Olympics, then posted the highest score in the world that season the following week.

Russian treadmill of female stars produced 15-year-old girl Kamila Valiyeva. She quickly passed her country’s three 2021 World Championship medalists to become the woman to beat before the most competitive event of the season – not the Olympics, but the Russian Championships in a month.

Couples have been the strictest discipline. The world top three this season are separated by less than five points. It will tighten even more if the team ranked third in Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China enjoy the home ice at the Winter Games.

In ice dance, quadruple world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron de France have been 20 months between competitions since they suffered their only defeat of this Olympic cycle at the European Championships in January 2020. They returned this fall to post the three best world scores this season, thus recovering as Olympic favorites.

The Grand Prix final, which takes the top six per discipline from the six events in the Grand Prix series, will be an Olympic preview in pairs and dance (but hopefully not for the men, since Hanyu is absent, and possibly not for women without Russian injured Aleksandra Trusova). The fields for the final will be full after the Rostelecom Cup.

Rostelecom Cup broadcast schedule

How is the peloton of the Grand Prix final in each discipline looking this week?

Men
Yuma Kagiyama
(JPN) – 30 points (QUALIFIED)
Shoma uno (JPN) – 28 (QUALIFIED)
Vincent zhou (US) – 28 (QUALIFIED)
Nathan Chen (US) – 26 (QUALIFIED)
Jason brown (USA) – 24 (not competing this week)
Shun Sato (JPN) – 22 (not competing this week)

Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) – 13
Yevgeny Semenenko (RUS) – 11
Matteo rizzo (ITA) – 7

Brown’s chances of qualifying for the final for the first time since 2017 have been reduced by Hanyu’s withdrawal from the Rostelecom Cup (ankle), but they are still quite good. Brown’s easiest path is for Kolyada to win this week and Semenenko to finish third or less or second but with less than 267.74 points. Semenenko’s personal best is 258.45. The United States also put three men in the final in 2017 with Chen, Brown and Adam rippon.

Hanyu also missed the 2017 Grand Prix final with an ankle injury, then won the PyeongChang Olympics two months later. Chen, although he finished third at Skate America, will go into the final as the favorite as he won Skate Canada with a score 11.62 points higher than any other man this season.

Women
Anna shcherbakova (RUS) – 30 (QUALIFIED)
Kaori sakamoto (JPN) – 24 (QUALIFIED)
Aliona Kostonaya (RUS) – 24 (not competing this week)
You young people (KOR) – 22 (not competing this week)
Mai Mihara (JPN) – 18 (not competing this week)

Kamila Valiyeva (RUS) – 15
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) – 13
Maliya Khromykh (RUS) – 13
Loena Hendrickx (BEL) – 11

At the start of the season, it looked like Russia had a chance to win all six of the women’s places in the final. But world bronze medalist Trusova missed the NHK Trophy with injury, and Sakamoto rushed to win the event. If this week Valiyeva (15), Tuktamysheva (24) and Khromykh (15) are in the top three in any order, they will all advance to the final.

Valiyeva offers to repeat the feat of Alina zagitova, who four years ago entered the Olympic season as the reigning junior world champion and won all of her events at the Winter Games. Valiyeva, part of the coach Eteri Tutberidzethe school of stars, has participated in two international competitions this season and posted the two best scores in the world, behind the second skater (Shcherbakova) by 28.3 points. The most competitive figure skating event in the world this year will be the Russian Championships at the end of December, after which the three-woman Olympic team will be named.

Russia currently has the six best women in the world. The highest ranked American is Alysa liu at No. 9. An American has made at least one podium finish in the Grand Prix series every year since its inception in 1995, but none have made it this season, and it would be a surprise to see that happen this week. However, if you knock out all the Russians from the standings who won’t be at the Olympics, then Liu ranks fifth in the world.

Pairs
Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) – 30 (QUALIFIED)
Yevgeny Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) – 28 (QUALIFIED)
Aleksandra Boikova/Dmitry Kozlovskiy (RUS) – 26 (QUALIFIED)
Riku miura/Ryuichi kihara (JPN) – 24 (not competing this week)
Yulia Artemeva/Mikhail Nazarychev (RUS) – 24 (not competing this week)

Anastasia michina/Alexander Galliamov (RUS) – 15
Daria pavliuchenko/Denis khodykin (RUS) – 13
Nicole della monique/Matteo guarise (ITA) – 9

Sui and Han, the 2018 Olympic silver medalists and China’s top figure skating prospect overall, have won both of their Grand Prix starts. But Tarasova and Morozov have the best score in the world this season, and Mishina and Galliamov, the reigning world champions, have the best score in Grand Prix. Miura and Kihara will likely become the first Japanese pair to qualify for a Grand Prix final since 2011, bolstering the nation’s hopes of a medal in the Olympic team event. The last time an American pair reached the final was in 2015.

Ice dance
Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) – 30 (QUALIFIED)
Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (US) – 28 (QUALIFIED)
Piper gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) – 28 (QUALIFIED)
Madison hold/Evan bates (USA) – 26 (not competing this week)
Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukine (RUS) – 22 (not competing this week)

Victoria sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) – 15
Charlene guignard/Marco fabbri (ITA) – 13
Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen (CAN) – 11
Sara hurtado/Kirill Khaliavin (ESP) – 9

Papadakis and Cizeron, 2018 Olympic silver medalists, lost their last face-to-face with Sinitsina and Katsalapov at the European Championships in January 2020. But this season, the French have competed three times and posted the best three scores global. Gilles and Poirier and the two American couples are within 1.43 points of each other on the best scores this season, possibly forging a close battle for the third podium in Beijing. Barring a crazy Rostelecom Cup result, it will be the seventh consecutive final with several American dance couples.

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