The second half of the Grand Prix season is shaping up to be as exciting as the first. The final three competitions are scheduled to take place in Japan, France and Russia.
The Japanese city of Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido will host the fourth event of the Series (Nov. 11-13).
This competition is wide open in all disciplines. The men’s event will feature homeland favorites Daisuke Takahashi and Takahiko Kozuka. Add Tomáš Verner to the mix, and it would be difficult to predict a clear-cut winner at this stage of the game.
Japanese favorite Mao Asada headlines the ladies field. How she fares at this, her first Grand Prix event in 2011, could set the pace for the rest of her season. Who will step up to the plate to challenge her? Will it be her teammate Akiko Suzuki, Russia’s Alena Leonova or Ashley Wagner from the U.S.? America’s Agnes Zawadzki could be the wild card in this competition.
In the pairs discipline, the main challenge for Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, the three-time and reigning World champions, will likely come from Russia’s Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov. These two teams have been battling it out for years, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top this season.
But factor in the rising Japanese team of Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran and the new kids on the block, America’s Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, and who knows what will happen.
Reigning World bronze medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani will be looking to capture their first Grand Prix ice dance title at the senior level, but Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who are on a mission this season, will be tough competitors. Who will capture the bronze?
Canada’s Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi from Germany and Japan’s Cathy Reed and Chris Reed will all be in the medal hunt.
Tomáš VERNER CZE
Samuel CONTESTI ITA
Takahiko KOZUKA JPN
Tatsuki MACHIDA JPN
Daisuke TAKAHASHI JPN
Konstantin MENSHOV RUS
Adrian SCHULTHEISS SWE
Armin MAHBANOOZADEH USA
Ross MINER USA
Brandon MROZ USA
Cynthia PHANEUF CAN
Kiira KORPI FIN
Maé-Bérénice MEITE FRA
Elene GEDEVANISHVILI GEO
Mao ASADA JPN
Shoko ISHIKAWA JPN
Akiko SUZUKI JPN
Alena LEONOVA RUS
Ashley WAGNER USA
Agnes ZAWADZKI USA
Natasha PURICH / Raymond SCHULTZ CAN
Aliona SAVCHENKO / Robin SZOLKOWY GER
Stefania BERTON / Ondrej HOTAREK ITA
Narumi TAKAHASHI / Mervin TRAN JPN
Lubov ILIUSHECHKINA / Nodari MAISURADZE RUS
Yuko KAVAGUTI / Alexander SMIRNOV RUS
Marissa CASTELLI / Simon SHNAPIR USA
Caydee DENNEY / John COUGHLIN USA
Alexandra PAUL / Mitchell ISLAM CAN
Kaitlyn WEAVER / Andrew POJE CAN
Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI GER
Lorenza ALESSANDRINI / Simone VATURI ITA
Cathy REED / Chris REED JPN
Elena ILINYKH / Nikita KATSALAPOV RUS
Lynn KRIENGKRAIRUT / Logan GIULIETTI‐SCHMITT USA
Maia SHIBUTANI / Alex SHIBUTANI USA
Originally published in December 2011