The 2009-10 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating continues this weekend with the Rostelecom Cup in Russia. The event will give global audiences the chance to see 2006 Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko back in action. The event takes place in Moscow from Oct. 23-25 and is being televised on NBC (yes, NBC! … more on that later) and CBC this weekend.
Although on the comeback trail, Plushenko took some time off to get married (see the Nov./Dec. 2009 issue of IFS for the story and photos). A three-time World champion, Plushenko has competed domestically in recent months. Earlier this month RT TV Sports reported Plushenko scored 267 total points at the Perm Cup in Russia, yet he still saw room for improvement. “I'm never fully satisfied with my skating,” he told reporters after the short program. “That's still not the shape I’m aiming to reach. I think it's about 90 percent of what I'm really able to give. I still have to improve many things, including rotations, spins and steps.”
His coach, Alexei Mishin was slightly more generous in his assessment. “I think he did very well, taking into account the schedule of our Olympic preparations, I'm pleased with his performance. He can do some things even better, and we know how. Though I’d be happy if he performed like this anywhere, even in Vancouver,” Mishin noted.
Rostelecom Cup will also feature 2008 World bronze medalist Johnny Weir and 2009-10 Grand Prix Final silver medalist Takahiko Kozuka of Japan as well as rising stars 2008-09 ISU Junior Grand Prix Final champion Florent Amodio of France and 2009 U.S. bronze medalist Brandon Mroz.
Patrick Chan, the reigning World silver medalist, withdrew from the competition in Russia.
Weir told IFS in August he was hoping to compete in Russia. Despite finishing off the podium at the 2009 U.S. Championships last January (he was fifth and was said to be suffering from the flu), Weir was still his outwardly ever-confident self. When asked what it would take to get back to the top of U.S. figure skating, he said: “The thing about that question is that last year I was basically at the top level of American skating. I was the highest-ranked man in the (ISU) World Standings [for most of the season]. I beat everyone except for Jeremy Abbott on the Grand Prix Series. I was the top American guy for the moment.
“The only thing that happened was that I got sick. I was unable to be fully prepared for nationals and it was a disastrous skate. I have not lost confidence in the fact that I am, if not the best, then one of the best men skaters right now.
“I kind of get tired of people talking to me like I had this giant disaster, that I wasn’t focused, that I wasn’t training and all of these things. All that happened was that I got sick at an inconvenient time. I definitely do not feel like I am in a situation were I have to prove myself again. I am proven. I am a proven skater. I competed very consistency last year. I have no issues. I think as long as I am prepared this summer and I am in good shape, everything works out with my equipment and everything goes right, then I shouldn’t have any problems. I am looking for forward to competing in the Grand Prix and both assignments.”
BACK TO RUSSIA!
In the ladies field in Moscow, Japan’s Mao Asada is the headliner. She claimed silver behind reigning World champion Yu-Na Kim in France last week at Trophée Eric Bompard. The 2008 world champion hopes to ascend to the top of the podium in Russia. She will have her work cut out for her with 2009 World bronze medalist Miki Ando of Japan (who won the World title in 2007) in the field. Reigning World junior champion Alena Leonova of Russia and reigning U.S. champion Alissa Czisny will debut on the Grand Prix Series this season in Moscow.
The pairs event will feature 2006 World champions Qing Pang and Jian Tong (CHN) battling reigning World bronze medalists Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov (RUS). Two-time and reigning U.S. champions Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker will be in the hunt as well.
Reigning U.S champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA) headline the ice dance discipline. Reigning World champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia withdrew from the Grand Prix Series, citing injury.
THE TV WARS
Finally! It seems like the viewer is the winner in the United States. Five of six Grand Prix event (only Cup of China will be left off the schedule) will be shown in the United States on NBC, which will also broadcast the final. Perhaps all the letters to the ISU did help! Did see the details of the new deal HERE and check out our MEDIA GUIDE for TV schedules.
Check back here for off-ice news and photos. We have more images of Plushenko’s wedding and some baby photos from other stars to share with you.
Asada has decided to mix things up in the hopes of becoming more competitive with Kim. Asada will wear a different short program outfit and is contemplating scraping the routine as well, according to an article on the Chosun Ibo website.
DON’T MISS OUT!
In the spirit of the Olympic Games, IFS also has reduced the rate of its digital issue to just $20 worldwide for a one-year subscription and FREE for IFS subscribers when ordering a new print subscription or at renewal. A subscription to our digital issue allows you access to all the issues of IFS posted online. For our best prices of the year, check out our holiday gift subscription ad in our Nov./Dec. 09 issue, which features Chan on the cover. Don’t miss these exciting news deals!