Skate Canada, this year held in Letherbridge, is the second event in the Grand Prix series, a spot it has traditionally occupied for some years. This year it will take place from October 30-November 1.
Skate Canada has been known to throw up the occasional odd result, but it is an event that heavily favours its home skaters in the final washup.
The two biggest names in men's figure skating are here at the one event: Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, the reigning Olympic Champion, and Patrick Chan of Canada, the reigning Olympic silver medallist. On paper, it's a match-up to make the mouth water. In reality, it will likely be slightly different; Chan is coming off a whole season off, while Hanyu's past Grand Prix performances have been inconsistent.
The real question at this event will be: who comes third? My tip is young Canadian wonderkid Nam Ngyuen, who made some strong inroads last season in Chan's absence and trains alongside Hanyu under Brian Orser. But I would also put Daisuke Murakami (Japan), Adam Rippon (USA) and Alexander Petrov (Russia) in the mix for that bronze medal as well.
Prediction: Chan, Hanyu, Ngyuen
Reigning World Champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva will open her Grand Prix season here, hoping to recreate the kind of dominant success that she had last year. Tuktamysheva had a shaky outing at the Japan Open a few weeks ago, but will doubtless be up for a fight. Her excellent jump technique, in my opinion, is what will make the difference.
Her biggest rivals here will include young Kazakhstani superstar Elizabet Tursynbaeva, reigning US National Champion Ashley Wagner, and returning Canadian top dog Katelyn Osmond. Fellow Russian Alena Leonova could also very well be in the mix if all goes well. And reigning Four Continents champion Polina Edmunds (USA) can't be counted out either.
Prediction: Tuktamysheva, Tursynbaeva, Osmond
It's a World Champion-fest at Skate Canada this year, and the reigning World Champions in pairs, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, will doubtless enjoy skating in front of a home crowd. They finished last season very strongly and will no doubt be looking to repeat their victory in a much tougher field this year. Strong technically and artistically, they're my pick to win.
Russian power pair Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, however, will certainly be waiting in the wings and are strong prospects for a medal, while compatriots Vera Bazarova and Andrei Deputat will be in the mix as well. And new Italian pair Valentina Marchei and Ondrej Hotarek will be keen to make a strong first impression, while Kristen Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro (CAN) can't be counted out of the mix.
Prediction: Duhamel/Radford, Tarasova/Morozov, Marchei/Hotarek
The Canadians are certainly going to be in for quite the show, with key players in all four divisions. I think Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje are the hot favourites to take the title here. Their polished skating and immaculate presentation will be a treat for the audience, and as reigning World bronze medallists, they will be starting from a position of strength.
American sibling duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will be very keen for a reversal of recent fortunes, and with two excellent dances this year could well find themselves in the mix here. Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia are a strong team that will also be in contention, while Canadian couple Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam and Danish surprise packets Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorenson will also be in the hunt.
Prediction: Weaver/Poje, Shibutani/Shibutani, Bobrova/Soloviev
All times AEDT.
Short program - Saturday 31 October - 10:45am - 12:20pm
Long program - Sunday 1 November - 11:45am - 1:40pm
Short program - Saturday 31 October - 7:20am - 8:55am
Long program - Sunday 1 November - 5:00am - 6:50am
Short program - Saturday 31 October - 12:40pm - 1:50pm
Long program - Sunday 1 November - 10:00am - 11:25am
Short dance - Saturday 31 October - 6:00am - 7:05am
Long dance - Sunday 1 November - 7:30am - 8:45am