The Mentor Nestle Torun Cup is a Senior B event that is held annually in Torun, Poland, and is one of the more well-attended of the European Senior Bs. One of the many reasons for this is that it is regularly the last opportunity for skaters to earn the required technical minimums to qualify for Four Continents, Europeans, and Worlds. This year, the Cup will be held from January 6 - 10.
Team Australia will be sending a large contingent for that very reason, and the depth of the fields should provide an excellent challenge for all...
EDIT: It would seem that in the past few days, the entry list for this event has changed significantly, with several names being removed and then re-appearing. The overall number of entries has dropped from 18 to 8 or 9, and at this time neither Denis Ten nor Brendan Kerry are listed any more. However, given there has been much back-and-forth with this, it is possible that they may still compete.
The clear favourite here is Olympic bronze medallist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan. Ten had a torrid start to the season, finishing ninth at Skate America, but has been improving in form, with a fourth at the abbreviated Trophee Eric Bompard and winning Golden Spin. Romain Ponsart has had an up-and-down season, finishing eleventh at TEB and fourth at French Nationals, but winning the French Masters competition. Israeli Alexei Bychenko, who was fourth at Europeans last season, has struggled this season and will be hoping to improve his performances here ahead of this season's Euros.
Predictions: Ten, Kerry, Ponsart
Brendan Kerry has no concerns about the technical minimums, but will be looking to get his form back on track. The last-minute invitation to the NHK Trophy, followed four days later by Australian Nationals, derailed his otherwise good form and it will be important for him to put in a good showing here ahead of Four Continents. And with the field the way it is, he should be in contention for a medal.
Jordan Dodds had a less than ideal start to the season, with performances that clearly frustrated him at both Salt Lake City and Nepela, but came back strongly at Australian Nationals to take the bronze there. His Nationals performances were significantly improved and his jumps are looking more secure, and his assignment here will be for one purpose: to get the Four Continents minimums. If he can, he will join his brother Andrew and Brendan on the team going to Taipei.
What Jordan has:
Short program: 21.11
Long program: 40.34
What Jordan needs:
Short program: 25.00
Long program: 45.00
It's a mixed field here, but my pick for the win is the talented Frenchwoman Mae Berenice Meite. Meite has big, powerful jumps but has struggled this year with a recurring leg injury, and will be hoping to use this as another step to rebuilding ahead of Europeans and Worlds. Slovenia's Dasa Grm (no, that's not a typo) has been solid this season and could play a big role in the overall result here, along with Austria's Kerstin Frank and Germany's Nicole Schott.
Predictions: Meite, Craine, Han
Neither Brooklee Han nor Kailani Craine need to be worried about technical minimums, but this will be yet another bout in their delightfully amiable battle this season. Kailani was unstoppable at Nationals, hardly putting a blade wrong in either division and winning in dominant fashion, and clearly has Senior Worlds in mind this season. Brooklee won their initial battles early in the season, but struggled at Nationals, and will be hoping to regain momentum here. Both ladies potentially have a shot at a medal here if they skate as well as we all know they can.
Chantelle Kerry already has the minimum technical score for the short program for Four Continents, but her mission here will be to acquire the minimum in the free skate. Coming back from a long injury layoff can make this task difficult, but Chantelle has a good chance, and if she can, she will join Kailani and Brooklee at Four Continents.
What Chantelle has:
Short program: 23.49 (minimum achieved)
Long program: 34.12
What Chantelle needs:
Short program: 20.00
Long program: 36.00
It should be an easy victory for Vera Bazarova and Andrei Deputat of Russia against a field that is predominantly made up of European and Four Continent pairs looking for minimums. Israeli pair Adel Tankovpa and Evgeni Krasnopolsky were solid in their early-season outings, while the Japanese pairs of Marin Ono and Wesley Killing and Sumire Suto and Francis Boudreau-Audet will be racing to see which team can get the minimum - and therefore a spot at Four Continents - first.
Predictions: Bazarova/Deputat, Tankovpa/Krasnopolsky, Ono/Killing
Paris Stephens and Matthew Dodds have been improving steadily through the season, and had an excellent performance at Nationals, where they eradicated the lift problems that had plagued them at Nepela and improved the rate at which they were landing their jumps. They will need to be very much on song here to acquire the technical minimum for Four Continents, but if they do, they will be the first Australian pair to attend Four Continents in ten years.
What Paris and Matthew have:
Short program: 15.80
Long program: 33.09
What Paris and Matthew need:
Short program: 20.00
Long program: 36.00
As with the Pairs fields, this field is primarily made up of those who are seeking minimums, but will be no less interesting for that. Newly-crowned Japanese champions Kana Muranoto and Chris Reed will be going head to head with compatriots Emi Hirai and Marien de la Asuncion in a race to see who can get the Worlds minimums first, and thereby establish an advantage heading into Four Continents. French couple Lorenza Alessandrini and Pierre Souquet could also be in the mix.
Predictions: Muranoto/Reed, Hirai/de la Asuncion, Alessandrini/Souquet
All times are AEDT.
It appears that video and potentially a stream will be available via the official website. Stay tuned.
Short program: Saturday January 9 - 4:00am
Long program: Saturday January 9 - 10:25pm
Short program: Thursday January 7 - 3:50am
Long program: Saturday January 9 - 12:30am
Short program: Saturday January 9 - 7:20am
Long program: Saturday January 9 - 7:20pm
Short dance: Saturday January 9 - 6:00am
Free dance: Saturday January 9 - 9:00pm