Okay, so someone asked me to do this, so I figured why not. The ISU wants the GP events to be more prestigious – giving the more successful skaters more chances to compete, limiting the slots available to lower ranked skaters, etc. On the one hand, the rules mean that politicking is more difficult. On the other hand, politicking isn’t impossible. We also know that the host federation wants a good show too (more fans coming out in the future is a good thing) but they also want to promote their own talent. So, a conundrum. On the other hand, they saw that the “can choose three” option didn’t really benefit them, so they got rid of that (right???)
Last season, we saw that host picks didn’t have to meet the required minimum score: neither Balde nor DeSanctis did so at Nebelhorn but still performed at Skate Canada. We also know that the host nations do not have to use their allotted three slots (Japan in dance and pairs, for example), but that most try to.
1. HOST PICKS
Skate America: Ashley Wagner, TBA (Gracie Gold), Caroline Zhang
To me, this line-up makes the most sense. Wagner is the reigning National champion, the highest ranking skater from Worlds, etc. Gold is an exceedingly talented up-and-comer and will likely be one of the bright lights of US figure skating these next few seasons. Zhang’s Cinderella story is too good to deny. This is actually a fairly high profile group of skaters. Generally, one of the skaters is more a senior B type (Joelle Forte, Alexe Gilles). Maybe someone like Samantha Cesario can impress at the summer competitions and nab a spot. If the federation is feeling generous, Flatt has no guaranteed spot (nor does Gao). Hicks will likely stay junior. Nagasu would be a big vote of support
Skate Canada: Cynthia Phaneuf, Amelie LaCoste, Adrianna Najarro
Osmond will likely stay junior internationally. No idea about Myrianne Samson, but if she wants to skate, the third slot is hers. Ho hum. I hope that Canada sends its young ladies to Nebelhorn, Finlandia and Salt Lake/Lake Placid. The whining you hear in the background is Skate Canada, begging Joannie to return.
Cup of China: Kexin Zhang, Bingwa Geng, Quiying Zhu
I’m making the assumption that Zijun Li and Ziquan Zhao will be staying junior, but both have outscored Geng and Zhu last season.
COR: Alena Leonova, TBA (Julia Lipnitskaya), Elizaveta Tuktamisheva
Now this is a fascinating group. Leonova is a medalist. Lock. Lipnitskaya is the world junior champion. Near lock IF ELIGIBLE. So the question: how is the Russian federation thinking. Do they want a medal sweep? If so, go for Tuktamisheva or Sotnikova. Do they want to spread the wealth? Then it’s Korobeynikova or Birykova or Shelepen. If I’m the Russian fed, I avoid declaring all three spots
TEB: Yretha Silethe, Mae Bernice Mete, Anais Ventard
Just went with the highest scoring ladies again.
NHK: Akiko Suzuki, Mao Asada, TBA (Risa Shoji)
Calculated guess with Shoji. I don’t think Ando’s coming back. They can’t choose Asada and Murakami both. So between Imai and Shoji, I think the younger skater gets it (plus I wonder if Miyahara will get the push for the junior side of things as opposed to Shoji).
2. SEEDED SKATERS (ie, the top six at worlds)
Skate America: Akiko Suzuki (Ashley Wagner)
Skate Canada: Carolina Kostner, Mao Asada
Cup of China: Alena Leonova, Kanako Murakami
Cup of Russia: (Alena Leonova), Kanako Murakami
TEB: Carolina Kostner, Ashley Wagner
NHK: (Akiko Suzuki, Mao Asada)
If you have a host pick in the top six, you’ll want someone you can beat. Skate Canada often went with the bronze medalists (Lepisto and K/S were the 2010 bronze medalists, and low and behold, both were slotted in at SC – but withdrew before the competition). If you don’t, you just want a good show. Of the top six, Murakami’s the most beatable, imo. If Rochette doesn’t return, SC would love to have two world champion ladies. TEB wants a good competition and Kostner’s as close to hometown as the French get in this category.
3. GUARANTEED TWO (ie, 7th thru 12th)
Skate America: Ksenia Makarova, Valentina Marchei
Skate Canada: Elene Gedevanishivili, Viktoria Helgesson
Cup of China: (Kexin Zhang), Yretha Silete
Cup of Russia: Valentina Marchei, Viktoria Helgesson
TEB: (Yretha Silete), Kexin Zhang
NHK: Elene Gedevanishivili, Ksenia Makarova
Now it’s just guesswork. You (or at least I) presume there’s some politicking going on – maybe trying to get a skater compete near his/her homebase for some support. Maybe it’s to avoid two back to back competitions. Maybe it’s to split apart two competitors from the same nation.
So, where do we stand with the numbers
Skate America: 6
Skate Canada: 7
Cup of China: 6
Cup of Russia: 6
So, 24 slots left.
Now here’s where the hosts can be crafty. The next two groups of skaters are only guaranteed one slot. However, if they want them to get two (say they’re a talented junior skater who can make a real mark, or someone who just had a bad year and consequently fell out of the earlier categories), you can save a host pick (TBA) and select them after they get the one from the following batch. If you don’t, they might not get two.
4. Top 24 on ISU Ranking, Top 24 SB list without a spot – guaranteed one
These are the skaters here: Alissa Czisny, Kiira Korpi, Mirai Nagasu, Joshi Helgesson, Agnes Zawadski, Adelina Sotnikova, Miki Ando, Polina Shelepen, Sarah Hecken, Sofia Biryukova
The skaters that are eligible here but I’m giving a host spot to: Haruka Imai, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Carolina Zhang, Julia Lipnitskaya*, Gracie Gold*
Skate America: Julia Lipnitskaya, Sarah Hecken
Skate Canada: Gracie Gold, Adelina Sotnikova
Cup of China: Alissa Czisny, Sofia Biryukova
Cup of Russia: Kiira Korpi
TEB: Joshie Helgesson, Agnes Zawadski
NHK: Mirai Nagasu, Polina Shelepen
Assumption: Zijun Li and Satoko Miyahara stay junior, Miko Ando doesn’t compete.
5. Junior medalists from worlds/jgpf guaranteed one spot
All accounted for above (for the record Lipnitskaia won both, Shelepen and Korobeynikova were 2nd and 3rd at the JGPF, Gold and Sotnikova 2nd and 3rd and world juniors)
Skate America: 8
Skate Canada: 9
Cup of China: 8
Cup of Russia: 7
Thirteen slots left. Now, all the skaters guaranteed one spot COULD get two (currently 12 skaters only have one GP slot). And then they’d go to the substitutes list. I don’t know if they’ll do the former first, though.