Questions and Hopes for Cup of China
While we've spoken of our predictions, we haven't really discussed what we want to happen here, so I figured I'd open this thread for general discussion.
1. Brian Joubert wins
I am by no means a fan of Joubert. My nightmare podium at the Olympics was Plushenko, him and Lysacek. I've overrated his insults to Buttle (which, while unfair, certainly weren't worth the grudge I held). While he's a physically gorgeous specimen, I don't think much of his skating. But I think he deserves a tonne of credit for the way he's taken control of his own narrative this past season and a half. Starting in the post-Olympic season with two challenging programs, continuing last season with a retake of his signature one, he seems to have attained a new maturity in his outlook. While there are too many skaters for me to truly root for him come Sochi, I think winning the Cup of China would make him only the second skater to take all six grand prix events and the GPF (Shen/Zhao are the only ones to do it thus far) and that's a worthy accomplishment to climax a decade+ of senior skating.
2. Stolbova/Klimov emerge
They've had some truly fascinating and remarkable programs as juniors and seniors. Their "Bolero" last season was a fascinating piece of choreography and they are by far the most interesting Russian skaters currently competing. If they were skating on behalf of any other country we'd be able to see them at Worlds without a doubt. But they're skating for a country with a truly obscenely deep pairs field, with four of the top six pairs in Europe (maybe even top five, depending on highly you rate Berton/Hotarek). I much prefer them to B/L (and V/T, frankly), so a GP medal here would be nice.
3. Kavaguti/Smirnov win
This is by far the wierdest development for me. I was pretty disappointed with everything this team had done upto and including the Olympics. None of their programs worked for me, and while I do think they skate with more connection than are given credit for, I've never found them that great either. Then they did Claire de Lune. When they first performed it at the 2010 CoR, it was clearly their masterpiece. They kept it for a season and did even better with it (2011 CoR), skating a program that could've easily been a World title winner (except they were up against the ambitiously amazing Pina from Savchenko/Szolkowy). But Volosozhar/Trankov came together, and so quickly. It's clear where the political heat lies. I'd like to see K/S just experience more success. They're like a Petrova/Tikhinov and I thought they'd be more successful.
It wasn't that they lost the National title. Duhamel/Radford were clearly going to win based on their growth and momentum (winning the last two head-to-heads). It was that they weren't even on the podium. That was a surprise. As it turned out, it might be the greatest thing that ever happened to them. Because now they can do this. The level of improvement is astonishing. The complexity of the short program (especially when you compare it to what some of the top teams are doing), the spare epic nature of the long. When Kirsten said she still loved skating (after the Nationals disaster), you wouldn't have been unfair to wonder why. This is the answer. I want them to make a battle of it here, at Nationals, and at Worlds.
5. Mao Asada wins