Here's why I like this girl: even with a cast on her foot, she was trying to figure out a way to have a blade mounted on it so she could skate in her home country. Fortunately for her health, it couldn’t be done. But I like her moxy.
Russian women have won the first three Grand Prix singles titles. I think there's a pretty good chance that Anna Pogorilaya will deliver the fourth, which would be her second after winning Skate Canada two weeks ago.
Men's gold up for grabs
In the men’s event, the title is up for grabs. There are four skaters who could dazzle enough for a podium finish but could also just as easily leave it all in the dressing room — Takahiko Kozuka, Artur Gachinski, Michal Brezina and Sergei Voronov.
There's also Javier Fernandez and Jason Brown, who both took home a Grand Prix silver in their first event of the season.
Whoever wins this time will undoubtedly earn a spot in next month’s Grand Prix Final in Barcelona. I'm hoping that the chance to perform in front of a hometown crowd will give Fernandez something to push for.
New dance partners
In ice dance, it's almost as much fun to watch what’s going on off the ice as it is to appreciate the skill, talent and drama on the ice.
Moscow fans will get the chance to see their homegrown Olympic bronze medallists compete. The only hitch is Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov are now with different partners.
I may have been expecting too much from Elena and her new partner Ruslan Zhiganshin when they skated to a fourth-place finish in last week’s event in Shanghai. Nikita’s new partner is Victoria Sinitsina, and I'm going to try and keep an open mind as they take the ice for their first Grand Prix together. Did I mention that Ruslan and Victoria used to skate together? I'll be paying close attention, especially during warm-up.
Pj's watch list- Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov (Russia): Not many of the Olympic medallists have been performing to potential so far this season, so I'm looking forward to seeing what these two have been working on since winning the Olympic and world silver medals in pairs last season.
- Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker (United States): This team won the junior world dance title in the spring and I'm always interested to see how successful juniors make the leap to senior competition.
- Alaine Chartrand (Canada): Ranked fifth at the 2014 junior world championships, Alaine is what I like to call a work in progress with solid technique, natural grace and elegance. She's still finding her way in competition and will be looking to improve on her seventh-place finish at Skate Canada. Slow and steady wins the race, and at just 18, she still has lots of time.
- Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland (Great Britain): Being in the right place at the right time with the right material earned this team the European bronze in ice dance last season. Whether they will capitalize on that momentum is what I want to know.
Pj’s gold-medal picks
Dance: Madison Chock and Evan Bates (United States)
Men: Javier Fernandez (Spain)
Pairs: Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov (Russia)
Ladies: Anna Pogorilaya (Russia)
Tweet me your picks and anything else @skatingpj and with the hashtag #cbcskate.
Just for fun
Another name that we’re missing from the Grand Prix series is Kevin Reynolds. If you’re meeting him for the first time or if you want to be reminded about what makes this amazing Canadian tick, here are three fast facts from the man himself:
We heard from Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier with their three fast facts a couple of weeks ago. With a Skate America silver, they want to make the podium in Russia and claim their spot for the Grand Prix Final. Here, they share their packing tips: