NHK Trophy 2021 – Predictions

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Women

With Alexandra Trusova withdrawn due to injury, the fight for the top spot at NHK Trophy becomes a little less clear. With a somewhat similar lineup to Skate America: Usacheva, You, and Sakamoto will be battling it out after finishing with less than 1.5 points between them at the previous competition. Alysa Liu will also be in the mix for the title after a slightly disappointing 5th place finish at Skate Canada where she fell on her 3A attempt in the free, but a clean skate here would definitely put her in contention for gold.

Rino Matsuike competes at her first international Grand Prix (she took part in the domestic NHK Trophy last season), and only her second-ever international competition despite being one of the most competitive Japanese women domestically over the past couple of seasons. She stated after practice that a small injury has stopped her from training her 3A recently but a clean skate should nonetheless produce a good result. Mana Kawabe will be looking to improve upon her 9th place at Skate Canada, where she had a disappointing short program but an amazing free skate, she is the chosen replacement for the injured National Champion- Rika Kihira. Amber Glenn broke the 200 point mark for the first time at Skate America without performing her triple axel, if she were to land the jump cleanly here for the first time she could easily have a high result.

Elli’s predictionsLois’s predictionsSarah’s predictions
1Alysa LiuYoung YouAlysa Liu
2Daria UsachevaKaori SakamotoYoung You
3Young YouDaria UsachevaDaria Usacheva
4Kaori SakamotoAlysa LiuKaori Sakamoto
5Amber GlennRino MatsuikeMana Kawabe

Don’t count out: Seoyeong Wi

Men

Vincent Zhou is a surefire favourite for this event coming off a win beating the previously undefeated Nathan Chen, his domestic rival, at Skate America by a wide margin. However, Shoma Uno can certainly contest for the title considering his second place at the same competition with two skates marred by errors.

Predicting the other placements is always tricky considering you never know what the men will deliver day-to-day, however Ignatov, Cha, and Rizzo, all have the potential to place high if they can deliver their planned content. Ignatov has recurring stamina issues towards the end of his programs that see him lose points but is one of the few skaters performing a quad loop. Cha is coming off a great short and a less great free skate at Gran Premio D’Italia and will want a better result here but back-to-back competitions can be difficult to manage. Rizzo has had consistency issues within the last couple of seasons but was able to climb from 19th to 6th with the best free skate at Finlandia Trophy last month, and beat fellow competitor Alexander Samarin and reigning European Champion, Dmitri Aliev, at Budapest Trophy.

Elli’s predictionsLois’s predictionsSarah’s predictions
1Vincent ZhouShoma UnoVincent Zhou
2Shoma UnoVincent ZhouShoma Uno
3Junhwan ChaMatteo RizzoMakar Ignatov
4Makar IgnatovJunhwan ChaMatteo Rizzo
5Matteo RizzoMakar IgnatovJunhwan Cha

Don’t count out: Kao Miura

Pairs

It is likely to be a Russian showdown for gold and silver at NHK Trophy with the reigning World Champions, Mishina/Galliamov, taking on the veterans Tarasova/Morozov. Mishina/Galliamov tend to have the more reliable jumps of the two teams, and beat their compatriots at Finlandia Trophy last month, however, Tarasova/Morozov have competed more and so have had more feedback and experience on how to improve their points.

Miura/Kihara would seem like a lock for bronze coming off an incredible competition at Skate America. They would be unlikely to climb higher based on previous best scores but will certainly have the crowd on their side and will be primed to take advantage of any of their competitor’s mistakes as they keep going from strength to strength. Cain-Gribble/LeDuc and Hase/Seegert are both coming off strong skates at Skate Canada, where they came 3rd and 5th respectively. Cain-Gribble/LeDuc have ironed out a lot of their jump/throw errors this season but are still vulnerable if a mistake occurs, Hase/Seegert suffered from a 48-hour travel ordeal in the run-up to their last competition and clearly suffered from fatigue in the free skate. Both teams will be fighting for a strong finish at their second Grand Prix.

Elli’s predictionsLois’s predictionsSarah’s predictions
1Anastasia Mishina / Aleksandr GalliamovEvgenia Tarasova / Vladimir MorozovEvgenia Tarasova / Vladimir Morozov
2Evgenia Tarasova / Vladimir MorozovAnastasia Mishina / Aleksandr GalliamovAnastasia Mishina / Aleksandr Galliamov
3Riku Miura / Ryuichi KiharaRiku Miura / Ryuichi KiharaRiku Miura / Ryuichi Kihara
4Ashley Cain-Gribble / Timothy LeDucMinerva Fabienne Hase / Nolan SeegertAshley Cain-Gribble / Timothy LeDuc
5Minerva Fabienne Hase / Nolan SeegertAshley Cain-Gribble / Timothy LeDucMinerva Fabienne Hase / Nolan Seegert

Ice dance

Reigning World Champions, Sinitsina/Katsalapov, are an obvious choice for the win. However, Katsalapov has been suffering from a back injury that forced their withdrawal from the Russian Cup after the Rhythm Dance last month and he was unable to partake in lifts until fairly recently. If any injury problems or lack of preparation for the competition arise in their skates, Chock/Bates will be right behind them ready to pounce.

The battle for bronze will likely fall between Spanish team Hurtado/Khaliavin and British team Fear/Gibson, the latter of who had a technically subpar performance at Skate Canada a couple of weeks ago where they finished 7th. Fear/Gibson have, however, had the edge over Hurtado/Khaliavin at Championships over the last couple of seasons, and most recently beat them at Finlandia Trophy. Hurtado/Khaliavin haven’t competed on the Grand Prix this season yet, and have likely been working hard since they were beaten by their rivals Smart/Diaz by a tiny margin in their first domestic battle for the lone Spanish Olympic spot. Lajoie/Lagha were our collective choices for 5th place here but have been frequently lowballed by the judges despite being a fast and technically strong team. If the judges are not on their side again, they could be chased down by Ukrainian team Nazarova/Nikitin who are coming off a Personal Best score at Denis Ten Memorial Challenge a couple of weeks ago.

Elli’s predictionsLois’s predictionsSarah’s predictions
1Victoria Sinitsina / Nikita KatsalapovVictoria Sinitsina / Nikita KatsalapovVictoria Sinitsina / Nikita Katsalapov
2Madison Chock / Evan BatesMadison Chock / Evan BatesMadison Chock / Evan Bates
3Lilah Fear / Lewis GibsonLilah Fear / Lewis GibsonSara Hurtado / Kirill Khaliavin
4Sara Hurtado / Kirill KhaliavinSara Hurtado / Kirill KhaliavinLilah Fear / Lewis Gibson
5Marjorie Lajoie / Zachary LaghaMarjorie Lajoie / Zachary Lagha Marjorie Lajoie / Zachary Lagha

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