So I went 1-for-4 on my gold medal predictions at the 2014 Grand Prix Final, but I’ll take my lack of accuracy to mean it was an event with some surprises and skaters rising to the occasion. Let’s check in to see how I did:
I’ll start with the ice dance, where I got it right. Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won by 14 points with two fantastic performances. The dance event was so much fun to watch because each of the six teams looked so at ease in their performance. The Shib Sibs fell from 3rd place after the short dance to 6th in the free, which left them 4th overall. They were visibly disappointed in their scores. They’ve looked frustrated in the kiss and cry a lot this season and I’ve read that Marina Zoueva is not satisfied with the scores the Shib Sibs have been receiving this year. Chock and Bates took second as I predicted, but the French team of Papadakis and Cizeron grabbed the bronze instead of my prediction of the Shibs. Other than Papadakis/Cizeron and the Shibutanis swapping spots, I had the right idea with this event.
Though I thought the Russian team of Stilbova and Klimov would win the pairs event, I knew the Canadians and their throw quad salchow had the potential to run away with the title. Which is exactly what Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford did—by more than 7 points. Not only did they nail the quad throw, but they gave a career-best performance. Between the quad and their side-by-side triple lutzes, they are really pushing the envelope with their technical elements. I also love the cartwheel entrance to their throw triple flip. Other than the top two teams here, I didn’t make any other predictions on the mark. I’ve got to watch the pairs events more closely through the rest of the season.
In the men’s event, Yuzuru Hanyu was back in action, without a doubt. He skated lights out, with superb jumps and presentation save for a fall on his triple lutz near the end of the program. He almost laughed and shook his head a little at the fall, and you can’t really blame him. One fall in an otherwise great performance is a minor setback compared to everything else he has dealt with this season. I had hoped Javier Fernandez would triumph in the first major figure skating event in his home country of Spain, but he succumbed to the pressure in a shaky short program. Fernandez came back with a much better, though still imperfect, showing in the long. The noise of the crowd during both of his performances was unreal—you can easily see how it would be a distraction. Great performances by Sergei Voronov also threw a wrench in my predictions. Where he and Hanyu rose to the occasion, the other two Japanese skaters, Machida and Mura, faltered.
Though I had Elizaveta Tuktamisheva and Elena Radionova on top of the podium, they swapped spots in the final result. American Ashley Wagner stopped a Russian sweep of the podium, which satisfied my sentimental podium prediction. Her long program was the performance of the event, in my humble opinion. She finally put all the pieces together—all the jumps were there (two triple-triples!) and her performance quality is unmatched. After I saw this program at Skate Canada, I wrote that I was unsure about this music for her. I take it all back! The program has grown in to the dramatic storytelling vehicle that works so well for Ashley and makes such an impression on the audience. The teenagers competing in this event might have all the jumps, but Ashley’s delivery is the best. And on a day where her technical elements were also up to par, she proved that with both together she can still be right in the medal mix.