What to know for figure skating’s exclusive Grand Prix Final

By admin Dec7,2023

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The biggest annual event in figure skating is the world championships. The second-biggest is the Grand Prix Final. It starts tomorrow in Beijing. Here’s what to know:

It’s quite exclusive.

The Grand Prix of Figure Skating’s regular season consists of six events held all over the world in October and November. Skaters are allowed to compete at up to two of those stops. They earn points based on where they finish, and those points decide who gets to compete in the Final.

Only the top six in each discipline — men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance — are invited.

The only other time we’ll see this many of the world’s best figure skaters gathered in one place this season is at the world championships in March in Montreal.

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Canada is well represented.

While no Canadian singles skaters qualified (the fourth straight time that’s happened), the country has a total of five entries spread across the two tandem events — two in pairs, three in ice dance.

The top Canadian duo is Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who won the ice dance title at last year’s Final in Italy before earning their second bronze in three years at the world championships. For the second straight season, Gilles and Poirier won both of their Grand Prix assignments — this time at Skate Canada International in Vancouver and the Cup of China — to finish atop the standings.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Asher Hill logs podium picks for Grand Prix Final:

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Canada is sending five teams to the ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix Final and the host of ‘That Figure Skating Show’ is choosing two of those teams to win a Grand Prix Final title. Do you agree with his gold-medal picks?

The pairs team of Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps also went 2-for-2 to lead their event. Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud qualified third in pairs while Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen and Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha tied for fifth in the ice dance rankings.

Another three Canadians duos, all in pairs, qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final, which is also happening this week in Beijing.

Other skaters to watch:

As long as Russians remain banned from international figure skating over the invasion of Ukraine, it will be easier for everyone else to win medals. But Canada’s skaters are still facing stiff competition.

Gilles and Poirier will battle American rivals Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who also won both of their Grand Prix starts to tie the Canadians for first in the ice dance standings. The reigning world champions are looking to win the Final for the first time after four runner-up finishes. Italians Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri, who took silver at the world championships and have a gold and a silver this season, are also contenders.

In pairs, the new German team of Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin matched Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps atop the standings by winning both of their regular-season events. Reigning world champions Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara have been out since Kihara suffered a back injury in the fall.

The individual events feature Japanese stars Kaori Sakamoto and Shoma Uma, who each won their second consecutive world title last season. Sakamoto missed the podium in both of her previous trips to the Final, but she’s the women’s favourite after winning a pair of golds this season.

Uno, who settled for two silvers, is defending his men’s title against Grand Prix leader Adam Siao Him Fa of France and Olympic silver medallist Yuma Kagiyama of Japan, who both beat him on tour this season. American phenom Ilya “the Quad God” Malinin is in the mix too after earning the highest score of the season in his victory at Skate America.

How to watch:

CBC Sports is live-streaming every skate at the Final, starting with the pairs short program on Friday at 5 a.m. ET. See the full schedule here. 

Learn more about the top contenders here. Vote for Gilles and Poirier in the Canadian Sport Awards here.

By admin

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