Pj's Preview: Trophee Eric Bompard
Paris to host Canadian greats at Grand Prix event
What I am looking for from the Grand Prix of France event this weekend is validation of some of this season’s Olympic contenders and a few more Grand Prix Final berth confirmations.
Take Patrick Chan, who’ll make his second Grand Prix appearance at the Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris. He started the season at the second event, Skate Canada, where he took the title. He wasn’t perfect but was still strong enough to be able to hold competitors like rival Yuzuru Hanyu, the silver medallist from Japan, at bay. Hanyu will also make his second Grand Prix appearance in France and might be considered Chan’s biggest rival — but I have my eye on another skater as well: China’s Han Yan.
Yan won the Cup of China two weeks ago and has posted the third-highest season’s short program score, which is higher than either Chan’s or Hanyu’s. Keep your eye on him, because he has lots of promise.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir also make their second Grand Prix appearance and although there is little doubt about them taking the title, there is still work to be done. With different judging panels at different events, you can’t always directly compare scores. What you can do though is use the scores as a bit of a benchmark to indicate what is happening in the sport overall. Virtue and Moir have the second-highest scores of the season in short, free and overall total, behind defending world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White from the United States. Although this point spread doesn’t really matter until the two teams face off, presumably at the Grand Prix Final, Virtue and Moir will nevertheless be looking to close the gap in Paris.
Big things expected from Pogarilaya
Although the Russian team of Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov will undoubtedly be in the pairs mix, I think the real contest is between China’s Qing Pang and Jian Tong, and Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. Duhamel and Radford, the current world bronze medallists, had a disappointing bronze medal finish at Skate Canada. I say disappointing because they faltered in their free program after leading in the short. Expect Duhamel and Radford to have turned their fury at themselves into a frenzy of hard work, hopefully giving way to strong performances in Paris.
Pang and Tong have been at the top of the pairs competition, with two world titles and an Olympic silver to their credit. Their goal for this event has to be adding to their silver from their first Grand Prix and getting to the Grand Prix Final.
Russia’s Anna Pogarilaya, 15, won the recent Cup of China in her senior international debut, putting herself clearly on the radar of senior international figure skating. I am expecting big things from this skater. I am expecting bigger things from two-time American champion Ashley Wagner. When Wagner skates well, her technique, sophistication and overall package make a great impression.