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Cup of China Highlights

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The Grand Prix circuit made it’s third stop this last weekend at the Cup of China in Beijing. At this event, the ladies brought their best, while the men struggled. The Chinese pairs did not disappoint and ice dance just got more exciting.

Sui and Han primed for Olympic moment

There are quite a few powerhouse pair teams right now, but standing head and shoulders above the rest is Wenjing Sui and Cong Han. They may have a few minor errors here and there, but overall their unison, connection, interpretation and overall skating qualities are just the best there is. It is hard to imagine any other team claiming the Olympic gold. They easily won this event with a score of 231.07. Their score was 25 points above their teammates and silver medal finishers Xiaoyu Yu and Hao Zhang.

Wakaba Higuchi got robbed

I do not want to take away from what Alina Zagatova accomplished at her Grand Prix debut, but the judging on this ladies event seemed sketchy. This was one of the best ladies events that we have seen this season. Several of the ladies completing strong, clean programs. After the short, the top three ladies were all less than 1-point away from each other. It was not surprising that it was close, but I’m still surprised who wound up with gold.

Zagatova had a fantastic free skate, but she is still young and she lacks interesting choreography and is not at all polished. She backloaded her program and worked the system, for which you cannot fault her, as this strategy did win her the event. The fault lies within the PCS. In my opinion Wakaba Higuchi was underscored in both her short program and her free skate.

Though Wakaba settled for the silver, she still did surpass the other two Japanese ladies, which is significant for her as they continue to vie for the Olympic Team. Mai Mihara finished in fourth and Marin Honda in fifth. All of these Japanese ladies are immensely talented and I look forward to the day when they are scored more accurately.

Max Aaron captures the bronze

While the ladies were giving their best free skates of their careers, the men were struggling to stay on their feet. It was later reported that Javier Fernandez was dealing with some stomach issues that contributed to his poor performance. Fernandez, who was expected to win Cup of China, finished in a disappointing sixth.

In the end, it was not about who could deliver the most exceptional performance, it was about who racked up the most points by attempting quads even if they were not landed. Mikhail Kolyada took home the gold and Boyang Jin the silver.

The bright light in the free skate was Max Aaron. Max was fifth in the short program, but delivered a fantastic free skate. Aaron captured the bronze and nudged out his teammate Vincent Zhou by 4 points. Both Max and Vincent are making the Olympic Team decision a difficult one for U.S. Figure Skating. Obviously Max making it onto the podium, was significant, but Vincent still did a decent job, finishing in fourth place.

Papadakis and Cizeron make headway

So far this season it seems like Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are a shoo in for winning their second Olympic gold medal. Just last weekend they broke their own world record by scoring a total of 199.86 points.

This weekend at Cup of China it was Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron who broke through the 200-point barrier and scored a total of 200.43, outdoing Virtue and Moir’s score from Skate Canada. Papadakis and Cizeron are gaining momentum and could very well steal the Olympic gold out from under Tessa and Scott. The fight to the top of the podium is going to be fierce in ice dance.

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