Olympic Champions Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) and Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) as well as World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS) and World Pairs Champions Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (CHN) headline NHK Trophy in Osaka (JPN) this week. NHK Trophy is the fourth of six events of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series 2017/18. A total of 60 skaters/couples from 16 ISU members compete in Osaka.
Overview of the top contenders
Reigning Olympic and World Champion Hanyu leads the Men at NHK Trophy. Following his silver medal finish at Rostelecom Cup last month, Hanyu is aiming for the top of the podium and a spot in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. While the Japanese star is the top favorite, the silver and bronze medals are up for grabs. Jason Brown (USA) comes with a silver medal from Skate Canada International and hopes to qualify for his first Grand Prix Final. Adam Rippon (USA) and Sergei Voronov (RUS) enter the series now while World Junior silver medalist Dmitri Aliev (RUS), Michal Brezina (CZE) and Deniss Vasiljevs (LAT) will compete in their second event. Patrick Chan (CAN) has withdrawn and has been replaced by Keegan Messing (CAN).
World Champion Medvedeva won Rostelecom Cup and wants to book her trip to her fifth consecutive Final (Junior and Senior combined) with another victory here in Osaka. Competition should come from five-time European Champion and Rostelecom Cup silver medalist Carolina Kostner (ITA) and 2015 World silver medalist Satoko Miyahara (JPN), who competes in her first Grand Prix this season. Other contenders include Rika Hongo (JPN), Yuna Shiraiwa (JPN), Polina Tsurskaya (RUS), Alena Leonova (RUS) and Mariah Bell (USA).
World Champions Sui/Han come fresh off their victory in China last week and are looking to secure their sport in the Final. The challenge should come from 2014 Olympic and World silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS), who took silver at Rostelecom Cup and have a good chance to qualify for the Final. Other medal hopefuls in Osaka are Rostelecom Cup bronze medalists Kristina Astakhova/Alexei Rogonov (RUS), Julianne Séguin/ Charlie Bilodeau (CAN) and Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim (USA).
World Champions Virtue/Moir headline the Ice Dance competition and look want to follow up on their victory at Skate Canada International. 2014 World Champions Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) will compete in their first Grand Prix this season while Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) will try to qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. They took bronze at Skate Canada International. Other competitors are Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS), Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen (DEN), Kana Muramoto/Chris Reed (JPN) and Alexandra Nazarova/Maxim Nikitin (UKR). Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland (GBR) replace Isabella Tobias/Ilia Tkachenko (ISR) on short notice.
The schedule of NHK Trophy is as follows:
Friday, November 10: Pairs, Ladies and Men Short Programs
Saturday, November 11: Short Dance, Pairs, Ladies and Men Free Skating
Sunday, November 12: Free Dance, Exhibition Gala
The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series consists of six events and culminates in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya (JPN) in December. The top six skaters/couples in each discipline qualify for the Final. The global prize money for the Grand Prix is US $ 272,000.
Full entry lists and results of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2017/18 are available here. Follow the discussion on social media by using #GPFigure #FigureSkating.