Well, the 2012 Grand Prix season is in the books, with some surprises, some notable absences, some not-so-successful comebacks:
- Patrick Chan is no longer invincible: Last year, pretty much everything Patrick Chan touched turned to gold, and he seemed to be blowing away the rest of the men’s field. This year, he finished second at Skate Canada to Javier Fernandez of Spain, and took the bronze in the Grand Prix Final behind Daisuke Takahashi (one of my favorite skaters…) and Yuzuru Hanyu. Fernandez actually won the long program on the strength of three quads, but was fifth in the short; a stronger short would have put him on the podium, since Chan just beat him for the bronze by fractions of a point. The men’s competition at Worlds is shaping up to be a good one!
- Notable absences: Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir were both attempting comebacks this year. Lysacek had sports hernia surgery in late November and will almost certainly miss Nationals in Omaha (although he and Weir are still on the qualified entrants’ list): Senior entrants for 2013 US Nationals. This is the second season in a row that Lysacek has wanted to return to competition and has been unsuccessful (last year, it was some amorphous financial dispute with the USFSA; this year, injury). Weir has already announced that he will not compete in Omaha either. His reasons are less clear than Lysacek’s; I have read that Weir was somewhat surprised by the higher technical level of competition since he last skated (really??) 2010 Olympic champion Kim Yu-Na sat out the GP season, but won the NRW Trophy in Dortmund to qualify for 2013 Worlds. She posted the highest total score of any woman this season (201.61). Carolina Kostner was thought to be considering retirement, but decided to just sit out the GP season instead. She did recently win the Golden Spin competition and is next due to skate at Italian Nationals this week. Aliana Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy missed their second Grand Prix assignment due to Savchenko’s severe sinus infection; they had already won their first GP outing at Skate Canada.
In other skating news:
- Denney and Coughlin to miss US Nationals: Reigning US Pairs Champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin will not be able to defend their title in Omaha. John underwent hip surgery to repair a torn labrum on December 4th.
- Takahashi and Tran split: 2012 World Pairs bronze medalists Narumi Takahashi and Mervyn Tran have split, just days before Japanese Nationals are due to start. They missed the GP season due to Takahashi’s shoulder surgery, and Tran’s getting Japanese citizenship in time for Sochi was always a dicey proposition (he is a Canadian national, and Japan has very strict requirements).
- Weaver/Poje will not compete at Canadians: 2012 Canadian Ice Dancing silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje will not be competing at Canadian Nationals in Mississauga, Ontario from January 13-20. Weaver sustained an ankle injury in practice.
- Julia Lipnitskaia still recovering: 2012 Russian Ladies’ silver medalist Julia Lipnitskaia is still recovering from a concussion she sustained prior to the GP Final, necessitating her withdrawal from that event. She will miss Russian Nationals next week, but hopes to skate in Junior Worlds later this season.
- US National sites announced: 2015 US Nationals have been awarded to Greensboro, NC, site of the 2011 Championships. 2016 US Nationals will be in St. Paul, MN.
Many national championships are taking place in the next few weeks; Japan’s are this week, Russia’s next week.