by Laura Flagg | Photo by Julia Komarova
Cup of China, the fifth of six events in the GP series, takes place this week in Beijing, China. Ten teams are competing for prize money and a potential spot at the Grand Prix Final.
Two of the top Russian teams will be competing: Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov and the 2013 Junior World Champions, Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin, who placed 2nd and 3rd at Russian Nationals last season, respectively. Sinitsina and Katsalapov are making their debut for the season. Stepanova & Bukin have had a relatively strong season, winning a Challenger event and placing 5th in a tough field at Skate Canada. While neither team is likely to make the Grand Prix Final, the team that ends up on top — and probably with a medal — will have an advantage going into Russian Nationals.
However, the medal that they are battling for is likely to be the bronze, as the top two ranked teams are the reigning American champions, Maia & Alex Shibutani, and the reiging Canadian champions, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje. The Shibutanis, who train with Marina Zoueva, have been rising in the standings over the past two season, placing 2nd at the World Championships last season and winning their first Grand Prix event, Skate America. Weaver & Poje, on the other hand, have had a rough 2016, placing only 5th at Worlds after two consecutive medals and placing 3rd at their first Grand Prix event. While a medal of any color would guarantee the Shibutanis a spot at the Grand Prix Final, Weaver & Poje would need to win to qualify.
Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus, the reiging American pewter medalists, will also be competing. They had a rough outing in their Challenger series event, which has been their only competition of the season. They train with Karen Ludington and Christine Moxley.
Representing Poland are Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodyriev. They finished 16th at the World Championship last season. This will be the first Grand Prix event of their careers. Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam, former Canadian bronze medalists, will be hoping to improve upon their eighth place finish at Skate Canada.
China, as hosts, have three spots. Their top team is Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu, who placed 9th at Skate Canada. Hong Chen& Yan Zhao will be returning to competition after missing all of last season. Linshu Song& Zhuoming Sun will be making their international debut as a team.
The short dance is on Friday, November 18th with the free dance on the following day.