Monday, November 29

Can the Japanese Men Sweep in Beijing?

Looking at the statistics of the six men qualified to the Grand Prix Final got me thinking: is it possible that the Japanese team of Kozuka, Takahashi, and Oda could sweep the podium?

Takahiko Kozuka leads the way after his impressive 170-point free skate at Trophee Eric Bompard. Daisuke Takahashi is the reigning World Champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist, but he's shown flaws in both of his events. Nobunari Oda might seem like the odd man out, but his short program scores actually lead all of the men this season. Trouble with figuring out the judging system on the fly once again cost him a gold medal, this time at Skate America-- versus Takahashi.

Patrick Chan of Canada will be the biggest threat to split up this party, but his Grand Prix showings featured eight (yes, eight) falls between the two competitions. He still scores extremely well on every element he does successfully complete, and his components are deservedly among the top scores of all the men. I'm not completely discounting Tomas Verner and Florent Amodio from their own spoiler party, but their numbers don't quite stack up to what the other four are capable of, at least not yet this season.

So, the big questions: Can Kozuka continue to build on the great season he has started, or will his nerves sink in when he realizes his position? Can Takahashi finally deliver a World Champion-caliber skate in Beijing? And can Oda once again rock the short program, and if he does-- can he hold it together for the free skate? Nobunari frustrates me so much when I see a perfect quad toe/triple toe/triple loop in warm-up, only for him to crash on the first jump when it actually counts. But then again, we all know the ice is slippery.

Discuss!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

They have a good chance to sweep the podium. One of the biggest factors is: time difference. There is only a one-hour difference between Japan and China. This would be a big advantage for Japanese skaters. Takahashi is known to severely suffer from jet lag.

Anonymous said...

I would love for it to be a Japanese sweep but I don't see Chan being off the podium.

melissagoestohollywood said...

I would love to see that. I really love Amodio's skating, but he strikes me as very cocky. It's one thing to take on an attitude during the performance, but I did not appreciate his attitude in the K&K or press conference. I think Verner is highly overrated. He has nice, powerful stroking, and some nice jumps, but I think he's rather flat. That leaves Chan. Yeah, ok, he deserves the components, but 8 falls?! C'mon now. If he brings it to Beijing, then he should win. I just prefer the 3 Japanese men to him.

Anonymous said...

What a field! Clearly the most exciting event in the competition. I'm hoping experience and momentum will take Kozuka to the next level for good in terms of charisma/confidence/consistency on the axels and quad. And I'll allow myself some wishful thinking by putting Nobu in second, with a beautiful 4-3-3 and one popped 3-axel but clean otherwise. Chan third and Takahashi fourth with a couple of falls. Amodio 5th with two solid skates and Verner a disappointing 6th.

Zoe said...

I really doubt they will sweep, though I can see two Japanese guys on the podium.

As for the three others: this season Chan basically needs to show up in order to medal, so he's the most likely of the other three to be on the podium. Verner has sacrificed difficulty and much of his artistic flair to achieve consistency, a strategy that has paid off so far but has made him much less fun to watch. Florent Amodio's programs, especially the LP, include more posing and mugging for the audience than a Plushenko vintage exhibition; I'm really not happy that he's wasting his talent like this. So I actually kind of hope it will be a Japanese sweep. Too bad Jeremy didn't make it, his LP is so good.

Lisa said...

Unfortunately, I think for Chan to be left off of the podium, he's going to have to skate like he has lately AND the other guys are going to have to be near perfect, given the way he has been scored. (which I still find ludicrious.)

I'm still holding out hope for Daisuke to win - even with the fall on the triple axel, his free program was stronger at Skate America than at NHK or the Japan Open, so there's a fair chance that it's improved further. Also, given the strangeness of some of the mistakes at Skate America if the skaters in general, I wonder if ice quality was a factor.

Either way though, I'd love Takahashi and Kozuka for gold and silver, and anyone but Chan for bronze. O-:)

morozombie said...

Chan would probably literally have to fall on every single jumping pass to be off the podium (plus a fall on footwork with an extra combo thrown in for good measure).

I think the Japanese are more likely to sweep the women's event.

Anonymous said...

Humoring myself and assuming Chan holds up his 4-fall average, against a flawed -but less so- Takahashi who will probably sell the hell out of his performances, I don't he'll hold up as fortunately as he has against "lesser" competitors. It was easier for me to justify it when most of the field was nowhere near him. But in all seriousness, head-to-head against Daisuke, I don't truly believe they'd hold Chan up in PCS, aside from skating skills (barely) and transitions (his programs are packed with them obviously). Add to that if Kozuka skates like he has been skating, it would be hard to assert that he's miles better than either of them if they all skate well.

And I wouldn't count out Nobu either. He usually kills during Grand Prix season, and he would have beat Chan if he made one less mistake, and same with Daisuke. Not that I'm ignoring the fact that a 1-fall oda DIDN'T beat a 4-fall chan. nor am I saying it has any bearing on the result at GPF. He has a lot to lose here, coming in as the 3rd Japanese guy (if Kozuka hasn't made his case for himself as at least #2, I don't know WHAT will), and as he has a bit more mileage on both of his programs, I can believe he'll have adjusted a bit and make a strong statement.

That said, while I believe the high possibility of and would LOVE a Japanese sweep, I'm mostly just hoping for good skating (even from Chan, as much as it amuses me that his fall count is DOUBLE Takahashi and Oda's combined). And I would kind of enjoy Verner or Amodio (I'd say Verner) to play spoiler to the podium because I love some good unpredictability.

As for the ladies, I'm kind of expecting a sweep unless the Americans can play spoiler. A clean Alissa can I think, but when is she ever, plus this will be her 4th competition in a bit over two months. If she's not tired by now, she's a lot tougher than she gets credit for. A clean Flatt STILL needs a lot of help, since the judges seemed to only grudgingly let her medal at either event. Kostner - I know judges love her, but I don't even want to go there. She and Flatt were both lucky they weren't pit against both Akiko and Miki, like some other girls were.

Anonymous said...

I dont know why so many posts saying negative things about Patrick Chan. Actually just like what Tony said per se Kozuka of his remarkable practice session in youtube, Patrick had been doing extremely good in his practices before the Cup of Russia. Two days in a row he had landed nearly all quads and triple axles clean in the full program. Yet he had trouble and keep falling in the actual competition. It could happen to any elite skaters. Remember how Kozuka fell in his jumps at the Four Continents a year ago and the performance at last World, now he's doing real good at this Paris event. There's always up and down.

Lisa said...

Kozuka doesn't exactly fall 4 times in a competition and finish with the gold or silver, which I think is my (and other's) problem with Chan. Obviously he doesn't control the way he is scored, but he doesn't seem to care much about whether he falls a lot in competition or not, whereas Kozuka, Takahashi, etc seem always be looking to improve upon their performances. Takahashi had a less than perfect freeskate at Japanese Nationals last season and was really pissed about being the National champion without skating his best.

Anonymous said...

To the person that said Florent is very cocky you couldn't be more wrong. He's unbelievably sweet and having confidence in yourself =/= cocky!
And he works really hard and deserves his success :)

Anonymous said...

He's young, he likes to have fun and he's confident. I think he comes off as cocky, but not necessarily in a bad way nor does he sound entitled. I personally love watching him. He's definitely entertaining on and off the ice.

Also, he seems very grateful for his recent successes and also very gracious about Kozuka's win, so I wish him the best.

Lindsay said...

I agree with everyone else: the Japanese probably won't sweep unless Chan falls apart. It'll be a tough race for the podium, though, between those four. Taka has been the most consistent on the GPF, and I think he has the most momentum going into the event. He would be my pick, in a totally ideal world. The judges, though, really want to give Dai and Chan tremendous scores... neither performed that well at their events (certainly not what they're capable of) and the judges still rewarded them generously. It'll probably come down to Takahashi and Chan. Unless the judges decide to start penalizing Chan's performance quality for his falls... I wonder which will be clean in this event, 3A or 4T?

Anonymous said...

If Chan keeps performing as he has been this season, I actually don't see him as much of a threat to the podium. Look at how much lower his scores were at CoR than at Skate Canada. He was criminally overscored in his home country, but it seems unlikely to me that he'll get the same pampering in Beijing if he can't stop falling all over the place. CoR seemed to me to have one of the weakest men's fields of the season, and although I still think he should have placed lower with so many falls, he hasn't been up against Daisuke or Kozuka yet. Nor has he been up against Oda without the benefit of being at Skate Chanada. I'm still hoping for a Japanese sweep. :D

Tony said...

Remember, Chan lost points for an error counting his jumping elements in the free skate in Russia, and without getting a 0 for one element, he would have won there, too.

Luckily for Patrick, he's pretty consistent about at least rotating his jumps and then falling, as opposed to singling or even doubling the jumps, which would really kill his score. I do think he will (obviously) be a major threat for the podium/gold medal, but not a guarantee.

Anonymous said...

casual guess ; )

SP-Chan>Takahashi>Oda
LP-Takahashi>Chan>Kozuka
overall-Chan>Takahashi>Kozuka

i think Oda should take a risk attempting 4-3 in SP, though. at least it's not possible even for him to miscount jumps there ; p
and for Kozuka, he is not used to being a favorite at this level... plus he is being too consistent so far, which is also scary kind of.
OTOH, Chan and Takahashi have made enough mistakes already. that could turn out in a good way.

Anonymous said...

"Remember, Chan lost points for an error counting his jumping elements in the free skate in Russia, and without getting a 0 for one element, he would have won there, too."

Oh, dear. I wasn't aware of that. :( Well, it's official. I can't stand this judging system.