Event Previews

Gran Premio d’Italia 2021 Preview

This weekend will be the inaugural Gran Premio d’Italia, or Italian Grand Prix, which replaces this year’s Cup of China that was cancelled due to ongoing COVID-19 issues. The event will be held in the Torino Palavela which also hosted the 2006 Olympics, 2010 Worlds, and two previous iterations of the Grand Prix Final (and, fun fact, was also featured in the 1969 comedy “The Italian Job,” if you need a suggestion for a pre-competition movie night).

At the end of this event, we’ll be halfway through the Grand Prix series, so let’s check out what we have to look forward to.


Men

The highest ranked man competing in Italy is eighteen-year-old Yuma Kagiyama, who is competing in, remarkably, his first international senior Grand Prix, despite being the reigning World silver medalist and Four Continents bronze medalist. He’s a current favorite for the Beijing Olympic team and many Japanese teams to come and has been incredibly consistent internationally, so will definitely be a podium favorite coming into this event.

The rest of the podium is up for grabs between several men with loads of talent and questionable consistency (which puts them in good company with those in the previous events). Russians Mikhail Kolyada and Dmitri Aliev both come in with high expectations, as does Chinese skater Boyang Jin, whose disappointing performance at Worlds cost China a second spot at their home Olympics in February. Jin really needs to start building some momentum to have any hope of snagging a medal in Beijing.

There’s also a number of potential spoilers: Junhwan Cha, who achieved as high as third at the Grand Prix Final in 2018; Daniel Grassl has a huge technical arsenal that could place very high if landed cleanly; and skaters like Kazuki Tomono and Petr Gumennik can impress with their strong performance qualities.

Whatever the final standings, let’s hope we see more clean skates and fewer scary falls then the first two weeks of men’s competition.

The Field

SKATER/COUNTRYBEST SCORESNOTABLE RESULTS
Yuma KAGIYAMA
Japan
SP: 100.96
FS: 190.81
Total: 291.77
2nd 2021 Worlds
3rd 2020 Four Continents
Mikhail KOLYADA
Russia
SP: 100.49
FS: 180.72
Total: 274.37
5th 2021 Worlds
2x European bronze medalist
Boyang JIN
China
SP: 101.19
FS: 181.34
Total: 273.51
4th 2018 Olympic Games
2x World bronze medalist
Dmitri ALIEV
Russia
SP: 101.49
FS: 184.44
Total: 272.89
2020 European Champion
7th 2018 Olympic Games
Junhwan CHA
South Korea
SP: 97.33
FS: 175.06
Total: 265.43
10th 2021 Worlds
3rd 2018 Grand Prix Final
Petr GUMENNIK
Russia
SP: 91.84
FS: 171.30
Total: 263.14
3rd 2020 Junior Worlds
2nd 2019 Jr. Grand Prix Final
Kazuki TOMONO
Japan
SP: 88.22
FS: 162.83
Total: 251.05
7th 2020 Four Continents
5th 2018 Worlds
Daniel GRASSL
Italy
SP: 85.42
FS: 173.54
Total: 247.80
12th 2021 Worlds
3x National Champion
Deniss VASILJEVS
Latvia
SP: 87.08
FS: 159.83
Total: 241.09
18th 2021 Worlds
4th 2018 Europeans
Gabriele FRANGIPANI
Italy
SP: 83.11
FS: 152.52
Total: 231.65
13th 2020 Europeans
4th 2021 Nebelhorn Trophy
Paul FENTZ
Germany
SP: 81.86
FS: 149.60
Total: 230.01
8th 2020 Europeans
3x National Champion
Yudong CHEN
China
SP: 64.93
FS: 140.23
Total: 205.26
2019 Jr. National Champion
25th 2019 Junior Worlds

Women

In the women’s event, there’s a good chance we won’t see a repeat of last week’s Russian sweep. Reigning world champion Anna Shcherbakova is the likely favorite, though she struggled with injury over the off-season and was beaten at Budapest Trophy by training-mate Maiia Khromykh, who will also be competing this weekend. The weaker of the Russians competing here is Sofia Samodurova, who has struggled significantly since winning Europeans in 2019. 

In her spot, we could see an eleventh Grand Prix medal for Satoko Miyahara, whose artistry is becoming progressively undervalued in this era of technical revolution, or a first Grand Prix medal for Belgian Loena Hendrickx, who surged to a career-best fifth at last year’s World Championships. Or we could even see Mai Mihara continue her triumphant return with her first Grand Prix medal since 2018.

That said, one of those women will need to surge to second place or better to have a chance of preventing an all-Russian Grand Prix Final, which is looking more inevitable by the day.

The Field

SKATER/COUNTRYBEST SCORESNOTABLE RESULTS
Anna SHCHERBAKOVA
Russia
SP: 81.07
FS: 162.65
Total: 241.65
2021 World Champion
3x Russian National Champion
Satoko MIYAHARA
Japan
SP: 76.08
FS: 145.85
Total: 219.71
4th 2018 Olympic Games
2016 4CC Champion
Sofia SAMODUROVA
Russia
SP: 72.88
FS: 140.96
Total: 213.84
2019 European Champion
8th 2019 Worlds
Loena HENDRICKX
Belgium
SP: 72.18
FS: 143.25
Total: 212.07
5th 2021 Worlds
5th 2018 Europeans
Mai MIHARA
Japan
SP: 70.94
FS: 142.12
Total: 210.01
4th 2021 Skate Canada
2017 4CC Champion
Eunsoo LIM
South Korea
SP: 72.91
FS: 132.66
Total: 205.57
10th 2019 Worlds
8th 2020 Four Continents
Yelim KIM
South Korea
SP: 73.63
FS: 134.66
Total: 202.76
11th 2021 Worlds
6th 2020 Four Continents
Maiia KHROMYKH
Russia
SP: 68.93
FS: 131.46
Total: 198.24
4th 2020 Junior Worlds
5th Russian Nationals
Nicole SCHOTT
Germany
SP: 64.09
FS: 120.93
Total: 182.71
18th 2021 Worlds
18th 2018 Olympic Games
Lara Naki GUTMANN
Italy
SP: 62.41
FS: 119.14
Total: 179.59
28th 2021 Worlds
2021 National Champion
Lucrezia BECCARI
Italy
SP: 57.70
FS: 113.34
Total: 167.94
2018 Jr. National Champion
Yi ZHU
China
SP: 55.53
FS: 99.88
Total: 155.41
13th 2020 Four Continents

Pairs

In pairs, we could be looking at a China 1-2 in what would have been a home event. Sui and Han seem pretty untouchable in this field, and the only team that gets close to Peng and Jin’s top score is the actual home team, Della Monica and Guarise. Possible spoilers could come in the form of the two young Russian teams competing here, or anyone who has two clean skates if the top teams falter.

The Field

TEAM/COUNTRYBEST SCORESNOTABLE RESULTS
Wenjing SUI / Cong HAN
China
SP: 81.27
FS: 155.60
Total: 234.84
2x World Champions
2nd 2018 Olympics
6x Four Continents Champions
Cheng PENG / Yang JIN
China
SP: 75.96
FS: 141.21
Total: 216.90
5th 2021 Worlds
2nd 2020 Four Continents
Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE
Italy
SP: 73.70
FS: 131.51
Total: 205.14
8th 2021 Worlds
10th 2018 Olympic Games
Alina PEPELEVA / Roman PLESHKOV
Russia
SP: 67.06
FS: 121.73
Total: 188.79
6th 2021 Skate America
5th 2019 Junior GPF
Iuliia ARTEMEVA / Mikhail NAZARYCHEV
Russia
SP: 70.26
FS: 117.39
Total: 179.83
3rd 2020 Junior Worlds
2021 Junior National Champions
Annika HOCKE / Robert KUNKEL
Germany
SP: 63.57
FS: 109.10
Total: 168.21
13th 2021 Worlds
4th 2020 Junior Worlds
Rebecca GHILARDI / Filippo AMBROSINI
Italy
SP: 59.62
FS: 108.59
Total: 163.74
17th 2021 Worlds
8th 2020 Europeans
Sara CONTI / Niccolo MACII
Italy
SP: 53.96
FS: 90.77
Total: 143.44
2x National bronze medalists
5th 2021 Lombardia Trophy

Ice Dance

In the ice dance, the main attraction is the return of Papadakis and Cizeron after sitting out all of last season. The French duo should be a lock for gold barring major disaster. The interesting battle will be between Hubbell/Donohue and Stepanova/Bukin for silver and bronze. Conversation about the Olympic bronze medal has largely focused on the North American teams, but Russians Stepanova and Bukin could move into that category as well with some strong performances over the next few weeks.

Finally, a potential surprise could come in the form of Americans Caroline Green and Michael Parsons who reached fourth place at Skate Canada with a breakout free dance. Should that energy continue and their scores rise further, they could be a real threat moving forward.

The Field

TEAM/COUNTRYBEST SCORESNOTABLE RESULTS
Gabriella PAPADAKIS / Guillaume CIZERON
France
RD: 90.03
FD: 136.58
Total: 226.61
4x World Champions
5x European Champions
2nd 2018 Olympic Games
Madison HUBBELL / Zachary DONOHUE
USA
RD: 86.05
FD: 128.66
Total: 214.71
2nd 2021 Worlds
2021 National Champions
3rd 2019 GPF
Alexandra STEPANOVA / Ivan BUKIN
Russia
RD: 84.07
FD: 127.64
Total: 211.29
5th 2021 Worlds
4x European medalists
Shiyue WANG / Xinyu LIU
China
RD: 77.45
FD: 119.30
Total: 196.75
13th 2021 Worlds
4th 2020 Four Continents
Caroline GREEN / Michael PARSONS
USA
RD: 74.18
FD: 114.50
Total: 188.43
4th 2021 Skate Canada
4th 2021 Nationals
Carolane SOUCISSE / Shane FIRUS
Canada
RD: 73.32
FD: 110.06
Total: 181.39
2nd 2018 4CC
3rd 2021 Nationals
Katharina MUELLER / Tim DIECK
Germany
RD: 68.47
FD: 106.02
Total: 173.74
18th 2021 Worlds
13th 2020 Europeans
Evgeniia LOPAREVA / Geoffrey BRISSAUD
France
RD: 67.43
FD: 102.90
Total: 169.70
17th 2021 Worlds
10th 2019 Junior Worlds
Hong CHEN / Zhuoming SUN
China
RD: 63.22
FD: 101.08
Total: 162.91
8th 2019 Four Continents
2x National silver medalists
Carolina MOSCHENI / Francesco FIORETTI
Italy
RD: 60.60
FD: 86.92
Total: 140.56
25th 2021 Worlds

Results | ISU Color Schedule

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