Scoreography podcast Grand Prix Final Preview episode. Featured skater: Isabeau Levito

Grand Prix Final 2023 Preview

We preview the upcoming Grand Prix Final in Beijing, China. We breakdown the action in the hotly contested Men’s competition, the uncertainty in the Women’s division, the fight for silver and bronze in Pairs, and why the Ice Dance competition is such a wild card.
December 4, 2023

Preview of the Grand Prix Final 2023

After six Grand Prix qualifiers that included dozens of thrilling performances (as well as a fair amount of messiness), we’re finally ready for the Grand Prix Final for 2023! 

To say this competition is stacked would be an understatement — especially when looking at the Men’s and Dance competitions. In this episode, we break down each discipline, pick each of our favorites for the podium, and even throw out a few “we wish they made it” honorable mentions.

Men’s Competition

FINALISTS:

  1. Adam Siao Him Fa (FRA) — 30 pts / Gold at Grand Prix de France and Cup of Chine
  2. Ilia Malinin (USA) – 28 pts / Gold at Skate America and Silver at Grand Prix de France
  3. Kao Miura (JPN) – 28 pts / Silver at Skate Canada and Gold at Espoo
  4. Yuma Kagiama (JPN) – 26 pts / Bronze at Grand Prix de France and Gold at NHK Trophy
  5. Shoma Uno (JPN) – 26 pts / Silver at both Cup of China and Grand Prix de France
  6. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) – 24 pts / Silver at Skate America and Bronze at Espoo

It’s not an overstatement to say that this has the potential to be the best men’s competition we’ve seen since the Beijing Olympics. The six men who qualified have all laid down stellar performances this season — each one showing growth when compared to previous seasons.

It’s certainly hard to pick a favorite here, but momentum seems to be with France’s Adam Siao Him Fa. If we look purely at technical merit, it’s hard to beat Ilia Malinin from the USA.

Based on overall track record and all-around performance skills, reigning World Champion Shoma Uno of Japan should be a lock for the podium. However, ice is slippery and the other three men are all more than capable of earning a podium spot.

Watch out for the resurgence of Japan’s Yuma Kagiama, the power of Japan’s Kao Miura, and the absolute artistic commitment of France’s Kevin Aymoz. It’s going to be a wild ride!

Pairs Competition

FINALISTS:

  1. Deanna Stellato Dudek and Maxime Dechamps  (CAN) – 30 pts / Gold at Skate Canada and Cup of China
  2. Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodi  (GER)- 30 pts / Gold at Espoo and NHK Trophy
  3. Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud  (CAN) – 28 pts / Silver at Skate America and Gold at Grand Prix de France
  4. Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii  (ITA) – 26 pts / Silver at both Grand Prix de France and Espoo
  5. Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini  (ITA) – 24 pts / Silver at Cup of China and Bronze at NHK Trophy
  6. Maria Pavlova and Alexei Sviatchenko*  (HUN) – 24 pts / Silver at Skate Canada and Bronze at Bronze at Espoo
    • *Replaced Hocke and Kunkel, who withdrew due to injury

Of all of the disciplines, the pairs has the most clear-cut favorite. Canada’s brilliant Deanna Stellato Dudek & Maxime Dechamps have come out swinging this season and given fans a team to be genuinely excited about. They are certainly not a lock to win, but the odds are definitely in their favor.

Others to watch here are Germany’s Hase & Volodin, fresh off of back-to-back Grand Prix wins and Canada’s Lia Pereira & Trennt Michaud, who have looked stronger at every competition.

The two Italian teams, Conti & Macii and Ghilardi & Ambrosini, are nearly neck and neck this season — with Hungary’s Paclova & Sviatchenko not far behind. All could definitely be in the mix for podium spots if others falter.

Women’s Competition

FINALISTS:

  1. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) – 30 pts /  Gold and both Skate Canada and Espoo
  2. Isabeau Levito (USA) – 28 pts /  Silver at Skate America and Gold at Grand Prix de France 
  3. Loena Hendrickx (BEL) – 26 pts / Gold at Skate America, Bronze at Cup of China
  4. Hana Yoshida (JPN) – 24 pts / 4th at Skate America, Gold at Cup of China
  5. Nina Pinzarrone (BEL) – 24pts  / Silver at Grand Prix de France and Bronze at NHK Trophy
  6. Rion Sumiyoshi (JPN) – 24 pts / Bronze at Grand Prix de France and Silver at Espoo

Will this be the formal Grand Prix coronation of Queen Kaori? Only time will tell. Last year, Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto went in as the favorite, but faltered. This year, we’ve seen a much more consistent and focused Kaori — which may give her the edge here.

On her heels, Isabeau Levito from the U.S. and Loena Hendrickx of Belgium have had moments of brilliance already this season — though both have also faltered a bit more.

Two more Japanese women, Hana Yoshida and Rion Sumiyoshi, both came on strong over the course of the Grand Prix and showed the promise that could make them contenders here. Also, the consistently improving Nina Pinzarrone from Belgium could be a spoiler!

Ice Dance Competition

FINALISTS:

  1. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (CAN) – 30 pts / Gold at Skate Canada and Cup of China
  2. Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA) – 30 pts / Gold at Skate America and Espoo
  3. Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) – 28 pts / Gold at Grand Prix de France and Silver at NHK Trophy
  4. Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson (GBR) – 28 pts /  Silver at Skate Canada and Gold at NHK Trophy
  5. Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen (CAN) – 26 pts / Silver at both Grand Prix de France and Espoo
  6. Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha (CAN) – 26 pts / Silver at both Skate America and Cup of China

The Dance competition is usually the most likely to be predictable, but after Fear & Gibson’s upset at NHK Trophy, everything seems a little more up in the air.

The top score of the season has been from Canada’s beloved Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier — however, their performance at Cup of China saw them nearly lose to another brilliant Canadian team, Lajoie & Lagha.

Our reigning World Champions, Chock & Bates, have great material this season and have shown well at both of their Grand Prix assignments, but their free dance at Espoo wasn’t as clean as they would like — so we don’t yet know what their scoring potential with these programs could be.

And then there are the two European rivals of Fear & Gibson from Great Britain and Guignard & Fabbri from Italy who just flipped in their expected standings at NHK Trophy. The Italians are reigning World medalists and extremely strong skaters, but is the momentum with the disco Brits now?

Also, because that’s not enough, you have the smoldering Canadians, Fournier Beaudry & Sorensen, who may not be favored for the podium but will certainly melt some hearts. And who knows this season — their Top Gun program could take flight here and move them back into the conversation.

All in all, this competition looks to be a doozy — we can’t wait to see what happens!

Scoreography — A Figure Skating Podcast hosted by Wendy Buske and Adron Buske

Scoreography Podcast

Scoreography is a show about the art, athleticism, culture, and entertainment of Figure Skating. We discuss current competitions, the sports history and legacy, up-and-coming skaters and absolute legends, and the action outside of the rink. 

Whether you’re new to the sport’s fandom, a once-in-awhile watcher, or a seasoned skating veteran, you’ll find something to enjoy in our program. 

More Episodes