Two 2022 Grand Prix Event Discussions: MK John Wilson Trophy and NHK Trophy
This episode is a two-fer, as we catch up on a couple of weekends of Grand Prix skating action. First up is the UK’s first ever Grand Prix event, the MK John Wilson Trophy in Sheffield. Then it’s the NHK Trophy in Sapporo, Japan.
We discuss a handful of fantastic performances in two otherwise fairly forgettable competitions, and explore why Pairs is a failing discipline—yet also a great medal opportunity for otherwise mid-tier skaters.
Some thoughts from this episode:
Ice Dance veterans Chock & Bates are some of our absolute favorite skaters, and should be the favorites for gold in this year’s Grand Prix and World Championships. Unfortunately, their current programs have kind of flopped for us—and apparently the judges, too, based on their second place finish at NHK.
The real impressive turnouts in Ice Dance this year are Canadians Gilles & Poirier, who’ve massively leveled up this season, and Americans Hawayek & Baker, sporting two brilliant programs and gorgeous artistry.
American women’s singles Amber Glenn and Starr Andrews both faltered in Japan, with disappointing showings after huge skates earlier in the Grand Prix. Their teammate Audrey Shin, however, continues to step up as a consistent performer after two 5th place Grand Prix finishes.
Two of our favorite Japanese women, Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, also had uncharacteristically rough skates in Japan, giving way to a first place finish for Korea’s Yelim Kim. Japan’s Rion Sumiyoshi also made a case for herself with a bronze podium position—and if she can start landing her opening quad, she could be very dangerous.
Shoma Uno continues to be in a league of his own amongst the men, but we compare his season’s best to past big numbers from Nathan Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu. We discuss what it would take for American Ilia Malinin to defeat Shoma at the GP finals—and Worlds.
Overall, both these events were middling at best despite a few terrific performances. But Skate Espoo in Finland promises to up the ante…