The men's and pairs' events at this week's 2017 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships are going to be the tale of two dynasties looking to extend their reigns. But ok, enough dynastic references. Patrick Chan and Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford are heavy favorites going into Ottawa this week, looking for their ninth and sixth titles, respectively. Can anyone challenge them?
2017 Canadians Predictions
Official hashtag: #CTNSC17
MEN Top 5 predictions
GOLD Patrick Chan
SILVER Nam Nguyen
BRONZE Kevin Reynolds
4. Liam Firus
5. Elladj Balde
With Chan as the very solid favorite, it's really going to be about who grabs that second spot for Worlds. For Chan, Canadians this week will be about shaking off the rough free skate that he had at Grand Prix Final. The silver lining there was that he skated a clean short and he landed his quad sal for the first time in competition, so for all the falls in the free skate, it wasn't a completely terrible result for him. Chan will be looking for #9, which would tie him with Montgomery Wilson for the most men's titles.
The fight for the podium will be supremely interesting, as so much of this competition will be about who comes back the best. 2015 champ Nam Nguyen had a disaster season last year but has regained his form since. Five-time medalist Kevin Reynolds seems to have resolved his boot problems, which wreaked havoc on his consistency. Reigning silver medalist Liam Firus looks to be more consistent and finding his rhythm, as is training mate Elladj Balde.
My dark horse pick, if he can put two solid programs together, would be World junior silver medalist Nicolas Nadeau, who is recovering from injuries this season. Also watch for Keegan Messing, Roman Sadovsky, and Bennet Toman, all of whom have the potential to surprise.
PAIRS Top 5 predictions
GOLD Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford
SILVER Lubov Iliushechkina/Dylan Moscovitch
BRONZE Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau (WD)
4. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro
5. Camille Ruest/Andrew Wolfe
Update (1/18): Seguin/Bilodeau withdrew after Seguin sustained a concussion in practice. They will still be in consideration for the World team.
Duhamel/Radford have revamped their game plan coming into Ottawa, experimenting with different elements in their program than they have been used to all season. Their goal is to shock their status quo a bit once again as they look toward Worlds and trying to defend their title. All eyes will be on how this new strategy pays off, and more importantly, what it does for their confidence, which has been waning a bit, especially since Grand Prix Final.
The three pairs chasing after the other two spots on the World team look to be in a very tight race, but with a few question marks that make this battle unpredictable. We saw both Lubov Iliushechkina/Dylan Moscovitch and Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau on the Grand Prix, skating solidly but making somewhat unexpected mistakes given their consistency in the past. Seguin/Bilodeau, especially, come in with a lull in confidence, unable to really find that sweet spot yet this season.
Mistakes from either of these teams will most certainly open the door for Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro, who started their season very late with Moore-Towers recovering from a concussion. They looked solid at the Skate Canada Challenge event last month, and you gotta believe that another month of training has given them the progress and the consistency they would like going into Canadians. This will be a fun event to watch.