Last week, we saw World champ Javier Fernandez put down one of the best free skates of his career to come from behind to win Rostelecom Cup over Shoma Uno. This week, Fernandez is up against a slew of contenders, ranging from the guy who edged him out for a spot on the Sochi podium to the current US champion to a skater who has attempted five quads in one free skate this season.
Trophee de France predictions
Unofficial hashtag: #GPFrance
GOLD Javier Fernandez ESP - Unlike last week, where Fernandez faced a very heavy challenge to Uno (I even picked Uno to win), this week, he comes in as the heavy favorite. Especially coming on the heels of that fantastic free skate, it will be quite a surprise if Fernandez doesn't leave Paris this week with the gold and a guaranteed berth to the Grand Prix Final. He won by 8 points last week; I'd imagine he will be in the double digits this week.
SILVER Nathan Chen USA - American skating fans have been waiting for a skater who will blow everyone else out of the water with technical content. So here you go! Chen came into this season, just a few months from hip surgery, with a quad lutz and quad flip. In fact, he's currently the only skater in the world who is attempting both of those jumps in a program. And so it's easy - Chen's advantage over Rippon will be in the technical department. But it's in the components where Rippon will make up at least some of that advantage. The keyword is "some," because if both of them skate cleanly, Chen will have the higher scores. But, of course, with all of that incredible difficulty (we saw him attempt five quads in his FS at Finlandia Trophy) comes a whole lot of risk.
BRONZE Adam Rippon USA - And for Rippon, the risk comes in the free skate in his quad attempt. What we've seen with Rippon is consistency on all of his triple jumps, which helped him take the bronze at Skate America earlier this season. We did see a more promising quad toe from him in practices (and a solid attempt in actual competition), so I wouldn't be surprised if we actually see him land it this week. I'd imagine the quad in the short still won't come until later in the season, so it's imperative that Rippon put down two clean skates in order for him to control his fortunes a bit more against Chen. His new free skate, though, is breathtaking.
4. Misha Ge UZB - After a rough last season, Ge is showing signs of the kind of consistency that brought him to sixth in the world two seasons ago. He's also armed with a quad toe this season, which gives him more technical clout to compete with the best. He's got a chance at the podium in Paris, but will definitely need to be clean or near-clean and keep the underrotations at bay.
5. Takahito Mura JPN - Mura had a great start at Skate Canada two weeks ago, with a second-place finish in the short. But his free skate was a grab bag of errors, including a bunch of very costly underrotations and downgrades that dropped him all the way to eighth. And that's the Mura that we usually see, one great performance, one poor performance. Let's see which one (or both?) appears this week.
6. Denis Ten KAZ - So Ten hasn't withdrawn from Trophee de France - and I only say that because he was pretty last-minute in his withdrawals from Ondrej Nepela Memorial and Skate America. We haven't heard much about him or his condition/ preparedness/ readiness/ anything at this point, so as with my original Skate America preview, I can see him anywhere from podium to 11th here. Conclusion: completely unknown.
7. Jorik Hendrickx BEL - Hendrickx should count on his consistency to stay in the middle of the pack this week at Trophee de France.
8. Chafik Besseghier FRA - Eighth at Rostelecom Cup last week, Besseghier will be the sole Frenchman in this field this week. He's got a trusty quad toe that keeps him up there on the technical score, especially in the short program.
9. Artur Dmitriev RUS - Dmitriev is making strides this season in both choreography and consistency, and we saw some signs of that last week at Rostelecom Cup, where he finished tenth.
10. Brendan Kerry AUS - Kerry is a talented jumper and charismatic performer, but a history of inconsistent skating has kept him from really figuring into the conversation. He was tenth at Skate America, but a couple of clean programs can vault him up to the top half in this field.
11. Ivan Righini ITA - After a career-high 12th at Worlds last season, Righini didn't start his season as strongly as he hoped, with a 10th-place finish at Finlandia Trophy.