It’s a three-way race for the podium this week, and frankly, a one-way race for gold. But while Yuzuru Hanyu, Keegan Messing, and Mikhail Kolyada are figuring out where to place themselves on the podium, the nine remaining guys will be trying to figure out the rest of the standings. It’s a great opportunity for some of these men to really make a splash on the Grand Prix.
Rostelecom Cup preview
Official hashtag: #RostelecomCup2018
GOLD Yuzuru Hanyu JPN - So, believe it or not, the two-time Olympic champion has never won two non-Final Grand Prix events in one season before. In his ninth season on the senior circuit, it’s finally time. He looks and feels comfortable with his two programs early in the season. Lest we forget, the Grand Prix is the site of a few of his most memorable programs, including his incredible performances three years ago at NHK that blew through world records and set a new standard for men’s skating. Fingers crossed we get something even 70% near that this week.
SILVER Keegan Messing CAN - Silver at Skate Canada coming in, another silver would get him to the Grand Prix Final for the first time in his career. It’s quite a far cry from seasons past, where he never even finished higher than bronze in any international competition. He has already established himself as the best in Canada - this is a chance for him to put himself in the same league as the best in the world.
BRONZE Mikhail Kolyada RUS - Two weeks ago, Kolyada left Helsinki with a disappointing fourth after two uneven performances. Rebounding from that will be crucial for the rest of his season. And to be fair, his two competitions leading up to the Grand Prix were pretty strong, so all is not lost on his season so far. He also comes into this season with two of the best all-around programs of his career. Two clean skates and he could challenge for gold.
4. Andrei Lazukin RUS - A very late entry to Rostelecom, Lazukin got the call this week after Alexey Erokhov withdrew from the event. He was a solid sixth at Helsinki to start his Grand Prix and has the chance for another career-high finish on the Grand Prix this week.
5. Brendan Kerry AUS - I’m doing it. Brendan Kerry has been on the verge of a Grand Prix breakthrough for a couple of years now, but the consistency just hasn’t been there. At Skate Canada, Kerry showed a lot of promise in the short and then had issues in the free. This is prime time for him to really make a name for himself and be the surprise of the competition.
6. Kazuki Tomono JPN - It’s been up and down with Tomono this season so far. After a fifth at Worlds last season, he had the chance to really put himself in a strong position to return to Worlds again this year, but his inconsistency has been frustrating. At his best, he could vie for a medal, but he was ninth at Skate Canada to start his Grand Prix.
7. Artur Dmitriev RUS - Quad axel? Dmitriev says he is planning it this week. We’ve seen him attempt that jump before in the past, but perhaps it’s gotten better since then. I won’t hold my breath on him successfully completing it here, but this is a skater who has pushed the boundaries in a number of different ways, including a triple lutz-triple flip combination that he may do in the short program.
8. Alexei Krasnozhon USA - Seventh in Helsinki two weeks ago, Krasnozhon looked to be getting stronger and building on his experience in his second senior season. He’s still looking tentative at times on jumps that he was super comfortable with before his injury earlier this year.
9. Alexander Majorov SWE - Majorov was tenth at Skate Canada, a bit disappointing especially after a really strong start with a silver at Nebelhorn. He has had a tough time on the Grand Prix, but he has the potential to be fighting for a top five finish here if he can be clean.
10. Julian Zhi Jie Yee MAS - Seventh at his debut Grand Prix four weeks ago at Skate America, Yee turned a lot of heads there with a third-place finish in the short program. Two consistent programs will get him competitive for a top-half finish.
11. Morisi Kvitelashvili GEO - It’s been a predictably inconsistent season for Kvitelashvili. He had a 26-point swing between Finlandia and Skate America, his last two competitions. So there’s a lot of upside when he can put it together.
12. Paul Fentz GER - After withdrawing from Nebelhorn in September, Fentz made his season debut with a silver at Golden Bear late last month. At his best, he’s got some of the smoothest jumps in the business.