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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A new season and a lot of questions

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 2014-15 season, as the junior Grand Prix kicks off in Courchevel - with senior international competitions to follow in a few weeks' time.

With so many off-season and planned changes, there's a lot that will be new and different this season: many skaters have retired, pretty much all the pairs have split with some already slated to compete with new partners, music with lyrics is now allowed in all disciplines (oh joy, the Phantom of the Opera with lyrics), and several senior international events are now part of the new ISU Challenger series.

I'm still not sure how I'll feel about skating without Savchenko/Szolkowy (Savchenko/Massot are still an unknown), Tomas Verner, Carolina Kostner, Mao Asada, Akiko Suzuki, Brian Joubert, Yuna Kim, Péchalat/Bourzat and even the Canton teams, but there are some interesting questions that will be answered over the next few months - and in some cases, the next few years:

Will skaters try to think outside the box, now that music with lyrics is allowed? Will there be musical crimes against skaters? I expect some caution from most skaters at first, but hopefully there will be no adverse effects for anyone who tries something different and exciting.

(if only music with lyrics had been allowed back in 2010).

Who will be the top ice dance teams, with Virtue/Moir, Davis/White and Péchalat/Bourzat all retired? At 2014 Worlds, we got a glimpse of the future, with Cappellini/Lanotte and Weaver/Poje finishing 1-2, within hundreds of a point of one another. Is this skating's new top rivalry? Will Bobrova/Soloviev bounce back? How will Ilinykh/Katsalopov fare with their new partners? And will the judges finally see the light regarding the lovely Hurtado/Diaz?

Future champions?

Among the men, can Yuzuru Hanyu solidify his status as the top skater in the world and defend his world and Olympic titles? Will Javier Fernandez continue his European domination? Are Evegni Plushenko and Konstantin Menshov going to skate forever? Can Florent Amodio (back with his original coach, Bernard Glesser) and Artur Gachinski (no longer with Alexei Mishin) be successful again? Who will be the first to land a quad loop?

There will be no world champions among the ladies next season, with Yuna Kim, Mao Asada and Carolina Kostner all retired (or as it is now known, "taking the season off"). There is, however, an Olympic champion. Will Adelina Sotnikova end up more like Sarah Hughes, more like Katarina Witt, or something in between? What will happen with all the talented Russian ladies? Will Gracie Gold break through and do something other than Ice Princess programs? Is Valentina Marchei really going to skate pairs? Can Kiira Korpi return successfully from all her injuries? (please let that be a "yes").

Something like that.

I don't even know what to say about the pairs. I hope that we are done with splits for the foreseeable future, that Savchenko/Massot will be able to compete for someone, and that we'll see interesting programs from at least some of the Russian pairs.

Onwards and upwards :)

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