With all six 2015-16 Grand Prix of Figure Skating events formally in the books as of the Nov. 28 conclusion of the NHK Trophy in Japan, the field is formally set for the year’s prestigious Grand Prix Final. So who made the cut to compete in the event, which will take place Dec. 10-13 in Barcelona?
Earning highest-seed status in the ladies’ competition courtesy of a silver medal finish at Skate America and a first place ranking in the short program-only Trophee Bompard was Team USA’s Gracie Gold. Joining Gold in the Final are Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva, Japan’s Satoko Miyahara and Mao Asada, Elena Radionova of Russia, and American Ashley Wagner. Notably absent from the roster is reigning world and Grand Prix Final champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. Although the 18-year old Russian earned the silver medal at Skate Canada behind Wagner, she placed just fifth during the Trophee Bompard short program, and did not earn enough points to secure a shot at defending her title.
On the men’s side, world champ Javier Fernandez of Spain qualified first, followed by Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno, China’s Jin Boyang, Canadian Patrick Chan, and Daisuke Mirakami of Japan. The American who came closest to earning a berth was Max Aaron, who won gold at Skate America but ranked only seventh during the shortened Trophee Bompard competition. He is the second alternate to the men’s competition.
Seven couples advanced to the Final in pairs. Top billing went to Canadians Meaghan Duhamel and Eric Radford courtesy of first place finishes at both of their series assignments (Skate Canada and Bompard). They will be joined in the competition by Russia’s Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia, Americans Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, China’s Yu Xiaoyu and Jin Yang, and Canadians Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau. Séguin and Bilodeau advanced to the Final because ISU officials declared that any contestant who competed at Trophee Bompard and qualified seventh for the Grand Prix Final would be granted a berth.
Finally, in ice dancing, Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje qualified first by winning gold at both the Rostelecom Cup and Skate Canada. Also advancing are Team USA’s Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy, Americans Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani as well as Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, and Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia.
The 2015-16 Grand Prix Final is set to begin on Dec. 10 in Barcelona. To follow team USA’s efforts, following US Figure Skating’s official Twitter page.