Satako Miyahara’s victory in the NHK Trophy Sunday completed the six-athlete field for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, set for Dec. 10-13 in Barcelona, which will be a prelude to the World Championships that being March 28 in Boston. The 17-year-old defending world silver medalist from Kyoto, Japan, scored a personal-best 203.11 points, highlighted with a double Axel-triple twist, at Nagano’s Big Hat Ice Arena to edge Courtney Hicks, the former U.S. junior champion who medaled on the Grand Prix circuit for the first time and turns 20 Dec. 15.
BREAKING DOWN THE LADIES FIELD
Gracie Gold (Age 20, USA): She won the silver medal at Skate America, despite scoring highest in the long program (202.80) and was leading the Trophee Eric Bompard in Bordeaux, France, at 73.32 points before the free skate was cancelled due to the Paris terrorist attacks the same day. Thirsty for an international title, she was fourth in the previous Olympics and World Championships and is making her Grand Prix final debut.
Ashley Wagner (24, USA): The two-time defending bronze medalist in the event and 2012 silver medalist won Skate Canada with 202.52 points. She just missed the podium in Nagano, placing fourth. Either she or Gold could become the first U.S. Grand Prix winner since Alissa Czisny in 2010.
Mao Asada (25, Japan): Returning to the scene, one of the most-decorated skaters of her era won the Cup of China by two points over Rika Hongo. She won the bronze medal in Nagano Sunday. She is the four-time overall Grand Prix champion (2005, 2008, 2012, 2013) and 2010 Olympic silver medalist. A victory in Barcelona will break a tie with Irina Slutskaya for the most-ever titles in the event.
Evgenia Radionova (16, Russia): The world bronze medalist won the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow over a field that included Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova (bronze) with 211.32 points. Was third in the Cup of China, 13 points behind Asada, and she is the reigning overall Grand Prix silver medalist.
Evegnia Medvedeva (turned 16 on Nov. 19, Russia): The reigning world junior champion opened her senior career with a gold medal in Skate America by four points over Gracie Gold and 18 over bronze finisher Miyahara. Won silver at the Rostelecom Cup, five points behind Radionova.
The 19-year-old Hongo is the first alternate and Hicks is the third. The second is Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 18-year-old Russian who is the defending overall Grand Prix champion and world gold medalist from last spring in Shanghai.
The men’s field will be composed of reigning Grand Prix and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan (who broke the record for points in the free skate in winning the NHK Trophy), defending world champion of host Spain Javier Fernandez, Japan’s Shoma Uno and Daisuke Murakami, Canadian Patrick Chan, and China’s Jin Boyang. Max Aaron, originally from Scottsdale, is the second alternate. Americans Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim will compete in pairs, while three U.S. ice dance teams have advanced: world silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, and Maia and Alex Shibutani. Americans Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou are in the junior final, and Vivian Le is in the third ladies’ junior alternate after a field that posts three Japanese and three Russians.