Courtesy of www.isu.org

The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating culminate this week with the Finals in Sochi (RUS). The events feature the top six skaters/couples in each category from the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series and the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating series.

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final

Twenty-four skaters/couples from nine ISU members will compete in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. They are vying for a global prize money of $272,000. Six skaters/couples in each category qualified in the six events of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series: Hilton Honors Skate America in Kent/Seattle, Skate Canada International in Windsor, Cup of China in Shanghai, Rostelecom Cup in Moscow (RUS), Trophée Eric Bompard in Paris (FRA) and NHK Trophy in Sapporo (JPN).

The prize money is awarded to winners and placed skaters/couples as follows:

Men and Ladies, Pairs and Ice Dance (per couple)
1st place: $25,000
2nd place: $18,000
3rd place: $12,000
4th place: $6,000
5th place: $4,000
6th place: $3,000

World Champion Patrick Chan (CAN) is aiming for his third consecutive Grand Prix Final title and comes with a seasons best of 262.35 points to Russia. Competition should come from World bronze medalist Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN/seasons best 261.03 points), World and Grand Prix Final silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi (JPN/seasons best 251.51) as well as defending Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Javier Fernandez (ESP/seasons best 253.94). Takahiko Kozuka (JPN/seasons best 251.44 points) and Tatsuki Machida (JPN/seasons best 236.92 points) want to challenge for the podium as well. Chan, Hanyu and Kozuka all qualified with a win and a second place on the Grand Prix circuit. Machida is the only newcomer to the Final.

Ashley Wagner (USA) and Mao Asada (JPN) lead the Ladies with two wins on the Grand Prix series each. Wagner scored a seasons best of 190.63 points while Asada earned a seasons best of 185.27 points. The challenge should come from World bronze medalist and defending Grand Prix Final silver medalist Akiko Suzuki (JPN/185.22 points) who won two silver medals en route to Russia and from Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS), who advanced with a second and a fourth place and a seasons best of 179.62 points to the Final. Kiira Korpi (FIN) is the first Finnish skater to qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final with a gold and a bronze from her events (seasons best 177.19). Christina Gao (USA) replaces Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS), who withdrew due to injury, in the Final. Gao was first substitute with a second and a fourth-place finish (seasons best 174.25 points) and competes in her first Grand Prix Final.

World and Grand Prix Final silver medalists Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov (RUS) headline the Pairs standings and are the only couple to advance with two gold medals to the Final. They scored a seasons best of 207.53 points. Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov (RUS/seasons best 192.02), Qing Pang/Jian Tong (CHN/188.82) and Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS7seasons best 187.99) collected a gold and a silver each on their way to Sochi. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) qualified with two silver medals and a seasons best of 190.49 points while Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) booked their ticket to the Final with a silver medal and a fourth-place finish (seasons best 180.63 points). All couples have competed in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final before.

World Champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN/seasons best 173.99) will meet World silver medalists Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA/seasons best 178.48 points) and World bronze medalists Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA/seasons best 169.73) for the first time this season. All three couples advance with two gold medals from their two events. Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS/seasons best 159.95), Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS/seasons best 158.46) and Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA/seasons best 160.06) earned two silver medals en route to the Final. Ilinykh/Katsalapov will compete in their first Final.