Of the six events leading up to the Grand Prix Final in December, this week’s Skate Canada boasts the strongest singles field.
The most anticipated skater is Canadian Patrick Chan, the 2011, 2012 and 2013 World champion who is competing at the top international level for the first time since being bumped to silver at the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
Chan, 24, said missing an Olympic title did not determine whether he would return to the sport following a one-season break. Any achievements the rest of his career will be “a bonus,” he said in May.
Chan will seek his fifth Skate Canada title against a field that includes the man who beat him in Sochi, Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.
Icenetwork.com will broadcast Friday’s short programs (4:20 p.m. ET for the women; 7:45 ET for the men) and Saturday’s free skates (2 p.m. ET for women; 8:45 for men) live for subscribers. NBC will air coverage Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.
MORE FIGURE SKATING: Full season broadcast schedule
Hanyu, 20, also has something to prove this season after taking silver at the World Championships in March behind Spain’s Javier Fernandez.
“I found that the men’s event [all last season] was, as I expected, nothing too special, no offense,” Chan said in May.
The other men’s podium threats include a pair seeking their first Grand Prix victories, Canadian national champion Nam Nguyen and U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon.
The women’s competition features Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who romped to the World title in March while landing a triple Axel. Tuktamysheva won eight titles last season, including sweeping the Grand Prix Final, European Championships and Worlds.
This season, Tuktamysheva can become the first woman to repeat as World champion since Michelle Kwan, but she may have to go through Japan’s Mao Asada to do it. Asada outscored Tuktamysheva at the Japan Open team event in October in her first competition since winning the 2014 World title one month after Sochi.
Tuktamysheva won’t have to worry about Asada at Skate Canada.
The Russian will be a heavy favorite this week against a field that includes U.S. Olympians Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds, who were fifth and eighth at Worlds.
Wagner and Edmunds each endured highs and lows last season.
Wagner, 24, came back from last place after the Grand Prix Final short program to earn bronze in December, then dethroned Gracie Gold for her third U.S. title in January before stumbling to 11th place in the Worlds short program and eliminating any medal hopes.
Edmunds, a 17-year-old who was the youngest U.S. competitor across all sports in Sochi, was fortunate to make Worlds last season.
She was fourth and eighth in her two Grand Prix starts and then fourth at the U.S. Championships but made the three-woman team for Worlds in part because third-place Karen Chen was too young. Edmunds notched the biggest win of her senior career at February’s Four Continents Championships, an event that included zero Russians.
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Women’s short program
5:27 p.m. ET — Polina Edmunds
5:40 — Ashley Wagner
5:46 — Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Men’s short program
8:18 — Patrick Chan
8:45 — Adam Rippon
8:58 — Nam Nguyen
9:11 — Yuzuru Hanyu