As if Gracie Gold needed any more pressure, there’s this: she must beat the reigning world champion this weekend to have even a small chance to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final.
Gold, three weeks after finishing a disappointing fifth at Skate America, will face a field that includes Russian world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva at Trophée de France in Paris on Friday and Saturday.
Gold reportedly said after Skate America, where she had her worst Grand Prix finish since her debut four years ago, that she needed to adjust her mental and physical shape.
She talked openly about still feeling depressed in the summer due to her world championships performance from April, when she dropped from first after the short program to fourth. She also mentioned taking weeks off from training in the summer and not being in ideal physical shape for Skate America.
Given that, Gold may not be focusing on a victory this week, or the Grand Prix Final, but rather steady progress and gearing up for the U.S. Championships in January.
But if you’re looking at the Grand Prix Final, Gold’s fifth-place finish at Skate America means she pretty much must win in Paris to have a shot at making the second-biggest annual event in the sport. Six skaters qualify based on their two finishes from the six-event Grand Prix series.
No female skater has qualified for the Grand Prix Final with fifth- and second-place finishes in their two starts in the last decade. A fifth and a first would give Gold a little hope, though a woman hasn’t made it outright with those results since 2012.
Trophée de France is the fourth of six Grand Prix Final qualifiers, so the six-skater fields won’t be known for two more weeks. The favorites are the top two finishers from each of the first three Grand Prix events — Medvedeva, Ashley Wagner, Anna Pogorilaya, Kaetlyn Osmond, Yelena Radionova and Mariah Bell (should Bell be given a second Grand Prix assignment).
Gold qualified for the Grand Prix Final each of the last two seasons.
In 2015, Gold actually won this French qualifier against a field that included the reigning world champion, then Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. The free skate was canceled due to the Paris terror attacks (the competition was held in Bordeaux), and Gold was leading after a personal-best short program.
However, Tuktamysheva struggled mightily in her follow-up season after a world title. Medvedeva has shown no signs of slowing down this season, winning Skate Canada with the highest total score of the Grand Prix season.
There are several more intriguing skaters in Paris this week.
Three-time world champion Mao Asada looks to bounce back from her worst Grand Prix finish (a sixth at Skate America) since 2010.
Nathan Chen, who last season became the youngest man to make the U.S. Championships top three since 1973, makes his top-level senior international debut at age 17.
Chen landed four quadruple jumps in his U.S. Championships free skate on Jan. 24, and finished third. But later that day he aggravated a hip injury in an exhibition skate, needed surgery and was replaced on the world championships team.
Chen lost little promise, though, as he opened this season by beating three-time world champion Patrick Chan at a small event in Finland one month ago. Chen attempted five quads in his free skate there, falling twice.
In Paris, Chen takes on the two-time reigning world champion, Javier Fernandez of Spain, and U.S. champion Adam Rippon.
In pairs, Germans Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot compete for a second straight week after winning Rostelecom Cup in Russia. They ended their free skate with a throw quad Salchow attempt, and though Savchenko fell on it, the move showed they are trying to challenge world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada. Duhamel and Radford aren’t competing in Paris, though.
In ice dance, France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron compete for the first time since winning a second straight world title in April. Top rivals from the U.S. and Canada are all not skating in Paris.
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Trophée de France broadcast schedule (all times Eastern)
|Friday||Pairs short program||9:40 a.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Friday||Short dance||11 a.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Friday||Men’s short program||12:45 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Friday||Women’s short program||2:40 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Friday||Women’s, men’s short programs||8-10 p.m.||UniHD|
|Saturday||Pairs free skate||7:45 a.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Saturday||Free dance||9:25 a.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Saturday||Men’s free skate||12:20 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Saturday||Women’s free skate||2:30 p.m.||Icenetwork.com|
|Saturday||Free dance, pairs free||8-10 p.m.||UniHD|
|Sunday||Trophée de France||4:30-6 p.m.||NBCSN, NBC Sports app|
Key Start Times (Friday ET)
Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 9:54 a.m.
Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 10:27
Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 11:46
Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 12:13 p.m.
Adam Rippon (USA) — 12:52
Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 1:32
Nathan Chen (USA) — 1:58
Gracie Gold (USA) — 2:47
Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 2:54
Mao Asada (JPN) — 3:07
Top Grand Prix Season Scores
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 292.98 (Rostelecom Cup)
2. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 285.07 (Rostelecom Cup)
3. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 279.34 (Skate America)
4. Jason Brown (USA) — 268.38 (Skate America)
5. Patrick Chan (CAN) — 266.95 (Skate Canada)
6. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 263.06 (Skate Canada)
7. Adam Rippon (USA) — 261.43 (Skate America)
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 220.65 (Skate Canada)
2. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 215.21 (Rostelecom Cup)
3. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 206.45 (Skate Canada)
4. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 196.44 (Skate America)
5. Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 195.60 (Rostelecom Cup)
6. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 192.08 (Skate Canada)
7. Mariah Bell (USA) — 191.49 (Skate America)
1. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 218.30 (Skate Canada)
2. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 207.89 (Rostelecom Cup)
3. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 202.08 (Skate Canada)
4. Natalya Zabiyako/Alexander Enbert (RUS) — 197.77 (Rostelecom Cup)
5. Julianne Séguin/Charlie Bilodeau (CAN) — 197.31 (Skate America)
6. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 192.65 (Skate America)
7. Lubov Ilyushechkina/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) — 190.22 (Skate Canada)
1. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 189.06 (Skate Canada)
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 188.24 (Skate Canada)
3. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 186.68 (Rostelecom Cup)
4. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 185.75 (Skate America)
5. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) — 182.57 (Skate Canada)
6. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 182.13 (Rostelecom Cup)
7. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) — 180.35 (Skate Canada)