Yuzuru Hanyu to compete at Helsinki and Moscow in ISU Grand Prix

Chen, Medvedeva and Zagitova's schedules also released

The 2018-2019 ISU Grand Prix figure skating series selections have been announced, and double Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu is headlining in Helsinki and Moscow.

Expect fireworks in Everett where the line up includes USA's PyeongChang 2018 bronze medallist Nathan Chen and his compatriot Vincent Zhou.

Olympic silver medallist Shoma Uno will be hoping to put on a big show in front of his home crowd in Hiroshima.

In the women's series, Olympic champion Alina Zagitova will have her triple jumps on display in Helsinki and Moscow.

Elsewhere, double Olympic silver medallist and fellow Russian Evgenia Medvedeva will compete in Laval and Grenoble.

  • Skate America (Washington, USA) - October 19-21
  • Skate Canada International (Laval, Canada) - October 26-28
  • 2018 Grand Prix Finland (Helskinki, Finland) - November 2-4
  • NHK Trophy (Hiroshima, Japan) - November 9-11
  • Rostelecom Cup (Moscow, Russia) - November 16-18
  • Internationaux de France (Grenoble, France) - November 23-25
  • ISU Grand Prix Final (Vancouver, Canada) - December 7-10

So let's take a look at some of the contenders who will competing for victory during the ISU Grand Prix.

​Yuzuru Hanyu

The double Olympic champion goes into the Grand Prix season as one of the clear favourites.

Even with a niggling right ankle injury, he swept to victory for Japan in PyeongChang with a triumphant performance.

"This is the best time of his life," said Olympic champion Brian Boitano.

"It’s sweeter than the first time... and it’s hard when you are on this roll to take a moment and go ‘Wow, this is really a special moment in my life’."

Yuzuru Hanyu at PyeongChang 2018
Yuzuru Hanyu at PyeongChang 2018Yuzuru Hanyu at PyeongChang 2018

Boitano thinks that Hanyu is doing the right thing by returning to competition.

"I’ve never seen anyone come back from a rest and be successful.

"I don’t think there’s anyone who has taken time off… and then has come back and won world titles."

His coach Brian Orser is quite blunt when it comes to the 23-year-old’s talents.

“I have to say, he is the greatest of all time. That’s for sure.”

For Orser, the second Olympic gold medal was the end of an epic journey.

“I remember sitting down with him when he first came back from NHK (Trophy) and he was on crutches.

“I said, ‘It’s November. We have three months, four months for the Olympics. It is doable.’

"I had some doubts, I remember, a month before, just saying to (fellow coach) Tracy (Wilson), ‘I don’t know how we are going to do this.

"He was really, really hungry for it. There was no other option of second or third. It was to win. Period.

“To see that emotion, it was a really a great victory for him,” Orser said. “I have to use the word ‘victory,’ because it encompasses everything. It’s not just winning the gold. For what he went through the last four months, it is remarkable.”

And, maybe, if Yuzuru's English continues to improve, he will allow himself a break in the English countryside to eat some honey with his famous mascot.

"If I can when, I have learned lots of English. That is my dream – I am going to the forest with (Winnie the) Pooh."

Yuzuru Hanyu happy to say nothing at all!

Yuzuru Hanyu happy to say nothing at all!

Nathan Chen

USA’s Nathan Chen is only 19 years old but he’s already a world champion.

The Olympic bronze medallist landed six quads in the free program on his way to securing the 2018 title.

GettyImages-919687772
GettyImages-919687772GettyImages-919687772

With his score of 321.40 points, he became the second skater to break the 320 barrier.

The only other was Yuzuru Hanyu.

"He has the most raw talent of any athlete I have ever seen and, on top of that, his work ethic is incredible," said USA figure skater and friend Ashley Wagner.

"I think those two combined are going to push him to such an elite level that he's hard for a lot of guys to catch.

"At the end of the day, the only person who is capable of holding him back, is himself."

There's no doubt that Chen has the technical ability but also has brains too.

He will be juggling the Grand Prix season with his studies at Yale University.

"I have no idea how (that's) going to go for Nathan," Wagner said with a huge smile.

"It's not even, like, school. It's balancing an Ivy League school with competitive figure skating.

"I think it's going to be difficult but he's a great kid with a good head on his shoulders."

Evgenia Medvedeva

There will be even more interest on the Russian’s first Grand Prix performance after the Olympic silver medallist moved from her native country to Canada to train with Brian Orser.

Orser famously coached Hanyu and Olympic bronze medallist Javier Fernandez at PyeongChang 2018.

But also South Korea’s Yuna Kim to gold in 2010 – and countless others.

GettyImages-923199740
GettyImages-923199740GettyImages-923199740

"I think that Hanyu and Javier Fernandez experienced (this)," said Brian Boitano.

"Just getting away from your own country (has a benefit). There’s so much pressure...

"People are watching you. People are talking about you…. but if you got to another country - it’s like you are anonymous.

"It’s a great way to be able to focus on your craft. She is going to really benefit from that."

Boitano thinks that Orser can create a bubble for the skaters which creates an unprecedented calm when everything else seems chaotic.

“(The bubble) is the secret to being a champion.

“He knows how to create the bubble.

“He has switched roles. He’s not the skater in the bubble – he is the coach in the bubble. It requires some skills to create that bubble.”

Leaving long-time coach, Eteri Tutberidze, was for Medvedeva ‘the hardest choice in her life’.

“I just sat on my bed and I just didn’t know what to do."

“But I (made) this choice and finally I really see light (in) my future.”

​Alina Zagitova

Aged just 15, and already an Olympic champion, Alina Zagitova burst onto the figure skating scene with great success.

Zagitova used to train alongside Medvedeva with Eteri Tutberidze.

For a time, it seemed like two-time world champion Medvedeva would also be crowned Olympic champion.

Despite the obvious tension, Zagitova said that she wants to maintain her relationship with her Russian teammate.

"I don’t know yet whether our personal dynamic (has) changed or whether it will change... but I think we will remain friends in life."

Zagitova wants to keep things sweet with Medvedeva

Zagitova wants to keep things sweet with Medvedeva

This season's Grand Prix will be another opportunity to get to know Zagitova who seems to stay calm under immense pressure.

"Many people have asked me how I managed to contain my emotions so well after the competition... Well, perhaps, it’s my character I’m a very calm person.

"I keep everything to myself. I keep it inside. My emotion only comes out when I go back home to my parents."

Double Olympic champion and fellow Russian Evgeni Plushenko is a big fan.

"I like how she performs and her jumps. (She has) very sporty jumps - big ones (that are) classical."

Hopefully, after her Olympic success, she treated herself to some candy.

"When it comes to sacrifice, I cannot eat any sweets... I am not saying that sweets don’t exist in my life. I do eat (them) sometimes especially during competition."

Tara Lipinski on Zagitova:

Tara Lipinski on Zagitova: "She's just this little dynamite out there."

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