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It’s the kid vs. the world champ at Paris Grand Prix

As the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit heads to Paris for this week’s Trophé?e de France, skaters are hoping to secure a return trip to the country for next month’s Grand Prix Final in Marseille. is live streaming every short and free program in Paris, beginning Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET.

There are definite frontrunners here, starting with two-time world ice dance champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. The French team has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top over the last couple of years, filling the void created by the absence of Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

Ice Dance gold for Papadakis and Cizeron in Boston5:13

These two talented teams now train together in Montreal with Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, and the question on everyone’s mind is who will come out ahead.

We’ll get a better idea this weekend when we get the chance to see Papadakis and Cizeron in Grand Prix competition for the first time this season. Virtue and Moir, who are not competing in Paris, won two weeks ago at Skate Canada and appeared as if they haven’t missed a beat.

Don’t take your eyes off Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier. Their first Grand Prix medal at Skate Canada, coupled with perhaps the most innovative and entertaining material this season, makes them a promising choice for another trip to the podium.

Javier vs. the kid

American Nathan Chen is the kind of kid (yes, he’s only 17) who can upset the apple cart in men’s figure skating. He was the first to perform four quadruple jumps in a free skate during competition, which he did at the U.S. nationals back in January.

Chen has already beaten Patrick Chan this season and no doubt has his sights set on two-time world champion Javier Fernandez in Paris.

Fernandez has the edge in my mind, not because he can compete with the quads but because his experience allows for him to adapt in competition. Not sweating the small stuff (or as I like to call it, the short program) helped Fernandez overcome a seven-plus-point deficit after the short last week to take the Rostelecom Cup in Russia for the third consecutive year.

Javier Fernandez takes top spot in Russia8:45

Medvedeva looks unstoppable

Rather than wondering if world champion Evgenia Medvedeva will win the ladiesevent, we’d be better off deciding whether she’ll ever lose another competition.

The 17-year-old Russian started with a win at the world junior championships in March of 2015, then cruised through last season’s Grand Prix stops, the European and world championships, and this season’s Skate Canada event with only one loss. Her consistency is already legendary.

Medvedeva lands gold with record setting free skate8:13

The fight in Paris will be for the rest of the field to work out who will join Medvedeva on the podium. 

Savchenko & Massot have something to prove

2016 world pairs bronze medallists Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot are smart competitors. Like their biggest rivals, two-time world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, Savchenko and Massot understand the judging system and how to maximize their scores

Although their performance on their way to winning in Moscow last week was not their best, I have high hopes for them this week in France. 

Savchenko, Massot are golden in Russia8:48

In a relatively small field of only six (rather than eight) pairs, the goal for Savchenko and Massot should be demonstrating through amazing skating that, come March 2017, they’ll be the team to beat at worlds.

Pj’s gold medal picks

Men: Javier Fernandez (Spain)

Ladies: Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia)

Pair: Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (Germany)

Dance: Grabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (France)

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