5 pre-preview thoughts on 2015 Skate Canada

The Grand Prix jaunt moves to Lethbridge, Alberta, the week after Skate America. The big news here is going to be one of the many high-profile returns. Home favorite Patrick Chan returns to competition this season after taking the post-Olympic season off.

Related: 2015 Skate Canada entrants

1. Patrick Chan is back!
You knew he wouldn't be gone for too long. Three-time World champ Patrick Chan announced that he was back training and ready for the coming season, and Skate Canada will mark his return to the Grand Prix series. And in one of the lesser-known free skates of last season, Chan hit a quad toe and eight triples to win the Japan Open last October - and he wasn't even really training. You better believe he's coming back to play. Will there be more tricks up his sleeve after a season off? We'll see.

WATCH: Patrick Chan 2014 Japan Open free skate
(This is the only video still left out there, if you are ok with waiting a really long time for it ... it's worth the wait.)

Joining Chan on the comeback trail will be Kaetlyn Osmond, who has been showing off on Instagram that she's ready for a return after withdrawing from everything last season with injury. Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviev, who took all of last season off because of Soloviev's injury, will also be back. After a season where their main rivals from 2014, Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov, split and both formed new partnerships (with Ilinykh taking 7th at Worlds with Ruslan Zhiganshin), it will be interesting to see where Bobrova/Soloviev fit in after their return.

2. But Hanyu awaits.
The Olympic champ had quite the wild season last year - with the head-on warmup collision with Han Yan at Cup of China, moments of brilliance but battles with inconsistency, and then finishing at Worlds with a loss to Javier Fernandez after issues with his quads in the free skate. We all know that Hanyu is an immensely talented jumper - he keeps teasing us with clean quad loops in exhibition settings for some reason - so his success is always a function of his consistency. The men's field is going to be so packed this season.

Hanyu debuted part of his free skate at Dream on Ice just a few weeks ago, clean quad salchow under spotlight and all. I love that he has moved away from overused music for his free skate (Phantom last year, Nina Rota's Romeo and Juliet the year before, Notre Dame de Paris the year before that, ...). From the looks of it, this new free skate could end up becoming a signature piece for him, much like Parisienne Walkways was a couple years ago.

3. Tuk v. Wag
The ladies event should be more than intriguing, as World champ Elizaveta Tuktamysheva tries to continue her incredible international unbeaten streak that started right here last year. U.S. champ Ashley Wagner brings her new array of technical elements, and her Moulin Rouge free skate, to the table.  

4. Hong Kong in a Grand Prix?
UPDATE: Sadly for skating fans, Ronald Lam announced his retirement from skating late July. For the first time ever, the Grand Prix will feature a figure skater from Hong Kong. Canada-based Hong Kong skater Ronald Lam will make his debut on the GP a few months after a career-high 14th at Worlds.

5. More new skills from Duhamel/Radford?
We saw new World champs Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford land a throw quad lutz in practice a couple months ago. They debuted a quad sal last season that they landed a few times in competition, and they could really shake up the technical landscape with a second throw quad, which no pair has ever competed before. It would be quite the coup - the throw quad lutz is worth almost twice as much as the throw triple lutz (9.00 vs. 5.50).

@mhjd_85 @Rad85E land quad lutz @skate_canada @ifsmagzine

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