After all was said and done in the in Shanghai, the favorite to win it did exactly that- Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won the event in stunning fashion, triple axel and all. There were surprises on the podium, as Satoko Miyahara won the silver medal and upset Elena Radionova, who finished in third place.
Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva had a hell of a comeback season. She completed an unheard of thirteen times this season, losing only to Radionova on two occasions. She now holds 3 of skating’s biggest prizes- Grand Prix Final Champion, European Champion and World Champion. And perhaps even more than that, she now carries a triple axel landed in international competition on her resume. The competition wasn't even close, point-wise, because of that triple axel. It was truly her season and it was great to see her cap it off with a well-deserved first World title.
I remember the first time I saw now-World silver medallist Satoko Miyahara’s free skate. It was at the Japan Open and I could tell I loved this program for this skater. Satoko skated her best short program of the season- with no jump calls!- and followed it up with a solid performance in the free skate. She did have one fall, but the program had such a wonderful quality to it. I really see lots of promise for her and I think she deserved this silver medal, even if it was a surprise to her and anyone else. I think her scores here in Shanghai show that the judges are ready to believe in her as well.
Elena Radionova had a fantastic year in her first full season on the senior level circuit: Two Grand Prix wins, Grand Prix Final silver and a Russian championship to boot. Overall, she’s been very consistent and had great competitive focus. She struggled a bit in her free skate at Worlds, but I think exhaustion played more of a part in it than anything else. Rumor on Twitter had it that she was sick also. She wins a bronze medal at her first senior Worlds and has all the potential in the world to push even further next season.
After their rough short programs, Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner had great free skates to finish in fourth and fifth, respectively. Gracie was second in the free skate to only Tuktamysheva and Wagner (third in the free skate) had the 2nd highest PCS, also behind Elizaveta. Most importantly, they keep 3 spots for American ladies at the World Championships next year in Boston. They both missed a huge opportunity here- had they had clean short programs, medals were definitely within their reach.
Rika Hongo finished her consistent season in the same fashion with a top six finish and Kanako Murakami finished seventh, after a few mistakes in her free skate. American Polina Edmunds finished in eighth after a technically good skate that got low PCS. China’s Zijun Li and Mae Berenice Meite rounded out the top ten.
Congrats to the medallists on fantastic seasons and a great competition. Each of the three seemed to struggle a bit in the free skate, but the judges made the right call here. I'm frankly surprised they didn't hold up Radionova based on reputation alone. I can’t wait to see each of them next year, with new skates- and possibly new tricks.
Gracie finally put down a clean skate (her only other one was her NHK short, I believe) in the long program, and finishing 2nd in that skate goes to show you how dangerous this girl is when she can pull it together. If she skated like that even half the time, she’d have a lot more gold medals to her name. She thrives technically but entirely lacks any performance quality or emotional connection. When can we see an authentic, present Gracie?
Ashley is the opposite- always wonderful to watch, but doesn’t have the technical consistency. I truly thought she’d come to Worlds with more confidence, but that wasn’t the case. Technically, that she got one lutz ratified in the short program and finally got level 4 spins. Considering where she started this year, she greatly improved and a season that contains 3 Grand Prix medals, a National title and a fifth place finish at Worlds certainly says something to all the naysayers that said she should hang up her skates.
The top Americans both showed good fight in the free skate, but World Champions don’t just skate well when pressure is off. What will it take for them to compete well under pressure?
Rika had a great, consistent season. She needs polish and some better posture, but she certainly improved this season. It was great to see Kanako skate a clean, beautiful short program here in Shanghai after her rough season. Her programs don’t have the technical difficulty of the others, so she has to skate clean to achieve higher placements.
Polina Edmunds had a good Worlds technically speaking- she was consistent and mostly clean. What holds her down is low PCS marks from the judges- and rightfully so in my opinion. Polina needs mature packaging and programs before the judges will take her seriously.
Li Zijun held up very well under the home crowd pressure and I’m excited to see improvement for her next season.
I will be back in the next few days with the other podium recaps and Fantasy results!
After what we saw in the short, I have no idea what to expect here in the long.
First place, in my opinion, is already Elizaveta's. With an eight point lead, and her fantastic performance in the short, it would truly take an act of God to take her off the top step of the podium.
Unless she makes a mistake, which would be unusual for her, Elena should also be safe in her silver medal. I don't think the rest of the field has enough to overtake her if she's clean.
Here's a breakdown for the rest of the top six:
From 2nd From 3rd From 4th From 5th
3. Satoko Miyahara 2.49 ----- ----- -----
4. Kanako Murakami 4.03 1.54 ----- -----
5. Rika Hongo 7.34 4.85 3.31 -----
6. Zijun Li 7.68 5.19 3.65 0.34
For the next three:
From 3rd From 4th From 5th From 6th
7. Polina Edmunds 5.31 3.77 0.46 0.08
8. Gracie Gold 6.29 4.75 1.44 1.10
9. Anna Pogorilaya 6.52 4.98 1.67 1.33
Now just for fun- I added each lady's ISU season best LP score to their current standing, and you end up with this: 1. Tuktamysheva, 2.Radionova, 3.Miyahara, 4.Wagner, 5.Pogorilaya, 6.Edmunds 7.Gold, 8. Hongo, 9Li, 10.Murakami, 11.Chartrand
Those numbers don't predict anything, but it does illustrate that a lot could change below the top two. Now, some of the ladies have a better chance at performing above their best and some seem likely to perform below it, but it's an interesting piece of data to look at.
Here's the skate order. All 3 Americans will skate with Pogorilaya and Chartrand in the second to last group. I'm hoping skating first and third in the group will be more comfortable positions for Gold and Wagner than they had in the short. It would be really great for the Americans to move up in the standings enough to keep 3 spots for the Worlds next year, which will take place on home ice in Boston. To do that, the top 2 finishers have to have a combined placement of 13 or less- very doable if they skate their best. Mostly, I hope the pressure will be off Gold and Wagner so that they can skate to their potential.
In the last group, I don't think the skate order will affect the top two Russians. Miyahara struggled a bit at 4 Continents being in medal contention, so I hope she doesn't do that here. Murakami and Li performed above their bests in the short, so either that momentum will carry them to better performances or they may fall back into old ways. I think Hongo will stay steady-as-she-goes consistent.
This is figure skating, and anything can happen. I am looking forward to relaxing through this long program and seeing how it all shakes out! See you all there at 10:30 Eastern. I will be live tweeting!
Good lord, the ladies short program was quite the wild ride. It was all the drama that it promised to be... and more. I had to watch the footage again before I wrote this because I felt too sleep-deprived and emotionally drained after it was over at 3 AM!
RUSSIA GOES 1-2
As expected, Elizaveta Tutktamysheva and Elena Radionova are in first and second respectively, earning the two best TES and PCS scores of the night. Elizaveta got a standing ovation after successfully nailing her triple axel and posted the third-highest ladies score ever of 77.62. Radionova skated very well as anticipated, but she is eight points behind her teammate. It was a great showing for Elena in her first senior Worlds, but baring a complete and utter disaster from Tuktamysheva, she will be getting the silver medal.
JAPAN STEPS UP
These ladies were seen more as contenders in the top ten then the top six, but all three of them really showed up with great performances in the short. Satoko Miyahra is currently in third after a light and airy performance- with no jump calls to speak of! Kanako Murakami is in a very surprising fourth place after a fantastic short program- the best we've seen from her in quite some time. Rika Hongo skated consistently and cleanly to land in fifth place. Her jumps looked better to me, which is an encouraging sign for next year.
China's Li Zijun conquered the hometown pressure to skate very well and land in sixth place. She got one underroataion call, but overall it was a great skate for her.
Yikes, ladies, that was a rough one. Polina Edmunds landed all of her jumps, but got an unclear edge call on her triple flip. She got the sixth highest TES score but continued to struggle with the PCS, getting the ninth highest score there to place seventh. Gracie Gold's consistency struggles continued in Shanghai, with two jumping mistakes. Her TES score was only the 10th best, but some favorable PCS (third highest) saved her to land in eighth behind Edmunds. Ashley Wagner had a disastrous performance, with mistakes on all 3 jumping passes leaving her in 11th place. Her PCS were the fourth highest in the competition, slightly behind Gold. Ashley finally got all level fours on her spins, but her step sequence got a level three. If there is a technical plus to find here, the judges did not give her an edge call on her triple lutz, which she's struggled with in the past.
Tuktamysheva stole the show with such an exciting performance! She nailed that program and will most likely win a well-deserved world title. Glad to know my Fantasy A pick is safe and sound with Elizaveta : ) Elena was great as usual, but there is no competing with a clean triple axel. This was a fantastic season for her and as she grows and matures, hopefully she continues to improve. One must wonder though- does she now need a triple axel to have a hope at beating her countrywoman?
It was so refreshing to see Kanako have a great skate. Her Phantom short program is so well suited for her and she's capable of so much more than she puts out on the ice sometimes. It was also great to see Satoko get high, fully rotated jumps. I love her style and glad she held it together under pressure. Rika was consistent and I see improvement. Well deserved placements for these three.
I think Polina's placement was also well deserved. Technically, it was strong but she does not have the maturity, packaging and performance quality to play with the heavy hitters quite yet. Gracie's technical struggles are quite the mystery to all. She has such talent and always trains well but cannot figure out how to COMPETE well. Her PCS saved her but were a bit generous in my opinion. The judges really like her and her score was respectable considering the mistakes.
Oh, Ashley- it was all setting up quite well for her... mistakes by Pogorilaya, Gold and Edmunds really opened the door. The judges awarded her good PCS despite the mistakes, so she very easily could've been in the top three-five with clean jumps. She was last to skate, which is a position she struggles with and she just lost all focus. Her back was bandaged while she skated, but there was no mention of that in her quotes after the competition. If anything, I hope this bad performance lifts the pressure off her for the long program.
I will be back in a bit for part two of this post... this one is getting long!
As we begin the much anticipated ladies competition in Shanghai, let's talk about the key things to look for as each skater attempts to set themselves up well for the free skate- and a medal.
Here's the skate order. It doesn't always have a huge impact, but mentally and strategically, it can factor in.
Elizaveta skates first- hopefully she'll be on fresh, warm legs and take advantage of that position. Gracie is next- I think it's good for her to be close to the top so that she doesn't sit around and get nervous but she can struggle skating behind big scorers like Tutktamysheva. Next is Satoko and Anna Pogorilaya, right in the middle of the pack. This shouldn't effect either of them strategically. Elena is next; if Elizaveta has struggled, she can really capitalize skating after her. Ashley is last, which she's said before she doesn't prefer, but a strong performance could really go in her favor, as she's getting the last word.
The ISU Season Bests in the Short Program for the top ladies are as follows:
1. Elena Radionova 70.46 (Europeans)
2. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva 69.02 (Europeans)
3. Gracie Gold 68.12 (NHK Trophy)
4. Anna Pogorilaya 66.10 (Europeans)
5. Satoko Miyahara 64.84 (Four Continents)
6. Kanako Murakami 63.38 (NHK Trophy)
7. Ashley Wagner 63.86 (Skate Canada)
8. Polina Edmunds 63.27 (Figure Skating Classic)
KEY FACTORS TO WATCH FOR:
1. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva's triple axel- Will she or won't she? An attempt at the triple axel from this Russian will be HUGE in determining the outcome of this competition. Cleanly landed, she can separate herself from the rest of the field in a big way. A mistake, though, costs her huge points and possibly a gold medal. Numbers-wise, her scores in the short are not as strong as Elena Radionova's, but she performs better than her teammate in the long. Attempting the 3 Axel at this competition is a bit risky and unnecessary in my opinion, but we'll have to see what it does/doesn't do for her scores.
2. Elena Radionova's consistency (in a good way)- Honestly, I expect nothing less from Radionova in Shanghai than what she has given us all season- consistent, technically strong, competitive performances. I expect her to bring her game face and lay down two great skates. I think a clean Tuktamysheva beats her overall because of her PCS and jump GOE, but my bet is on Elena skating so well that she can pounce on any slight mistake from Elizaveta to take the title.
3. Ashley Wagner's 3Lz-3T- Ashley's season best score is a bit misleading, as she's since added more difficult elements not reflected in that number. One of those elements is her triple lutz-triple toe combination, on which she can get costly edge calls and/or underrotations. She nailed it at Nationals in the long and she'll need to land it well here in the short so she can stay in the last warm-up group for the free. Bottom line, she needs a fully rotated, clean edged 3-3. Truthfully, I'd like to see her beat either Gold or Pogorilaya in the short to really set her up well for that podium.
4. Gracie's consistency (in a not-good way)- Gracie Gold always seems to struggle putting together two clean programs in competition. If she skates completely clean, she is a podium threat for sure, but she's had a rocky season and an utter disaster at Four Continents. I think she's more confident in the short than the long, so she needs to capitalize on a strong short program so she can really gain some momentum to get to the podium in the free. Her closest competitor for bronze is Wagner, who excels more in the free, so if Gracie wants to beat her out she needs to gain some points in the right at the start.
5. I could say the exact same thing about Anna Pogorilaya's consistency. (See number 4).
6. Satoko Miyahara's jump calls- The reigning Japanese champ has some serious promise, but she's struggled this season, getting some jump calls that cost her points. I think she'll be in a battle for the last spot in the final warm-up group for the long with Polina Edmunds, who tends to get fewer jump calls and better GOE. To top Edmunds, Miyahara needs fully rotated jump calls.
7. Polina Edmunds' PCS- Polina seems to have gotten her short program's technical issues under control, but she doesn't have the polish yet to get the higher program component scores she needs to really elevate her to a World podium level. She's said in pre-Worlds interviews that she hopes her Four Continents win will boost her reputation with the judges (-cough-PCSs), but I am not so sure.
The ladies short program starts tonight (Wednesday, March 25th) at 10:30 PM Eastern. I can't wait! I will be back to recap the short program action and preview the long program tomorrow!
I see this ladies field breaking down into a series of head-to-head battles for finishing spots more than anything: Elena Radionova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva battling for gold; Ashley Wagner, Anna Pogorilaya and Gracie Gold battling for bronze; and Polina Edmunds and Satoko Miyahara duking it out for the last spot in the coveted top six.
As ladies is my favorite discipline, I will go out on a limb here and attempt to predict the top ten.
Gold- Elizaveta Tuktamysheva has had a fantastic comeback season. She gets better GOE on her jumps and brings a more mature style to the ice than her Russian teammate. The biggest unknown here is that Elizaveta is planning to attempt a triple axel, which she could land for huge points- or fall on and lose major points. If Radionova and Tuktamysheva are both clean, I give Elizaveta the edge.
Silver- This would put Elena Radionova in second place at her first senior World Championships. Elena has also had an incredible season and I would be shocked if she wasn’t on one of the top two steps on the podium. I look for her to skate very well in Shanghai and she could easily win the whole thing if Elizaveta’s triple axel is a problem.
Bronze- I’m feeling good about Ashley Wagner’s chances to score her first World medal. The path of her season (and her scores) have been consistently building up to this point. That said, she has risky-for-her technical content planned and could be penalized for wrong edges or under rotations if she’s nervous. I think a solid short program is the biggest key to her success. She may be out of the top three in the short, but I see her coming back in the long for third place.
4. Gracie Gold- I think she’ll improve on her horrible Four Continents free skate here in Shanghai, but it will not be enough to grab a medal.
5. Anna Pogorilaya- Also struggling this season, I think Anna has the technical points to stay in the top six but her sloppy, component-lacking performances will leave her in fifth.
6. Polina Edmunds- I know she thinks she capable of a higher placement, but I do not believe her international scores support that. I do think she’ll skate more consistently than Miyahara to land in the final group.
7. Satoko Miyahara- I see her being very consistent at this competition but she can get a few jump calls and the judges seem to be holding back her components.
8. Rika Hongo- I hope she skates two clean programs to end her solid season in the same fashion. She needs some work in the polish department, but a top ten finish will be a great building block for next year.
9. Zijun Li- She looked good at Four Continents, and I look for her to build on that here with a finish in the top ten.
10. Kanako Murakami- She’s been a bit off this season, but she is a lovely skater. She’s facing A LOT of competition to land in the top ten so she’ll have to be at her best.
I find this competition perhaps the easiest to choose the three medallists because their scores over the course of the season really stand above the rest of the field. Truly, it would be a big surprise to me if these three teams WEREN’T the podium finishers.
Gold- I am going to pick an upset here and say that Papadakis and Cizeron will be crowned new World champs. I know Weaver and Poje have had a great season, but Papadakis and Cizeron’s free skate is truly something special. I look for them to be in second or third after the short dance, but come back to win gold after a fantastic free skate.
Silver- This leaves Weaver and Poje with the silver medal, repeating their second place performance from last year.
Bronze- Chock and Bates are a lock for bronze in my opinion. They have also had good seasons and I think they will perform well here to claim their first World medal.
For Pairs, I feel like the battle for the bronze medal is actually more of a toss up than the top two. The three Chinese teams are very close together in terms of scores and they all have their own strengths that could put them on the podium. I could really see ANY of the Chinese teams end up with a medal.
Gold- I think Duhamel/Radford will easily walk away with their first World title. The seem to be a in a field of their own this season and no one has scored close to them. They have looked so strong and consistent that I would be surprised if they made a big mistake here.
Silver- With their Russian teammates not competing here, new European champions Kavaguti/Smirnoff have a great opportunity to win a medal. I think they will be riding high from their Europeans win and will claim the silver medal. If they were to make a mistake here, any one of the Chinese teams could take their podium spot.
Bronze- Ugh, it’s a tough call. I’m gonna go with Peng/Zheng. I know that Sui/Han have had a better season numbers-wise but I have a soft spot for these two and think that they will be riding high after beating their teammates at Four Continents.
When choosing the men’s podium, I’m going to adopt a “best worst-case-scenario” approach. The truth of the matter is that I don’t really trust any of the top men to not falter, so I’m deciding to go with the one I think will still score the highest with mistakes.
Gold- I think Hanyu has been the most consistent of the top three overall, and I hope some rest after his Japanese National Championships will have him competition ready. He’s always getting good scores from the judges and even when he falters, they hold him up. I think he’s a safe bet for a chance at gold.
Silver- Denis Ten- I debated giving him the gold, but he is so up and down I feel like I can’t. He had a great performance at Four Continents and if he’s clean, he is the only man that can challenge a clean Hanyu pointwise. I feel like he will make a mistake in one of his two programs and that will have him taking the silver medal.
Bronze- Javier Fernandez- I would like to see Javi do better here than 3rd as he’s won two bronzes before, but I don’t think he’s had the consistency or performance quality this season to contend at Hanyu and Ten’s level.
I will put ladies predictions in another post.. this one was too long!
Three figure skating powerhouses take the stage in the ladies event- Russia, the United States, and Japan. Two Russian skaters lead the pack as favorites for gold and have been trading titles all season. Two Americans have the best shot for a spot on the podium- IF they can hold off yet another Russian and a few ladies from Japan. Buckle up for this one, folks!
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS): Elizaveta has competed an astounding 10 times already this season. In her major events, she won silver at Skate America, gold at Cup of China and the Grand Prix Final. She came in second to Radionova at the Russian nationals, but she came back to beat her at the European Championships weeks later. Rumor has it, she is planning a triple axel for Worlds, which is risky- but she could greatly be rewarded if she lands it. ISU Season Best Score: 210.40
Elena Radionova (RUS): In her first full season as a senior, Elena won gold at both of her Grand Prix events, and took silver at the Grand Prix Final and the European Championships. She is the reigning Russian National Champion and a favorite for gold along with her Russian teammate. She has been incredibly consistent all season and could certainly capitalize on a triple axel mistake by Tuktamysheva to easily win. ISU Season Best Score: 209.54
Anna Pogorilaya (RUS): Anna won gold at Skate Canada and silver at the Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, where she came in fourth. She was also a disappointing fourth at the Russian National Championships but rebounded to a bronze medal at Europeans. Anna has struggled all season with consistency, making sloppy mistakes and looking lost on the ice. She has the technical difficulty to land on the podium, but has a problem executing it in competition and doesn’t have stellar components, either. She was fourth last year, but I think she’ll have to have a great skate to do that or better in Shanghai. ISU Season Best Score: 191.81
Gracie Gold (USA): Gracie won the bronze medal at Skate America and gold at the NHK Trophy. She was forced to withdraw from the Grand Prix Final with a stress fracture and came in second at the US National Championships about a month later. In her last performance, she came in fourth at the Four Continents Championships after a disastrous long program. Gracie seems to always struggle with putting together two clean programs, but she has the technical skills to score a lot of points when she’s clean. She will certainly be in a battle for a spot on the podium if she hits. ISU Season Best Score: 191.16
Ashley Wagner (USA): The current and 3-time US Champion won silver at Skate Canada and bronze at Trophee Bompard. She made a big comeback in the long program of the Grand Prix Final to win the bronze medal. Ashley’s season started out slowly, but he has consistently been adding technical difficulty to her programs and is on a great trajectory to win her first World medal. The key for her will be a strong short program to keep her in the running to land on the podium in the free skate. ISU Season Best Score: 189.50
Polina Edmunds (USA): After a rough Grand Prix season with no medals, Polina improved her jump consistency enough to come in fourth at the US Championships. She was picked for the World team, however, as third place finisher Karen Chen is too young to compete at Worlds. Polina won the biggest international event of her career when she capitalized on Gold and Miyahra’s mistakes to win the Four Continents Championships. Though Polina says she is a podium contender here, I don’t think her scores support that. She does have a great shot at finishing in the top six though. ISU Season Best Score: 184.02
Satoko Miyahara (JPN): Reigning Japanese Champion Satoko Miyahara won bronze medals at each of her two Grand Prix events and narrowly missed qualifying for the Grand Prix Final. In her last competition, The Four Continents Championships, she fell in the long program to finish second when a clean skate probably would’ve won her the gold medal. Other than that, she has good consistency, but can struggle with under rotations on her jumps. I think she has great promise, but needs another year or two to be in the podium conversation. With two great skates, she could land in the top six. ISU Season Best Score: 183.90
Rika Hongo (JPN): Rika won a surprising gold the Rostelecom Cup and was Gracie Gold’s replacement at the Grand Prix Final where she came in sixth. She was second at the Japanese National Championships and third at Four Continents. Rika needs more polish and experience to get into the top contenders at a World Championship, but she's had a consistent season and should land in the top ten. ISU Season Best Score: 178.00
Zijun Li (CHN): She is the Chinese national champion and most recently came in fifth at the Four Continents Championships. She’s looked a bit of her element this season and I am waiting for her to find her stride. She looked better at Four Continents than in her Grand Prix season, so perhaps she can finish strong here. Placing within the top ten for her is achievable for her and would be a good end to her season. ISU Season Best Score: 175.92
Kanako Murakami (JPN): The third member of Japan’s World team is Kanako Murakami that won bronze at the Cup of China this season. She was a disappointing fifth at the Japanese Nationals but is competing here because higher finishers at that competition were too young to compete at Worlds. I think she’s lost a bit of steam this season and though I like her skating style, she’s going to have to skate very well here to keep up with her Japanese teammates. ISU Season Best Score: 173.09
As with the men’s field, these ten ladies are not even the end of the conversation- there’s still Canadians Gabrielle Daleman and Alaine Chartrand, South Korea’s So Youn Park, Finland’s Kiira Korpi and Sweeden’s Joshi Helgessen who will also be part of the conversation for the top 12 spots. I am very excited for this competition! Check back in with me on Friday for all of my podium picks!
Good lord, calling this competition is like solving a complex math equation with WAY too many variables. I feel like it has been a wildly inconsistent season for the men, with each competitor having a huge question mark next to their name. Each have had moments of brilliance and moments of utter disaster. Each one could show up and kill the competition or shoot themselves in the foot. I’m puzzled as to who to pick, but let’s try to work through it together shall we?
Denis Ten (KAZ)- Denis has always struggled with consistency and this season was no exception. He struggled in the Grand Prix series, managing only a bronze at Trophee Bompard. However, at the Four Continents Championships he was beyond brilliant and posted the highest score by any man this season. You never know what you are going to get with Denis, but at his best, he certainly is a favorite for gold. ISU Season Best Score: 289.46
Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)- Yuzuru suffered from injuries early in the fall, and of course had that terrible crash at Cup of China. He won the silver medal at that competition, though, and fourth at the NHK Trophy. He competed well to win the Grand Prix Final title and a National Championship. He did not compete at Four Continents, so hopefully some rest has prepared him well for Worlds. As the defending champ, he's certainly a frontrunner to take the title again this year. ISU Season Best Score: 288.16
Javier Fernandez (ESP)- This season's European Champ, Javier won silver Skate Canada and gold at Rostelecom Cup before earning silver at the Grand Prix Final behind Hanyu. Javier has struggled with jump consistency this season, and not just on his quad. A two-time World bronze medallist, I am sure Javi is hoping to improve upon that this time around. He has to clean up those jumps to have a shot at that, but he is definitely a favorite for the podium. ISU Season Best Score: 269.09
Joshua Farris (USA)- Josh recovered from a disappointing Grand Prix season to have a breakout performance at the US Nationals, where he won a bronze medal. He followed it up with another wonderful performance at Four Continents Championships to win silver. For Worlds, he's planning to add a quad to his short program, and he needs it to have enough points to podium here. A medal for him is not out of the question, but I think others would need to make mistakes or he would need to have the performance of his life. ISU Season Best Score: 260.01
Han Yan (CHN)- Han Yan was the other skater involved in that terrible Cup of China crash with Hanyu. Most recently, Han came in third at The Four Continents Championships. He's got beautiful jumping technique but can fall apart under pressure. Clean, he's got a good chance at the top five. ISU Season Best Score: 259.47
Takahito Mura (JPN)- Mura has certainly had an up and down season. He qualified for the Grand Prix final after winning Skate Canada and getting bronze at the NHK Trophy. Then, he came in fifth at his National Championships and only was picked for the World team after another skater retired. At his last competition, he was seventh (Four Continents). His season's taken a turn for the worse at his last two events, but he can definitely be near the top if he can skate like he did at the beginning of the season. ISU Season Best Score: 255.81
Sergi Vornov (RUS)- Vornov's season looks great on paper: Rostelecom Cup Silver, NHK Trophy Silver, bronze at the Grand Prix Final, 2nd at the Russian Nationals and third at the European Championships. This will be his sixth appearance at a World Championships and he's sure looking good at the age of 27. ISU Season Best Score: 252.00
Maxim Kovtun (RUS)- Much like his Russian teammate, Maxim had a great Grand Prix season, winning both of his events and coming in fourth at the Grand Prix Final. He is the current Russian National Champion and European silver medallist. He is planning not one- but two- quads just in his short program so he has a lot of technical firepower that could land him near the top, but he's also got a bit of a consistency problem. ISU Season Best Score: 243.35
Jason Brown (USA)- Jason is the Skate America silver medallist, US National Champion, and came in 6th at the Four Continents Championships where he attempted, but did not complete, his first quad in competition. To me, the quad for Jason isn't quite competition ready, and without it, he's not really going to be a contender here, point-wise. Perhaps he's made some progress on it since, but even so, I don't see him getting on the podium in such a strong field. ISU Season Best Score: 243.21
Michael Brezina (CZE)- Michael won the Rostelecom Cup Bronze and came in fifth at the European Championships. He greatly struggles with consistency from competition to competition and doesn't have the planned technical content of most of the other skaters. This is his sixth Worlds appearance, but his best finish (4th) was in 2010 and 2011. ISU Season Best Score: 241.23
And these are just a few of the men who could see the top ten. There's still Adam Rippon, Misha Ge, and Nam Nygen who could also break into the last two skating groups but I have to stop now- my head is spinning. This will certainly be interesting to watch!
This competition is headlined by an unbeaten Canadian pair with a new quad throw, three powerful Chinese teams, and the new European Champs from Russia. Surprisingly missing from this competition is last year's World silver medallists Stolbova/Klimov.... who apparently need to focus on next season instead of competing in Shanghai.
Surprisingly included in this competition is the once retired Chinese team of Pang/Tong who recently came back to international competition to take a bronze medal at the Four Continents Championships. Here's a closer look at them and the rest of the field:
Duhamel/Radford (CAN)- This Canadian team has been nothing but golden this year, winning 2 golds in the Grand Prix circuit before taking the gold at the Final - as well as another Canadian national title and a Four Continents Championship. They are heavily favored to win and have been very consistent this season. Two-time World bronze medallists, they are very hungry to grab their first World title. ISU Seasons Best Score- 220.72
Kavaguti/Smirnoff (RUS)- The new European champions started their season with two Grand Prix medals and qualified for the GP Final. They placed third 3rd at the Russian National Championships behind Stolbova and Klimov and Tarasova and Morosov. They have a huge opportunity with the absence of their teammates and will definitely be favorites for the podium. ISU Seasons Best Score- 209.16
Peng/Zheng (CHN)- This pair won Cup of China this season and qualified for the Grand Prix Final, where they placed just off the podium in fourth. They were second at the Four Continents Championships behind Duhamel and Radford. This team will be in a fight for the podium with both of their fellow Chinese teams. ISU Seasons Best Score- 201.45
Sui/Han (CHN)- After winning two silvers on the Grand Prix circuit, Peng/Zgang won the bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final. They came in a somewhat disappointing fourth at the Four Continents Championships, but they have all of the firepower to land on the podium with clean skates. ISU Seasons Best Score- 200.68
Pang/Tong (CHN)- Returning from retirement, these two won the bronze medal at the Four Continents Championships this season. Their last performance at Worlds was 2012-13 where they placed fifth. They have five World medals total to their credit, with their last gold coming in 2010. They are judges favorites, so they could definitely land on the podium, but technically they will have to be clean to beat the other two Chinese teams. ISU Seasons Best Score- 199.99
Scimeca/Knieriem (USA)- After adding a quad twist to their repertoire, this team won their first National title. They came in fifth at the Four Continents Championships behind the Canadians and all three Chinese teams. For Worlds, their quad twist may give their scores a boost but they struggle at times with jump consistency. Clean skates should give them a good shot at the top five. ISU Seasons Best Score- 187.98
Astakhova/Rogonov (RUS)- Rostelecom Cup silver medallists, Astakhova and Rogonov were named to the World team after Stobolva/Klimov withdrew. (They were fourth at the Russian nationals). They are a new team will both compete at the World Championships for the first time in Shanghai. ISU Seasons Best Score- 184.24
Denney/Frazier (USA)- Silver medallists from Skate America and the U.S. National Championships, this team will also be competing at their first World Championships. They finished a disappointing 7th at the Four Continents Championships after some messy skates. Their free skate is great to watch, but they also struggle with their jumps. ISU Seasons Best Score- 183.84
Tarasova/Morosov (RUS)- The third Russian team competing in Shanghai, Tarasova and Morosov won two medals (Skate Canada bronze, Rostelecom Cup Silver) and just missed qualifying for the Grand Prix Final. They came in second at the Russian National Championships and took the bronze medal at Europeans. They have quite a few medals to their name, but they need a big boost to their scores to move up in the standings. ISU Seasons Best Score- 183.02
Seguin/Billadeau (CAN)- This team was third at the Canadian National Championships and are coming off a silver medal at the Junior World Championships. They are a younger team with less inter national experience on the senior level than other competitors. They do have a lot of potential and should have a great shot to land in the top ten. ISU Seasons Best Score- 175.57
Predictions on the pairs results and all of the other disciplines will come at the end of the week! Stay tuned- the men are up next!
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Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.