Skate America 2011 – Men and Ladies

The beginning of the figure skating season is upon us! I’m so excited. The post-Olympic year is over and that means the playing field won’t be as sparse and it’s the year for new stars to emerge. The senior figure skating season begins with Skate America with a semi-decent lineup. Here are my predictions for the men’s and ladies’ event. (I will write another post on the ice dance and pairs events.)

Ladies

The ladies roster isn’t really spectacular for this event. The most exciting thing will probably be the battle for gold between two headcases: current World bronze medalist, Carolina Kostner and the elegant (but sadly, a tad bland) Alissa Czisny, who placed 5th at Worlds last season. Both of them have a penchant for being inconsistent and in her last competition, the Japan Open, Alissa had many downgrades and shaky landings on her jumps. I know that Czisny hopes to use the momentum from last season to propel her to a World medal, but I’m not sure if she has what it takes, especially with two Russian divas nipping at everyone’s heels. Carolina Kostner spent all of last season doing a long program with a jump content similar to that of ladies from the 1980s (and somehow managed to win a bronze medal at Worlds) but hopefully her toe injury has healed and she’ll be able to do spectacular triple-triples as she’s done before.

As for the bronze medal, it’s a bit of a free for all seeing that the rest of the contenders are at pretty much the same level unless someone decides to surprise us. I’m kind of hoping it’s Caroline Zhang but I’ve pretty much given up on a comeback from her.

Predictions:

Gold: Carolina Kostner
Silver: Alissa Czisny
Bronze: Ksenia Makarova

Men

The roster for the men’s competition isn’t complete shit – which the ladies roster almost threatens to be. I hope to see Takahiko Kozuka win this handily now that Evan Lysacek has dropped out of the competition. (Not that anyone expected him to compete anyway.) I underestimated this kid last season and I won’t make that mistake again. I hope he makes me proud though. Takahiko has a lot of talent and he has to stop being afraid of showing it. His short program is a little boring though if he adds a little drama and pizzaz to it, he may raise the level of his program from being “slightly boring” to “acceptable.” His Nausicaa LP isn’t half bad though it lacks the genius of the Liszt LP from last season.

Last season, I would’ve pegged Florent Amodio as a veritable competitor for Takahiko but after Takahiko’s progress and World silver medal, it’s becoming painfully clear that this European Champion has ways to go before he can compete with the rest of the big boys. His long program seen in Japan Open was a combination of everything people make fun of in figure skating and was a choreographic horror. I’m very embarrassed for Florent and I’m not even the one skating the program! (And I’m sure I’m not the only one…) Horrible LP aside, if he manages to skate clean, a silver medal is probably in his reach.

However, he’ll have to watch out for a few youngsters with potential: namely Armin Mahbanoozadeh, who was a surprise bronze medalist at Skate America last year (and being American doesn’t hurt his chances at a medal) and Denis Ten, who is now training with Frank Carroll. Ten is a headcase but maybe Frank has hammered something positive into him. I’m not too fond of his skating, but what does that matter? Michal Brezina may surprise us but his results at minor summer competitions has made me lose hope on him. Oh well, at least that’ll mean that the Czech federation will be backing Tomas until he retires…

Predictions:

Gold: Takahiko Kozuka
Silver: Florent Amodio
Bronze: Armin Mahbanoozadeh

What are your predictions for Skate America?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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