I hope everyone had a lovely Easter long weekend! Once my precious days off were over, I realized that Worlds was starting very soon and I had to get my act together and do a Worlds predictions post. My last few predictions have been off the mark but hey, it happens and it won’t deter me from making more. So here goes!
The big question this season in the men’s competition has become: can anyone beat Yuzuru Hanyu? The Olympic Champion has found two phenomenal vehicles to carry him to victory this year, allowing him to achieve world record scores not once but twice this season. Watching Yuzuru skate this season has been an ethereal experience and personally, I’m not sure if anyone even comes close to what he does when he’s in top form.
His two closest rivals in this competition are Javier Fernandez, fellow friend and training mate and comeback kid, Patrick Chan, who proved that he still had a lot of fight left in him in the most recent Four Continents competition. Neither of these skaters have programs that quite match the magic that Hanyu have achieved this season though Chan has a well-choreographed LP that showcases his strengths very well.
All in all, the ball is in Hanyu’s court. Whether or not he wins in Boston is up to him. As for the toss-up for silver, the call is even harder to make. So far, Fernandez has been skating more consistently throughout the season while Chan has been up and down the ranks as he returns from his year off. Furthermore, Chan has a history of doing poorly if he competes at Four Continents though given his comeback and his results in the GPF, the doing a competition between Nationals and Worlds this year was necessary to prove that he was still a contender. Still, should any of these skaters falter, the field has been cooking up some young talent in the wings in the form of Boyang Jin and Shoma Uno. Whatever the podium composition, this discipline will be an exciting one to watch this year.
Gold: Yuzuru Hanyu
Silver: Javier Fernandez
Bronze: Patrick Chan
The ladies competition will be a really strange one. Frankly, I’m not sure if I’m ready to crown Evgenia Medvedeva as World Champion right out of the gate of her junior career. Medvedeva has the jumps and is a great performer but she lacks the skating skills that you see in some of the top Japanese ladies like Mao Asada and Satoko Miyahara. That’s not enough to hold her back but what is holding me back is the idea that Medvedeva might not survive the next season, as shown by Russain phenoms like Julia Lipnitskaia. Still, objectively, if Evgenia does skate well, I will fully admit that she should have the points to win the gold.
In my ideal world, however, I would rather see someone who is more well-rounded like Satoko Miyahara top the podium. Miyahara’s confidence and ability to perform for an audience has grown considerably over the season and it’s a delight to see her so comfortable in front of the huge crowd. Unfortunately, Satoko is constantly plagued by low PCS, which really hinders her scores in any competition.
Of course, I have to throw Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner into the mix since they do have home ice advantage and the Americans have been praying fervently for the next American Ice Princess. Gold has a chance of winning it here – with home ice advantage and more experience under her belt, I’m pretty sure the judges would be willing to tip the PCS in her favour should she skate well. Sadly, every time I have put Gracie at the top of my podium picks, she has crashed and burned, showing that consistency is still her worst enemy. As for Wagner, her only saving grace will be if Gold falters horribly and if she skates well. Wagner is probably one of the best ladies performers out there but she frequently under-rotates her jumps, has questionable posture, easier transitions and weak skating skills. Unless she makes a drastic change, I would not be surprised if she fades into obscurity once Polina Edmunds or another lower-ranked skater begins to peak and surpass Ashley.
Also deserving of an honourable mention are Elena Radionova and Mao Asada. Both have the potential to take the podium should they skate well (perhaps the former more than the latter given recent results) but they may need a few competitors to falter for a clear path to victory. Either way, the predictions for this discipline are going to be so wrong. The competition can go in so many ways.
Gold: Evgenia Medvedeva
Silver: Satoko Miyahara
Bronze: Elena Radionova
If I thought ladies was going to be difficult to predict, I’m not really sure what to do with the pairs discipline. There are so many competitors and teams that have a real shot at gold and I’m not sure what to do with them all. For predictions, I guess we can start with defending Champions Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford. With their silver at the GPF and a second place placement behind Sui & Han before withdrawing from 4CC, D&R lack the momentum they had last season going into Worlds. This is particularly devastating this season since the other teams have upped their game and D&R haven’t been skating as consistently as they were last season. Furthermore, the judges have also shown that they aren’t afraid to throw this team under the bus in PCS should a viable rival come along. Frankly, I’m not even sure if there’s enough room on the podium for these two this year.
The most dangerous of the teams for the defending Champions are the respective gold and silver Olympic medalists in Sochi, Olympic Champions Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov and Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov. Both teams have come back from a short or long break and have shot straight to the top of the podium. I have a feeling that the battle for gold will come down to these two teams and despite missing a season, the Olympic Champions have a slight edge as their Olympic title gives them a certain amount of PCS regardless of their skating or choreography. Both teams skate with great precision and unison that is almost awe-inspiring and the competition between them will be fierce.
Also not to be overlooked are Wenjing Sui & Cong Han, who are slowly climbing the ranks in the pairs world. Although they only went head to head against the current World Champions in the SP at 4CC, they finished that segment of the competition with a 7-point lead. (Though granted, Duhamel was sick at the time.) This team is growing stronger and stronger with every competition and although I don’t think they can beat the Olympic Champions at this point in time, a World medal will keep them relevant in the top echelons of pairs skating in preparation for the Olympics in 2018.
Gold: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Silver: Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov
Bronze: Wenjing Sui & Cong Han
I’m generally decently confident with my ice dance predictions but honestly, I don’t think I can feel the same this time around. In fact, I don’t feel confident in any of my predictions at all so far. Earlier in the season, I decided to be hopeful in my GPF predictions and put the Maia & Alex Shibutani in the top spot. I wanted to see Chock & Bates dethroned at Nationals and I thought that the results of the GPF were going to decide the rankings at Nationals. I was wrong in those predictions but I wasn’t wrong to be hopeful since the Shibsibs did win the National title and they solidified their place above Chock & Bates in 4CC and right now, they’re in a good spot to win the World title. With home ice advantage – and Alex was born in Boston – the Shibsibs are the U.S.’ best chance to win gold here. Of course, if Gracie Gold manages to win here, their hopes may be dashed but I think both of their programs this season will resonate well with this crowd.
In their way are defending World Champions, Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron, who have a gorgeous FD but given the location and the crowd, I’m not sure if they will be as well-received as the home-ice favourites. P&C skated to a commanding lead at the European Championships and did achieve the highest scores of the season in the FD but the IJS is marked so inconsistently that I find that they have little value as absolute values that can be compared across competitions. Personally, I find P&C’s edge quality a little lacking and I would like to see Gabriella be more aware of the placement of her free leg in step sequences but overall, they’re evenly matched with the Shibsibs given the strengths and weaknesses of both teams. I’m torn, my darling readers. I really am. I may need to decide my pick for gold on a coin toss.
As for the last rung on the podium, I anticipate that it will be a race between Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (with their bizarre, somewhat slow FD this season) and Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, who have yet to re-find their voice and style after their victory at Worlds in 2014. W&P’s victory at the GPF puts them at an advantage, which is why I’m putting them in the bronze slot.
Gold: Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani
Silver: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron
Bronze: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
These predictions were so hard to make and I’ll apologize in advance if they’re totally wrong. I seriously have no confidence in them. What are your podium picks? Let me know in the comments!
~The Rinkside Cafe