Yes, I know, it’s been a while. Hello, darling Readers! Apologies for not putting up predictions for Euros of 4CC but things are busy on my end since the year began. It will be unlikely that I will post comprehensive predictions for the World Team Trophy (my guess right now is Russia, Japan and Canada though that may change after Worlds) since I’ll be on vacation right before it starts but we’ll see. For now, let’s content ourselves with our predictions for this year’s (very important) World Championships, which will decide how many skaters each country gets to send to the Olympics.
The surprise contender this season has been Nathan Chen, who I had a feeling was going to win 4CC. Olympic champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, has yet to really get his programs to the level of perfection we saw last season during the GPF though there seems to be a consensus that if Hanyu can skate clean, he will be unbeatable. Hanyu may not be pulling off as many quads but he does have two very solid vehicles to carry him through. As always, Chen will likely push the TES to its limits with his 5 quads but he still has a long way to go in terms of skating skills, transitions, etc;
Javier Fernandez has also been doing well with lower-risk programs this season and should any of the quad machines falter, Fernandez has developed the calm and experience to skate well and claim the top spot. Shoma Uno is still a wildcard here – he’s pulled off some spectacular skates and has the potential to medal but most of his struggles are mental, as he demonstrated last year. This year, Shoma is more determined, perhaps because of that bronze slipping out of his hands. He is definitely one to mess up my predictions if he keeps his calm and pulls off two spectacular skates. I should also give a customary nod to Patrick Chan, though to be fair, Chan has been under-performing since the GPF. He’s been unable to produce consistent skates and it’s become clear that he’ unable to keep up with the young quad jumpers. His 3A has become inconsistent again, which also does not bode well.
These predictions will be shaky at best. I’m going with my gut instinct though I think I’m going to be very wrong.
Gold: Javier Fernandez
Silver: Yuzuru Hanyu
Bronze: Nathan Chen
So far this season, Evgenia Medvedeva has shown that she is the one to beat. Even with a random mistake on an opening jump, she’s shown that she can continue her program with a poise that is rare, even for many veteran skaters. That and her back-loaded programs are giving her scores that make her really hard to beat. Considering she’s adding extra jumps that violate the zayak rules for shits and giggles, I think she’s still going to be the one that everyone’s gunning for this year though if she skates perfectly, I have a hard time imagining anyone with a technical arsenal that would even come close.
A more exciting podium race might be for silver and at this point, there is a potential for a European ladies sweep or a Russian ladies sweep. Anna Pogorilaya has consistently skated above the rest this season even though she has a tough time beating her teammate and friend. If she continues the trend, she should be a solid pick for silver. Challenging Pogorilaya should be another Russian lady, Maria Sotskova, who missed the podium at Euros with an uncharacteristic nervous skate, and comeback girl, Carolina Kostner. Kostner definitely does not have the technical arsenal that any of the Russian girls have but frankly, that doesn’t matter – she’s just a joy to watch. Her jazzy SP is such a treat, I’ll be happy if she skates it well.
The non-European continents will have difficulty getting a hold on the podium with Satoko Miyahara sidelined by injury. Mai Mihara produced a refreshing skate at 4CC to take the title and although she has great skating skills like most of the Japanese ladies, she lacks the star power and reputation to get the PCS she needs to get close to the top. At most, she may be able to beat Carolina Kostner on TES alone but I don’t know if that’s enough for a medal here. Another lady of note, Katelyn Osmond, did well at the beginning of the season but her inconsistent LP cost her a position on the podium. Gabrielle Daleman, who ranked below her at Nationals, did surprisingly well at 4CC but considering the competition, I have a hard time seeing either of them on the podium. Daleman has been gaining consistency and she’s started to rein in her powerful jumps. I’d be curious to see what happens between this rivalry for next season. One last mention – readers of this blog should know by now my opinion on Ashley Wagner‘s silver from Worlds last year. Nonetheless, she’s had a tough season and I think she’ll have a tough time against all of the ladies I’ve mentioned above.
Gold: Evgenia Medvedeva
Silver: Anna Pogorilaya
Bronze: Carolina Kostner
Defending World Champions, Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, have had a season of up and downs, mostly struggling with putting out consistent programs. I was so sure of their dominance this season after their commanding win at Worlds last year but the Skate Gods decided to prove me wrong. It also looks as if the judges are placing them below other teams any chance they get. One interesting tidbit that bodes well for teammates Lubov Iliushchkina & Dylan Moscovitch is that the difference in their PCS in the LP at 4CC was only 0.11. This is especially interesting considering that World and Olympic Champions tend to get a bit of a buff in their PCS after their win, even with skaters whose styles are not my cup of tea (e.g. Lysacek, Medvedeva, Volosozhar & Trankov) but that small increase never seems to materialize for D&R.
The teams that will likely challenge Duhamel & Radford for their title will be Wenjing Sui & Cong Han, who produced two spectacular performances at Four Continents after missing half the season. Their programs this year are absolutely fantastic – intricate, difficult, and heartfelt. I really wish I could see their either of their programs in person. Also challenging for gold – Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov. This team has been gaining momentum since the GPF, even though they came second at Russian Nationals to Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov, who didn’t even podium at Euros. This will likely be a tight race for the podium.
Also worth mentioning, Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot were spotted practicing a throw triple axel in practice this week. Like last year, this team could prove to be a dark horse, as could Xiaoyu Yu & Hao Zhang. The Chinese team gave a shaky LP at 4CC but considering that it’s their first season together, what they’ve achieved is already quite impressive. Another special mention goes to Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres, scrappy fighters who never gave up. I was so proud of their bronze medal performance at Euros. I think the field is too stacked for them to medal here but I look forward to seeing their progress.
Gold: Wenjing Sui & Cong Han
Silver: Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov
Bronze: Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot
Note: With news of Eric Radford’s hip injury, I’ve downgraded my predictions for Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford from bronze to 4th or 5th. I may regret this since they have a tendency to prove me wrong. In any case, hoping for a speedy recovery for Eric.
This season, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir have demonstrated time and time again that they’re back and better than ever. As always, the pressure is on for these two because if they make a mistake, Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron will take the gold away from them. Both teams have made silly mistakes in various competitions throughout the season and the battle for gold will definitely be a nail-biter.
The battle for bronze will also be exciting as it will likely be a three-way race between Maia & Alex Shibutani, Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, and for some strange reason, Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev. This is the time for the latter two teams to pull out all the stops if they want to be podium contenders for next season. Personally, I’m constantly confused at Bobrova & Soloviev’s scores considering their posture, general sloppy edgework, and unmemorable (or overly memorable) programs. Cappellini & Lanotte have improved since last season and their programs this season suit them very well but I’m not sure if that’s enough to beat Maia & Alex. The Shibsibs have always had some solid foundations – great posture and lines, excellent twizzles, good unison and they’ve improved their speed, edges and power since their breakthrough season last year. For now, I think the Shibsibs can hold onto a podium spot if they skate well but they’ve got to work hard if they want to maintain it next season.
Gold: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Silver: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron
Bronze: Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani
What are your predictions for the podium for Worlds this year? How many spots do you think each country will get for each event? Let me know in the comments!
~The Rinkside Cafe