Road to Pyeongchang: Pre-Season Olympic Predictions

I did this during the last Olympic cycle on the road to Sochi 2014 and I thought I’d do the same for this upcoming Olympic games. Most of my predictions were laughably wrong but it was still a fun exercise. For these upcoming Games, the running theme seems to the ascendance of TES over PCS, which makes everything super interesting. At the very least, it’s a better theme than how many gold medals can Russia get away with on home ice.

So, barring injury or any major freak event, here are my predictions for Olympic Champion next season…

Men

Uno Shoma

With the game of how high can you get your TES, my gut feeling is that Yuzuru may face an uphill battle to defend his title with some of the younger contenders pulling out more quads than triples in a program. At the moment, I can very well picture Shoma Uno as the winner of the Games. Every World Championship in his senior career has given him good reason to push himself to do better. In his first year, the bronze medal was within reach, only to skate a disastrous LP. This season, had he not two-footed his 3Lz, he could’ve been world champion. If the past season has taught me anything, it’s that Uno is fueled by his failures and mistakes. He has, in general, better skating skills than Nathan Chen and if he can skate clean while Yuzu falters, even slightly, Olympic gold could easily be his.

Ladies

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It was really funny when I went to Worlds in Boston, watching the home crowd get really excited over Gracie Gold’s lead over Evgenia Medvedeva. Uncharacteristically, the latter had faltered slightly in the SP and home ice advantage played to Gracie’s favour. The situation was funny to me because when the LP came around, some lady was going around the rink asking spectators who they thought would win. I’m pretty sure every person they spoke to was American  because they unfalteringly answered, “Gracie Gold.” Seriously. Have you been paying attention all season? Have you seen all the points you get when you backload LPs? Had the competition been in Canada and Kaetlyn Osmond or Gabby Daleman was in the lead, I still would’ve predicted a win for Evgenia. (Was that question some sort of patriotic test or something?)

So far, none of the field has backloaded their programs the way she has (earning her a ton of points) and the only competition I see for her is 1) herself – or in other words puberty and 2) Alina Zagitova, who got higher TES at Russian Nationals but has pretty terrible posture. (Though admittedly, puberty is also Zagitova’s enemy.) Medvedeva also has a strange advantage in that in the past two seasons, she’s done well to cater to a Japanese audience with her friendship with Yuzuru, her love of Yuri on Ice and anime, and her Sailor Moon program. Let’s face it: Japan at the moment is single-handedly funding this sport (I mean, have you seen the roster for NHK!?!?!? Supposedly, tickets sell out in minutes, even if all 4 world champions aren’t on the roster.) Nonetheless, even with her… interesting programs, Medvedeva also has some leeway in her PCS as World Champion and a Japanese fan favourite.

Happy Hunger Games! We have a Career who likely has a ton of sponsors.

Pairs

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Any readers of my blog would know that I have my gripes on Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford‘s skating style. It’s not my cup of tea. I’ve tried. I’ve seen them numerous times live and I was also really happy that Eric was super nice to my mom that time she asked for a picture but everyone has their personal preferences when it comes to art. In any case, whatever their programs, I can’t deny that this team has pushed the discipline to a new level and I’m thankful for that.

I would’ve loved to put Sui & Han as my Olympic Champion pick but the current World Champions are still coming off a season post-surgery and their win may have been fueled by the adrenaline of being back in competition and the need to prove themselves worthy of Olympic gold. That type of fire is well-suited to their short season but they need to play the long game starting this fall. I know they have the mental fortitude after that difficult season of surgery and recovery but I will have to admit that Duhamel & Radford have a good game plan of using familiar pieces of music and revamping old programs. The familiarity should do well for them as they won’t have to break in their programs as much as the rest of the field.

Ice Dance

papadakis cizeron 15 fd

The past season has been a tough call between the top two dance teams but for these predictions, I will slot Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron as the future Olympic Champions. With the announcement that Virtue & Moir are skating to something as decidedly lowbrow as Moulin Rouge for their FD, I can’t help but feel that the vehicle is already sinking before making its maiden voyage, especially if Papadakis & Cizeron go with a music choice with a more classical genre. I think at some point, The Skating Lesson made a point about how lighthearted movies are not as likely to win an Oscar and how that played to Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte’s disadvantage in the battle for bronze in Sochi. I think I agree with them, even in this situation. Moulin Rouge isn’t cheerful but it is campy.

Admittedly, Latin rhythms for the SD is one of Tessa & Scott’s specialties, though generally, the rule of thumb is that you can lose the gold with the short but not win on it. Especially if the competition is close. Again, I have been proven wrong in the past about Virtue & Moir’s choice of music (case and point: Carmen) but at the moment, I am pessimistic.

What are your pre-season predictions for the Olympic gold? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

~The Rinkside Cafe

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