Predictions: Worlds 2019

yuzuru hanyu 2018 helsinki

It’s time for World Championships and also time for predictions! There’s no time to waste, let’s go!

Men

With Yuzuru Hanyu dealing with injury, I think Nathan Chen has enough consistency and mileage through the season to pull an upset win on home ice. Of course, I doubted Hanyu at the Olympics (deepest apologies, Yuzu), only to be proven wrong. It will be a hard call. Both competitors have such great programs and talents, it’s one of those times where it’s a pity that only one of them can win. If Yuzuru does skate cleanly, however, I don’t think he can be beat.

For bronze, two names are floating in my head: Shoma Uno, who is also plagued with an injury, and Junhwan Cha, who has been having a breakthrough season with more consistent performances and less UR calls. If Uno skates clean, he will be a strong contender for the top of the podium but with his patchy performances throughout the season, I see the bronze as his to lose.

Predictions:
Gold: Nathan Chen
Silver: Yuzuru Hanyu
Bronze: Shoma Uno

Ladies

The ladies field is insane this season with Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova‘s infallibility cracking steadily as the season goes by. The longevity of the students at Camp Eteri has long been questioned since Sochi, and Zagitova may soon prove to be another who joins the list of talented Russian ladies whose light burns bright but burns out quickly. I hope that is not the case and the results at Worlds may prove us wrong.

Either way, Zagitova’s main competitor for gold will be fresh phenom, Rika Kihira, who has been having an unbelievable season, laying down 3As like nobody’s business. Kihira mentioned having an injury at 4CC that forced her to do a single 3A in the LP rather than two but there is no doubt that Rika is a very well-rounded skater with home ice advantage. As it stands, her destiny, and her chances for gold are in her hands.

Other podium candidates include, as mentioned above, Evgenia Medvedeva, who has been slowly building up her consistency through the season. I’m looking at this year as a transition year for her so I’m guessing her podium chances are not as high as they would’ve been in the last two seasons but I do wish her all the best. Kaori Sakamoto has been steadily improving, with beautiful buttery skating, not to mention she beat Kihira at Nationals. Home ice advantage is also hers to wield.

Other dark horses: Satoko Miyahara, who is weirdly enough not a top contender due to the tough field of ladies in Japan. With Kihira considered the top Japanese lady, Miyahara’s PCS are unfortunately underscored again, which is a travesty. Another tiny dark horse comes in the form of Elizabet Tursynbaeva, who is thriving under Camp Eteri, winning the first ladies medal for Kazakhstan at 4CC. Her 4S attempt was unsuccessful but the idea of another attempt at Worlds is no doubt exciting, and puts her in the mix for a potential medal.

Predictions:
Gold: Rika Kihira
Silver: Alina Zagitova
Bronze: Kaori Sakamoto (my gut is telling me I may have silver and bronze flipped for some reason)

Pairs

Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres have been shining bright this season, delivering strong performances to great choreography. If they don’t get into their heads and deliver two strong skates (they’ve historically have had a tendency to flub a bit during crucial competitions), I have no doubt that they can win the World title they very much deserve. I think I’ve said on Twitter numerous times that I really enjoy the tenacity and perseverance of this team and I think all of that has come to fruition in the past few seasons.

Other podium contenders include Wenjing Sui & Cong Han, with Sui recovering from injury. Their LP at 4CC is literally my favourite piece of choreography this season and the skate at 4CC wasn’t even perfect. (And apparently Sui doesn’t even like the music, which made for a hilarious interview answer from Han.) Whether or not they medal, I sincerely hope they skate this program well at Worlds because it is a sight to behold.

Speaking of good choreography, Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov have finally gotten themselves a set of solid programs now that they’ve ditched the awkward “I Feel Good” program and reverted back to the Rachmaninoff SP from last season. They haven’t skated with the same confidence this season but hopefully with the right vehicles, they’ll be back on track.

Some potential dark horses: two young teams of Cheng Peng & Yang Jin, who pulled an upset silver medal at the GPF, and Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitrii Kozlovskii, a very lovely young team skating to the most Russian programs that have ever Russian’ed. Also in the mix Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert, whose technique and style have transformed to the point where I refer to them as Stolbova & Klimov 2.0.

Predictions:
Gold: Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres
Silver: Wenjing Sui & Cong Han
Bronze: Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov

Ice Dance

The most stable prediction for gold at Worlds at the moment is in ice dance and for now, Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron have racked up the season’s best scores despite missing a GP event, as well as the GPF. This might be the last season their victory is assured, however, as we’ve seen tremendous progress and initiative from some of their training mates, namely Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, and Madison Chock & Evan Bates, who after looking at 4CC and overall season results, should be in a tough battle for silver.

For these podium spots, I would say that Hubbell & Donohue have a slight edge if they can keep it together and keep the mistakes to a minimum. However, there is a tendency for that team to fall apart ever so slightly at important competitions, which has historically, cost them very dearly. While I’m on the topic, I have to say that I’ve been tremendously impressed with the overall improvement from Chock & Bates. The partnership seems more solid than ever before. Madison is doing better in generating speed and power in step sequences, reducing that “pulling and pushing” look that has been characteristic of them for a while. Dubreuil & Lauzon have also done well to revamp their movements – especially the lifts – to reinvent their style. From 4CC alone, they’ve shot up to one of my favourite teams of the season.

Some dark horses to consider: the two Canadian teams, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje and Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, who have FDs with interesting backstories. Even if they don’t win any medals, this result could affect their placements within Canada, and consequently at international competitions for the next season so there will be a tough battle ahead for these teams. Also in the mix:┬áthe Russian teams of Viktoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov and Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin, who have also improved in leaps and strides this season. The darkest dark horse in ice dance though, might be Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri, who pulled off a surprise bronze at the GPF. I recall Asher Hill doing the commentary for CBC saying that we didn’t give this team enough credit by discounting them in the mix for medals at the GPF. I remember raising my eyebrow but then I was humbled by the results.

Predictions:
Gold: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron
Silver: Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue
Bronze: Madison Chock & Evan Bates

Now that I’ve committed my predictions to writing, I can’t help but feel doubtful about them. What are your predictions for Worlds 2019? Let me know in the comments!

~Rinkside Cafe

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