Friday, December 17, 2010

Countdown to US Figure Skating Championships: 36 Days!

Now that the ISU Grand Prix series is over, I can devote my attention to my favorite competition of the year, the US Nationals! Saturday January 22-Sunday January 30, 2011 baby! I have always wanted to see Nationals live and maybe some year I will (Washington, DC or Baltimore please) but for now, I will be live-blogging every minute! In preparation for the event, I will be doing a post each day where I discuss a major contender and how I expect them to factor into the competition.

Rachael Flatt (Broadmoor, SC)

  • 2005 US Novice Champion
  • 2008 World Junior Champion
  • 2010 US Senior National Champion
  • 2010 Olympian
  • 2010 Grand Prix Finalist

The US Nationals has always been a very strong competition for Rachael. Since rising to the senior ranks in the 2006-2007 season, she hasn't placed now lower than 5th and has twice been on the senior world team. She has always been known for her consistency, but in the 2009-2010 season, she began to fall out of favor with international judges. She has always scored higher on her technical elements than program components, but at the 2010 Olympics, Rachael began to see some downgrades on her triple jumps, which hurt her usually strong technical numbers. After graduating from high school in 2010, Rachael deferred from Stanford for a year to focus on skating. A nagging injury this season has left her unable to train to her fullest potential and while she picked up two silver medals on the ISU's Grand Prix this season, she was devastated with her sub-par performance at the Grand Prix Final last week which resulted in a 6th place finish. A disappointment like that would be enough for a lesser athlete to give up, but in Rachael's case, I suspect it will light a fire under her to push herself beyond her limits and deliver a spectacular performance at Nationals. The US has not had a repeat National champion since the reign of Michelle Kwan from 1998 to 2005 and now Rachael has the chance to do that and solidify herself as the top US senior lady. Her biggest competition will be Alissa Czisny, Mirai Nagasu, and Ashley Wagner, all of whom struggle with inconsistency and often meltdown in high pressure situations. Youngsters Christina Gao and Agnes Zawadski, who is one of Rachael's training partners, will also be nipping at her heels as she tries to repeat as National Champion. However the chips fall, drama is certain to ensue! 

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