Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2012 Four Continents Championships: Men's Preview

Podium Predictions:
1) Patrick Chan (CAN)
2) Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
3) Adam Rippon (USA)

At this point, betting against Patrick Chan (CAN) is like betting against the Yankees, it's just not a smart idea most of the time. Kudos to he and his coach for figuring out the system (IJS) and working it to their advantage. It make not be pretty or exciting all the time, but they know where to squeeze out those points. The subversive part of me likes skaters who buck the system, but it's just not a smart idea if you actually want to win. Chan winning has become the biggest constant in skating these days. My one criticism of him is that he reuses programs too often. If we're going to see him at all the big events as the headliner, I want two new programs each season. But back to this event, he should have it in the bag aside from a 4+ fall meltdown. His 3 Quads and PCS will get him the Gold, despite my love for Takahashi. He's also competing in his home arena, so it will feel like practice.

My love for Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) runs deep, but even I don't think he has it in him to beat Chan anymore. His dance and performance abilities are otherworldly, but his jumps are not what they used to be and he's showing his age. If he could get ever get that Quad flip, he'd be in the ballgame, but without it, he'll play second fiddle to Chan. He is first in my heart, but unfortunately he'll probably be second on the ice.

Nan Song (CHN) was the surprise of the Grand Prix for me this season, grabbing some medals and almost making the Final. He plans 3 quads across his programs and they're pretty spectacular. He's not an artist by any means, so that aspect of his skating suffers, but he tries at least! He'll be a great up and comer, and he reminds me a little of Javier Fernandez at this time last year. Both burst onto the scene because of their ability to  do Quads, but now Fernandez has found an artistic side as well.

Adam Rippon (USA) is finally looking like himself again with a recent 2nd place finish at the US Championships. However, he lost tot Jeremy Abbot by a large margin. Because he does not have the Quad, he'll have to maximize GOE marks on all of his other elements to have comparable scores to Song and company. He usually gets the edge in PCS marks because of his great quality of skating overall. Winning a medal here is a chance to make a mini splash pre-Worlds and set up for a good showing in Nice.

Of the rest of the American contingent, Ricky Dornbush and Ross Miner each has an outside shot at this podium if they can stay clean and like the top guys make mistakes. Ross won at bronze at NHK trophy by doing just that. Ricky was disastrous in the short at US Nationals and Ross made a few silly mistakes in the free so this is their chance to end the season on a high note after failing to make the World team.

The rest of Canada's team is a bit spotty as well. Kevin Reynolds is known for his ability to do Quads with ease, but the rest of his programs normally go to the wayside under competition pressure. Jeremy Ten is a wonderful skater, but he's missed over a season with serious injury so this will be our first time seeing him in forever, so nobody knows what to expect. 

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