Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 World Figure Skating Championships: Men's Preview

With the recent dominance of Patrick Chan, this event is seemingly the easiest to predict, but it wouldn't be the wonderful world of figure skating if things were predictable. The men skate their short Friday March 29th at 7:30 am and their free Saturday March 30th at 7:55 am EST.

Podium Predictions
1) Patrick Chan (CAN)
2) Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
3) Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)

The Top Contenders

Patrick Chan (CAN) has been dominant for the past two seasons and he seems poised to take a 2nd consecutive World title. It would take an epic meltdown for him to lose his title.

Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) is a sentimental favorite and a true artist, but I think his best years may be behind him. Even with his beautiful dance quality, he had no hope of beating Chan unless he can put multiple Quads into his programs. He does, however, have a fantastic shot at the podium if he's clean.

Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) has only an outside chance at the podium but for some reason I think he'll do it. He's streaky, but has beautiful jumps and a Quad when he's on. The Johnny Weir fan in me loves his artistry and wants him to do well. I think he's the Japanese hope of the future and has a great shot looking toward Sochi.

Jeremy Abbott (USA) has had a tumultuous career and this may just be his year to strike it big at Worlds. He has fantastic programs, a great Quad, and the new found confidence that he can beat Chan. If he adds the Quad to the short and the combo into the long, he could be in the running for Silver, but will need Chan to make mistakes if he wants Gold.

Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) is one of my favorites and he's the reigning World Silver medalist, but he's in a bit of a funk this year. He did win a Silver at NHK Trophy, but he didn't attend Four Continents so we haven't seen him in a while. If he brings his best stuff he could easily medal again, but he can't be timid as he's been all season.

In The Hunt

Artur Gachinski (RUS) is the reigning World Bronze medalist. He started out rough on the Grand Prix but he peaks late in the season as shown by his Silver medal at Europeans. It would've been Gold if Plushenko weren't there. He comes in as the best from Europe and that will carry some weight with the judges. I like this kid if he could just attempt to work at some artistry.

Javier Fernandez (ESP) was the surprise of the Grand Prix season and won Bronze at the final. Many expected him to win Europeans, but he only placed sixth. It seems when he hits the Quads, the triples fail him. If he could get it together and present the full package, he's a medal threat.

Adam Rippon (USA) is my favorite skater on the scene these days. I think he is about a year or two away from really peaking, but when he does, watch out World. Good news, that is right around the time of the Sochi Olympics. He is a gorgeous performer and once he gets that Quad Lutz (he's so close) he'll be dynamite. He finished fifth at his first senior Worlds in 2010 so if he could get back to that place, it would be a huge step in the right direction.

Florent Amodio (FRA) is fun to watch, but in my opinion, his brand of theatrics has no place in competition. His programs were not well received on the Grand Prix, but he did indeed pull a Bronze at Europeans so he's automatically in the medal picture.

Brian Joubert (FRA) is a great veteran and will be a sentimental favorite at home to take home another medal. He has been streaky his whole career and I think he's on the decline. Eighth at Europeans is not how you want to head into Worlds.

Michal Brezina (CZE) is all over the place but he usually peaks at Worlds. He does nothing for me personally, but with two Quads, he's immediately in the medal mix if he lands them. With two straight fourth places finishes, is he ready to medal at Worlds?

Tomas Verner (CZE) was a medal threat last season but he really fell off this year. He is a charming performer and I always enjoy watching him but he may not have the goods to compete at the top anymore.

Nan Song (CHN) emerged on the Grand Prix as a solid Quad jumper and picked up some medals to boot. He has little to no artistry, but he does try very hard. He had an unfortunate Four Continents, nearly passing out due to lack of oxygen, so let's hope he's better trained for this event and can shake off his last competition.

Kevin Reynolds (CAN) is a jumping machine with more Quads planned than anybody. If he can land them all fully rotated, he'll probably be in the top group but if not, well that's a different story and he's immediately out of the picture.

Kevin Van Der Perren (BEL) is in his final season on the way to a much deserved retirement. If he can hit, his technical content can get him huge points. I'd love to see him go all out and give us a great show. I'd be thrilled if he could place top-ten in his final Worlds.

The Rest Of The Field

Slavik Hayrapetyan (ARM)
Brendan Kerry (AUS)
Viktor Pfeifer (AUT)
Vitali Luchanok (BLR)
Damjan Ostojic (BIH)
Kevin Alves (BRA)
Manol Atanassov (BUL)
Jordan Ju (TPE)
Justus Strid (DEN)
Ari-Pekka Nurmenkari (FIN)
Peter Liebers (GER)
Luke Chilcott (GBR)
Harry Hau Yin Lee (HKG)
Marton Marko (HUN)
Alexei Bychenko (ISR)
Samuel Contesti (ITA)
Denis Ten (KAZ)
Saulius Ambrulevicius (LTU)
Kim Lucine (MON)
Christopher Caluza (PHI)

Maciej Cieplucha (POL)
Min-Seok Kim (KOR)
Zoltan Kelemen (ROU)

Sergei Voronov (RUS)
Taras Rajec (SVK)
Javier Raya (ESP)
Laurent Alvarez (SUI)
Ali Demirboga (TUR)
Dmitri Ignatenko (UKR)
Misha Ge (UZB)

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