Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 World Figure Skating Championships: Ladies Preview

This is an interesting year for the Ladies because while the field is depleted of the World and Olympic Champions and the hot young Russian phenoms, but it should still be a great competition. You could call this year's Worlds a battle of the underdogs and the ladies who "deserve" to win. The ladies skate their Short Program on Thursday March 29th at 7:30 am EST and their Free Skate on Saturday March 31st at 1:30 pm EST.

Podium Predictions
1) Carolina Kostner (ITA)
2) Mao Asada (JPN)
3) Ashley Wagner (USA)

Top Contenders

Carolina Kostner (ITA) has never been my favorite in the past, you know that if you've followed my posts, but she's finally grown on me. I've decided that her style is an acquired taste, like highbrow theatre or postmodern dance. The fact that has been winning all season with a watered down jump arsenal, but I say more power to her if she has figured out how to add up the points in other ways. I hate to suggest that people should be given more favor because of past performance and longevity, but if anybody is deserving of this World title, Kostner is.

Mao Asada (JPN) is another skater that you could call completely deserving of a title. She's bounced back remarkable after a series of battles in an out of skating. She reworked her technique and the poor thing had to deal with the death of her mother this season. She was great at Four Continents and would have won had she not watered down jumps in the Free Skate. The good news is she still has room to improve and looks poised to peak at Worlds.

Can you believe we're mentioning Ashley Wagner (USA) as a top World contender in the same breath as Kostner and Asada? Yet another person who is deserving of a medal for all she has gone through in getting away from the "almost girl" label. US Champ...check. Four Continents Champ...check. World Medalist...check? I think so! She isn't held in the same high esteem as Kostner and Asada with International judges, so if either is perfect, I think they will win. However, Wagner has been consistent and keeps adding more technical difficulty so if she is perfect and the others aren't, she may leave Nice with her third Gold in a row.

Akiko Suzuki (JPN) has had a solid career, but has only competed in one prior Worlds, placing 11th in 2010. She looked fantastic in her Grand Prix events and at The Final. We haven't seen her since the Final, but she did place second at Nationals against some very stiff competition. The judges love her and reward her with high PCS marks, which could be the difference maker against some of the younger, more technically advanced skaters.

Alissa Czisny (USA) is another skater who has been through so much on her way here...are we sensing a theme? It seems like last year was her window of opportunity after winning the GPF and US Nationals, but this girl has revived her career countless times and she can do it again. She melted down at her recent competition, The Challenge Cup, but I'm really hoping she lives out the the old adage "bad dress rehearsal, great performance."

Alena Leonova (RUS) has been all over the place this season. She gradually improved from fourth, to third, to second over her Grand Prix series, and then took third at the Final. But then she dropped to seventh at Europeans, the last event before Worlds. I could see her placing anywhere inside the top ten depending on which Alena shows up in Nice.

In The Hunt

Kanako Murakami (JPN) has hit a bit of a sophomore slump after having an impressive senior debut last year, but the good thing is she's gradually improved all year. Sixth at her 1st GP, 4th at her 2nd JP, and 4th at Four Continents. The most important thing is she held off all the competition at home and finished 3rd at Nationals to make the World team. Her programs are beautiful, much more mature than last year, and she's growing into them more and more each season.

Polina Korobeynikova (RUS) competed on the Grand Prix as a Junior placing fourth, second, and finally third at the Junior Grand Prix Final. However, she was the surprise of the European Championships placing fourth and beating all of her Russian teammates. She likely won't feel the pressure of the top ladies here and she could be a dark horse to sneak into the final group.

Ksenia Makarova (RUS) has been up, down, and all over since she hit the Senior level, but lately it's been more down. She didn't medal in either Grand Prix and took fourth at her Nationals. She even had to compete in a qualifying event before the Russian federation would add her to the team for Worlds. I love both of her programs this season because they are so different from what all the other ladies are doing these days. However, she seems to have lost her competitive edge and if she doesn't get it back before all of the Russian babies can compete at Worlds next year, this may be her last ISU Championship.

Elene Gedevanishvili (GEO) had truly resurrected her career this season. Brian Orser has done wonders for this girl that was once so fragile and turned her into a warrior. She got better throughout the Grand Prix season and she surprised everyone to win Bronze at Europeans. If she comes out guns blazing, she is a threat to make the final group.

Valentina Marchei (ITA) was a skater I counted out until she beat Alissa Czisny a few weeks ago at the Challenge Cup. She's struggled all season, but winning Silver there may have just been the confidence booster she needed to up her game.

Viktoria Helgesson (SWE) was the surprise Bronze medalist and she was solidly in the second tier of skaters all season. Her fifth place finish at Europeans was solid and a top-ten finish at Worlds would be a great accomplishment for her.

Amelie Lacoste (CAN) won Canadian Nationals, finally beating Cynthia Phaneuf, but Skate Canada still didn't trust her enough to send her in the one Canadian spot to Worlds. They made her compete with Phaneuf with a spot at Four Continents and she was the higher scorer so here she is. Perhaps going it alone and being out of Phaneuf's shadow will help her to live up her potential.

The Rest Of The Field

Chantelle Kerry (AUS)
Kerstin Frank (AUT)
Isabelle Pieman (BEL)
Daniela Stoeva (BUL)

Kexin Zhang (CHN)
Melinda Wang (TPE)
Mirna Libric (CRO)
Eliska Brezinova (CZE)
Karina Johnson (DEN)
Elena Glebova (EST)
Alisa Mikonsaari (FIN)
Juulia Turkkila (FIN)
Yretha Silete (FRA)
Sarah Hecken (GER)
Jenna McCorkell (GBR)
Georgia Glastris (GRE)
Viktoria Pavuk (HUN)
Ami Parekh (IND)
Clara Peters (IRL)
Alina Fjodorova (LAT)
Inga Januleviciute (LTU)
Fleur Maxwell (LUX)
Reyna Hamui (MEX)
Anine Rabe (NOR)
Zhaire Costiniano (PHI)
Victoria Muniz (PUR)
Min-Jeong Kwak (KOR)
Chae-Yeon Suhr (KOR)
Sabina Mariuta (ROU)
Marina Seeh (SBR)
Alexandra Kunova (SVK)
Dasa Grm (SLO)
Lejeanna Marais (RSA)
Sonia Lafuente (ESP)
Romy Buhler (SUI)
Mimi Tanasorn Chindasook (THA)
Sila Saygi (TUR)
Natalia Popova (UKR)

No comments:

Post a Comment