Thursday, October 24, 2013

2013 Skate Canada: Ladies Preview

Julia Liptnitskaia (RUS) is the one to beat here. She doesn't necessarily have the best skills or artistry of the field, but she is the best competitor and at these early events, that generally wins the day. She has her sights set on Sochi and as long as she can stay healthy, she is all but guaranteed to make the Olympic team. She has fared the best overall of the "Russian babies" as she transitioned from the junior to the senior ranks and I appreciate her skating more than that of Sotnikova, Tuktamisheva, or Radionova. She qualified for the Final last year and likely would have done quite well if not for that concussion. My only concern for her is that Schindler's List is beyond her current range as a performer. We shall see.

Akiko Suzuki (JPN) is a longtime favorite of nearly the entire skating world, but the biggest question mark with her is a competitive edge. I'm afraid that her window of opportunity has passed her by and and that she reached her peak in 2012 with that World bronze. She recently finished behind Lipnitskaia at the Finlandia Trophy. I question her choice of Phantom of the Opera for her free skate because I think she can do better than that warhorse. She is so classical and refined that I'd prefer she choose something more nuanced.

Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) won this event last year and she has the potential to do it again. However, she won primarily because she was simply cleaner that the other women. I personally don't believe that she has the maturity or performance quality to beat a clean Suzuki, Lipnitskaia, or even Gao. I truly believe this event will be decided by who makes the fewest mental errors.

Gracie Gold (USA) is the "no pun intended" Golden Girl in US Figure Skating. USFS wants her to be the answer that we've all been looking for, the next Michelle Kwan who can dominate national and international events. She is almost guaranteed a spot on the Sochi team, but she needs to prove that she has the mental game to compete and that's where she's been lacking recently. Luckily for her, she is a late bloomer across the course of a season. She bombed at this event last year, but went on to win silver at Cup of Russia, silver at US Nationals, and placed a respectable 6th at Worlds. If the wheels fall off here, we don't need to lose our minds yet, but it will be cause for concern for Team Gold if Gao or Hicks beat her here.

Christina Gao (USA) is a personal favorite of mine and I am really pulling for her to make the Sochi team. She has a much more international look than many of the US ladies and much more classical elegance than either Wagner or Gold. We know that she is an extremely hard work and my biggest fear for her, opposite of Gold, is that she will peak too early. She has finished 5th at US Nationals for the past four years, so she's going to have to show USFS that she is the real deal on the Grand Prix before their judges will PCS her high enough at Nationals to make the podium.

My Podium Predictions:
Gold: Julia Liptnitskaia (RUS)
Silver: Akiko Suzuki (JPN)
Bronze: Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)

The Rest of the Field:
Amelie Lacoste (CAN)
Veronik Mallet (CAN)
Natalia Popova (UKR)
Christina Gao (USA)
Gracie Gold (USA)
Courtney Hicks (USA)

No comments:

Post a Comment