Sunday, October 19, 2014

SKATE AMERICA 2014: Ladies Preview

We are about to kick off the 2014-2015 figure skating season and I couldn't be more excited! I'm still feeling a little bit of the post-Olympic hangover, of course, but I love the fresh feeling of starting a new Olympic cycle. These skaters have a blank canvas ahead of them and the youngsters will start emerging as the favorites. Many of our favorites are returning and a handful of the great juniors have moved up, so here we go! Skate America kick off on Friday October 24th from Chicago, IL.

Podium Predictions:
Gold: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS)
Silver: Gracie Gold (USA)
Bronze: Elena Radionova (RUS)

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) was a phenom on the senior ISU circuit a few years ago, but the growing pains hit her hard last season. Missing out on the Sochi team was certainly devastating for her, but she appears locked and loaded to make a comeback. She swept the senior B events earlier this season, winning Nebelhorn, Finlandia, and Coup de Nice. This could be her year to go for a world title.

Gracie Gold (USA) has everything needed to be a perennial world medalist, and certainly the drive, but we question whether she can put everything together in the same competition. Her Phantom of the Opera program choice is a red flag for me, because I question if she has the musicality to really sell that grandiose music. If she tells us one time that she "watched the movie" for inspiration, I'm going to vomit. She generally peaks later in the season, so while I think she will have a strong competition, I think she will make one more mistake than Liza and take the silver. She finished a strong 4th at the Sochi games and is poised to remain at the top of the field for the next Olympic cycle.

Elena Radionova (RUS) was the surprise of the senior ISU circuit, but was not eligible for the Olympics. She's been known for her technical work, not her artistry, and I think that will hurt her against Gold and Tuktamysheva. Don't be surprised if you see a drop off from last season, as we did with Liza last year, but she will still be competitive.

The Rest of the Field
Brooklee Han (AUS)-14th at 2014 Four Continents, 20th at 2014 Olympics, 19th at 2014 Worlds, 6th at 2014 US Classic, 4th at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy
Mae Beranice Meite (FRA)-5th at 2014 Europeans, 10th at 2014 Olympics, 15th at 2014 Worlds
Elene Gedevanishvili (GEO)-10th at 2014 Europeans, 19th at 2014 Olympics
Haruka Imai-4th at 2014 Four Continents
So Youn Park (KOR)-9th at 2014 Four Continents, 21st at 2014 Olympics, 9th at 2014 Worlds, 3rd at 2014 Asian Open
Natalia Popova (UKR)-23rd at 2014 Europeans, 28th at 2014 Olympics, 21st at 2014 Worlds, 4th at 2014 Coup de Nice
Samantha Cesario (USA)- 8th at 2014 Four Continents, 2nd at 2014 Finlandia Trophy
Mirai Nagasu (USA)-4th at 2010 Olympics, 10th at 2014 Four Continents, 5th at 2014 US Classic

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