Gold: Tatsuki Machida (JPN)
Silver: Jason Brown (USA)
Bronze: Nam Nguyen (CAN)
Tatsuki Machida (JPN) has been gradually improving in recent years, but last year he really stepped it up. He won Skate America and Rostelecom Cup. He finished an impressive 5th at the Olympics and won silver at worlds. He is a skater that starts off the season strong. He has all the goods and most importantly, is entertaining to watch. I look for him to defend his Skate America title.
Jason Brown (USA) is America's sweetheart and last year about this time was when he began his steady climb to Sochi. He is still working on the advanced jump content, but he has everything else, plus that X-factor that can't be quantified. I don't look for him to be perfect here, but I think he will lay down the ground work for a strong season. He will be well trained, having already won Nebelhorn, while others may not be quite tuned up in competitive shape yet.
Nam Nguyen (CAN) could be the next big thing. He was the junior world champ in 2014 and finished a respectable 12th on the senior level. With Patrick Chan's skating future uncertain, Nam will be Canada's best hope in the mens event moving forward. The past few years we have seen the young ladies make much stronger senior Grand Prix debuts, but I think Nam will be ready to go. Skate America tends to be a messy event, particularly in the mens event with the early season quad and triple axel attempts, so the most prepared will make the podium.
The Rest of the Field:
Jorik Hendrickx (BEL)-9th at 2014 Europeans, 16th at 2014 Olympics, 17th at 2014 Worlds
Chafik Besseghier (FRA)-12th at 2014 Europeans, 9th at 2014 Olympics, 3rd at 2014 Challenge Cup
Alexei Bychenko (ISR)-10th at 2014 Europeans, 21st at 2014 Olympics, 15th at 2014 Worlds, 7th at 2014 Nebelhorn, 5th at 2014 Finlandia
Denis Ten (KAZ)-4th at 2014 Four Continents, 3rd at 2014 Olympics
Michael Christian Martinez (PHI)-19th at 2014 Olympics, 1st at 2014 Triglav Trophy, 6th at 2014 Lombardia Trophy
Artur Gachinski (RUS)-8th at 2013 Skate America, 6th at 2013 Cup of Russia
Adian Pitkeev (RUS)-2nd at 2014 World Juniors, 3rd at 2014 Trophy Lombardia
Jeremy Abbott (USA)-12th at 2014 Olympics, 5th at 2014 Worlds
Douglas Razzano (USA)-2nd at 2014 International Challenge Cup, 4th at 2014 US International Challenge