Jeremy Abbott also struggled last season, never finding the right boot and feeling comfortable in his skating. Despite a gorgeous free skate, he never lived up to his potential and skated it cleanly. He also took the quad out of his program last season. He is a very lyrical skater and has beautiful expressive programs when he is on. He also missed Worlds last season by tenths of a point and will be looking to show that he is one of the top U.S. men this season. He's also going for a new feel this season with his short program, choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance winner Benji Schwimmer.
Artur Gachinski is coming into this event as the reigning World bronze medalist. He came into the event with no one expecting him to medal and pulled off the upset in front of his home crowd. With the title comes pressure and expectations, especially as he has now pegged himself as Russia's best hope for a medal in Sochi in the men's event. Last season was his first senior season, so he still has a lot of growing to do and this is a tough field to fend off.
Yuzuru Hanyu also made his senior debut last season and had a career high performance to win the silver medal at Four Continents. He finished 4th at Japanese nationals and missed a spot on the World team and he has set his sights on climbing the ranks. He beat Gachinski at Junior Worlds in 2010 and this should be quite a matchup for these young skaters.
Richard Dornbush is in his first senior season. He had a brilliant performance at U.S. nationals to earn a spot on the Worlds team and has the highest finish of the U.S. men at Worlds. He just missed the podium at Skate America, his Grand Prix debut. He landed a quad for the first time in competition at that event but his triple axel seems to be eluding him recently. If he can nail the jumps, he has all the skating and presentation skills to make it to the medal stand but he'll need the jumps in this field.
My podium predictions:
Gold: Nobunari Oda
Silver: Jeremy Abbott
Bronze: Yuzuru Hanyu
Bios of the competitors:
Kevin Reynolds, CAN: He finished 20th at Worlds and 11th at Four Continents. He placed 4th at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bombard last season. He is the 2010 Four Continents bronze medalist. His personal best is 218.65. He is 21 years old.
Jinlin Guan, CHN: He finished 6th at Four Continents. He placed 8th at Cup of China last season. He is the 2008 World Juniors bronze medalist. His personal best is 201.98. He is 22 years old.
Nan Song, CHN: He finished 22nd at Worlds and 9th at Four Continents. He placed 10th at Skate America and 6th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season. He is the 2010 World Junior silver medalist. His personal best is 209.68. He is 21 years old.
Jialing Wu, CHN: He finished 8th at Four Continents. He placed 7th at NHK Trophy and 10th at Cup of China last season. His personal best is 203.60. He is 26 years old.
Yuzuru Hanyu, JPN: He is the reigning Four Continents Silver Medalist. He placed 4th at NHK Trophy and 7th at Cup of Russia last season. He is the 2010 World Junior Champion. His personal best is 228.01. He is 16 years old.
Nobunari Oda, JPN: He finished 6th at Worlds. He won silver at Skate America and Skate Canada last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won silver. He is the 2006 Four Continents Champion and 2005 Junior World Champion. His personal best is 244.56. He is 24 years old.
Artur Gachinski, RUS: He is the reigning World bronze medalist and finished 5th at Europeans. He placed 7th at Skate Canada and 6th at Cup of Russia last season. He is the 2010 World Junior bronze medalist. His personal best is 241.86. He is 18 years old.
Jeremy Abbott, USA: He is the reigning Four Continents bronze medalist. He won silver at NHK Trophy and bronze at Cup of Russia last season. He is the 2007 Four Continents bronze medalist. His personal best is 237.72. He is 26 years old.
Richard Dornbush, USA: He finished 9th at Worlds. He finished 4th at Skate America. He qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final last season and won gold. His personal best is 222.42. He is 20 years old.