Another young skater making her Grand Prix debut is Christina Gao. She trains under Brian Orser and has a style very similar to Yuna Kim with her long lines and graceful execution. She struggled last season with a growth spurt where she shot up several inches and had to readjust her technique. She also has the triple+triple combinations and finished 4th at the Junior Worlds last season. If she has better control of her new height she can really make a run at the podium.
Mirai Nagasu showed last week at Skate Canada that her nerves are still plaguing her as she botched another spin in her free skate and had her lowest finish on the Grand Prix since 2009. She is capable of great things when there is no pressure on her and with the Final out of the question, hopefully she can settle into her programs and really deliver. She's also competing in back to back events so she'll have to shake off the nerves quickly and make some fast adjustments if she wants to claim her second Grand Prix medal of her career.
Kanako Murakami, the 2010 World Junior Champion is making her season debut here. She took home two medals on the Grand Prix last season and took home the bronze medal from the Grand Prix Final. She also has triple+triple combinations and an infectious personality when she skates. She fizzled out a bit at the end of the season and finished 8th at Worlds. The Japanese field is so deep and she'll need good results on the Grand Prix if she wants to return to Worlds this season.
Carolina Kostner is the veteran in the field and is back for her second event of the season. I didn't love her last season, but her programs this season fit her perfectly and are very entertaining. She had one of her best free skates at Skate America and put a triple+triple into her program. If she can repeat those performances she could hold off all the youngsters at this event.
My podium predictions:
Gold: Adelina Sotnikova
Silver: Carolina Kostner
Bronze: Kanako Murakami
Bios of the competitors:
Bingwa Geng, CHN: She finished 18th at Worlds and 13th at Four Continents. She placed 5th at Cup of China last season. Her personal best is 142.48. She is 17 years old.
Kexin Zhang, CHN: She won bronze at JGP Japan and finished 11th at JGP Germany last season. Her personal best is 134.08. She is 16 years old.
Qiuying Zhu, CHN: She finished 14th at Four Continents. Her personal best is 102.38. She is 17 years old.
Carolina Kostner, ITA: She is the reigning World bronze medalist and European silver medalist. She won silver at Skate America. She qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season and won silver. She is the 2008 World silver medalist and 2005 World bronze medalist; 2010, 2008 and 2007 European Champion; 2009 European silver medalist; 2006 European bronze medalist; and 2003 World Junior bronze medalist. Her personal best is 184.68. She is 24 years old.
Valentina Marchei, ITA: She finished 10th at Europeans. She placed 9th at Skate America. Her personal best is 153.71. She is 25 years old.
Kanako Murakami, JPN: She finished 8th at Worlds. She won bronze at NHK Trophy and gold at Skate America to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she won bronze. Her personal best is 178.59. She is 16 years old.
Ksenia Makarova, RUS: She finished 7th at Worlds and 4th at Europeans. She placed 5th at Skate America. Her personal best is 171.91. She is 18 years old.
Adelina Sotnikova, RUS: She is the reigning World Junior Champion. She won gold at JGP Austria and JGP Great Britain last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where she won gold. Her personal best is 178.97. She is 15 years old.
Christina Gao, USA: She finished 4th at Junior Worlds. She won silver at JGP Austria and Germany last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where she finished 6th. Her personal best is 167.14. She is 17 years old.
Mirai Nagasu, USA: She is the reigning Four Continents bronze medalist. She finished 5th at Skate Canada. She is the 2007 World Junior silver medalist and 2008 World Junior bronze medalist. Her personal best is 190.15. She is 18 years old.