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Saturday, March 24, 2012

World Championships: Ladies Preview

Ashley Wagner is on an impressive run to end her season and may be poised to peak at just the right time.  After winning only one medal on the Grand Prix, a bronze at Skate Canada.  Wagner continued to settle in with her new coach John Nicks and choreographer Philip Mills to polish her programs and put out a nearly clean performance at U.S. Nationals to claim her first title.  She went on to win Four Continents ahead of former World Champion Mao Asada and improved her personal best score by nearly 30 points.  Her free skate set to music from Black Swan is brilliantly choreographed and executed and is technically difficult with 7 triples planned in the program.  She has the 5th best short program, best free skate and best total score of the season.


Carolina Kostner has come into her own this season with gorgeous programs that are filled with nice transitions and attention to detail.  She is also adding technical content back into her program, including a triple+triple in her short program and triple flips in her free skate.  She had an impressive outing at Challenge Cup a few weeks ago where she came very close to the 200 point mark for her total score.  She won gold at the European Championships, Grand Prix Final and Cup of China and silver at Skate America and Trophee Eric Bompard.  She has the 2nd best short program, 4th best free skate and best total score of the season.


Akiko Suzuki has delightful programs this season including a light free skate to Die Fledermaus.  She bested countrymate Mao Asada at home to claim gold at NHK Trophy but settled for silver at Japanese Nationals and was left off the Four Continents team.  She also won silver at Skate Canada and the Grand Prix Final.  She has shown more consistency in her skating this season, but hasn't competed since December so she may have some rust to shake off when she hits the ice at Worlds.  She has the best short program, 6th best free skate and 4th best total score of the season.

Mao Asada has one of the best choreographed skates of the season with her free skate to Liebestraum.  She matches every note in the music and one of the best parts of the program is the gorgeous spiral right as the music is ending.  She included the triple axel in her free skate at Four Continents, though it was deemed under-rotated.  Although she's been having good results, she seems to be lacking a bit of the magic that elevated her to the top of the sport and is likely still struggling with the untimely death of her mother this past December.  She is the Four Continents Silver Medalist and won gold at Rostelecom Cup and silver at NHK Trophy.  She has the 3rd best short program, 2nd best free skate and 2nd best total score of the season.

Alissa Czisny started off her season with a bang, winning gold at Skate America.  She has a lovely Audrey Hepburn themed short program and has been working to increase the technical difficulty in her programs to match her elegant spins, spirals and transitions that rack up GOEs and PCS points.  Since Skate America, she has had solid if not spectacular results including a bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard and silver at U.S. Nationals.  She has yet to skate a clean free skate this season and has changed her program layout at almost every event.  At Challenge Cup a few weeks ago, she didn't land any clean triples in her free skate.  If she can put that outing behind her and go out and land the jumps she has a real shot at a medal but Alissa's biggest competition is often her self.  She has the 4th best short program, 3rd best free skate and 7th best total score of the season.

Alena Leonova has also had an up and down season, claiming bronze at NHK Trophy, silver at Rostelecom Cup and bronze at the Grand Prix Final.  Despite this success, she did not win Russian nationals and failed to make the podium at the European Championships.  She lacks the finesse of Kostner and Czisny and cannot compete with them artistically so she'll need to land all of her jumps to have a shot at the podium.  She put out the free skate of her life at Worlds last season and just missed the podium and is definitely capable of putting out a great skate.  She has the 6th best short program, 8th best free skate and 6th best total score of the season.

Also in the mix are Kanako Murakami who has the 7th best short program of the season, Polina Korobeynikova who has the 9th best free skate of the season, European bronze medalist Elene Gedevanishvili and Skate America bronze medalist Viktoria Helgesson.  

Notable skaters not competing at this event include European silver medalist Kiira Korpi, Four Continents bronze medalist Caroline Zhang, Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard gold medalist Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, Cup of China silver medalist Mirai Nagasu and Cup of China and Rostelecom Cup bronze medalist Adelina Sotnikova.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Carolina Kostner
Silver: Mao Asada
Bronze: Ashley Wagner

Bios of the competitors:
Chantelle Kerry, AUS: She finished 17th at Four Continents.  She placed 13th at JGP Australia and 24th at JGP Estonia.  Her personal best is 108.99.  She is 15 years old.

Kerstin Frank, AUT: She placed 12th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  Her personal best is 105.73.  She is 23 years old.

Isabelle Pieman, BEL (Direct Entry): She placed 19th at Europeans.  Her personal best is 122.13.  She is 28 years old.

Daniela Stoeva, BUL: She finished 19th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  Her personal best is 78.90.  She is 18 years old.

Amelie Lacoste (Direct Entry), CAN: She finished 16th at Worlds last season.  She placed 7th at Four Continents.  She placed 6th at Skate Canada and 8th at Rostelecom Cup.  Her personal best is 157.26.  She is 23 years old.

Kexin Zhang, CHN (Direct Entry): She finished 5th at Four Continents.  She placed 4th at Cup of China.  Her personal best is 162.59.  She is 16 years old.

Melinda Wang, TPE:  She placed 20th in the preliminary round at Worlds last season.  She placed 14th at Four Continents.  Her personal best is 100.23.  She is 21 years old.

Mirna Libric, CRO: She finished 23rd in the preliminary round at Europeans.  His personal best is 100.62.  She is 20 years old.

Eliska Brezinova, CZE: She finished 18th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  She placed 17th at JGP Austria.  Her personal best is 101.70.  She is 16 years old.

Karina Johnson, DEN: She finished 26th at Worlds last season.  She placed 24th at Europeans.  Her personal best is 121.63.  She is 20 years old.

Elena Glebova, EST: She finished 22nd at Worlds.  She placed 11th at Europeans.  Her personal best is 148.71.  She is 22 years old.

Alisa Mikonsaari, FIN (Direct Entry): Her personal best is 108.03.  She is 18 years old.

Juulia Turkkila, FIN (Direct Entry): She finished 20th at Worlds last season.  She placed 17th at Europeans and 19th at Junior Worlds.  She placed 13th at JGP Poland and JGP Estonia.  Her personal best is 136.68.  She is 17 years old.

Yretha Silete, FRA (Direct Entry): She finished 9th at Europeans.  She placed 8th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Her personal best is 145.50.  She is 17 years old.

Elene Gedevanishvilli, GEO (Direct Entry): She finished 10th at Worlds last season.  She is the reigning European Bronze Medalist.  She placed 7th at Skate America and 5th at NHK Trophy.  She is the 2010 European Bronze Medalist.  Her personal best is 165.93.  She is 22 years old.

Sarah Hecken, GER:  (Direct Entry): She finished 11th at Worlds last season.  She placed 8th at Skate Canada.  Her personal best is 155.83.  She is 18 years old.

Jenna McCorkell, GBR: She finished 24th at Worlds last season.  She placed 18th at Europeans. Her personal best is 150.90.  She is 25 years old.

Georgia Glastris, GRE: She finished 24th in the preliminary round at Worlds last season.  She placed 20th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  Her personal best is 97.32.  She is 19 years old.

Viktoria Pavuk, HUN: She placed 30th at Worlds last season.  Her personal best is 137.73.  She is 26 years old.

Ami Parekh, IND: Her personal best is 94.56.  She is 24 years old.

Clara Peters, IRL: She finished 21st in the preliminary round at Worlds  last season.  She placed 28th at Europeans.  Her personal best is 71.15.  She is 20 years old.

Carolina Kostner, ITA (Direct Entry): She is the reigning World Bronze Medalist and European Champion.   She won silver at Skate America, gold at Cup of China and silver at Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she won gold.  She is the 2008 World Silver Medalist; 2005 World Bronze Medalist; 2007, 2008 and 2010 European Champion; 2009 European Silver Medalist and 2011 European Silver Medalist; 2006 European Bronze Medalist; and 2003 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  Her personal best is 187.48.  She is 25 years old.

Valentina Marchei, ITA: She finished 8th at Europeans.  She placed 9th at Skate America and Cup of China.  Her personal best is 153.71.  She is 25 years old.


Mao Asada, JPN (Direct Entry): She placed 6th at Worlds last season. She is the reigning Four Continents Silver Medalist.  She won silver at NHK Trophy and gold at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.  She is the 2010 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2008 and 2010 World Champion, 2007 World Silver Medalist, 2008 and 2010 Four Continents Champion, 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalist, 2009 Four Continents Bronze Medalist, 2005 World Junior Champion and 2006 World Junior Silver Medalist.  Her personal best is 205.50.  She is 21 years old.

Kanako Murakami, JPN (Direct Entry): She placed 8th at Worlds last season.  She finished 4th at Four Continents.  She finished 6th at Cup of China and 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  She is the 2010 World Junior Champion.  Her personal best is 178.59.  She is 17 years old.

Akiko Suzuki, JPN (Direct Entry): She won silver at Skate Canada and gold at NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she won silver.  She is the 2010 Four Continents Silver Medalist.  Her personal best is 185.98.  She is 26 years old.


Alina Fjodorova, LAT: She finished 16th at Europeans.  She placed 13th at JGP Latvia and 9th at JGP Poland.  Her personal best is 133.48.  She is 16 years old.

Inga Januleviciute, LTU: She placed 13th in the preliminary round at Junior Worlds.  She finished 18th at JGP Estonia.  Her personal best is 94.29.  She is 17 years old.

Fleur Maxwell, LUX: She placed 25th at Europeans.  Her personal best is 123.28.  She is 23 years old.

Reyna Hamui, MEX: She placed 25th at Four Continents.  She placed 16th at JGP Australia.  Her personal best is 92.03.  She is 18 years old.

Anine Rabe, NOR: She finished 25th at Junior Worlds.  She placed 24th at JGP Latvia.  Her personal best is 99.60.  She is 19 years old.


Zhaira Costiniano, PHI: She placed 24th at Four Continents.  Her personal best is 96.61.  She is 16 years old.

Victoria Muniz, PUR: She placed 12th at Four Continents.  Her personal best is 117.83.  She is 23 years old.

Min-Jeong Kwak, KOR (Direct Entry): She placed 15th in the preliminary round at Worlds last season.  She finished 10th at Four Continents.    Her personal best is 155.53.  She is 18 years old.

Chae-Yeon Shur, KOR: She placed 21st at Four Continents.  Her personal best is 94.95.  She is 16 years old.


Sabina Mariuta, ROU: She finished 14th in the preliminary round at Worlds last season.  She placed 21st in the preliminary round at Europeans.  Her personal best is 80.85.  She is 17 years old.

Polina Korobeynikova, RUS: She placed 4th at Europeans.  She placed 4th at JGP Australia and won silver at JGP Romania to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where she won bronze.  Her personal best is 164.13.  She is 15 years old.

Alena Leonova, RUS (Direct Entry): She finished 4th at Worlds last season.  She placed 7th at Europeans.  She placed 4th at Skate Canada, won bronze at NHK Trophy and silver at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she won bronze.  She is the 2009 Junior World Champion.  Her personal best is 183.92.  She is 21 years old.

Ksenia Makarova, RUS (Direct Entry): She placed 7th at Worlds last season.  She finished 6th at Europeans.  She placed 5th at Skate America and 7th at Cup of China.  Her personal best is 171.91.  She is 19 years old.

Marina Seeh, SRB: She finished 25th in the preliminary round at Worlds last season.  She placed 22nd in the preliminary round at Europeans.  She is 25 years old.

Alexandra Kunova, SVK: She placed 24th at JGP Italy.  Her personal best is 105.86.  She is 19 years old.

Dasa Grm, SLO: She finished 28th at Worlds last season.  Her personal best is 112.54.  She is 20 years old.

Lejeanne Marais, RSA: She finished 18th in the preliminary round at Worlds last season.  She placed 22nd at Four Continents.  Her personal best is 103.03.  She is 22 years old.

Sonia Lafuente, ESP: She finished 25th at Worlds last season.  She placed 15th at Europeans.  She placed 7th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Her personal best is 143.60.  She is 20 years old.

Viktoria Helgesson, SWE (Direct Entry): She finished 17th at Worlds last season.  She placed 5th at Europeans.  She won bronze at Skate America and placed 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Her personal best is 161.79.  She is 23 years old.

Romy Buhler, SUI: She placed 20th at Europeans.  She finished 12th at JGP Poland and 17th at JGP Italy.  Her personal best is 122.33.  She is 17 years old.

Mimi Tanasorn Chindasook, THA: She finished 18th at Four Continents.  She finished 19th at JGP Italy.  Her personal best is 91.54.  She is 17 years old.

Sila Saygi, TUR: She finished 16th in the preliminary round at Junior Worlds.  She placed 27th at JGP Latvia.  Her personal best is 118.94.  She is 16 years old.

Natalia Popova, UKR: She placed 12th at Europeans.  She placed 7th at JGP Romania and 11th at JGP Estonia.  Her personal best is 138.60.  She is 18 years old.

Alissa Czisny, USA (Direct Entry): She placed 5th at Worlds last season.  She won gold at Skate America and bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she finished 5th.  Her personal best is 182.85.  She is 24 years old.

Ashley Wagner, USA (Direct Entry): She is the reigning Four Continents Champion.  She won bronze at Skate Canada and finished 4th at NHK Trophy.  She is the 2007 and 2009 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  Her personal best is 192.41.  She is 20 years old.

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