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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

World Championships: Men's Preview

You can argue all you want about Chan-flation and whether the judges forgive Patrick Chan for mistakes in his program, but there is no doubt that when he is clean, he is in a league of his own.  With soaring quad + triple combinations that put him at the top of the technical field to brilliant choreography, transitions and edgework that are flawlessly executed, he truly is the whole package.  He is able to rack up enough points to give himself a cushion for mistakes, but this is a tough field and he can't make too many.  He hasn't been perfect yet this season but he has also been undefeated.  He broke 300 at Canadian nationals and while he won't be likely to hit that mark here, if he skates clean he could break his own records.  He won a gold medal at Skate Canada, Trophee Eric Bompard, the Grand Prix Final and Four Continents.  He has the 2nd best short program, best free skate and best total score of the season.

Another skater well known for his artistry is Daisuke Takahashi.  He's working on the quad flip and if he can land it clean, he'll put his name in the history books.  He also has great choreography and transitions and can whip the crowd into a frenzy with his step sequences.  He is capable of scoring 90+ points in a short program without a quad, which is a testament to his commitment to executing his programs.  However, in three head to head competitions, he has placed behind Patrick Chan and there was a sizeable gap between the two at the recent Four Continents Championships.  Before the event he stated that he was going to up his technical ante and needed at least two quads to compete with Chan. He won the bronze medal at Skate Canada, gold at NHK Trophy, silver at the Grand Prix Final and silver at Four Continents.  He has the best short program, 3rd best free skate and 3rd best total score of the season.

Artur Gachinski is coming in to this event as the reigning bronze medalist.  His medal last season came as a bit of a surprise and he spent the Grand Prix failing to make it to the podium.  He has a vast arsenal of jumps including quads but they can be inconsistent and he doesn't have the PCS scores of the top skaters to fall back on if he makes mistakes.  He showed what he was capable of when he took home the silver medal from Europeans with one of the top scores of the season, but he'll have to hit his program perfectly if he wants to medal here.  He has the 3rd best short program, 6th best free skate and 5th best total score of the season.

Javier Fernandez surprised the figure skating world by winning the short program at Skate Canada ahead of Patrick Chan and Daisuke Takahashi.  He went on to take home the first ever Grand Prix medal for Spain (silver at Skate Canada and Cup of Russia) and qualified for his first Grand Prix Final where he won a bronze.  His success was largely based on a consistent quad and great personality on the ice.  He struggled at Europeans and fell to 6th place overall and has yet to match the scores he put up at Skate Canada.  He has the 5th best short program, 5th best free skate and 4th best total score of the season.

Jeremy Abbott is one of the most exquisite skaters on the ice today and his free skate is breathtaking when executed flawlessly.  He put out a record setting performance at U.S. Nationals with two clean programs and showing off two different sides of his personality with his swing short program and lyrical free skate.  After nationals, he sat out Four Continents due to injury and while he won the silver medal at Challenge Cup, he struggled to land the jumps in his free skate.  He has been up and down all season with a gold medal at Cup of China, bronze at Cup of Russia and finishing off the podium at the Grand Prix Final.  He has the potential to make the medal stand, but he'll need to his his elements to really let the program shine through.  He has the 6th best short program, 7th best free skate and 7th best total score of the season.

Yuzuru Hanyu had a breakout season winning his first Grand Prix medal (a gold at Cup of Russia) and qualifying for the Grand Prix Final.  He has solid jumps and amazing spins including a Biellman.  He has the 8th best short program, 4th best free skate and 6th best total score of the season.

Florent Amodio struggled throughout the Grand Prix but ditching his short program proved to be the right move as he claimed the bronze medal at Europeans.  He can often come off as wild and frantic in his choreography and that can effect his jump timing but he has been adding quads to up his technical score.  He has the 8th best free skate and 9th best total score of the season.

Takahiko Kozuka is the reigning World Silver medalist and he came out early saying he planned to take his season slow.  He won the bronze at Skate America and the silver at NHK Trophy but it was not enough to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.  He lost his national title and did not earn a berth at Four Continents.  He hasn't competed internationally since November and that could hurt him here but he has the opportunity to come in as the underdog and peak at the right moment.  He has the 9th best free skate and 8th best total score of the season.

Nan Song made a name for himself this season winning bronze at Cup of China and silver at Trophee Eric Bompard but he struggled at Four Continents and had to be hospitalized after his free skate.  If he's fully recovered he could make a run at the podium as well.  He has the 10th best free skate of the season.

Michal Brezina started his season off strong with a gold at Skate America and collected a bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard.  However, he did not medal in his final Grand Prix, at the Final or at Europeans and his scores haven't improved as much as other competitors.  He has the 10th best total score of the season.

Other skaters in the mix include Tomas Verner who has the 10th best short program score of the season and Kevin van der Perren who won the silver at Skate America.

Notable skaters not competing at this event include European Champion Evgeny Plushenko, Four Continents Bronze Medalist Ross Miner and  Nobunari Oda who won the silver medal at Cup of China.

My medal predictions:
Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Daisuke Takahashi
Bronze: Jeremy Abbott

Bios of the competitors:
Slavik Hayrapetyan, ARM: He finished 28th at Europeans and 26th at Junior Worlds.  He placed 18th at JGP Latvia and 14th at JGP Romania.  His personal best is 128.97.  He is 16 years old.

Brendan Kerry, AUS: He finished 19th at Four Continents and 22nd at Junior Worlds. He placed 14th at JGP Australia.  His personal best is 144.26.  He is 17 years old. 

Viktor Pfeifer, AUT: He finished 26th at Worlds last season.  He placed 18th at Europeans.  His personal best is 178.41.  He is 24 years old.

Vitali Luchanok, BLR: He finished 22nd in the preliminary round at Worlds last season.  He placed 27th at Europeans.  His personal best is 138.27.  He is 20 years old.  

Kevin van der Perren, BEL (Direct Entry): He finished 17th at Worlds last season.  He withdrew from Europeans after the Short Program.  He won silver at Skate America and finished 8th at Skate Canada.  He is the 2007 and 2009 European bronze medalist.  His personal best is 219.36.  He is 29 years old.


Damjan Ostojic, BIH: His personal best is 113.50.  He is 25 years old.


Kevin Alves, BRA: He finished 23rd at Four Continents.  His personal best is 141.44.  He is 20 years old. 


Manol Atanassov, BUL: He finished 15th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  He is 20 years old.  



Patrick Chan, CAN (Direct Entry): He is the reigning World Champion and Four Continents Champion.  He won gold at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won gold.  He is the 2009 and 2010 World silver medalist, 2009 Four Continents Champion and 2007 World Junior silver medalist.  His personal best is 280.98.  He is 21 years old.


Kevin Reynolds, CAN (Direct Entry): He finished 20th at Worlds last season.  He placed 8th at Four Continents.  He placed 7th at Cup of China.  He is the 2010 Four Continents bronze medalist.  His personal best is 218.65.  He is 21 years old.



Nan Song, CHN: He placed 22nd at Worlds last season. He finished 11th at Four Continents.   He won bronze at Cup of China and silver at Trophee Eric Bompard.  He is the 2010 World Junior silver medalist.  His personal best is 226.75.  He is 21 years old.


Jordan Ju, TPE: He finished 21st at Four Continents.  His personal best is 134.97.  He is 16 years old.


Michal Brezina, CZE (Direct Entry): He placed 4th at Worlds last season.  He finished 8th at Europeans.  He won gold at Skate America, bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard and finished 4th at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he finished 6th.  He is the 2009 World Junior Silver Medalist.  His personal best is 236.06.  He is 21 years old.

Tomas Verner, CZE (Direct Entry): He placed 12th at Worlds last season.  He finished 5th at Europeans.  He is the 2008 European Champion, 2007 European Silver Medalist and 2011 European Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 232.67.  He is 25 years old.

Justus Strid, DEN: He finished 14th in the preliminary round at Worlds last season.  He placed 20th at Europeans.  His personal best is 156.33.  He is 24 years old.

Viktor Romanenkov, EST: He finished 23rd at Europeans. He placed 9th at JGP Latvia and 6th at JGP Estonia.  His personal best is 162.19.  He is 18 years old.  

Ari-Pekka Nurmenkari, FIN: His personal best is 170.88.  He is 28 years old.

Florent Amodio, FRA (Direct Entry): He placed 7th at Worlds last season.  He is the the reigning European Bronze Medalist.  He finished 9th at Skate America and 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  He is the 2011 European Champion.  His personal best is 234.18.  He is 21 years old.

Brian Joubert, FRA (Direct Entry): He finished 8th at Worlds last season.  He placed 8th at Europeans.   He is the 2007 World Champion, 2006 and 2008 World Silver Medalist, 2009 and 2010 World Bronze Medalist; 2004, 2007 and 2009 European Champion; 2003, 2005 and 2011 European Silver Medalist; and 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2010 European Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 241.74.  He is 26 years old.

Peter Liebers, GER (Direct Entry): He placed 15th at Worlds last season.  He finished 15th at Europeans.  His personal best is 205.59.  He is 23 years old.

Luke Chilcott, GBR: 


Harry Hau Yin Lee, HKG: He finished 21st in the preliminary round at Worlds last season.  He placed 25th at Four Continents.  He placed 19th at JGP Austria.  His personal best is 115.00.  He is 17 years old. 

Marton Marko, HUN: He finished 14th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  His personal best is 84.99.  He is 23 years old.

Alexei Bychenko, ISR: He finished 22nd at Europeans.  His personal best is 141.19.  He is 24 years old.

Samuel Contesti, ITA (Direct Entry): He finished 18th at Worlds last season.  He placed 7th at Europeans.  He placed 8th at Skate America and 4th at NHK Trophy.  He is the 2009 European Silver Medalist.  His personal best is 226.97.  He is 29 years old.

Yuzuru Hanyu, JPN (Direct Entry): He placed 4th at Cup of China and won gold at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he finished 4th.  He is the 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalist and 2010 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 245.82.  He is 17 years old.

Takahiko Kozuka, JPN (Direct Entry): He is the reigning World Silver Medalist.  He won bronze at Skate America and silver at NHK Trophy.  He is the 2009 Four Continents Bronze Medalist and 2006 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 258.41.  He is 23 years old.

Daisuke Takahashi, JPN (Direct Entry): He placed 5th at Worlds last season.  He is the reigning Four Continents Silver Medalist.  He won bronze at Skate Canada and gold at NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won silver.  He is the 2010 Olympic Bronze Medalist, 2010 World Champion, 2007 World Silver Medalist, 2008 and 2011 Four Continents Champion, 2005 Four Continents Bronze Medalist and 2002 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 264.41.  He is 26 years old.

Denis Ten, KAZ (Direct Entry): He finished 14th at Worlds last season.  He placed 6th at Four Continents and 4th at Junior Worlds.  He placed 5th at Skate America and Skate Canada.  His personal best is 212.39.  He is 18 years old.

Saulius Ambrulevicius, LTU: His personal best is 116.92.  He is 19 years old.

Kim Lucine, MON: He finished 23rd at Worlds last season.  He placed 13th at Europeans.  His personal best is 179.33.  He is 23 years old.

Christopher Caluza, PHI: He finished 12th at Four Continents.  His personal best is 172.60.  He is 21 years old.

Maciej Cieplucha, POL: He finished 19th at Europeans.  His personal best is 166.86.  He is 23 years old.

Min-Seok Kim, KOR: He finished 27th at Worlds last season.  He placed 15th at Four Continents.   His personal best is 168.59.  He is 19 years old.

Zoltan Kelemen, ROU: He finished 14th at Europeans.  His personal best is 178.02.  He is 25 years old.

Artur Gachinski, RUS (Direct Entry): He is the reigning World Bronze Medalist and European Silver Medalist.  He placed 5th at Cup of China and Rostelecom Cup.  He is the 2010 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 246.27.  He is 18 years old.

Sergei Voronov, RUS: He finished 10th at Europeans.  He placed 7th at Rostelecom Cup.  He is the 2006 World Junior Silver Medalist and 2007 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 220.39.  He is 24 years old.

Taras Rajec, SVK: His personal best is 130.68.  He is 23 years old.

Javier Fernandez, ESP (Direct Entry): He finished 10th at Worlds last season.  He placed 6th at Europeans.  He won silver at Skate Canada and Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won bronze.  His personal best is 250.33.  He is 20 years old.

Javier Raya, ESP: His personal best is 164.68.  He is 20 years old.

Alexander Majorov, SWE: He finished 28th at Worlds last season.  He placed 11th at Europeans.  He placed 9th at Skate Canada and 6th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  He is the 2011 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 195.71.  He is 20 years old.

Laurent Alvarez, SUI: He finished 12th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  His personal best is 159.45.  He is 21 years old.

Ali Demirboga, TUR: He placed 29th at Europeans.  His personal best is 95.22.  He is 21 years old.

Dmitri Ignatenko, UKR (Direct Entry): He placed 21st at Europeans.  His personal best is 154.88.  He is 20 years old.

Jeremy Abbott, USA (Direct Entry): He won gold at Cup of China and bronze at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he finished 5th.  He is the 2007 and 2011 Four Continents Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 238.82.  He is 26 years old.

Adam Rippon, USA (Direct Entry): He finished 4th at Four Continents.  He placed 4th at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard.  He is the 2010 Four Continents Champion and 2008 and 2009 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 233.04.  He is 22 years old.

Misha Ge, UZB:  He placed 30th at Worlds last season.  He finished 9th at Four Continents.  His personal best is 196.53.  He is 20 years old.

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