Qualifying for the Final has been the goal all season, especially since these skaters will get to compete in the Olympic venue. Three of these ladies competed in the Final last year, while two are competing in their first Final.
Ashley Wagner won her first Grand Prix gold at Skate America and backed it up with another gold at Trophee Eric Bompard. She has not attempted the triple+triple this season, but has said that she might try it at the Final. Still, her skating skills, choreography and solid jumps give her the third best short program score of the season. She also has the best free skate and best total scores of the season and is closing in on her personal best score which she set at Four Continents last season.
Mao Asada has been putting out good short programs this season but struggled in the free skate at NHK Trophy and barely hung on to her gold medal. She has stated that she hasn't been happy with her programs and that she knows she can perform better and land her jumps. She has the best short program score, 4th best free skate score and 2nd best total score of the season.
Akiko Suzuki has found herself near the middle of the pack after the short program this season but has come back with a stellar free skate to put herself on the podium, but just missed gold at both of her events. In fact, her best short program score doesn't even rank in the top 10 for this season. She's stated that she recognizes this problem and needs to skate a better short program if she wants to keep up with the best skaters at Worlds. She has the 2nd best free skate and 3rd best total scores of the season.
Kiira Korpi is competing in her first Final but has been dealing with injuries and illness that have affected her training time. In a recent interview she admitted that she was not in top form heading into this competition. Elizaveta Tuktamisheva is struggling to live up to last season's success after dealing with growth spurts and growing pains. Christina Gao was added to the Final after Lipnitskaia's withdrawal and after the best fall season of her career.
My podium predictions:
Gold: Ashley Wagner
Silver: Akiko Suzuki
Bronze: Mao Asada
Bios of the competitors:
Kiira Korpi, FIN: She is the reigning European Silver Medalist. She won bronze at Cup of China and gold at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. She is the 2007 and 2011 European Bronze Medalist. Her personal best is 177.19. She is 24 years old.
Mao Asada, JPN: She placed 6th at Worlds and is the reigning Four Continents Silver Medalist. She won gold at Cup of China and NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. She qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season. She is the 2010 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2008 and 2010 World Champion, 2007 World Silver Medalist, 2008 and 2010 Four Continents Champion, 2001 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 22 years old.
Akiko Suzuki, JPN: She is the reigning World Bronze Medalist. She won silver at Skate Canada and NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. She qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season and won silver. She is the 2010 Four Continents Silver Medalist. Her personal best is 187.79. She is 27 years old.
Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, RUS: She placed 4th at Skate Canada and won silver at Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. She qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season and finished 4th. She is the 2011 World Junior Silver Medalist. Her personal best is 182.89. She is 15 years old.
Christina Gao, USA: She placed 7th at Junior Worlds. She won silver at Skate America and finished 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. Her personal best is 174.25. She is 18 years old.
Ashley Wagner, USA: She finished 4th at Worlds and is the reigning Four Continents Champion. She won gold at Skate America and Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. She is the 2007 and 2009 World Junior Bronze Medalist. Her personal best is 192.41. She is 21 years old.