Ashley Wagner is the reigning Skate America Champion and will be seeking to defend her title. She claimed two gold medals on the Grand Prix last season but injuries, illness and jump issues plagued her the rest of the season and she finished 5th at Worlds. She didn't put the triple + triple out for most of the season last year and has stated that she knows that she needs the combination to be competitive for the Olympic podium. She split from her choreographer after the end of last season and John Nicks is no longer traveling with her so she's splitting her training time. Her "Bedroom Juliet" free skate got mostly positive reviews at the Japan Open but she still had a few kinks to work out.
Mao Asada won every event she entered last season until Worlds and made the podium for the first time since 2010. Her triple axel has still been hit or miss and when she hits it she has a large advantage over the field although missing it can often take the wind out of her program. She crossed the 200 point mark at Four Continents and is only one of a handful of female skaters capable of doing so.
Elena Radionova is making her Grand Prix debut after sweeping the junior circuit last season. She won gold at Nebelhorn Trophy in her senior debut and is well known for her triple + triples. She is too young to compete at Europeans, Worlds or the Olympics but she is set to continue the Russian tradition of young promising skaters making their mark on the senior circuit.
Elizaveta Tuktamisheva had a more difficult sophomore season on the Grand Prix but still managed to qualify for the Final. She won the bronze medal at Europeans in her first trip and finished in the top 10 at Worlds. She had an up and down season and her normally sturdy jumps seemed to fail her at times.
Valentina Marchei and Mae Berenice Meite are perennial Skate America competitors and are both a joy to watch. Marchei had moments of brilliance mixed with subpar performances. Meite has long been known for her athleticism and jumps and has vowed to work on her artistry this season.
My podium predictions:
Gold: Mao Asada
Silver: Elena Radionova
Bronze: Ashley Wagner
Bios of the competitors:
Mae Berenice Meite, FRA: She placed 11th at Worlds and 10th at Europeans. She finished 6th at Skate America and 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season. Her personal best is 165.03. She is 19 years old.
Elene Gedevanishvili, GEO: She finished 29th at Worlds and 14th at Europeans. She placed 5th at Skate Canada last season. She is the 2010 and 2012 European Bronze Medalist. Her personal best is 165.93. She is 23 years old.
Valentina Marchei, ITA: She finished 18th at Worlds and 4th at Europeans. She placed 4th at Skate America and 9th at Rostelecom Cup. Her personal best is 171.06. She is 27 years old.
Mao Asada, JPN: She is the reigning World Bronze Medalist and Four Continents Champion. She won gold at Cup of China and NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she won gold. She is the 2010 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2008 and 2010 World Champion, 2007 World Silver Medalist, 2008 and 2010 Four Continents Champion, 2011 and 2012 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 23 years old.
Elena Radionova, RUS: She is the reigning World Junior Champion. This is her Grand Prix debut. She won gold at JGP France and gold at JGP Austria last season to qualify for the JGPF where she won gold. Her personal best is 188.21. She is 14 years old.
Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, RUS: She placed 10th at Worlds and is the reigning European Bronze Medalist. She placed 4th at Skate Canada and won silver at Trophee Eric Bompard last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she placed 5th. She is the 2011 World Junior Silver Medalist. Her personal best is 188.85. She is 16 years old.
Viktoria Helgesson, SWE: She finished 14 at Worlds and 5th at Europeans. She placed 8th at Skate America and 8th at Rostelecom Cup last season. Her personal best is 161.79. She is 25 years old.
Samantha Cesario, USA: She finished 4th at Junior Worlds. This is her Grand Prix debut. She won bronze at JGP Austria last season. Her personal best is 157.72. She is 20 years old.
Ashley Wagner, USA: She finished 5th at Worlds. She won gold at Skate America and Trophee Eric Bompard last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she won silver. She is the 2012 Four Continents Champion and 2007 and 2009 World Junior Bronze Medalist. Her personal best is 192.41. She is 22 years old.
Caroline Zhang, USA: She finished 9th at Skate Canada and 10th at Rostelecom Cup last season. She is the 2010 and 2012 Four Continents Bronze Medalist, 2007 World Junior Champion and 2008 and 2009 World Junior Silver Medalist. Her personal best is 176.48. She is 20 years old.