Julia Lipnitskaia has followed the past of the last few Russian wonderbabies. After winning everything on the junior circuit in 2012 she made her Grand Prix debut last season and won two medals which qualified her for the Grand Prix Final. She was not old enough for Worlds last season and lost her Junior World title to the next generation of Russian juniors. She is old enough to qualify for the Olympics this year but with only two Russian spots available, she'll have to stay injury free this season and consistently hit her triple + triples.
Akiko Suzuki dropped to 12th at Worlds after winning bronze the year prior. She won a medal at every other event she entered last season including the Final. Her Worlds performance seemed to have been a fluke as she was remarkably consistent the rest of the season and has been consistent over the past several seasons.
Courtney Hicks started off her season with a surprise gold medal finish at the US International Figure Skating Classic. She has long been known for her jumps but has committed to her artistry this season. She has triple + triples and innovative spins and is passionate about her programs which comes out in her skating. She started the season with no Grand Prix assignments and now has two and is ready to make the most of her opportunity.
Kaetlyn Osmond won gold at this event last season but has been off the ice with an ankle injury and has admitted that she's not back to 100%.
Gracie Gold has struggled to put together two clean programs at the same event all year last year. She split from her long time coach suddenly this summer and moved to Frank Carroll but her new coaching situation is not yet permanent.
My podium predictions:
Gold: Julia Lipnitskaia
Silver: Akiko Suzuki
Bronze: Courtney Hicks
Bios of the competitors:
Amelie Lacoste, CAN: She finished 9th at Four Continents. She placed 8th at Skate Canada and 6th at Cup of China last season. Her personal best is 157.26. She is 24 years old.
Veronik Mallet, CAN: This is her Grand Prix debut. Her personal best is 159.67. She is 19 years old.
Kaetlyn Osmond, CAN: She placed 8th at Worlds and 7th at Four Continents. She won gold at Skate Canada last season. Her personal best is 176.82. She is 17 years old.
Akiko Suzuki, JPN: She finished 12th at Worlds and is the reigning Four Continents Silver Medalist. She won silver at Skate Canada and NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she won bronze. She is the 2012 World Bronze Medalist and 2010 Four Continents Silver Medalist. Her personal best is 199.58. She is 28 years old.
Julia Lipnitskaia, RUS: She is the reigning Junior World Silver Medalist. She won silver at Cup of China and bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final but withdrew due to injury. She is the 2012 Junior World Champion. Her personal best is 187.05. She is 15 years old.
Natalia Popova, UKR: She finished 15th at Worlds and placed 19th at Europeans. This is her Grand Prix debut. She finished 10th at JGP Austria last season. Her personal best is 155.52. She is 20 years old.
Christina Gao, USA: She finished 4th at Four Continents. She won silver at Skate America and finished 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she finished 6th. Her personal best is 176.28. She is 19 years old.
Gracie Gold, USA: She placed 6th at Worlds and 6th at Four Continents. She finished 7th at Skate Canada and won silver at Rostelecom Cup last season. She is the 2012 World Junior Silver Medalist. Her personal best is 188.03. She is 18 years old.
Courtney Hicks, USA: She placed 5th at Junior Worlds. She won silver at JGP USA and finished 4th at JGP Slovenia last season. Her personal best is 153.77. She is 17 years old.