This year, the best America has to offer in figure skating travels to San Jose, the home of legendary skaters Rudy Galindo and Peggy Fleming. Both Galindo and Fleming captured national titles in men’s and women’s divisions respectively. It’s also a monumental occasion, as 9-time ladies champion Michelle Kwan will be inducted into the US figure skating hall of fame during this week’s festivals. But the main even will be the skating competition, which stands to be one of the most competitive in recent years.
Here’s our picks on who will stand on the podium this weekend.
Men – This year, look for a three way race between Jeremy Abbott, Ross Miner and Adam Rippon. Abbott is currently ranked 6th in the world and will be challenged by Miner, who is skating in his first competition as a Senior. Rippon had a productive Grand Prix season, finishing fourth twice.
Who to watch: Max Aaron will also be skating in his first Nationals as a Senior and has Grand Prix experience. 2008 Bronze medalist Stephen Carriere will look to regain his spot on the podium.
1. Jeremy Abbott
2. Ross Miner
3. Adam Rippon
Ladies – Alissa Czisny is one of the most promising skaters since Sasha Cohen retired from competition. She hopes to continue her climb into the top ranks of her division, but she’ll have lots of competition to fight off. Mirai Nagasu won at Nebelhorn last year and will be hot on Czisny’s tail. Ashley Wagner finished third twice and continues to improve. The big question is the skating of Rachael Flatt, who has struggled this season in competition.
Who to watch: Other than the skating of Rachael Flatt, look out for Caroline Zhang, who won the 2007 World Juniors and was a Bronze medalist at 2009 Nationals. Also keep an eye out for Joelle Forte, who has continued to skate well in regional and sectional competition through the years, and is looking to make an impression.
1. Alissa Czisny
2. Mirai Nagasu
3. Ashley Wagner
Pairs – The US continues to struggle in pairs and they will have problems again this season. Evora and Ladwig struggled during Grand Prix competition, but are still ranked in the top 15 in pairs. Their biggest challenge will be from the team of Denney and Coughlin. The duo took a slight step back last year, taking Bronze. The other team that stands to make a move are the team of Vise and Baldwin, who received some valuable International experience this season.
Who to watch: Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay had to withdraw during last year’s Nationals due to injury. They will look to regain their form. Also, keep an eye out on Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker, who came in forth last season.
1. Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig
2. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin
3. Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin
Dance – Davis and White have dominated this division since 2009. They’ve taken that domination and became the number one team in the world. Their only real competition is the brother-sister combination of Maia and Alex Shibutani, who have steadily climbed the ladder, winning in Japan and coming in second in China in Grand Prix competition.
Who to watch: Madison Chock and Evan Bates came in third at Finlandia this season. Lynn Kreingkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt have plenty of experience (since 2006) and will try to grab a spot on the podium.
1. Meryl Davis and Charlie White
2. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani
3. Madison Chock and Evan Bates