Podium Picks – Skate America 2012

October usually is about baseball and the World Series.  But it’s also the start of one of the most important event of the year…figure skating season. 
It’s the time of year when a summer of practices gives way to a season of triumph and heartbreak. Regional competition took place within the last two weeks to find out who will move on to sectionals in November and eventually Nationals in Omaha this January. It’s also time for one of the most anticipated skating competitions in the world.    
Over the last 30 years, Skate America has been the home to some of the greatest skating competitors. It has crowned future Olympic champions, including Scot Hamilton, Jamie Salé & David Pelletier and Oksana Baiul. 
This year’s event takes place in Kent, Washington; just outside of Seattle, where another huge contingent of skaters will fight it out on the road to London, Ontario.  Here’s our selections on who we think will win this weekend. 
Men
Analysis – With the loss of Evan Lysecek due to injury and current number one ranked skater Patrick Chan sitting out, this is a wide open field.  The line up is top-heavy with Americans and Japanese skaters. Jeremy Abbott continues to gain valuable experience with a good performance at Worlds (8th), but struggled at the end of the season at the World Team Trophy (5th). Yuzuru Hanyu is probably the favorite to win this one, but keep your eyes on Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic, who is currently 4thaccording to ISU rankings.  Lysecek’s replacement, Armin Mhananoozadeh may make an impression.  
 
Smooth’s Pick –
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
2. Michal Brezina (CZE)
3. Jerremy Abbott (USA)
Ladies
Analysis: This is going to be a treat.  A strong UScontingent going up against an even stronger pack of world skaters.  Ashley Wagner looks to bring her “A” game to the next level after winning US Ladies and finishing 4th at Worlds. Her main competition will be Russia’s Alena Leonova, who finished second at Worlds and gave a strong performance at the Grand Prix final, finishing 3rd.  Other skaters to watch for are Germany’s Sarah Hecken, Sweden’s Viktoria Helgesson and Italy’s Valentina Marchei.  The story of this competition will be the return of Rachael Flatt, who had a horrible 2011, finishing 6th nationally and struggling on the World circuit. 
Smooth’s Pick –
1. Ashley Wagner (USA)
2. Alena Leonova (RUS)
3. Valentina Marchei (ITA)
Pairs
Analysis: This will be a battle between Chinaand Russia. 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists Qing Pang & Jian Tong had a bit of a setback last year, finishing 4th at last year’s Worlds.  But they should bounce back with a strong Grand Prix season. Their main competition is the team of Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov, who finished strong against the improbable World Champions, Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy of Germany.  Other teams that have a shot at the podium include Americans Caydee Denney & John Coughlin, and Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres of France.
Smooth’s Pick –
1. Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov (RUS)
2. Qing Pang & Jian Tong (CHN)
3. Caydee Denney & John Coughlin (USA)
Dance
Analysis: The odds on favorites in this category are Americans Meryl Davis & Charlie White.  Barring a major slip in their programs, they should carry the torch to the top of the podium. But there are formidable opponents that will give them a fight.  One is Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, who finished strong last year and captured the first Grand Prix medal event of the season.  Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev of Russiais on the radar for the medal hunt as well.  Underdog teams that may make a run include Americans Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt and Lorenza Alessandrini & Simone Vatur of Italy.   
Smooth’s Pick –
1. Meryl Davis & Charlie White (USA)
2. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (CAN)
3. Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (RUS)
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About smoothjazzandmore

I'm a TV producer and an Internet radio broadcaster. I also write for my blogs (An Op-Ed Blog and a Football Blog) here at WordPress.
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