Podium Picks: US Figure Skating Championships

Men
Analysis: Tough news, as Evan Lysacek was a last minute scratch due to an injury.  His status for 2014 now is in doubt. That leaves Jeremy Abbott as the odds on favorite in this category.  Abbott has had an up and down year in the Grand Prix, coming in 5th at Skate America and 2ndat Trophee Bombard.  Ross Miner also figures to factor on the podium, as he also had a mediocre season, coming in 3rdat the NHK Trophy and finishing a disappointing 5th at Skate Canada.  Adam Rippon and Richard Dornbush will also be in the running for the top spot. 
Who to watch: Jason Brown had a strong Junior Grand Prix season, winning at Istanbul. He’ll be in his first Senior event.  Armin Mahbanoozadeh and Joshua Farris will also look to make an impression.
1. Jeremy Abbott
2. Ross Miner
3. Adam Rippon
Ladies
Analysis: Even with the last minute scratch of former Ladies Champion Alissa Czsiny, this is a deep skating field. Mirai Nagasu looks to make on last run on a National championship. Agnes Zawadzki had a 3rd place finish at Rostelecom Cup in Moscowthis season. There are also three potential surprises with Juniors Hannah Miller, Leah Keiser and Gracie Gold doing very well in International competition this season. But all of them will have to catch Ashley Wagner, who has dominated the field last season and looks to continue her stranglehold on her title.
Who to watch: Christina Gao had a strong showing in last season’s National and will look to equal her performance. Also look for veteran skater Joelle Forte to make waves in what might be her final competition.
1. Ashley Wagner
2. Gracie Gold
3. Mirai Nagasu
Pairs
Analysis: Top pairs skaters Caydee Denney & John Coughlin won’t be on hand to defend their title due to an injury to Coughlin’s left hip.  They will petition to skate in London, Ontario. That leaves the field wide open, with the competition likely to be between Tiffany Vise & Don Baldwin and Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir. Castelli & Shnapir won at a non-Grand Prix event in Graz, while Vise & Baldwin struggled in Grand Prix competition, finishing 6th both times in Moscow and at Skate Canada. Other team to skate for the podium will be Gretchen Donlan & Andrew Speroff, Alexa Scimeca & Christopher Knierim and Lindsay Davis & Mark Ladwig.    
Who to watch: Kiri Baga is pulling “double duty”, skating in the ladies competition and with her partner, Taylor Toth in pairs. Look also for Caydee’s sister Haven and her partner, Brandon Frazier to try and win and keep the pairs title in the family.
1. Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir
2. Tiffany Vise & Don Baldwin
3. Gretchen Donlan & Andrew Speroff
Ice Dancing
Analysis: A very strong field of teams looking to try and join the number one team in the world, Meryl Davis & Charlie White. Davis & White have been unstoppable since winning their first Senior title in 2009. Their main competition will be from Maia & Alex Shibutani, who’ve actual had a disappointing Grand Prix season, finishing 3rd at NHK Trophy and 4th in Moscow. The other teams that will vie for the podium is Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, who finished 3rd at Finlandia Cup and Madison Chock & Evan Bates, who won the Nebelhorn Trophy.     
Who to watch: Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt have improved their standing in International competition, winning at a non-Grand Prix event in Graz. Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus is also a team to look at, despite a poor showing at Skate America. 
1. Meryl Davis & Charlie White.
2. Maia & Alex Shibutani
3. Madison Chock & Evan Bates
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Finally, condolences go out to the family of photographer J. Barry Mittan.  The long time “photog to the skaters” died Wednesday as a result of injuries from a car accident.  The announcement was made by his wife on his Facebook page.  His work has been long admired constantly over the years and was a fixture on his annual calendar, “The Art of Figure Skating”.  He also authored several books and many skating articles.   
Website: jbmittan.com
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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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