The long season comes to a conclusion with this year’s World Championships in Japan. If you may remember, the competition was originally schedule for Tokyo in 2011, when tragedy struck. The Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear Power Plant disrupted the World Championships and the event was forced to go to St. Petersburg, Russia. Three years later, the world returns to Japan, where many skaters are choosing to sit out after last month’s Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The biggest loser is Russia, which saw three of their skaters either retire or sit out of this week’s competition. In any event, there will still be a host of skaters who will compete for title.
Sochi Olympic Skaters Out of Worlds
|Men||Patrick Chan (Canada)||Silver (Individual & Team)|
|Men||Evegni Plushenko (Russia)||Gold (Team)|
|Men||Denis Ten (Kazakhstan)||Bronze (Individual)|
|Men||Jason Brown (USA)||None|
|Men||Daisuke Takahashi (Japan)||None|
|Ladies||Adelina Sotnikova (Russia)||Gold (Individual)|
|Ladies||Yu-Na Kim (Korea)||Silver (Individual)|
|Ladies||Viktoria Helgesson (Sweden)||None|
|Ladies||Isadora Williams (Brazil)||None|
|Pairs||Maksim Trankov and Tatyana Volosozhar (Russia)||Gold (Individual & Team)|
|Pairs||Qing Pang and Jian Tong (China)||None|
|Ice Dance||Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA)||Gold (Individual) & Bronze (Team)|
|Ice Dance||Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)||Silver (Individual & Team)|
Analysis: The loss of Chan and Ten opens the door for a number of up and coming skaters. The only medalist from Sochi will be the 2014 Olympic champion, Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. The 19 year old had a remarkable season under the leadership of Coach Brian Orser, winning every competition he’s entered this season. Hanyu dominated the two-time defending champion Patrick Chan all season long, and it will be tough to beat him on his home turf. His main competition is Javier Fernandez of Spain. The 2013 World bronze medalist missed out of an opportunity to make the podium in Sochi, finishing 4th and will look to make the podium this time around. Other skaters who will compete for the podium will be Tatsuki Machida of Japan (5th at Sochi), Yan Han of China (7th at Sochi) and Peter Liebers of Germany (8th at Sochi).
Skaters to Watch: Canada’s Kevin Reynolds will look to pick up the slack from Patrick Chan’s withdrawl from worlds. Reynolds finished 5th at last year’s World Championships, but dropped to a disappointing 15th at Sochi. Florent Amodio of France has an outside chance at the podium, having won silver at last year’s European Championships, but a disappointing 18th at Sochi. American Jason Brown is listed as a substitute. Without Brown, the US may have trouble making the top 10 for an extra spot in next year’s Worlds with Jeremy Abbott (12th at Sochi) & Max Aaron.
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
2. Javier Fernandez (ESP)
3. Tatsuki Machida (JPN)
Analysis: The fallout over last month’s controversial finish has resulted in the Korean Skating Union making an official protest over the judging. Olympic Champion Adelina Sotnikova is siting out of this year’s Worlds, but there’s still an outside chance she may compete, but only unless a Russian skater withdraws. It’s still a guess who will prevail, seeing most of the competitors are skating this weekend. Japan has a chance to sweep the medals with Mao Asada, Akiko Suzuki (8th in Sochi) and Kanako Murakami (12th at Sochi) all skating for their home country. Asada and Suzuki announced previously this will be their final competition. Asada will look to bounce back from a disastrous performance in Sochi, where she finished 6th. Their biggest competitors will be Italy’s Carolina Kostner (Bronze in Sochi) Russia’s Julia Lipnitskaya (5th at Sochi).
Skaters to Watch: The American ladies had a very successful run in Sochi, with Gracie Gold (4th at Sochi), Ashley Wagner (7th at Sochi), and Polina Edmonds (9th at Sochi). They have a great chance of keeping three slots at next year’s Worlds. However, no US woman has won an individual Olympic or World Championships medal since Kimmie Meissner and Sasha Cohen (Silver in Turin) won gold and bronze at the 2006 worlds.
1. Mao Asada (Japan)
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA)
3. Gracie Gold (USA)
Analysis: With Olympic and world champions Volosozhar and Trankov skipping the event, this opens the door for Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany to regain their World title. They stumbled in the free skate to a Bronze finish in Sochi and will look to regain their footing. Their main competition will be from Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, who are expected to take over the top spot from Volosozhar and Trankov. Their first Russian Championship will be the first of many in years to come. Third place is expected to be a tough fight between Canadians Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (7th at Sochi) and Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch (5th at Sochi). Russians Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov (6th at Sochi) will also fight for the podium.
Skaters to Watch: China’s Peng Cheng and Zhang Hao finished 8th at Sochi and will look to improve on their standing for next season. Americans Caydee Denney and John Coughlin were last minute scratches at Worlds. They’ll be replaced by Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, who finished 12th at Sochi. The US isn’t expected to reach the top 10, so a strong showing by Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir will be a successful season.
1. Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy (GER)
2. Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov (RUS)
3. Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch (CAN)
Analysis: It will be a huge drop off for ice dancing after the retirements of Davis & White and Virtue & Moir. Both have been dominant in their division for many years and one would say it’s anyone’s guess who will take over. This will be a prime opportunity for Russian skaters to regain their footing in their once dominant category. Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov had a spectacular performance in Sochi, winning Gold in the Team competition and Bronze in the individual. They’re the odd-on favorite to win this week. If they don’t, look for Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev to bounce back from their disappointing 5th place finish in Sochi. Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat of France has a strong 4th place finish in Sochi and will contend for the podium. Other contenders include Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy (6th at Sochi) and Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (7th at Sochi).
Skaters to Watch: Both the Americans and Canadians have big shoes to fill. The US will have an advantage with their crop of bright, young talent. Madison Chock and Evan Bates did very well in their second year in Senior competition, finishing 2nd at nationals and 8th at Sochi. The brother/sister combo of Maia and Alex Shibutani had a slight drop off in years past, finished strong with a 3rd place at nationals and 9th place at Sochi. Taking over for Davis and White are Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton, who have won back to back US junior national titles and will make their Senior international debut. Canada will replace Virtue and Moir with Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who finished 18th at last year’s Worlds. Their third team, Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam struggled at Sochi with an 18th place finish.
1. Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov (RUS)
2. Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat (FRA)
3. Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (RUS)