Dick Button, John Curry, Robin Cousins, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Evgeni Plushenko, Evan Lysacek.
These are just a few skaters that have gone on to become Olympic Men’s Champion. This week, another skater will join that elusive club. This is one of the more exciting times in men’s figure skating, with so many of them with the ability to become champion. But who will take the next step? It should be an exciting competition. 30 skaters take to the ice in Pyeongchang, only one will be crowned “King of the Ice”.
Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu (shown left) returns as the defending Olympic gold medalist. Four years ago, he was unstoppable in Sochi. But the last four years have been a transition. Injuries and illness have slowed his step, most recently having withdrawn from Nationals but reaching the Olympics on a medical bye. Despite that, he’s still a powerful force, having won at Worlds in 2017. His main competition will be from Spain’s Javier Fernandez. Since his stumble at Cup of China in late October, he’s been unstoppable, having won at Europeans for the 6th consecutive time. Fernandez (shown right) also has a win verses Hanyu in a pre-GP event in Montreal last August, giving him the edge this week. Hanyu’s teammate, Shoma Uno is also at the top of the list for the podium. He has shined in competitions that Hanyu (shown left) hasn’t participated in, including two National championships, a 2nd place finish at last year’s Worlds and a win at Skate Canada in October. American Nathan Chen is considered a shoe-in for the top of the podium. But so far, his Olympic debut was a disaster, having stumbled a couple of times in the Team event. Despite this poor showing earlier this week,
Chen (shown right) is still considered front-runner in this tournament based on his immeasurable talent and his undefeated streak in Grand Prix competition this season.
Skaters to Watch – There are a number of skaters flying under the radar and could make this competition even tighter. Canada’s Patrick Chan is the defending silver medalist from Sochi. Since then, he’s had a change in coaches, a change of training city and a bigger focus on his program. He’s had minimal results from this change, having finished 4th at Skate Canada. One positive is winning a record 10th national title. China’s Jin Boyang has two consecutive 3rd place finishes at Worlds, and has finally won his first senior championship at Four Continents last month. OAR’s Mikhail Kolyada also made inroads in his career winning his first Grand Prix title at Cup of China and reaching the podium in the Grand Prix Final this season. American Adam Rippon finally reached his dream of a being an Olympian having been shut out four years ago. He has two 2nd place finishes in the Grand Prix this season and placed 5th in the Final. Israel’s Alexei Bychenko, Japan’s Keiji Tanaka and Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten also are dark horses for the podium.
Smooth’s Pick: This being the closest competition of these Olympics, look for a horse race between Chen, Fernandez and Hanyu, with Uno not too far behind.
Gold – Javier Fernandez (ESP)
Silver – Nathan Chen (USA)
Bronze – Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)