This is the event where legends are made and unsung heroines are created. The lineup is highly competitive with 30 skaters vying for “Queen of the Ice”. This will be a battle between two young Russian ladies. One, who have dominated the division for the last two years. The other, who burst on the scene after dominating the junior circuit.
Evgenia Medvedeva (shown left) was undefeated since 2015 including two wins in the Grand Prix circuit until an unfortunate foot injury put her out of the Grand Prix Final and Russian Nationals. That down time may have worked against her, as she lost her first competition in two years at Europeans to her teammate, Alina Zagitova.
Zagitova (shown right) has been on fire since her debut as a senior, winning every competition she’s entered. In fact, the last time she lost was a 3rd place showing at the Junior Grand Prix Ljubljana Cup in 2016. Both skaters are neck and neck on who will win the top spot. That makes slim picking for third place with a huge line up. Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond is at the top of that list, as she was runner-up at worlds last season. This year, she has a win at Sate Canada a third place showing at Internationaux de France and was 3rd in the Grand Prix final.
Her teammate, Gabby Daleman was right behind in third place in last year’s Worlds. But this season, she took a step back with two 6th place finishes in Grand Prix action. The Americans have three great skaters that all can contend for the podium. Mirai Nagasu returns to the Olympics after being unceremoniously dumped for Ashley Wagner in 2014.
Nagasu (shown right) returns to the Olympics with a ‘not-so-secret’ weapon, the Triple Axel. If she hits it in competition this week, watch out! All bets are off. Bradie Tennell has been the most consistent skater this season for Team USA. She took full advantage of her first Grand Prix assignment and finished 3rd at Skate America. She followed it up with a surprise victory at nationals. Karen Chen is also flying under the radar this season. Last year’s national champion took the final Olympic spot with a 3rd place finish at nationals, knocking out Ashley Wagner in the process.
Skaters to Watch – Russia’s Mariya Sotnikova gives the country an outside chance at a sweep of the podium. She was 2nd three times in Grand Prix action, including the Grand Prix Final. Japan’s Satoko Miyahara has battled back from injury this season and won Skate America and a fourth consecutive national championship. Italy’s Carolina Kostner also had her battles since her 2014 bronze medal win in Sochi. Legal battles have challenged her resolve, but this season was able to get back to her usual self with two 2nd place finishes at the Grand Prix and a 4th place finish at the Final. She’s also won her 8th Italian ladies title. Other skaters to watch out for are Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva, Japan’s Kori Sakamoto, Korea’s Dabin Choi and Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx.
Smooth’s Pick: It’s a far gone conclusion that a Russian lady will win gold, but which one? The bigger race will be for bronze. This is my upset special for the Olympic Games.
Gold – Evgenia Medvedeva (OAR)
Silver – Alina Zagitova (OAR)
Bronze – Bradie Tennell (USA)