Before I give a few observations about the opening events at Worlds, let’s do some guessin’…
For the MEN:
By this point in the season, I think I’m back to picking more of who I’d like to see win than who I think (based on recent results) has the best shot at it. With Dice-K, it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s the top-finishing Olympian at the event. But as I think I’ve said at least once before, La Strada is probably my favorite men’s free program of the whole season. And the nice thing here is that even if he misses his quad again, he still stands a decent chance at the top. Chan will rebound a little, I think, but I’m doubtful that it will be enough for gold. And Oda’s Chaplin has gotten the short shrift of late—such a shame that he’ll be remembered more for his broken lace in Vancouver than much of his skating, which was still quite good. He’s missed the mark at Worlds for many years now, so I’m hoping this nifty program of his finally serves him well enough for a medal.
But this event is probably the least predictable of all. Brian Joubert could come back strong here, or he could have mentally checked out for the season. Jeremy Abbott could find the third time’s the charm and skate at Worlds as he’s wanted to for three years… or he could be haunted by Olympic-sized ghosts. Takahiko Kozuka is marvelous, and as capable of medaling as anyone. And I can think of at least three rookies—France’s Florent Amodio, Czech Republic’s Michal Brezina, and even the U.S.’s own Adam Rippon—who could make significant splashes in this somewhat smaller pond.
And the LADIES…
I don’t suppose I’m going out on much of a limb here. We already know that Asada, at her best (read: with all three triple axels), cannot defeat Kim these days. Kim may be the most burned-out athlete of all of them right about now, but I suspect even a Kim Yu-Na at 80 or 85% will come out a winner this season. I suppose logic would dictate that Olympics finisher #4 (Mirai Nagasu) will move into the bronze void left by Joannie Rochette, but I’m afraid I don’t see it just yet. Ando’s skating has become less inspiring to me as each performance goes by this season, but world medals are familiar territory to her and I think she’ll hang in there. As for the possible spoilers… on my list this time are both U.S. ladies (Nagasu and Flatt), plus Akiko Suzuki (I’d LOVE to see her take bronze rather than Ando, but I don’t think she has enough tech. difficulty to pull it off under normal conditions)… and I guess we have to include Laura Lepisto, since she pulled down the fourth-best free skate in Vancouver.
OK, on to TORINO DAY ONE.
+ Compulsories are over for Ice Dance, and as I understand it they could really be over, if the vote this summer is cast as such by the ISU. We’ll have to get back to that in the off-season.
+ Virtue/Moir, Davis/White, and Faiella/Scali went 1-2-3, but it was a nice surprise to see the North Americans so close in points (44.13 for V/M; 43.25 for D/W) given how much we’ve heard all year about how D/W’s weakest link is their compulsories.
+ The difference in score between # 4-5-6 (Pechalat/Bourzat, Khokhlova/Novitski, and Kerr/Kerr, respectively)? Less than .25. Yeowsers.
+ Samuelson/Bates are currently in 10th, with a score just .10 above last year’s (which had them in 13th after the CD). Navarro/Bommentre are in 14th.
+ In pairs SP, both Pang/Tong and Kavaguti/Smirnov skated clean, and finished 1-2 for the day.
+ Mukortova/Trankov were clean as well, though they are currently 4th behind Savchenko/Szolkowy despite his doubling on the SBS 3toes. Discontent body language abounded (especially from Trankov)at the sight of those scores.
+ Zhang/Zhang skated like they want the season over with already. They’re currently in 5th.
+ USA’s Denney/Barrett skated like they never want the season to end. They went clean, and are in 6th. Russia’s youngest team, Bazarova/Larionov, are a surprise 7th.
+ Dube/Davison are in 8th after yet another fall from Dube on the SBS 3salchow… their PCS (artistic) mark being the only thing that kept them ahead of USA’s Evora/Ladwig (again skating clean, as they did in the SP in Vancouver)… and France’s team of Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur, who might be something of a surprise in 10th (though if you watch their Olympic performances, not such a shock).
The men skate tomorrow morning…