Moving back to U.S. Nationals, which are whizzing by at breakneck speed this week… time for some predictions already! (SP's for both of the below take place today/tonight)
Gold- Caitlin Yankowskas & John Coughlin
Silver- Amanda Evora & Mark Ladwig
Bronze- Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett
I’d like to say Denney/Barrett are a lock for a repeat victory, for I love their energy and in the past, their consistency has far surpassed other U.S. teams. But their two outings earlier this fall just weren’t clicking, be it the coaching change, or newfound pressure, or whatever. Evora/Ladwig can be a delight to watch and they’ve surely got some of the best lifts in the biz right now, but they’re still a little hit-or-miss with the jumps. I’m going with Yankowskas/Coughlin… in the past they’ve managed a great SP only to fumble their free skate, but they seemed to turn a corner in that regard with the Grand Prix events… including their first GP medal.
DARK HORSES: Simpson/Miller were the junior silver medalists last year, got 2 senior GP assignments this past fall, and are the top “junior” contenders since Zhang/Toth had to withdraw. And Castelli/Shnapir also got some solid GP experience this fall, and just missed a podium finish at Skate Canada.
WATCH FOR: Marley/Brubaker and Bereswill/Young, two wild cards in that they each feature a familiar name but are relatively untested as teams.
And for LADIES:
Gold- Mirai Nagasu
Silver- Alissa Czisny
Bronze- Rachael Flatt
This is tough! For all the difficulty we’ve had getting U.S. ladies to the world championship podium of late, there’s a pretty evenly-talented pool of at least a half-dozen young women vying for those two world spots. And then there’s all the questions: after the controversy surrounding Flatt’s victory last year over Nagasu (see today’s Clip of the Day) , will the tables turn in Nagusu’s favor this time? Will Flatt’s new SP go over better than anyone thinks? Will Czisny be able to shake off old demons and embrace confidence via her most recent success? Ashley Wagner tweeted last night that she has the flu (!); will she be able to skate to her potential? Can Agnes Zawadski skate as well in the FS as she’s been doing in the SP? My best prediction to any of these is reflected in my choices above, with Wagner and Zawadski having a great shot at top 5 if they don’t medal.
DARK HORSE: Christina Gao. You haven’t seen or heard as much about Gao (who is coached by Brian Orser and finished 5th in this event last year) because she was on the Junior GP circuit this fall. But she was racking up silver medals on said circuit, so don’t count her out.
WATCH FOR: Samantha Cesario. Though she only finished 14th last year, she and her Man of La Mancha free skate was one of the more impressive performances I caught when skimming through Eastern Sectionals (her qualifying event).
I’ll be back soon to post dance and men’s predictions…