SOCHI 2014 LADIES PREVIEW/PREDICTIONS
There are 30 ladies from (I think) 20 nations scheduled to take the ice in
Sochi for the short
program. The top 24 will advance to the free skate on Thursday.
The Favorites: Before the Games got underway, reigning Olympic and World Champion Kim Yu-Na of
was probably the odds-on favorite to retain her OGM status. That was before Russia’s
Julia Lipnitskaia (who I endearingly refer to as Gumbyskaia due to her jaw-dropping flexibility) was revealed to the
rest of the world via the Team Event. Now, I’m guessing these two are
considered co-faves for gold by many.
The Top Challengers:
Mao Asada, who won silver here in 2010, is a highly competitive force—especially
if she nails one or both triple axels she has planned in her programs. But if/when
she makes mistakes, teammate Akiko Suzuki has the goods to outskate her (as she
did at Japanese Nationals this season). Italy’s
Carolina Kostner is the tallest of the ladies, the fastest, typically garners
huge component scores, and won Worlds in 2012—she should not be overlooked.
Also very much in the mix is Adelina Sotnikova of Russia; kind of off-the-radar
since Gumbyskaia hit it big in Sochi,
but it’s worth noting that Sotnikova has narrowly defeated her teammate a time
or two this season.
(What about) The
(?): Yes, we have a shot at the podium—but I don’t think it’s as solid a shot
as NBC would like us to believe. Scott Hamilton hinted at this last night when
they briefly discussed the Ladies event in prime time, indicating that while
reigning US Champ Gracie Gold may indeed have “the goods” and may indeed
deliver them, her relative inexperience and youth may translate into
back-of-the-pack placement among four or five ladies competing with the same
degree of technical difficulty. (NOTE: this argument doesn’t really apply to
even-younger Gumbyskaia because many
believe she already skates with the maturity of a twenty-something. This is
part of what makes her an OGM favorite.) As for Ashley Wagner, she’s at a
slight disadvantage on the technical side of things because her most difficult
jump is a triple flip/triple toe—it gets a lower base score than the triple
lutz/triple toe of others because it’s considered a little easier. But if she
can avoid the slight two-footing and underrotations that prompted her infamous “disappointed”
face during the Team Event, she should be in very good shape.
Polina Edmunds! What about her, you ask? I honestly do not know because she has never been in an international senior-level competition, let alone one as monumental as this. Yes, she too possesses magical triple-triple combos... but assuming she can pull them off here... will she come off as too “juniorish” to compete among the Suzukis and Kostners and Kims and fellow 15 year-old Gumbyskaia?
My Predictions for medals:
GOLD—Kim Yu-Na, KOR
SILVER—Julia Lipnitskaia, RUS
BRONZE—Mao Asada, JPN
Because... in a battle between Kim and Lipnitskaia (which has not yet happened anywhere; the latter was not part of last year’s Worlds and Kim was out the early part of this season with a foot injury), I simply think Kim is still going to emerge the winner.
What if Asada lands her triple axels cleanly, and has the skate(s) of her life? I will be SOOOOO happy for her because I personally get the feeling that Asada has worked the longest and hardest for this. There, I said it.
Bonus predictions! Other names to look for finishing in the Top Ten (in alphabetical order):
Carolina Kostner, ITA... Kanako
Murakami, JPN... ..
Adelina Sotnikova, RUS... Akiko Suzuki, JPN... Ashley Wagner, Kaetlyn Osmond, CAN. USA.
Remember, the Ladies SP starts today, 2/18, at on NBC SN (Sports Network), with highlights coming in prime time Wednesday night! (And the FS is Thursday 2/19!)
I will be live-tweeting as much as I can... follow me on Twitter @KLBSt8ofSk8.