Thursday, January 22, 2015

More 2015 U.S. Nationals Predictions: Men and Dance

Ready for some more Nationals predictions? I’ll get right to them...


GOLD: Jason Brown
SILVER: Max Aaron
BRONZE: Nathan Chen
PEWTER: Jeremy Abbott

Dark Horse: Richard Dornbush or Adam Rippon
“Nowhere” Man:  Stephen Carriere

You know which top-ranked American man has had a great season so far? NONE of them. Sure, the GP guys each had a very good program here and there, and a couple (Brown and Dornbush) even picked up a medal along the way. But I don’t look at any names on the “Bye” list of Senior male qualifiers and say Yep, he’s really on a roll.

That makes it a little tough to predict a winner in this event, so I’m playing a game of “what-do we know” instead: We know Abbott has been known to shine at Nationals like he does at no other event... but we also know he’s missed the World team completely a couple of times in the past 6 years. We know Brown doesn’t have a quad, but has finished on the podium even when missing a triple or two... his component scores are that good. We know Aaron DOES have a quad—or quads—and can light up the arena when he nails them (which isn’t a guarantee like it was a few years ago, but still...). And if you’ve followed the Nationals up-and-comers at all over the past several years, you know that 15 year-old Chen has been winning and waiting (and winning again, and waiting some more) for this, his senior Nats debut. And yes, he’s got 2 quad toes in his free skate. He was 1 for 2 with them at Pacific Sectionals.

So there’s my top four; what about the rest of the hardworking young men deserving of greatness? Both Dornbush (who may, this season, have the best pair of programs I’ve ever seen from him) and Rippon (who reportedly is debuting a new SP in Greensboro) have enjoyed the Nats podium exactly once, so we know they are at least capable of back-to-back great skates. Yes, the same can be said of Ross Miner—and Josh Farris, if you count pewter as “the podium”—but so far this year I haven’t seen either one of them come close to their best form.

Carriere was on the U.S. podium once as well—with bronze, way back in 2008—but has lingered mostly around 9th and 10th place ever since. This is why he counts as my “Nowhere” man, as I think that kind of placement counts as Nowhere when you’ve previously made it to the mountaintop. Also because no one other than the aforementioned Chen stood out for me at any of the Sectional competitions. And Chen’s been too uniformly successful to come from anywhere close to Nowhere.

GOLD: Madison Chock/Evan Bates
SILVER: Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani
BRONZE: Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue
PEWTER: Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker

Dark Horse: Hawayek/Baker

This isn’t the free-for-all event you might think it to be in a year missing Davis & White, for Chock/Bates have far and away been the most successful U.S. team on the international front. As for the battle for bronze, I’m going with senior veterans Hubbell/Donohue despite being unmoved by their Gatsby free dance. But last year’s Junior Champs Hawayek/Baker already captured a GP bronze in their first season on the circuit, and have a chemistry and flow that easily sets them apart from the rest of the pack—perhaps enough to overtake Hubbell/Donohue already. That’s why they also have my Dark Horse vote.

Whether you’re following everything on Ice Network, or just the marquee groups/events on NBC this weekend, chances are good that I’ll be on Twitter at the same time... look for me @KLBSt8ofSk8, using #NC2015 on all Nats-related Tweets!

No comments: