Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018 U.S. Nationals Preview/Predictions: Men

We’ve been hearing about this event more than any other this season… three spots, countless contenders. Well, not exactly…

There are 21 men scheduled to compete; here are the names I expect to make the top ten by competition’s end:

Max Aaron
Jason Brown
Nathan Chen
Timothy Dolensky
Grant Hochstein
Alexander Johnson
Alexei Krasnozhon
Ross Miner
Adam Rippon
Vincent Zhou

And my “short list” (Top 6, AKA actual medal contenders)?

Aaron—former Nats champ who has struggled ever since, but still “brings it” at times
Brown—former Nats champ known for every skating skill under the sun EXCEPT a quad
Chen—Current champ, guy on skateboard in NBC ads, quad machine, boot-and-blade wearer-outer
Hochstein—two-time pewter medalist, struggles with consistency, engaged to Caroline Zhang aka “Bunny”
Rippon—former Nats champ, out with broken foot last year, veteran of veterans here
Zhou—Silver medalist last year, potential quad machine but overdid it in the GP season (translation- he wiped out a lot and didn’t medal)

Which leaves me with these predictions:

GOLD: Nathan Chen
SILVER: Adam Rippon
BRONZE: Vincent Zhou

DARK HORSE: Jason Brown or Max Aaron

What I hope and pray everyone has learned from earlier in the season (by “everyone” I mean coaches too) is that it’s too costly to go wild wild west with the quads. Throwing caution to the wind could, quite literally, mean throwing out your shoulder… your hip… ankle, big toe, bellybutton, WHATEVER. It’s not worth it, right? Can we all agree?

Yeah, I know… probably not. But if we could: Chen would rein it in enough to get the triple axels AND three or four quads (Ok, probably four +) and carry the rest on the strength of two very well-designed and skated programs.

Rippon would do exactly what he’s been doing all season, along with the gorgeous quad lutz we know he can do. (BTW if he misses out on the team this time I may assume the fetal position and primal scream it out for a week.)

Zhou would take it down to maybe 2 or 3 quads in the FS and let his talent shine.

And if any of the above aren’t able to deliver, Brown and Aaron better be RIGHT behind them ready to get it done. I’d love to see either of them make it too. We shall see.

Be sure to check out my polls about Nationals—the newest one will be pinned to the top of my Twitter feed (@KLBSt8ofSk8).

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