Monday, March 23, 2009

Going Back to Cali: Worlds Ladies/Men Predictions

Enough procrastinating; enough waffling on these last picks before Worlds gets underway in less than 24 hours! Can you tell that I’m always the last one to figure out what to order in a restaurant? Criminy!

For the LADIES…

Gold-- Mao Asada
Silver-- Yu-Na Kim
Bronze-- Joannie Rochette

I want this to go to Yu-Na—I really do—as I think she brings more of the “complete package” that we love to talk about in skating. But if Asada hits her two triple axels, I don’t think Yu-Na stands a chance (as we saw at the Grand Prix Final). If Asada hits just ONE of her triple axels—something no other lady in contention has this year, to my knowledge (except maybe Ando?)—I think it still might be a lock for her. Yes, I remember what happened at 4CC’s just a month ago, but, well, this isn’t 4CC’s. This, in a word, is pressure. And even when the pressure (or whatever it was) caused Asada to have one of the most frightful “waxels” in the history of triple axel attempts, she still won.

As for bronze, I had Kostner sitting in that spot until just now… but I’ve decided to go with the one I think is more deserving this year. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong… but Rochette has had a stellar year thus far, and wasn’t far behind the top two on that bronze she just picked up at 4CCs (the same top two that I just named above). If our US reps can’t make it to the podium this time, I’m hoping our neighbor to the North will pull it out instead.

Possible spoilers include Kostner, Fumie Suguri, and Miki Ando. As for the US ladies (Alissa Czisny and Rachael Flatt), all I’m going to predict is that one of them might make Top 5, and both should at the very least be in the Top 10. Remember, the placements need to add up to 13 or lower in order for the US to qualify 3 ladies for the Olympics instead of 2…

And last but not least by a longshot, the MEN…

Gold— Brian Joubert
Silver— Patrick Chan
Bronze-- Yannick Ponsero

This is tough with a capitol T, and even as I type this I’m not feeling especially confident in my choices.

Every time I think someone will win because they are “hungry” as a result of previous results, my predictions have been off. So let’s not say that Joubert is starving, famished, or any other word that implies he needs a croissant tout de suite. Let’s say instead that he has perhaps THE short program of the year, coupled with at least one quad in the free skate that the mighty fantastic Mr. Chan doesn’t have just yet. With the kind of year Chan is having, I will not be shocked if a Canadian defeats Joubert for the second year running… but nonetheless, my money’s on Joubert this time.

As for bronze—wow, almost as tough as predicting gold, with so many worthy contenders! But I’m going out of my comfort zone and picking Ponsero, the current French champ who seems to be getting the hang of back-to- back great performances in this later part of the season. And his quad is one of the best in the business right now-- a thing of beauty when he hits it.

My spoiler list could run for days, but I’ll narrow it to four: Takahiko Kozuka (whose subtlety I love but might get a little lost in the home stretch this season), JeremEEE Abbott (obviously on a great run), Nobonari Oda (great comeback but still a little unpredictable), and—don’t rule him out yet—Evan Lysacek, who seemed to get a lot more judicial love at 4CC’s than he’s received all year. Maybe he’s turned a corner, and will peak for the season at the perfect time…

For the
Clip of the Day—sorry if I’ve shown this already, but here’s Ponsero’s recent FS from Euros.

Check back throughout the week for occasional updates and—more likely—prolific commentary. If I can find any skating to watch, that is…

P.S. If you’re still seeking out your own video sources for Worlds, go to and click on TV ALERTS… you should be able to find some ideas there.

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