Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One More Time: 2014 World Figure Skating Championship Predictions

I was thinking about what I just wrote the other day about unexpected outcomes in post-Olympic World Championships, and that’s why you’ll see a special category among these 2014 Worlds predictions. Full-out Radar Buster (FoRB) means someone who has been “flying under the radar”, as we say, during the course of the 2013-14 season... not skating up to their potential, be it a physical thing, mental thing, or something we fans never quite understand for sure. I might not have pegged them correctly—why get shockingly accurate with my predictions this late in the year, right?—but be on the lookout for FoRBs in all the disciplines. This could be their time.


GOLD: Javier Fernandez, ESP
SILVER: Yuzuru Hanyu, JPN
BRONZE: Tatsuki Machida, JPN

Dark Horse: Maxim Kovtun, RUS
Full-out Radar-Buster: Takahiko Kozuka, JPN

Hanyu is the only OGM showing up at Worlds this time, but I don’t necessarily think a World title will be easy for him to get... even with his fellow medalists out of the picture (as they’ll be this week). Enter Fernandez, who was a mere 1.18 points from earning bronze in Sochi. Last year he became the first Spaniard to win any World figure skating medal. Maybe this year he’ll be the first to win gold.

My dark horse, Kovtun, is the Russian teen who won his Nationals, but was left behind on the Sochi bus as Evgeni Plushenko was the Olympics rep, not to mention the attention grabber (first for how he could skate and then for how he couldn’t). Kovtun proved at Europeans to be fallible under intense pressure; here, he might be able and ready to prove something else... and win back a 2nd Russian men’s spot at Worlds in the process.

And my FoRB is Kozuka because he’s had a so-so year to date, but pulled it together in time to make the podium at Japanese Nats... only to be passed over for Sochi by 5th place Takahashi. Two years ago he won silver at this event. I’d love to think anything’s possible for this guy.


GOLD: Carolina Kostner, ITA
SILVER: Julia Lipnitskaia, RUS
BRONZE: Mao Asada, JPN

Dark Horse: Gracie Gold, USA
Full-out Radar-Buster: Kaetlyn Osmond, CAN

Ideally, Asada would win this one more time (with both triple axels intact, on home ice) and retire on that high note... but that may be too much to ask of her at this point. So instead, I’m hoping Kostner can ride the wave of confidence that buoyed her to Olympic bronze and net her second World title. I suspect Lipnitskaia will rebound from her time in the Sochi pressure cooker and return to form.

If Gold hits her 3/3 she should have a shot at bronze... especially if others at the top fumble. FoRB pick Osmond was chosen just because of a little feeling I have :-)... maybe her first top 5 finish, if not a medal?


GOLD: Savchenko/Szolkowy, GER
SILVER: Stolbova/Klimov, RUS
BRONZE: Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, CAN

Dark Horse: Peng/Zhang, CHN
Full-out Radar-Buster: Sui/Han, CHN

I’m going traditional with this one, mostly because I’m not sure what to expect with Stolbova/Klimov. They lit up Sochi, but Saitama? They DO seem to be on a roll, which is why I’m predicting the podium for them... just not THAT much of a roll. (But as you know by my Oly predictions alone, you might want to bet on the opposite outcome!)

I know I don’t have Duhamel/Radford up here... I guess I think they’ve already peaked this season (maybe with the Olympic team event in particular). I could be wrong, as M-T/M are the ones that finished higher in the pairs event and maybe they’ve already turned in their best, but it just feels like M-T/M’s turn right now. But look for both Chinese teams to crash the Canadian party...


GOLD: Ilinykh/Katsalapov, RUS
SILVER: Pechalat/Bourzat, FRA
BRONZE: Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS

Dark Horse: Weaver/Poje, CAN
Full-out Radar-Buster: Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA

I want to be wrong on this one in particular. It’s closing time for the veteran French team; they apparently wanted to wrap it all up last month, but popular demand pushed them to give it one more go. With both of the top North American teams out, this might be the most interesting discipline of the whole week... and I’d enjoy seeing Pech/Bour counterbalance their Sochi disappointment with a victory here. But I feel like the momentum is tipping the scales in I/K’s favor. Unless they have a glaring error, like they did at Euros (and the GP Final I think?)... then a spot-on P/B might get a chance.

And my Dark Horse and FoRB candidates might be interchangeable here... with dance having less placement fluctuation than singles, I don’t really think an “off-the-radar” team could suddenly leap into the medals. But there’s a tight race between five teams (who finished 3rd-7th in Sochi). One bummer stretch of twizzles amongst any of them could make the difference between victory and 4th place!

Everything gets started Tuesday night at 9PM Eastern Time—join me on Twitter for as much live-tweeting as I can manage @KLBSt8ofSk8!

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