So, wow… no big skating competitions until October… SO WHY NOT MAKE SH*T UP?!
We’ve got 3 spots each for the ladies and dance, and two each for pairs and men. So lets break it down in that order.
After a very good showing at worlds, I think that both Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold are well on their way to making their first Olympic teams. Additionally, if Gold continues to advance artistically, I think they both have a shot at a top-5 placing in Sochi.
The third spot, IMHO, is where the competition really heats up. The way I see it, you’ve got three key players - Christina Gao, Mirai Nagasu, and Agnes Zawadski - along with a couple up-and-comers with an outside chance (Courtney Hicks and Yasmin Siraj come to mind) and two skaters looking to return from time off (Alissa Czisny and Rachel Flatt). Ultimately, I think it will come down to Gao and Zawadski, and I think Gao will come out on top.
Prediction: Wagner, Gold, Gao
Really, there isn’t much competition here. Davis and White are the class of the world, Chock and Bates were extremely well-received by the international community at Worlds, and the Shibutanis are a solid and world-class team.
Prediction: Davis/White, Chock/Bates, Shibutani/Shibutani
With Denny and Coughlin returning from his hip surgery, I think they’ll reassert themselves at the top of the US pairs ladder. I think the real battle will be for the second spot, probably between Scimeca/Knierim and Castelli/Shnapir, and I think that Scimeca/Knierim will come out on top. They’re a pair with a whole lot of upside and not much downside, and their top-10 placement at Worlds was a stellar debut.
Prediction: Denny/Coughlin, Scimeca/Knierim (bronze: Castelli/Shnapir)
I saved this for last because its frankly pretty wide open. In alphabetical order, I think Aaron, Abbott, Dornbush, Farris, Johnson, Miner, and Rippon have a shot at making the team, and throw possible returners Lysacheck and Weir into the pot and you’ve got yourself one hell of a competition for two Olympic berths.
I can’t help but think that Abbott, who is returning to his sublime Exogenesis freeskate and who is working with the equally-sublime Robin Cousins on his short has an excellent shot at making the team. Exogenesis is such an excellent program that it has a 10-point components advantage over all of the other skaters in the field (not counting Lysachek- we havent seen anything from him in 4 years, lord knows what he’s capable of), and I’d wager he’ll spend a whole lot of his long off-season perfecting his quad toe. If Abbott can get his 4T consistent, I think he’s one of a very small number of skaters capable of stopping Patrick Chan’s seemingly predestined run at Olympic gold, due in large part to his component scores.
Max Aaron had quite the breakout year, and I’d guess that he’s the co-front-runner with Abbott for the Sochi team. Clearly, he has the jumps to be world class, and his artistic growth between nationals and worlds was significant. Hopefully Coach Tom finds a way to let him score some higher components while maintaining his technical edge.
I think Joshua Farris represents the future of the US men’s team, and it frankly wouldn’t surprise me if he got one of the two spots - he’s a complete skater - quad, triples, spins, choreography - plus that X factor that skaters crave- he seems to float above the ice, as opposed to laboring on it.
Of course, those picks don’t take into account the unknowns of Evan and Johnny, although I think Weir’s best competitions are behind him. As for Evan? Lord knows.
Prediction: Abbott, Aaron (bronze: Lysachek)
Well kids, there you have it. How confident am I in my predictions? 99.9% confident in dance, 75% confident in pairs, 60% confident in ladies, and maybe 45% confident in men’s. Only time will tell, but if I run the board at Nationals, I expect a fabulous shoutout from Jackie Wong on twitter :-)