The Russian ladies Olympic team consists of their national champion, Ksenia Makarova, and national silver medalist Alena Leonova. Leonova made some waves earlier this season, and the ladies field in general is a tad unpredictable, so I'm taking a look at Leonova as a (very) dark horse medal contender.
Leonova is the reigning junior world champion, but she's nearly 20, so she's definitely got a bit more maturity than some of the younger juniors. Still, she skates like a kid. She is all about the spunk. Unfortunately, when she starts to get unsure of the program because she has made too many errors, all the air inflates from the program and she is no longer as fun to watch. Here's hoping for a spunky, jazz-hands waving Leonova at the Olympics!
Prior to winning junior worlds last season, Leonova did not really have a great track record in international competition. However, she truly made a splash on the Grand Prix circuit this season, winning a bronze medal at Rostelecom Cup and a silver at NHK. She had a bit of a disastrous Grand Prix Final, finishing sixth, and she only finished 2nd at her nationals and finally, 7th at Europeans, so it seems that her penchant for making mistakes in her programs has caught up with her.
The Programs: I don't think the programs are particularly artistic marvels, but Leonova knows how to sell them so that it no longer matters. And even though her Chicago free skate music has been used many times, it's still quite fun to watch.
Latest Performances: Leonova is not heading into the Olympics with much momentum; she only placed seventh at Europeans, against a not particularly competitive crowd.
Weaknesses: Sloppy landings
It gives me the creeps when: She looks scared out there!
I think it's awesome when: She feels the music and is a bundle of energy and joy
Outlook: Not sure. It appears she did her best at the end of the season last year, so I won't write her off, just yet. I also think that a clean Alena Leonova could be dangerous - but we haven't seen her clean too much this season, so who knows?