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2010 World Championships Preview: Ladies

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Here's how I see the ladies competition, which begins tomorrow.

The Contenders

Mao Asada (Japan):  Asada will likely be attempting three triple axels again.  She was successful at the Olympics, but there were other major errors in her free skate.  It would be nice to see her put together two clean skates here and see the points she could rake in.  Asada is the 2008 world champion and the only skater I think has a true shot of beating Kim, unless Kim utterly implodes.

Yu-na Kim (South Korea): Kim was already a mistake or two better than the other ladies, but add the Olympic gold medal sheen and I assume she'll be unbeatable.  However, she's also got to be dealing with the post-Olympic "hangover," and there have been articles about how difficult it's been for her to get back into training.  If she makes enough mistakes, then I suppose anything can happen.  It will also be hard to top the two clean programs she put together at the Olympics.

The Dark Horses

Miki Ando (Japan):  Ando has been skating clean lately, but she is inferior on artistry.  She skated well at the Olympics but had no feeling or connection in her programs whatsoever.  Still, clean skating is a threat.  She should definitely be a medal threat here, and is the 2007 world champ.

Rachael Flatt (USA):  I don't see any reason why a clean Flatt won't contend for a medal, especially if others err.  I assume she's had time to shake off her Olympic disappointments by now and will be ready to do what Flatt does best - skate clean.  I would be surprised if the judges are as hard on her here as they were in Vancouver...I still don't know about those downgrades!  Flatt finished fifth in last year's worlds.

Laura Lepisto (Finland):  Lepisto scores pretty well internationally, and it seems that the judges want her to be successful on this stage.  If she can keep it together, I think she'll see favorable scores and perhaps be able to sneak onto the podium. She does not have a world medal yet. 

Mirai Nagasu (USA):  I wouldn't expect Nagasu to easily slide into Joannie Rochette's bronze medal position from the Olympics, but if she skates with the confidence she had in the free skate in Vancouver, then she may even be a silver medal threat.  She started peaking at Nationals and I guess we'll see if she has come down from the Olympic high.  I would like to see her try a triple/triple here. This is her first senior worlds.

Akiko Suzuki (Japan):  Suzuki's programs are not difficult enough, to be honest, but if she skates them clean and others make mistakes, she'll have a shot at the podium.  I was very sad she didn't get television time on NBC while at the Olympics...I think her programs are both very fun to watch.