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World Championship Preview: Men

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The men's competition!  Canada waits with baited breath to see if its figure skating prince can bring back men's podium glory to the nation.  Skate Canada readies itself with dozens of preemptive "greatest skater of all time" press releases.  And there are other skaters here, too!  


The Contenders

Patrick Chan (Canada): This has felt like a season-long coronation of Chan.   Sometimes he's amazing, and he wins. Sometimes he's error-filled, and he wins. He's going to win.  Not to mention that he is planning two quads in his free skate.  He may be close to unbeatable.  Think of it, if he had actually trained a consistent quad all those times he was whining about how the quads are unnecessary, I have no doubt he would have been Olympic champion, because those jumps are much more reliable for Chan than the triple axel.  And they are glorious.  If he is clean, with that technical content and his artistry, it will be an amazing show. However, Chan has such high program components that he can fall numerous times and still win this competition.  Unless...

Daisuke Takahashi (Japan): I truly believe that a CLEAN Daisuke Takahashi with a couple of triple axels and a quad is the only one who can beat a good Patrick Chan in this competition, and even then he might need Chan to spot him some jumps by falling.  When Takahashi is on, he has intense passion and presentation unmatched by anyone else competing there.  I honestly think Chan's faux emotion can't hold a candle to Takahashi's natural showmanship.  Unfortunately for Takahashi, he has been very off and on this season - more off than on, despite his numerous competitive wins.  We will need to see a very clean and focused Takahashi.

The Dark Horses

 

Takahiko Kozuka:  Kozuka just won the qualifying round here, to which I say, big deal.  Kozuka is a beautiful skater but his short program is an abomination this season and I have seen his free skate like twelve times and can't even remember what it is, so that should tell you a bit about why Kozuka is a dark horse.  He's definitely medal-ready, but when you see him skate against people like Chan and Takahashi, all of his beautiful technique goes out the window because he doesn't have the charisma.  It might have been different if he were performing in front of a home crowd still, but he's not.  But if he lands all the jumps and the others err, Kozuka could be on the podium.  Maybe at the top.

Brian Joubert (France):  Brian Joubert!  Just when I count you out, you come roaring back from a poor short in Europeans to take the silver medal.  Joubert still has something left.  He tends to be sloppy and he will be behind Chan and Takahashi on components, but not by as much as you might think.  Really, he needs to land not only his quads, but the rest of his jumps as well.  If he does, then he has an advantage over someone like Verner or even maybe Amodio who is not doing a quad.

 

Florent Amodio (France):  Amodio is a beautiful skater.  He went for the flash this season with Michael Jackson for the free skate and it doesn't do his skating justice, but he does stand out in a crowd and maybe that's good for now.  He won Europeans.  His lack of a quad puts him at a great disadvantage in this competition, but he does have an ability to skate clean and if he just puts up what he has, he may indeed find himself on the podium because a lot of these other guys can be sloppy sloppy.

Michal Brezina (Czech Republic):  Brezina missed much of the season after having vein surgery and he only came in eighth at Europeans, but he really had a great year last season so I'm not counting him out for a good finish.  Especially since it's been months since Europeans so hopefully he has been able to take advantage of the training time.  Still, a podium finish is quite a long shot.

Nobunari Oda (Japan):  I almost put Oda up with the contenders but then I remembered it's Oda.  He can get sloppy, his programs are not exciting, and he does not have a connection with the audience...at least not this season.  He also makes CRAZY mistakes sometimes in changing his programs.  I hope he's learned his lesson and he'll stick to the script this time.  He's got beautiful technique and he'll get good grade of execution on jumps, but his program components will not touch Chan's or even Takahashi's.  He'll need a little help from the others in order to win.

Tomas Verner (Czech Republic):  I don't know.  Verner has a chance to medal if he is clean.  He is also doing a Michael Jackson free skate. He abandoned the quad this year and has been having a successful season - not sure if he's added the jump back for worlds, but he may be taking the Amodio route:  land all the triples and wait for everyone else to mess up.

American Outlook

I don't see a medal threat in Ryan Bradley, Richard Dornbush or Ross Miner.  It's the first championship for the latter two and I assume a top 12 finish for them would be something to celebrate.  Although, if Dornbush can be clean and work his magic on the international judges the way he did on the nationals judges, we could have a future star on our hands (without a quad, so far).  Bradley will get poor components scores so he has to be as clean here as he was in the nationals short program in order to have any shot at the podium.  I predict the United States will lose it's third spot at worlds and next year will only have two competitors. 

Predictions

1) Chan

2) Takahashi

3) Kozuka*

*I feel like every time I predict great things for Kozuka, he bombs out in the short and is an also-ran.  So, Takahiko, I apologize for putting you up there.