UPDATED: Apologies for post errors. I am obviously living in the past.
Competition starts tomorrow at the Four Continents Championships in Colorado Springs. Here's a look at the field. Sometimes the top contenders hold back from 4CC (as its known) but this year there is definitely a lot to look forward to.
Obviously you have to heavily favor Canada's reigning world champion Patrick Chan, as he is favored in every competition he'll enter this season. I'm sure he'll land a couple of quads and rack up those presentation points. But, if there was a time for him to falter, it would be now, to get it out of his system before world championships next month.
The truer test here is to see whether Daisuke Takahashi can put together two strong programs and even land a quad, so he can become competitive with Chan once again.
And don't forget Takahiko Kozuka, who has had a terrible season but should not be disregarded as a medal threat. <---No idea where I got Kozuka from since he is not on the entry list. Apologies.
Song Nan will be here from China and he's made his mark this season with his quads and medal-winning showings in his Grand Prix events. He might be able to make it on the podium here as well.
America's Adam Rippon won this event in 2010 but only came in fifth last season. He is definitely a contender for a medal here, though. Richard Dornbush received a bit of a gift with this placement so let's see if he can make the most of it. And although Ross Miner won the bronze at NHK Trophy, I would be surprised to see him able to medal here.
1) Chan (Canada)
2) Takahashi (Japan)
3) Rippon (USA)
China's strongest skaters are not competing here which really opens things up for North American teams. However, they will have to deal with Sui and Han and Japan's Takahashi and Tran if they want to get on that podium. I think Canada's Duhamel and Radford have a strong medal chance. And if America's Denney and Coughlin (originally stated Barrett sorry!! I was obviously half asleep or something when I wrote this. Blergh) skate their free skate like they did at the US Nationals, they might have the podium in their sights as well.
1) Duhamel and Radford (Canada)
2) Takahashi and Tran (Japan)
3) Denney and Coughlin (USA)
Davis and White versus Virtue and Moir for the gold. Weaver and Poje versus Shibutani and Shibutani for the bronze. Not much else to worry about here, and I have no idea who to give the edge to. I think Davis and White have looked stronger but Virtue and Moir were no doubt annoyed they lost the Grand Prix Final and will come out charging. And I think I give the edge to Weaver and Poje as far as the bronze medal. They have been strong this season and the Shibutanis have been up and down.
1) Virtue and Moir (Canada)
2) Davis and White (USA)
3) Weaver and Poje (Canada)
Mao Asada needs to win this. She needs to have that momentum propel her into worlds so that she can challenge Carolina Kostner, who seems headed toward her first world championship this season. Asada has been doing fine - and fine tends to be good enough in ladies skating.
I will definitely have my eye on Ashley Wagner of the USA. It's her first competition as US National champion and I will be interested in how she fares. It might give us an idea of whether we should bother hoping that the US can get back three slots at the world championships in this year's competition. I don't expect too much from Agnes Zawadzki, who can't seem to stand up in her free skates, but maybe she can somehow leap onto the podium if she does land those awesome jumps. And then there is Caroline Zhang, who may very well be happy just to be here at this point. How far she has come! But this is a very weak field, and any of these ladies have a shot at a medal.
And don't forget the other Japanese ladies, Kanako Murakami and Haruka Imai. They've had disappointing seasons but there are obvious medal chances here.
1) Asada (Japan)
2) Wagner (USA)
3) Zawadzki (USA)