Four Continents Championships: Ladies Preview

Miki Ando’s free skate has been propelling her to the top most of the season.  She came from behind to claim two gold medals on the Grand Prix with solid free skates.  She debuted a new short at the Grand Prix Final and it went so badly, that despite again finishing first in the free skate, she wasn’t able to move up a single spot.  She seemed to have rectified that problem at nationals when she soundly defeated a very strong field of Japanese ladies (two who beat her at the GPF).  If her short program woes are behind her, she should make a good run for the top of the podium.  She has the top free skate and 4th best total score for the season.

Alissa Czisny has beat all of the top ladies at this event and is arguably entering as the favorite with a GPF win in her belt.  She was able to go clean at nationals and skate two beautiful programs and each successful program seems to build her confidence more and more.  She still has some small errors on her jumps which affect her GOE so she will have trouble defeating a Miki Ando who skates two clean programs.  Barring a major disaster, I don’t think Alissa will have any problem medaling here.  She has the top short program score, 3rd best free skate score and best total score of the season.

Akiko Suzuki finished 4th at Japanese nationals and has been left off the World Team, so she has something to prove here and nothing to lose.  I think her programs are absolutely charming and think she’s underscored on some of her program components.  A medal here could help her hold on to her place among the top Japanese ladies.  She has the 9th best short program, 5th best free skate and 5th best total score for the season.

The other two Americans at this event are Mirai Nagasu and Rachael Flatt.  Both have had struggles this season, but if they skate clean they could both wind up on the podium.  Nagasu tends to suffer a crisis of confidence when she finds herself in first after the short and will melt down in the free skate.  If she’s not in first after the short, look for her to put out a fantastic free skate.  Flatt has struggled with injury this season but after a new short program, has come back healthy and with a new love for the sport.  She’s working on some difficult jump combinations which could earn her huge points if they’re landed.  This could be the perfect opportunity to try them out prior to worlds, but too many mistakes could leave her behind in the standings.  Mirai has the 6th best short program, 9th best free skate and 8th best total score of the season.  Rachael has the 7th best free skate score of the season.

Mao Asada has really struggled this season.  Her jumps abandoned her in her two Grand Prix assignments and her scores were over 30 points behind the top scores for the season.  She greatly improved at Japanese nationals and while nationals scores are generally inflated, if she skates like she did at nationals she should be within the mix of the top ladies.

Cynthia Phaneuf, Amelie Lacoste and Myriane Samson are representing Canada.  All three ladies are solid skaters and Lacoste and Samson are very consistent.  On their own, they would be unlikely to make the podium, but if other skaters make mistakes they could move up the rankings and onto the podium.  Phaneuf has the 10th best short program score of the season.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Miki Ando
Silver: Alissa Czisny
Bronze: Akiko Suzuki

My USFSA Fantasy Team:
A) Miki Ando
B) Amelie Lacoste
C) Victoria Muniz

The competitors:

Cheltzie Lee, AUT: She finished 20th at the Olympics with personal best short program and total scores and 17th at Worlds with a personal best free skate.  She finished 14th at Four Continents last season.

Jaimee Nobbs, AUT: She finished 47th at the World Junior Championships.  She finished 16th at JGP Japan.

Amelie Lacoste, CAN: Lacoste placed 7th at Four Continents last season.  She won bronze at Skate Canada with personal best scores across the board and 5th at Skate America.

Cynthia Phaneuf, CAN: Phaneuf finished 12th at the Olympics and 5th at Worlds with a personal best free skate and total score.  She is the 2004 Four Continents silver medalist.  She finished 4th at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard.

Myriane Samson, CAN: Samson finished 29th at the World Championships and 8th at Four Continents last season.  She finished 7th at Skate Canada earlier this season with personal best scores across the board and 8th at Cup of Russia with a personal best free skate. 

Bingwa Geng, CHN: She placed 18th at the 2009 World Junior Championships.  She finished 5th at Cup of China with personal best scores across the board.

Quiying Zhu, CHN: Zhu placed 19th at last year’s World Junior Championships.  She withdrew from Cup of China after a personal best short program.

Crystal Kiang, TPE: She finished 43rd at Worlds and 18th at Four Continents last season with personal best scores across the board.

Chaochih Liu, TPE: She finished 30th at Four Continents last season.  She finished 19th at JGP Japan.

Melinda Wang, TPE: Wang finished 19th at Four Continents last season.  She finished 33rd at the World Junior Championships.

Tiffany Packard Yu, HKG: She finished 28th at Four Continents last season.

Miki Ando, JPN (D): Ando placed 5th at the Olympics and 4th at the World Championships.  She is the 2004 World Junior Champion and 2007 World Champion.  She is the only lady to ever land a quadruple jump in competition.  She won Cup of China and Cup of Russia to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she placed 5th.

Mao Asada, JPN (D): Asada won silver at the Olympics with a personal best total score and is the reigning World and Four Continents Champion.  She is the 2007 World silver medalist and 2008 World Champion.  She is the 2008 Four Continents Champion and 2009 bronze medalist.  She won the World Junior title in 2005 and took silver in 2006.  She finished 8th at NHK Trophy and 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard.

Akiko Suzuki, JPN: Suzuki placed 8th at the Olympics Games with personal best short and free program scores.  She also placed 11th at the World Championships and 2nd at Four Continents last season.  She won silver at Cup of China and Cup of Russia to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she placed 4th.

Reyna Hamui, MEX: She finished 20th at JGP Austria.

Mary Ro Reyes, MEX: She finished 26th at Four Continents last season.  She placed 22nd at JGP Germany.

Mericien Venzon, PHI: She finished 24th at Four Continents last season.  She placed 23rd at JGP Japan.

Victoria Muniz, PUR: She finished 31st at the World Championships.

Chae-Hwa Kim, KOR: She finished 13th at Four Continents last season with personal best free skate and total scores.

Min-Jeong Kwak, KOR: Kwak placed 13th in her Olympic debut with personal bests in the free skate and total score and finished 22nd at the World Championships.  She finished 6th at Four Continents last season.  She finished 9th at Cup of China and 11th at Skate America.

Yea-Ji Yun, KOR: She finished 12th and 11th at her two JGP assignments in 2009.

Brittany Lau, SIN: She finished 46th at World Juniors.  She finished 18th at JGP Japan.

Lejeanne Marais, RSA: She finished 16th at World Juniors last season with personal best scores across the board.

Mimi Tanasorn Chindasook, THA: Chindasook placed 29th at World Juniors last season.  She finished 12th at JGP Japan and 21st at JGP Austria.

Taryn Jurgensen, THA: She finished 33rd at Four Continents last season.  She finished 20th at JGP France.

Melanie Swang, THA: She finished 25th at her JGP assignment in 2009.

Alissa Czisny, USA: Czisny won Skate Canada with personal best free and total scores and won bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she won gold with personal best scores across the board.

Rachael Flatt, USA: Flatt placed 7th at the Olympics with personal best scores across the board and 9th at Worlds.  She is the 2008 World Junior Champion.  She won silver at NHK Trophy and Skate America to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where she finished 6th.

Mirai Nagasu, USA: Nagasu placed 4th at her Olympic debut with personal bests in the free skate and total score.  She placed 7th at the World Championships after a personal best short program.  She won a silver and bronze medal at the World Junior Championships. She finished 4th at Cup of China and took silver at Trophee Eric Bompard.