Skate America Ladies Preview

This is shaping up to be a tight four way race that includes a rematch of the NHK Trophy.  Carolina Kostner squeaked out a narrow win at the first event of the season but her free program had errors and she is not the most consistent skater.  I’m not sure she can put together another two programs here.  Rachael Flatt is one of the most consistent skaters out there and she won silver and the free skate at last year’s Skate America.  She’s planning on upping her difficulty here and with the home crowd behind her, she has a real shot at a Gold medal and a ticket to the Grand Prix Final.  Bronze will likely come down to Kanako Murakami and Amelie Lacoste.  Amelie had a great free skate at Skate Canada and won bronze with personal best scores.  Kanako Murakami also set personal best scores on route to a bronze medal at NHK Trophy.  She had some errors in her free skate, but at 15 she had great composure in front of the home crowd.  Her joy on the ice is infectious and I think she should be able to pull out another medal here with a senior competition under her belt.  If any of the top three makes errors, look for Lacoste to wind up on the podium again.  For Team USA, Alexe Gilles and Caroline Zhang are both gorgeous skaters who have had good international results in the past but have been struggling recently.  Both need better showings here especially with a crop of junior skaters competing nationally as seniors for the first time this year.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Rachael Flatt
Silver: Carolina Kostner
Bronze: Kanako Murakami

My USFSA Fantasy Team is:
A) Rachael Flatt
B) Amelie Lacoste
C) Joshi Helgesson

Information on all of the competitors is below.

Amelie Lacoste, CAN:  Lacoste placed 7th at Four Continents.  She placed 7th and 6th at her two Grand Prix assignments last season.  She won bronze at Skate Canada this season with personal best scores across the board.

Mae Berenice Meite, FRA: She finished 12th at the World Junior Championships.  She finished 6th and 13th at her two Junior Grand Prix assignments last season.  This is her Grand Prix debut.

Elene Gedevanishvili, GEO: She placed 14th at the Olympics with a personal best short program, 18th at Worlds and won bronze at Europeans with personal best free and total scores.  She finished 7th and 6th at her two Grand Prix assignments last season.  She placed 6th earlier this season at NHK Trophy. 

Jenna McCorkell, GBR: She placed 29th at the Olympics, 14th at Worlds with personal best free and total scores and 14th at Europeans with a personal best short program.  She finished 8th and 10th at her two Grand Prix assignments last season.  She finished 11th at NHK Trophy earlier this season.  She is married to Kevin van der Perren of Belgium.

Carolina Kostner, ITA: She finished 16th at the Olympics, 6th at Worlds and is the reigning European champion.  She has one silver and one bronze medal at worlds and 2 additional gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal at Europeans.  She finished 6th at both her Grand Prix assignments last season.  She won gold at her first assignment, NHK Trophy.

Kanako Murakami, JPN: Murakami is the reigning World Junior Champion.  She won both of her Junior Grand Prix assignments and the Junior Grand Prix Final last year.  She won bronze at her Grand Prix debut at the NHK Trophy with personal best scores across the board.

Min-Jeong Kwak, KOR: She placed 13th at the Olympics with personal best free and total scores, 22nd at World Championships, and 6th at Four Continents with a personal best short program.  She finished 11th at both her Junior Grand Prix assignments last year.  She finished 9th at her Grand Prix debut in China.

Joshi Helgesson, SWE: She placed 9th and 11th at her two Grand Prix assignments last season.  She finished 7th at Cup of China with personal best free and total scores.  Her older sister Viktoria is also competing at Skate America.

Viktoria Helgesson, SWE: She placed 10th at the World Championships with personal best scores across the board and 11th at Europeans.  She placed 9th in her Grand Prix debut at the NHK Trophy.  Her younger sister Joshi is also competing at Skate America.

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 finished 4th at Cup of China last season before winning silver at Skate America.  She won silver earlier this season at the NHK Trophy.

Alexe Gilles, USA: Gilles finished 9th at Four Continents.  She placed 5th and 10th at her two Grand Prix assignments last season.  She finished 11th at her first assignment this season, Skate Canada.

Caroline Zhang, USA: Zhang is the Four Continents bronze medalist.  She is the 2007 World Junior Champion and 2008 and 2009 World Junior silver medalist.  She finished 4th and 8th at her two Grand Prix assignments last season.  She started her season with a 7th place finish at NHK Trophy.