World Championships: Mens Preview

Patrick Chan struggled at the beginning of the season landing his jumps but his PCS scores were still high enough to keep him at the top of the podium.  He nailed both of his programs at the Grand Prix Final to take gold and post a total score over 10 points higher than any other competitor this season.  He has since added a second quad to his free skate.  His performance to Phantom of the Opera is stunningly choreographed and every element is effortlessly placed throughout the program.  He struggled with injury last season and wants the title of World Champion.  He has a nice lead over the field and can afford to make a mistake or two and still take home the gold.  He has the 2nd best short program score and best free skate and total scores for the season. 

A trio of Japanese men will be fighting for the remaining two spots on the podium.  With all the turmoil going on in their country, these skaters may be under additional stress to perform well and likely will have other thoughts on their minds, but they are all remarkable competitors.

Takahiko Kozuka has the ability to fly under the radar, but can put up some impressive scores.  He lands his jumps with ease and has been remarkably consistent throughout the season.  At the GPF and Four Continents Championships, he had some problems with his short program and couldn’t come back to claim the top of the podium.  He has the advantage of coming in as the Japanese champion, but he’ll have to skate in the qualifying round.  How he performs here could set the tone for the rest of his competition and could leave him tired by the time the free skate rolls around.  He has the 5th best short program, 2nd best free skate and 2nd best total score of the season.

Right behind him is reigning World Champion, Daisuke Takahashi who took home the top title from Four Continents in February.  His jumps have been inconsistent this season, but he is putting the quad back into his programs and his trademark personality on the ice is just as strong.  He definitely is a crowd pleaser and the home field advantage should give him a big boost.  He has the 3rd best short program, free skate and total score for the season.

Nobunari Oda has been skating lights out short programs all season, but his free skates have been less than inspiring and riddled with technical errors that have cost him medals.  He has had problems counting his jumps and adding extra combinations.  He also wasn’t sent to the Four Continents Championships and hasn’t been in front of the international judges since the GPF.  He has the best short program score and 4th best free skate and total scores of the season.

Tomas Verner has a charming short program to Singing in the Rain and is one of several skaters performing a Michael Jackson themed free skate.  He has been reworking his jump technique and has recently started adding the quad back into his programs.  He is also the only skater to beat Patrick Chan all season.  He has the 5th best free skate and 6th best total score of the season.

Florent Amodio is the reigning European Champion and is having a fantastic breakthrough season.  Although he was beat by Brian Joubert at home, the international judges have consistently ranked him ahead of the older Frenchman.  I think his free skate is awkwardly choreographed but the judges and audiences seem to enjoy it.  He has the 5th best short program and 7th best free skate and total score for the season.

Brian Joubert has had quite a tumultuous season, which included withdrawing from his home Grand Prix event.  He lives and dies by the quads in his program, and if they go badly it can effect the rest of his program.  He took home the silver from Europeans, but is seeing a changing of the guard internationally.  He and Amodio share the same short program music and if they skate close to each other the difference between the two skaters is readily apparent (and I prefer the attack in Amodio’s program).  He has the 10th best short program, 8th best free skate and 10th best total score of the season.

A trio of American skaters are also looking to make their mark.  At 27, Ryan Bradley is attending his third World Championships but for the first time as National Champion.  His programs are chock full of technical content and are full of personality and entertainment value.  He is definitely looking to redeem himself after his 18th place finish last year, and when he is on, he can compete with the best in the world.  As he was in semi-retirement earlier this season, he sat out the Grand Prix, and this will be his first international competition.

Richard Dornbush competed as a junior at the beginning of the season and won the Junior Grand Prix Final.  His Sherlock Holmes free skate is his strength and he performed it perfectly at nationals.  He should be solidly among the top 10 skaters and has the most international experience of the U.S. team this season.

Ross Miner didn’t have great results in his first year on the Senior Grand Prix, but after competing with the world’s best, he went home and changed the way he trained.  His commitment paid off when he edged out Jeremy Abbott for the final spot on the team with a nice free skate to Casablanca.  He’ll be looking to see whether the international judges agree with his changes.

Alexander Majorov is coming to this event fresh off his bronze medal winning performance at Junior Worlds.  He won’t have as much mileage on his senior programs as some of the other skaters but he’ll definitely have a lot of momentum behind him.

Artur Gachinski, Samuel Contesti and Kevin van der Perren all have good shots at being in the final two groups.

Absent from this event are Adam Rippon (5th best total score) and Jeremy Abbott (9th best total score) of the United States and Yuzuru Hanyu (8th best total score) of Japan.  Both countries have incredibly deep mens fields and were outscored at their nationals events.

My podium predictions: 
Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Takahiko Kozuka
Bronze: Daisuke Takahashi

My USFSA Fantasy Team:
A) Patrick Chan
B) Ryan Bradley
C) Misha Ge

The competitors (a D indicates a direct entry into the short program):
Sarkis Hayrapetyan, ARM: He finished 42nd at the World Championships last season.

Mark Webster, AUS: He finished 16th at Four Continents last season. He placed 39th at the World Championships last season.

Viktor Pfeifer, AUT:  He placed 21st at the Olympics last season.  He finished 18th at Europeans.  He finished 12th at Skate America.  He placed 20th at Worlds last year.

Vitali Luchanok, BLR: He placed 23rd at World Juniors.  He finished 11th at JGP Romania. 

Jorick Hendrickx, BEL: He finished 13th at the World Junior Championships and 16th at Europeans.  He finished 7th and 6th at his two JGP assignments this season.

Kevin van der Perren, BEL (D): He placed 17th at the Olympics last year.  He finished 4th at Europeans.  He is the two-time European bronze medalist (2007, 2009).  He finished 8th at Cup of China and 6th at Skate America.  He placed 8th at Worlds last season.  He is married to Jenna McCorkell who competes for Great Britain.

Georgi Kenchadze, BUL: He finished 20th in the preliminary round at Europeans. He was 40th at Worlds last season.

Patrick Chan, CAN (D): Chan finished 5th at the Olympics.  He is the reigning World Silver Medalist.  He is the 2009 Four Continents Champion and World Silver Medalist.  He is the 2007 World Junior Silver Medalist.  He won gold at Skate Canada with a personal best free skate and silver at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final were he won gold with a personal best free skate and total score.

Kevin Reynolds, CAN (D): He placed 11th at Four Continents.  He finished 4th at Skate Canada with a personal best total score and 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Reynolds finished 11th at Worlds with a personal best free skate score last season.   

Joey Russell, CAN: Russell finished 14th at Four Continents.

Nan Song, CHN (D): Song placed 9th at the Four Continents Championships.  He finished 10th in his Grand Prix debut at Skate America and 6th at Trophee Eric Bompard.

Stephen Li-Chung Kuo, TPE: He placed 20th at Four Continents.

Michal Brezina, CZE: He finished 10th at the Olympics.  He finished 8th at Europeans.  He is the 2009 World Junior Silver Medalist.  He sat out the Grand Prix season due to injury.  He was 4th at Worlds last season.

Tomas Verner, CZE (D): Verner 19th at the Olympics.  He is the reigning European Bronze Medalist.  He was the silver medalist at Europeans in 2007 and won the title in 2008.  Verner won bronze at Cup of China and gold at Rostelecom Cup with a personal best free skate to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he placed 5th.

Justus Strid, DEN: He finished 28th at Europeans with personal best scores across the board.

Bela Papp, FIN:  He placed 22nd at World Juniors.  He finished 14th at JGP Romania and 16th at JGP Germany. 

Florent Amodio, FRA (D): Amodio finished 12th at the Olympics.  He is the reigning European Champion with a personal best short program score.  He won bronze at NHK Trophy with personal best free skate and total scores and silver at Trophee Eric Bompard with personal best scores across the board to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he placed 6th.

Brian Joubert, FRA (D): Joubert placed 16th at the Olympics and is the reigning World Bronze Medalist.  He won silver at Europeans.  He is the 2004, 2007 and 2009 European champion and has medaled at Europeans every year since 2004.  He has won one gold medal at Worlds, two silvers and two bronzes.  He finished 4th at Cup of China and withdrew from Trophee Eric Bompard.

Peter Liebers, GER (D):  He finished 11th at Europeans with a personal best free skate and total score.  He finished 9th at Cup of China and 7th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Liebers finished 25th at last seasons World Championships.

David Richardson, GBR: He finished 12th in the preliminary round at Europeans.

Harry Hau Yin Lee, HKG: He placed 20th in the preliminary round at World Juniors.  He finished 22nd at JGP Japan. 

Tigran Vardanjan, HUN: He was 13th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  He finished 41st at the World Championships.

Maxim Shipov, ISR: He placed 23rd at Europeans with personal best scores across the board.  He finished 43rd at Worlds last season. 

Paolo Bacchini, ITA : He finished 20th at the Olympics.  He placed 12th at Europeans.  He placed 12th at Skate Canada.

Samuel Contesti, ITA (D):  He placed 18th at the Olympics.  He finished 6th at Europeans.  He won a silver at Europeans in 2009.  He finished 6th at Cup of China and 4th at Cup of Russia.  Contesti placed 7th at Worlds last season.  

Takahiko Kozuka, JPN: Kozuka placed 8th at the Olympics. He finished 4th at Four Continents.  He is the 2006 World Junior Champion and the 2009 Four Continents bronze medalist.  He won Cup of China and Trophee Eric Bompard with a personal best free skate and total score to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won bronze. He was 10th at Worlds last season.

Nobunari Oda, (D): He finished 7th at the Olympics. He is the 2006 Four Continents Champion and the 2005 World Junior Champion.  He won silver at Skate Canada and silver at Skate America to qualify for the GPF where he won silver.  He was 28th at Worlds last season.

Daisuke Takahashi, JPN (D): He won bronze at the Olympics with a personal best short program score.  He is the reigning World Champion and Four Continents Champion.  He has previously won gold and bronze at the Four Continents Championships and silver at the World Championships.  He won the NHK Trophy and Skate America to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he finished 4th. 

Denis Ten, KAZ (D): Ten placed 11th at the Olympics. He finished 12th at the NHK Trophy and 11th at Skate America.  He was 13th at Worlds last season.

Kim Lucine, MON:  He finished 17th at Europeans with personal best scores across the board.

Min-Seok Kim, KOR: Kim placed 15th at Four Continents with a personal best free skate and total score.  He finished 11th and 12th at his two Junior Grand Prix assignments this season.  He finished finished 23rd at Worlds last season.

Zoltan Kelemen, ROU: Kelemen finished 29th at the Olympics.  He finished 21st at Europeans with a personal best free skate.  He finished 9th at Trophee Eric Bompard with personal best free skates and total scores.  He was 32nd at Worlds last season.

Artur Gachinski, RUS (D): He finished 5th at Europeans.  He finished 7th at Skate Canada with personal best scores across the board and 6th at Cup of Russia with a personal best short program.

Javier Fernandez, ESP (D): Fernandez finished 14th at the Olympics.  He was 9th at Europeans.  He finished 5th at Skate Canada with a personal best free skate score and 9th at Cup of Russia.  He was 12th at Worlds last season.

Alexander Majorov, SWE:  He is the reigning World Junior Bronze Medalist.  He finished 5th at JGP Japan and won bronze at JGP Czech Republic.  

Adrian Schultheiss, SWE (D): He placed 15th at the Olympics. He finished 13th at Europeans.  He finished 10th at the NHK Trophy and 7th at Skate America.  He was 9th at Worlds last season.

Mikael Redin, SUI: He is the reigning national champion.  He finished 42nd the last time he attended Worlds in 2009.

Kutay Eryoldas, TUR: He finished 31st at Europeans last season.

Anton Kovalevski, UKR (D): Kovalevski finished 24th at the Olympics.  He was 15th at Europeans.  He finished 12th at Rostelecom Cup and 8th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  He was 16th at Worlds last season.

Ryan Bradley, USA (D): Bradley finished 18th at Worlds last season. 

Richard Dornbush, USA (D): He finished 4th at JGP Cup of Austria and won gold at Pokal der Blauen to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won gold with personal best scores across the board.

Ross Miner, USA (D): He finished 9th at NHK Trophy with personal bests in the short and free programs and 7th at Cup of China with personal best scores across the board. 

Misha Ge, UZB: He finished 12th at Four Continents with personal best scores across the board.