World Championships Men’s Preview

For the past several years Patrick Chan has dominated the men’s field and entered Worlds as the heavy favorite.  After parting with his coach Christy Krall last season, he’s struggled and has failed to win several events this season as the rest of the field has caught up to him.  To medal at this event, the skaters will need to combine multiple quads with clean programs and artistic expression.  Most of the top men have three or four quads planned in the competition along with triple axels and missing one of these elements or not attempting them could leave them off the podium.

Chan is going for the three-peat and has home field advantage.  However, this comes with additional pressure and he did lose to Fernandez in Canada already this season.  He dropped to bronze at the Grand Prix Final as well.  He defended his Canadian title and declined to compete at Four Continents so he hasn’t competed internationally since December.  He has some of the best performance qualities in the world and his edge quality and choreography is top of the field.  However, his jumps have escaped him this season as he no longer has a technical coach.  He has a quad planned in his short program in combination along with two quads in his free skate.  

Yuzuru Hanyu holds the world record for a short program and this young phenom is looking to improve on his bronze medal performance from last season.  He hasn’t necessarily struggled with his free skate but hasn’t been able to skate completely clean and hold on to his short program lead.  He won the silver medal at Four Continents despite putting up one of his lowest scores of the season.  He also won the silver medal at the Grand Prix Final.  He also has a great style and feel for his music and has a quad in his short program as well as two in his free skate.

Javier Fernandez won his first European title in January and has impressed with his three quad free skate this season.  In fact, his best free skate score is 9 points higher than the next skater.  He’s also received acclaim for his performance and choreography in his Charlie Chaplin program.  He’s had errors in his short programs this season that have left him making up ground in his free skate and in this field, he can’t afford to be playing catch up.  He trains with Hanyu in Canada and they seem to be pushing each other to have their best seasons.

Daisuke Takahashi has long been known for his artistry and can drive a crowd wild with his step sequences full of fluid edges and interesting movement.  He’s been adding the quads to his programs but they are not always as clean as the other top men and it’s still a bit of a risk element for him.  He won his first Grand Prix Final title this season but lost his national title to Hanyu.  He also dropped to a disappointing 7th at Four Continents, his worst international result since the 2006 Olympics where he finished 8th.

Max Aaron won the US Junior title in 2011 and debuted as a senior in 2012.  He placed 8th and wasn’t happy with his finish.  After working in the off season, he came back and claimed his first senior title this season.  He’s never competed in a Grand Prix event and competed in his first major senior international at Four Continents where he finished 4th.  He has a backloaded free program with two triple axels in the bonus along with a triple + triple combination.  He also has two quads in his free skate.  He knows that program components are his weakness and has been working to improve his second mark.  He also doesn’t have much international experience and will be competing early in the event which could also lower his second mark.

Florent Amodio won the silver medal at Europeans, the third year in a row he has stood on the European podium.  He has been including the quad in his programs but has struggled with his free program this season.  He’s admitted that it is difficult for him to do the same program for a whole season and he gets bored.  His free program seems a little disjointed and has the characteristic Morozov stopping and posing which hurt his program components scores.  

Maxim Kovtun had a great junior season this year winning a gold medal at the Junior Grand Prix Final.  He was given a controversial trip to the European Championships where he finished 5th.  He needs a top 10 finish at Worlds to secure two spots for the men at Sochi next year and has a lot of pressure riding on his shoulders.  He has quads planned in his programs.

Brian Joubert has struggled over the last few seasons with injury and illness and can’t seem to quite find the form that won him a World title.  He had a solid season last year finishing 4th at Worlds.  He placed 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard and withdrew from his second Grand Prix and French Nationals.  He placed 4th at Europeans and will be looking to improve from last year’s finish if he can hold everything together.  He’s long been known for the difficulty and consistency of his jumps but as the other skaters have mastered the jumps along with the spins, steps, transitions and choreography he’s been left behind.

Ross Miner has been up and down this season, finishing 5th at Skate Canada but then hitting a quad in his free skate to capture the bronze medal at NHK Trophy.  After winning the bronze medal at Four Continents last year, he placed a disappointing 9th this season.  He was able to win the silver medal at nationals with two clean skates and earn a trip back to the World Championships where his prior international experience will give him a better draw then his teammate Aaron.  While neither US men are likely contenders for the podium, they’ll be looking for the magic number of 13 to earn the US a 3rd spot in Sochi.

Michal Brezina has steadily been improving all season and claimed the bronze medal at Europeans.  He is not the most consistent skater but he might be flying under the radar enough that he can sneak on to the podium.  Last season he has a solid short program at Worlds that put him in medal contention but he couldn’t handle the pressure and dropped to 6th place.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Javier Fernandez
Silver: Patrick Chan
Bronze: Yuzuru Hanyu

Viktor Pfeifer, AUT: He placed 22nd at Worlds last season.  He finished 8th at Europeans.  His personal best is 194.77.  He is 25 years old.

Pavel Ignatenko, BLR: He placed 13th at Europeans and 14th at Junior Worlds.  He finished 7th at JGP Turkey and 11th at JGP Croatia.  His personal best is 171.18.  He is 17 years old.

Jorik Hendrickx, BEL: His personal best is 204.63.  He is 20 years old.

Patrick Chan, CAN: He is the reigning World Champion.  He won silver at Skate Canada and gold at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won bronze.  He is the 2011 World Champion, 2009 and 2010 World silver medalist, 2009 and 2012 Four Continents Champion and 2007 World Junior silver medalist.  His personal best is 280.98.  He is 22 years old.  He has the 4th best short program, 4th best free skate and 4th best total scores of the season.

Kevin Reynolds, CAN: He finished 12th at Worlds last season.  He is the reigning Four Continents Champion.  He placed 5th at Cup of China and 6th at NHK Trophy.  He is the 2010 Four Continents bronze medalist.  His personal best is 250.55.  He is 22 years old.  He has the 6th best total score.

Andrei Rogozine, CAN: He finished 10th at Four Continents.  He placed 9th at NHK Trophy.  He is the 2011 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 201.99.  He is 20 years old.


Nan Song, CHN: He placed 14th at Worlds last season.  He finished 6th at Four Continents.   He placed 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  He is the 2010 World Junior silver medalist.  His personal best is 228.46.  He is 22 years old.


Michal Brezina, CZE: He placed 6th at Worlds last season.  He is the reigning European Bronze Medalist.  He placed 6th at Skate America and won bronze at Rostelecom Cup.  He is the 2009 World Junior Silver Medalist.  His personal best is 243.52.  He is 22 years old.  He has the 7th best free skate and 8th best total scores of the season.


Tomas Verner, CZE: He placed 16th at Worlds last season.  He finished 11th at Europeans.  He placed 8th at Skate America and 8th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  He is the 2008 European Champion, 2007 European Silver Medalist and 2011 European Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 232.67.  He is 26 years old.


Justus Strid, DEN: He placed 30th at Worlds last season.  He finished 21st at Europeans.  His personal best is 160.08.  He is 25 years old.


Viktor Romanenkov, EST: He placed 17th at Europeans.  He finished 10th at JGP Austria and 9th at JGP Slovenia.  His personal best is 167.98.  He is 19 years old.


Florent Amodio, FRA: He placed 5th at Worlds last season.  He is the reigning European Silver Medalist.  He finished 4th at Skate Canada and won bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard.  He is the 2011 European Champion and 2012 European Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 250.53.  He is 22 years old.  He has the 3rd best short program, 10th best free skate  and 7th best total scores of the season.  


Brian Joubert, FRA: He finished 4th at Worlds last season last season.  He placed 4th at Europeans.  He placed 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  He is the 2007 World Champion, 2006 and 2008 World Silver Medalist, 2009 and 2010 World Bronze Medalist; 2004, 2007 and 2009 European Champion; 2003, 2005 and 2011 European Silver Medalist; and 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2010 European Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 244.58.  He is 28 years old.  He has the 8th best short program.


Peter Liebers, GER: He placed 20th at Worlds last season.  He finished 10th at Europeans.  His personal best is 205.59.  He is 24 years old.


Ronald Lam, HKG: His personal best is 157.87.  He is 22 years old.


Alexei Bychenko, ISR: He placed 29th at Worlds last season.  He finished 14th at Europeans.  His personal best is 171.12.  He is 25 years old.


Paolo Bacchini, ITA: He placed 24th at Europeans.  His personal best is 183.13.  He is 27 years old.


Paul Bonifacio Parkinson, ITA: He placed 29th at Europeans.  He is 22 years old.


Yuzuru Hanyu, JPN: He is the reigning World Bronze Medalist and Four Continents silver medalist.  He won silver at Skate America and gold at NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won silver.  He is the 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalist and 2010 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 264.29.  He is 18 years old.  He has the best short program, 2nd best free skate and 3rd best total scores of the season.

Takahito Mura, JPN: He placed 8th at Four Continents.  He finished 8th at Skate Canada and won gold at Trophee Eric Bomopard.  His personal best is 230.68.  He is 22 years old.


Daisuke Takahashi, JPN: He is the reigning Worlds Silver Medalist.  He finished 7th at Four Continents.  He won silver at Cup of China and NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he won gold.  He qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season and won silver.  He is the 2010 Olympic Bronze Medalist, 2010 World Champion, 2007 World Silver Medalist, 2008 and 2011 Four Continents Champion, 2012 Four Continents Silver Medalist, 2005 Four Continents Bronze Medalist and 2002 World Junior Champion.  His personal best is 276.72.  He is 26 years old.  He has the 2nd best short program, 3rd best free skate and 2nd best total scores of the season.

Abzal Rakimgaliev, KAZ: He placed 15th at Four Continents.  His personal best is 185.81.  He is 20 years old.

Denis Ten, KAZ: He finished 7th at Worlds last season.  He placed 12th at Four Continents.  He placed 6th at Skate America and 9th at Rostelecom Cup.  His personal best is 229.70.  He is 19 years old.

Kim Lucine, MON: He placed 23rd at Worlds last season.  He finished 12th at Europeans.  His personal best is 181.37.  He is 24 years old.

Christopher Caluza, PHI: He placed 21st at Worlds last season.  He finished 14th at Four Continents.  His personal best is 186.79.  He is 22 years old.

Maciej Cieplucha, POL: He finished 25th at Worlds last season.  He finished 19th at Europeans.  His personal best is 167.29.  He is 24 years old.

Jin Seo Kim, KOR: He placed 19th at Four Continents.  He won bronze at JGP Austria and placed 4th at JGP Croatia.  His personal best is 176.43.  He is 16 years old.

Zoltan Kelemen, ROU: He placed 14th in the preliminary round at Worlds last season.  He finished 18th at Europeans.  His personal best is 178.02.  He is 26 years old.

Maxim Kovtun, RUS: He placed 5th at Europeans.  He won gold at JGP Croatia and JGP Germany to qualify for the JGPF where he won gold.  His personal best is 226.57.  He is 17 years old.

Javier Fernandez, ESP: He finished 9th at Worlds last season.  He is the reigning European Champion.    He won gold at Skate Canada and finished 4th at NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where he finished 4th.  His personal best is 274.87.  He is 21 years old.  He has the 5th best short program, best free skate and best total scores of the season.  

Alexander Majorov, SWE: He finished 26th at Worlds last season.  He placed 6th at Europeans.  He placed 10th at Skate America.  He is the 2011 World Junior Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 211.88.  He is 21 years old.

Yakov Godorozha, UKR: He placed 15th at Europeans.  His personal best is 170.29.  He is 19 years old.

Max Aaron, USA: He placed 4th at Four Continents.  His personal best is 234.65.  He is 21 years old.  He has the 8th best free skate.

Ross Miner, USA: He placed 9th at Four Continents.  He placed 5th at Skate Canada and won bronze at NHK Trophy.  He is the 2012 Four Continents Bronze Medalist.  His personal best is 235.37.  He is 22 years old.  He has the 9th best free skate.

Misha Ge, UZB: He finished 19th at Worlds last season.  He finished 11th at Europeans.  His personal best is 201.71.  He is 21 years old.