There are lots of evenly-matched skaters in different ways in the ladies’ competition at this week’s Rostelecom Cup. Some skaters are strong jumpers, some are stronger components-wise, and others are more all-around. Really, it’s possible to see any of five or six skaters take the title. We have already had a look at the packed and talented men’s competition, it’s time to analyze the ladies.
Note: Examiner Figure Skating will be providing live coverage of the ladies’ competition at Rostelecom Cup beginning on Friday.
GOLD Adelina Sotnikova RUS – I see a first Grand Prix title in Sotnikova’s future. (Yes, I’m now a psychic.) I’m sure she won’t be making the same mistake that she had at Skate America. Of everyone in this field, only Gold has the technical goods to challenge her if everyone goes clean. If she can avoid the lapses in concentration that she sometimes gets in the free skate, that gold could be hers.
SILVER Kiira Korpi FIN – Bronze last week at Cup of China, Korpi looked strong, especially in the free skate. Based on her performances this season so far, she’s been pretty steady, and really, that’s what she needs to do to get herself on the podium this week. There’s no outjumping the competition for Korpi, but she has the overall package and the component marks to make up that ground.
BRONZE Kanako Murakami JPN – There’s a recurring theme with Murakami – underrotated jumps. Sure, both her short program and her free skate are technically pretty ambitious, but her underrotations are really keeping her from the top of the podium. At Skate Canada, five of the ten triples that she attempted in her two programs were called underrotated or were downgraded. For me, Murakami has the best overall package of all the ladies, and if she can rotate just a bit more cleanly, I wouldn’t be surprised if she found herself at the top.
4. Gracie Gold USA – The World junior silver medalist is giving us question marks at this point. At Skate Canada, she was superb on occasion and looked completely lost at other times. In this field, grabbing the title could happen for Gold – she can outjump pretty much everyone here. But she will need to keep those fluke-ish mistakes down, and if she does, a podium appearance is in her future.
5. Valentina Marchei ITA – Slow and steady, now in her tenth senior season, Marchei is coming into her own. She was recently a career-GP-high fourth at Skate America. Top five is well within reach, and if mistakes happen above her, a podium finish isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
6. Alena Leonova RUS – The World silver medalist has looked out of sorts in her first two competitions of the season. I’ve said it before – when she skates well, she beams; but when she misses jumps, her performance quality completely deflates. I get the feeling that, if Leonova does make a turn-around this season, it won’t be until later in the season. Of course, she doesn’t have luxury of the almost-automatic berth to Worlds that she has enjoyed for a couple of years. She needs to crank it up soon.
7. Caroline Zhang USA – The Caroline Zhang we have seen this season is somewhere between sinking Zhang of early last season and triumphant Zhang of late last season. Her jumps seem fine, but she looks to be thinking through her program a lot, and her lack of speed and attack hasn’t helped the component mark. In a lot of ways, her loop-loop combo is essential for her to regain that international cred she was gaining back late last season. But my guess is it won’t be ready until Nationals.
8. Agnes Zawadzki USA – Another question mark here. Zawadzki won U.S. Classic over Gold to start the season. But even in her win, she didn’t skate particularly well in the free skate. Cut to a few weeks later, she fell three times to start her free skate at Japan Open and finished last. Not a great trajectory for the U.S. bronze medalist so far. Will Zawadzki fight through her inconsistency?
9. Polina Korobeynikova RUS – In her brief foray on the senior ranks, Korobeynikova has made it a bit of a habit to bomb the short only to skate lights-out in the free skate to claw her way back. She just did it to win Cup of Nice, albeit in a much less stellar field of ladies. Incidentally, she will be making her Grand Prix debut this week.
10. Viktoria Helgesson SWE – Her start this season at Nebelhorn (6th) and Skate America (8th) has not been as strong as what some have expected of her. The jumps just aren’t there yet for Helgesson, and they are critical for her to get on the good side of the international judges.
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