Who should you watch during the upcoming Olympic season? Over the next few weeks, Examiner Figure Skating will be going through each of the four disciplines and the skaters to keep an eye on.
The Essential 15: Olympic season
Just because Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold ended up helping the U.S. to the World Team Trophy title doesn’t mean they are the only names to look out for. The American ladies field has only gotten stronger and stronger in the past few years, and this season, it has the potential to be the deepest that it’s been in recent memory. Who’s on that list? Let’s have a look.
Nationals (7th), 2010 Olympics (4th)
It seemed so long ago, but lest we forget, Mirai Nagasu skated wonderfully four years ago in Vancouver and finished fourth, right off the podium. Last season marked a bit of a resurgence from Nagasu during the Grand Prix series – a solid triple-triple in her arsenal – but she was not 100% at Nationals and was seventh after a free skate of underrotations. But counting her out would not be a good idea – she’s got all the goods to get to Sochi for her second Olympic trip.
Four Continents (4th), Nationals (5th)
Yes, she goes to Harvard. No, she isn’t going to be studying this season. After a breakthrough season right before the Olympic season, Christina Gao has decided to take a year off school to give herself a full season of training for the Olympics. And based on her performance last season, she looks to have a terrific shot, especially if she revives that triple flip-triple toe this season.
2009, 2011 U.S. champion
Alissa Czisny‘s status completely unknown, except that she resumed training in April after a dislocated hip took her out of Nationals earlier in the year. She’s the only one of the American contenders who was on the senior ranks during both Torino and Vancouver – and she would certainly like to finally make that Olympic team, which is likely at least a partial inspiration for her continuation after two painful seasons.
Four Continents (8th), Nationals (3rd)
Twice the U.S. bronze medalist, Agnes Zawadzki has been on the very edge of making it to Worlds for the past two seasons. With three Sochi spots for the American ladies, it’s possible that this is the year for her. The biggest problem she has faced since her breakthrough junior year has been consistency in the free skate. But a few 5+ triple performances this season could get her where she belongs.
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