Figure Skating: From the Boards

On To The Springs! Four Continents — Men’s Preview February 9, 2012

I’ve fallen in love with the  men’s event all over again this season. Between Chan’s all-around brilliance, Takahashi’s choreography creativity, Abbott’s emotional edge, and Fernandez’s unexpected rise, I look forward to the guys as much as any other event.

Despite not having the chance to see a pre-Worlds Chan/Takahashi/Abbott showdown, the event in Colorado Springs is no exception. White the top two appear evident, we’ve seen stranger things happen. And with a field stacked with skaters ready to have the skate of their season, we’re bound to have some fireworks somewhere along the line.

The question is, whose “fireworks” turn into medals?

Patrick Chan wins his fifth straight Canadian National title

At this point, it's Chan's title to lose ... much like every title he's vying for!

Gold: Patrick Chan

Much like Meryl Davis and Charlie White, I just can’t bet against Chan, especially skating where he trains every day.

After all the flack for his GP performances (falls equaling medals) I would love to see him repeat his Nationals performances in front of an international panel, just so we have a realistic idea of the kind of scores he’s likely to receive, should he go clean at Worlds.

Of course, having three quads in your back pocket helps when your top competitor could have two. It’s a nice advantage to have, especially considering the PCS scores he’s accustom to receiving.

While no one is unbeatable, betting against this kid at this stage of the game simply isn’t wise.

Silver: Daisuke Takahashi

If medals were awarded for program composition, Takahashi would be unbeaten this year. I’m in love with the details throughout both of his programs, as well as the way he presents it. While Chan takes the audience on a larger-than-life, sweeping adventure, Takahashi brings you in to his world and shares his intimate connection to every last note of music. It’s marvelous.

But, he has to back it up with the technical content a Chan or even a Fernandez is capable of throwing down.

Here, though, I don’t see that being a problem.

Bronze: Adam Rippon

This choice isn’t quite as clear-cut. While in past years it would be a no-brainer, this year, the American silver medalist has Nan Song to contend with.

While Song had the superior GP season, Rippon has one very important thing going for him — he finally kissed the Nationals demons goodbye. His silver medal at the US Championships wasn’t close to disputable, and while he still wasn’t flawless, he was more than strong enough.

Artistically, he is among the best in the world. Sometimes, though, I feel he gets in his own head and doubts his technique (much like his friend and roommate Alissa Czisny does). Perhaps the national success (his first ever Nationals medal!) will reinforce his potential and give him confidence going into this event. Plus, he wants to help earn back a third spot for the US men at Worlds — he could really use a strong performance here to boost that confidence even further.

Adam has more than one quad jump in his arsenal — he started the season attempting a quad lutz in his long. But, the lack of success with it in competition has him back to talking about the quad salchow (which he doubled in his Nationals free skate). It would be a tremendous achievement to complete that element in Colorado Springs, and to medal behind the world’s top two.

China’s Nan Song might have something big to say about that, though … in the form of a few quad jumps of his own. Much like Spain’s Javier Fernandez, Song has been a delightful surprise this season, winning the first GP medals of his career (including a silver medal at Trophee Eric Bompard where Adam Rippon finished fourth).

However, as we saw with Fernandez at Europeans, maintaining that momentum is harder than it sounds. Song’s Nationals scores were his lowest of the season, so he’ll be looking to rebound in Colorado Springs. He’ll challenge Rippon, but one of the two should be your bronze medalist.

The best of the rest

Keep and eye on the other two American men here — Ross Miner and Richard Dornbush. While Dornbush is coming off of an extremely disappointing Nationals, he has a chance to redeem himself here. Miner, on the other hand, has one more chance to end his season with the best skate of the year.

I love where he is right now mentally as much as anything. He’s comfortable with his improvement, but always looking for how to make himself better. He takes everything in stride, and that says much for his maturity.

Kevin Reynolds would love a strong performance here, as well. The kid comes armed with a handful of quad jumps, but only a hint of consistency or competitive edge. Internationally, he has always struggled, never living up to the hype those massive jumps provide. This would be a great time to chance that, although it is a lot to ask.

How do you think Jeremy Abbott would have ranked here? Will Chan be able to repeat his Nationals performances?


2 Responses to “On To The Springs! Four Continents — Men’s Preview”

  1. Katrina Says:

    I’m still mad that Richard is even here. He doesn’t deserve it by any means. Armin got screwed… he should be here, not someone who finished 13th…

    • Yeah, that one’s tough. Ultimately, though, it isn’t determined on Nationals results alone. It would have been nice for Armin to get a chance, but it’s possible that US Figure Skating based the decision on the stronger international scores for Richard.

      But, you’re right … it’s hard to justify. Hopefully Richard has a strong competition and helps make the decision more valid.

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