2015 World Figure Skating Championships Preview - Men: Battle Between Olympians
The World Figure Skating Championships start next week, and thus, it’s preview time again. The competition starts next Wednesday and continues through Saturday. In this and the next few articles, I will be going over all four disciplines. I will go over the gold medal favorites and podium contenders/top five contenders. I will also go over other top ten contenders and anyone else that you should watch out for. Also, I will give my predictions of each discipline.
First up, the men! The reigning Olympic and World Champion looks to repeat here. His competition includes the reigning Olympic Bronze medalist and the reigning two-time World Bronze medalist. Also competing are the reigning US Champion and the reigning Four Continents Silver medalist.
Battle for Gold between Olympic Medalists
Yuzuru Hanyu – He’s the biggest name here, no doubt. He’s the reigning Olympic and World Champion. There’s no doubt that he can’t want any other color but gold. This has not been an easy season for him, though. First, there was a back injury and then the crash with Han Yan. Yet at the Grand Prix Final and Japanese Nationals, he looked to be getting back to his old self. He injured his ankle in January. He doesn’t seem to be 100% from reports, but is getting better from what I can hear. The key for Hanyu will be doing what won him both of his titles last year. If he does that, a repeat should be his. If he does, that opens the door for…
Denis Ten – By far the best skater Kazakhstan has ever had. His career is marred with inconsistency with lots of potential. He has always been more of a late season skater. By that, I mean that his best performances have comes on the biggest stages. Take note of his silver medal in 2013 where he almost beat Patrick Chan. Of course, there was his bronze medal-winning free skate last year the Olympics. Last month, he blew away the competition at Four Continents. He won the title by over twenty points. The win itself wasn’t surprising. With his performance there he showed he’s ready to compete with Hanyu. If he can skate the way he did last month, he could put pressure on the Olympic Champ. A gold medal here is definitely within reach.
Podium and Top Five Contenders
Javier Fernandez – He’s the reigning three-time European Champion. He is also the reigning two-time World Bronze medalist. He hasn’t skated his best this season. Maybe that’s a good sign for this competition and maybe not. In my opinion, he has the best shot of landing on the podium. He doesn’t even need to be clean here, but that will definitely lock in a medal. If either of the top two falters, look for Fernandez to sneak up there. The key for him will not be the quads, but the easier jumps. After all, it doesn’t matter if he lands the quads if he messes up on the other jumps.
Maxim Kovtun – Kovtun is the reigning two-time Russian National Champion. He has not been consistent this season despite winning his second straight National title. He was fourth last year, so it isn’t unrealistic that he could sneak onto the podium. The key for him to even have a shot is to be flawless. He needs two clean programs to put himself in contention.
Sergei Voronov – At the end of last season, I was in the camp that thought he would retire. He didn’t, and that seemed to be a good decision for him. He has had one of the best seasons of his career. He qualified for the Grand Prix Final and won the Bronze medal. He almost beat Kovtun at Russian Nationals and in my opinion should have. Europeans wasn’t his best performance, though, but maybe that’s a good sign. He’s not new to Worlds, either, having been here five times, though not since 2012. Worlds has not been kind to him though. (He’s only cracked the top ten once in 2008, where he places seventh.) The top ten should be easy for him, and the top five is more than possible. He could push for the podium, but he’ll need other skaters to make mistakes. The key for him doing well here will not be making the mistakes the plagued him at Europeans. He needs to skate more like he did at the Grand Prix Final and Russian Nationals.
Joshua Farris – Farris had a successful career on the junior circuit. before this season that had not translated on the senior circuit. In fact, in the early season, it looked like much of the same. That is until Nationals came around and he was one jump away from winning the title. He said it was a turning point and last month at Four Continents he proved that. He won the silver medal in a tough competition.. If he skates the way he did there, he could sneak onto the podium. He’ll need to be completely clean and perhaps need a mistake from Fernandez.
Jason Brown – Brown surprised few when he won his first National title. After all, he’s usually consistent. Despite not having a quad, he has high components scores. The lack of a quad has been his biggest drawback internationally. Last month, that changed as he debuted his quad for the first time – and it didn’t work well for him. I say kudos for him. If he can do clean quads here, watch out. That has been the only thing stopping him from competing with the best.
Top Ten Contenders
Takahito Mura – Mura is not known for his inconsistency. He is capable of skating clean. He doesn’t have the component scores to back him if he makes mistakes. The top five is out of the question, but he can land in top ten if he skates clean.
Takahiko Kozuka – It’s a shame to see Kozuka this far down. He is a former World Silver medalist. He hasn’t been the same since. This season has been better, though. He's never placed lower than eleventh at Worlds in all his six appearances to date. Barring a disaster, I don’t see that happening here either. (He was sixth last year.)
Han Yan – Han had a rough start to his season. He was the other half the crash with Hanyu. His Grand Prix performances weren’t great. He was second at Chinese Nationals behind Boyang Jin. He seems to be back to his old self at Four Continents where he won the bronze medal. If he can skate clean, he could push for top five if others make mistakes.
Michal Brezina – You're never sure what to expect from. To say he’s hot and cold is an understatement, and this season has not been kind to him. Without Tomas Verner, he’s the top skater from the Czech Republic. He has placed as high as fourth at Worlds. The top ten is not of the question, but he’ll have to clean up his programs to do so.
Other Skaters to Watch
Adam Rippon – I hate putting him down here. He said Nationals was a turnaround in his inconsistent career. Four Continents was nothing but a disaster. He placed tenth, which is far lower than he should have been. It would put him below the top ten at Worlds for sure. He has been sixth and thirteen in his previous two Worlds appearances. He has a Quad Lutz so if he land it clean he could push for top five. If he performs the way he did at Four Continents, I can’t see him even placing in the top ten.
Nan Song – When he debuted on the senior circuit, he looked to be on his way up two Grand Prix medals. The past few seasons have not been kind to him, and neither has Worlds. He has never placed higher than fifteenth. Top ten seems a bit of a stretch for the former three-time Chinese Champion.
Alexei Bychenko – You don’t hear much from a skater from Israel. It’s rare. Bychenko surprised many by placing fourth at Europeans – above Michal Brezina. If he can skate like that again, he might be able to push for top ten. He has low component scores. It will be doing clean jumps that will be the key for him to break into the top ten. No Israeli skater has ever placed in the top ten in any discipline.
Nam Nguyen – The reigning Canadian Champion had a great early start to his season. His performance at Four Continents was not up to par. He attempted quads there, though, so that’s a good sign. If he can skate clean, the top ten is well within reach for him.
Misha Ge – Ge has always been a fan favorite but has never gotten good results. But, this season has been a breakthrough for him. He has a solid Triple Axel, and it has worked for him. He had two top five finishes on the Grand Prix circuit. He placed eighth at Four Continents, his highest yet. He’s never placed higher than sixteenth at Words. This year is by far his best shot to break the top ten if he can skate a clean program.
Here are my predictions for the top ten:
1. GOLD – Denis Ten – I have a good feeling about Ten coming in this year, and I think it’s his turn.
2. SILVER – Yuzuru Hanyu – As good as Hanyu is, he hasn’t been his best this season though I think it’ll be a tight battle between him and Ten.
3. BRONZE – Javier Fernandez – Despite not being at his best at Europeans, I still think the bronze medal is solidly his.
4. Joshua Farris – Yes, I think Farris is going to do well here. I truly believe at Nationals was a turnaround for him.
5. Sergei Voronov – I think it’s Voronov’s year to do well here. He beat Kovtun at the Grand Prix Final and should have beaten at Nationals. There's no reason for him to do so here, as well.
6. Maxim Kovtun – I’m not the biggest fan of his, but nonetheless, I don’t see him doing any higher than this.
7. Jason Brown – He’s capable of scoring higher, but I don’t think he will.
8. Yan Han – He can place higher, but this is a tough field.
9. Takahiko Kozuka – He did well here last year, and I think he’ll do fairly well here again.
10. Takahito Mura – He can do well, but he’ll need to be consistent to get a top ten finish.
That's it! Below, I have included a video of Ten's free from Four Continents as well as a poll about your pick for gold.