2015 US Figure Skating Championships Preview - Men
With most countries having already completed their nationals, there are only two major ones left. One of those is the United States. The other belongs to Canada, and both take place next week, with the US Senior Events starting on Thursday the 22nd.
The US Men have not had the best season so far, but they are capable of doing great things. This competition could show what's to coming at Four Continents and Worlds. The competition is pretty wide open, mainly because there is no one man that has stood out - there are really no favorites. However, with that being said, there are several skaters who have show that they could do something great next week.
Key Podium Contenders
As was mentioned before, there are no real favorites here. However, there are a few of key podium contenders going into next week who you should watch out for.
Jason Brown - He was highest ranking and highest scoring US man after the Grand Prix season, winning the silver medal at Skate America. He was the surprise silver medalist last year with a fantastic free program to earn his ticket to the Olympics, where he placed a respectable ninth. He has not the best season; it's had its share of ups and downs. He also doesn't have the technical content that some of the other men do as he competes without a quad. The key to him doing well next weekend will be skating cleanly. He has high component scores, so a clean skate could vault him ahead of the rest.
Max Aaron - The 2013 US Champ missed out the Olympics last year, placing third. He was, however, given a trip to Worlds (in place of Jason Brown) where he placed eighth and helped the US Men gain back their third spot for the first time in four years. He has not had the success after his national title that some thought he should have but had very little experience before then. He did get a bronze medal on the GP Circuit at Skate Canada. He does not have the component scores that others have, but he does have high technical content. The key for him will be skating cleanly to make up for the lack of component scores, and that could get him his national title back.
Richard Dornbush - Dornbush surprised many by winning the silver medal a the 2011 Nationals, and had a ninth place showing at Worlds that year, the highest of the US Men sent. However, he has done little to build on it since then. That is until he was second after the short program last year at Nationals. However, he missed his ticket to the Olympics and Worlds with a poor free skate. However, he has done much better this season and was the only other US man - other than Brown and Aaron - to win a medal on the Grand Prix circuit. It was a bronze at the Cup of China, and he also won the Lombardia Trophy - a b-level senior competition. If his short last year is any indication - as well as his second Grand Prix this season - the key for him will be putting together two clean programs, and not just one. That could vault him onto the podium.
Other Podium Contenders
Other than the three men I listed above, there is a couple of other men who are in the conversation of podium contenders.
Jeremy Abbott - He's the reigning and four-time US Champ, and a two-time Olympian. That counts for something. He said that last season would be his last, but after a fifth place performance at last year's nationals that included a fourth place free skate, he decided to keep going. There's no telling if it's just for this year, or if he'll stay in for a few more years, but at 28, he's the oldest man in the competition. If he skates clean, he cannot be beaten, and he's also medalled in one form or another for the past nine years. He has an artistry that is unmatched in my opinion, and he also the jumps - when he does them. That will be the key for him this week is landing the jumps and fully rotating all of them in both programs. If he does, he can walk away with his fifth national title. The last person, to win more than three, was Todd Eldredge, who won six.
Stephen Carriere - Carriere has not competed much in the past few years, and I was not expecting much out of him when I heard he was given two GP assignments. However, he surprised me - and I'm sure many others - when he placed fourth behind Max Aaron at Skate Canada, missing out on the bronze medal by .10 points. He will need help from some of the other men to get on the podium, but if a door is opened, watch for him because he might just walk through it.
While I do not consider these men podium contenders, they could play spoilers if others make mistakes. I would still say that they are ones to watch.
Adam Rippon - The 2012 US Silver Medalist looked primed to finally have his moment at nationals last year and earn a ticket to the Olympics after he won the silver medal at last year's Skate America. However, he was eighth at Nationals last year. His free skate at Trophee Eric Bompard was a step up from what he has been doing. I don't think he's really in the conversation, but the key, for him to put himself into it, will be consistency and landing and completing his jumps.
Nathan Chen - If you don't follow figure skating closely, you might not know this young man. He's a two-time US Novice Champ and a two-time US Junior Champ. He has had some success at the junior level but has never competed at the senior level before. He scored a 240+ at sectionals to be the highest ranking qualifier. Rumor has it that he's also practicing a quad. Some say he's in the conversation for a spot to Worlds. While I disagree, I still think he's one to watch. He could be a future star, and he might put himself into the conversation if some of the other men make mistakes.
Jeremy Abbott's Short from the 2014 Nationals
Those are the main men to watch for going into next week. Here are my predictions:
Gold - Jeremy Abbott: His father died recently, but if he skates the way he can skate, no one can touch him.
Silver - Jason Brown: Easily second here in my opinion, and could take the gold if Abbott isn't as his best.
Bronze - Max Aaron: He lacks the component scores of the other two, but if his technical skills are where they can be, he should be on the podium.
Pewter - Nathan Chen: Yeah, I think it's possible. He's got the Quads, decent component scores... I think he could be a surprise here.
5th - Richard Dornbush: He's had a decent season, and is capable of great things. After all, he was second after the short last year with a 92+. He could place higher, but this is where I'm putting him.
Next up will be analyzing the other three senior level disciplines. Below, I have a poll for who you think is your favorite, as well as a video of Jeremy Abbott's record-breaking short from last year. Post in the comments and tell me what you think about my picks and who you want to see win!