The ladies event is one of the highlights of the winter Olympics and this year is no different. While not as deep as the men’s field, expect some major competition between a few of the ladies.
The first to note is that reigning Olympic gold medalist from Vancouver and 2013 World champion, Kim Yu-Na is returning! It has been a tough season for her only really skating in two competitions due to a broken metatarsal in her foot. While I have not seen her skate this year, she does have great jumping ability. I will freely admit, I am not a fan of her skating and I definitely feel that she tends to be over-scored in competitions but she will definitely, if healthy put up a fight for the medal podium.
Japan has had in the last few years, some of the deepest fields in both men’s and ladies’ skating. The woman from Japan are no different, though I expect only two to really challenge. Mao Asada is no stranger to the world and Olympic scene and the only woman in the world currently doing a triple axel. It is because of this jumping prowess that gives her a lot of points over many other skaters. Her teammate on the other hand, Akiko Suzuki is a gorgeous artistic skater (who does have the jumps). I liken them to the rivalry between Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin. The two have very different styles of skating but both amazing.
Unlike the men, Italy has a contender in the ladies field, which is Carolina Kostner. Kostner has been on the scene for some time now and has proven she has the goods to deliver at the top. She is the reigning silver medalist from the 2013 world championships (being beaten by Kim Yu-Na). While she didn’t have the best outing at the most recent Europeans, she is definitely a contender for the podium.
Lastly, of the contenders outside the United States, there is Russia. Unlike the men, Russian ladies qualified for two spots which went to Julia Lipnitskaia and Adelina Stnikova. Out of these two ladies, I feel the best chance at a podium finish is Julia Lipnitskaia. She’s the current European champion and I’m in love with her free program which is done to Schindler’s List. It’s just absolutely gorgeous, especially considering her age (she’s only 15). If you’re going to watch any ladies’ program, watch this one.
Now for the United States woman. As many in the US know, the federation was given three spots. After the US Nationals, these three spots went to Ashley Wagner, Polina Edmunds, and Gracie Gold. I could write a whole novel about this decision (Ashley Wagner finished fourth, technically off the US team) but I won’t. It’s done and it is time to move on and support the woman. In this group, the only person I see having a chance at a medal is Ashley Wagner. Why? Well the major reason is experience. Ashley’s been on the scene for quite a while now and while there have been definite ups and downs; she knows the experiences of competing with the best of the best. She has made a somewhat gutsy move in changing her long program back to her 2012/2013 free of Samson and Delilah, but I don’t see it affecting her that much. I frankly think it’s a better program than Romeo and Juliet, but that’s another story. While Gracie has more international experience than Polina, it’s only two seasons (three if you count her trip to junior worlds, where she finished 5th) and those seasons haven’t been the best. Gracie’s international assignments have been up and down in terms of performances (medaling only 50% of the time). I do see a change in her skating now that she’s with Frank Carroll which is nice and I definitely think it will help her in the long run.
Finally, there are a couple of people from outside those I’ve listed above that could be spoilers. These include Valentina Marchei from Italy, who’s a very very elegant skater. Her long program is beautiful and her carriage on the ice is phenomenal. There’s also Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada, who’s pulled some upsets on the Grand Prix circuit in 2012/2013. There’s also Elene Gedevanishvili from the Republic of Georgia who has been on the scene for years and is a good jumper but sometimes has meltdowns. Some other names to look for include Sweden’s Viktoria Helgesson who is a statuesque queen on the ice and France’s Maé-Bérénice Meite.
And just because I think Brazil could use a bit of good news right now (if you didn’t know, one of their Olympic skiers who was a 2008 and 2012 Olympian in gymnastics was injured last week in a training accident and is paralyzed). Brazil, qualified a figure skater, Isadora Williams, at a competition last year. This is the very first figure skater from Brazil to ever qualify for the Olympics! So like Cheltzie Lee of Australia at the 2010 games, this will be a HUGE experience for Williams.
Podium predictions! Like the men, I have a realistic podium and a sentimental/dream podium
Gold: Julia Lipnitskaia
Silver: Carolina Kostner
Bronze: Ashley Wagner
Gold: Julia Lipnitskaia
Silver: Kim Yu-Na
Bronze: Mao Asada