The ladies field at the World Championships remains strong. Joannie Rochette is the only high profile withdrawal.
That means that Olympic Gold Medalist Kim Yu-Na and Olympic Silver Medalist Mao Asada will get a rematch.
I'm going to take yet another opportunity to again plead with all the "fringe fans" out there to cut the outrageous attacks on these two magnificent competitors. Be proud of their accomplishments, celebrate their achievements, understand that they don't want these kind of bitter comments happening on their behalf...in short, cut the crap! To that end, any further comments or links on these two skaters that I feel are out of line that are posted on this blog, I will remove.
Back to the skating, Mao Asada has hinted at fiddling with a quad. No plans to try it in competition at this point but we may see some attempts in practice. Seems a logical step for Asada who has managed to produce a more solid triple axel than a majority of the men's competitors!
Where Asada shows athletic prowess Kim answers with elegance. If she can manage to reproduce her performance from Vancouver she'll be basically untouchable. The combination of solid technical difficulty with amazing skating skills gives her an advantage over the entire field.
The cast of characters chasing after them is many. 2007 World Champ Miki Ando is in the field. Miki's problem this entire season has been the lack of life in her free skate. She skated a technically proficient free in Vancouver that had no life to it whatsoever. It will take more than jumps to be competitive. The surprise of Vancouver, American Mirai Nagasu is in the field and with a good shot at her first World medal. Without Rochette competing, she actually is in bronze position. It'll be interesting to see if she can rise to the occasion and have a moment.
American Rachael Flatt had a role reversal with Mirai at the Olympics. Where Mirai had usually been the one hit with the jump downgrades, Rachael actually got the hand slap in Vancouver and Mirai prevailed with clean jumps. If Rachael can avoid jump downgrades, she'll be in the mix too.
Other competitors to keep an eye on include Finland's Laura Lepisto, judges love her skating qualities and she tends to find her way into the top group of women. Japan's Akiko Suzuki who has this season been a solid competitor, especially in the free skate. Also, Russian Alena Leonova, who can charm the audience (and judges) with her bubbly style and catapult herself into he mix.
Medal Predictions: (GOLD) Kim Yu-Na, (SILVER) Mao Asada, (BRONZE) Rachael Flatt