Thursday, August 05, 2010

Ladies Ready to Make Their Mark

A large group of women are making Senior Grand Prix debuts this fall. While many of the names will likely be lost in the mix, five from the U.S. and Japan have an opportunity to possibly shine. Who you ask...

Haruka Imai (Japan) - One of Japan's up and coming stars, over the past couple of seasons she's managed to medal in a few Junior Grand Prix events. Her biggest achievement came last season with a top five finish in her first major ISU Championship (Four Continents Cup). She has lovely qualities as a skater and will certainly add to the strength of the deep Japanese Team. She needs to increase her jump difficulty (i.e. add a Triple Lutz) to really be on par with the top women but she is well on her way.

Kristine Musademba (USA) - Kristine is a very powerful skater who has had good results over the last two years on the Junior Grand Prix. Injury kept her from competing in the back half of last season but she is most certainly poised to make her Senior Grand Prix debut this season. She seems destined for greatness but has often been plagued with unusual inconsistency. One competition she'll be solid and the next filled with mistakes. She's a gorgeous skater and if she can fix her head and and produce solid, consistent skates, she'll be one to beat.

Amanda Dobbs (USA) - Amanda keeps super busy competing not only as a singles skater but as a pairs skater too! She had a dream U.S. Nationals where she was top seven in Senior Pairs and then finished in the top six in Senior Ladies. She capped her season off with a 4th place finish at her first major Senior International Championship (Four Continents Cup). She's currently working on developing a full repertoire of triple jumps but the overall quality of her skating shines through on the other aspects of her skating. My favorite quality of Amanda's is she fully commits to everything. She's isn't the skater that is going to single or double a jump. Make it or miss it, she's going to do a triple. She's proven that she has an innate ability to compete, if she can increase her jump difficulty she'll be one to watch for sure.

Agnes Zawadzki (USA) - I had no prior knowledge of Agnes until she showed up at Nationals last season and ripped it, winning the Junior National title. That win earned her a spot on the Junior World Team where she again skated well and took the silver (ripping it again!). I do pray she isn't a one hit wonder because this girl has the goods. Unlike her Dobbs her jumping repertoire is complete (unless we start talking triple axels but not everyone can be Mao Asada) and she seems super consistent. She has a little personality on the ice too which helps bring an audience in. I'm very curious to see how Agnes stacks up with the top women in the world because I think she can go toe-to-toe with some of these ladies. Stay tuned!

Kanako Murakami (Japan) - The biggest threat coming out of the Junior ranks this upcoming season is likely Kanako Murakami. She did a clean sweep last season, winning everything. In a word, she's magnificent. She reminds me of Sasha Cohen the way she moves across the ice. She looks so trained and prepared at every competition she enters. Pressure doesn't seem to get to her and she just powers through her programs with enough energy at the end to keep going another 4 minutes. I think she is another skater that I predict will hit the Senior Ranks and likely be one of the top competitors.

*Lena Marrocco and Mae Berenice Meite of France as well as Kwak Min-Jung of Korea and Sonia Lafuente of Spain are also making Senior Grand Prix debuts.

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