Cryptic headline? I don't think so. Not when you consider the lineup in the men's event at Skate America this week. There's a Ten, an Uno, and Yan. But then again, there's also an Aaron, a Brown, and a Mura. It's a packed men's field for the first Grand Prix of the season - and the excitement about the start of the GP is everywhere. Let's have a look.
2015 Skate America: Rocker Predictions
GOLD Shoma Uno JPN - Rewind a month to Shoma Uno's first competition of the season. And let's remember that he completely fell apart in the short program and had to settle for 9th after the short in a relatively benign field. And then let's remember solid free skate he came back to skate after that. And then, more importantly, let's remember the outrageously good free skate he put down at Japan Open to demolish everyone, including a Javier Fernandez and a Patrick Chan. Uno has shown that not only he has the potential to have a great first full senior season, but he also has the potential to be a medal contender at Worlds. This kid is something else.
SILVER Denis Ten KAZ - Let's start off with a heavy caveat - Denis Ten could be anywhere here, especially with the injury he's recovering from. I've learned to not expect too much from this well-known late-starter. He rarely ever skates his best at the beginning of the season - this is a guy who won a World medal and an Olympic medal before he won a Grand Prix medal. He's recovering from an injury, which took him out of Autumn Classic two weeks ago. We don't know what exactly we will get out of Ten - he could win or he could be like 6th - but what we do know is that he's got the respect of the international panel now, so high PCS (which are well-deserved) should keep him in contention even if his jumps aren't all there yet.
BRONZE Max Aaron USA - Max Aaron's reinvention tour continues - and to be honest, really starts - at Skate America. He has put his new choreographic approach out to the international panel, and its been well-received so far. What Aaron desperately needs to do, though, is skate a clean competition. It's the only way he's going to be able to gain momentum on the world stage. And frankly, I've got high hopes for him this season.
Related: Skate America full schedule
4. Han Yan CHN - I went back and forth on Han Yan. He's an interesting one, for sure - always an enigma because he will land the tough stuff and then splatter on the easy stuff. In a field like this, it will be tough for him to medal without two solid skates, but he's definitely got the goods to do it. And he's one of the many, many skaters this season who is skating to Romeo + Juliet soundtrack - but from the looks of his practice snippets, his free skate could be a memorable one.
5. Jason Brown USA - It pains me to put Jason Brown in fifth, because he's so much better than that. But you have to 1) look at this field, and 2) look at his trajectory so far this season. He's improved since the summer domestics, even winning Nepela Trophy a few weeks back. But the fact of the matter is that he still doesn't compete a quad in the short, he's never landed a quad in competition, and his normally trustworthy triples are shaky at this time in the season. Two programs with clean triples get him on the podium, even if he doesn't land the quad in the free skate, but right now, that's more of an if.
6. Konstantin Menshov RUS - After winning Finlandia and getting bronze at Nebelhorn, Konstantin Menshov has warmed up for the season. He's arguably as refined of skater as he has been this season, but he still has to rely on his jumps for solid placing. But two quads in the short and three in the free can definitely do it for him.
7. Takahito Mura JPN - After a strong start to his season last year, Takahito Mura's whole year went on a free fall starting with the Grand Prix Final. And he was lucky to have even made it to Worlds (where he finished 16th), thanks to a retiring Machida and a Junior Worlds-bound Uno. It's tough to see him back among the top Japanese men this season.
8. Ross Miner USA - Third at U.S. Classic, Ross Miner is still in somewhat of a rebuilding stage. He needs confidence in competition, which has been zapped over and over again during the past few years.
9. Florent Amodio FRA - After a solid short program for Florent Amodio at Nebelhorn, you thought that maybe he's on a long overdue upswing. But French Masters two weeks ago was a complete disaster for him, as he was dealing with an injury there. What's his status now? I guess we will find out this week.
10. Adian Pitkeev RUS - Fourth at Nepela Trophy, Pitkeev comes in as one of the promising Russian men. He was sixth at least year's Skate America.
11. Brendan Kerry AUS - The three-time Australian champion has the technical goods to turn some heads here, but his inconsistency has been a liability.
12. Alexei Bychenko ISR - Fourth at Europeans last season, Alexei Bychenko looked like he was ready for a breakthrough. But while he seemed to have figured out the quad toe and the triple axel, he just seems to get caught up with nerves in competition.