So I took once glance at the ladies' entry list at this week's Skate Canada and realized that, holy moly, this is going to be quite the competition. You've got the reigning World champ, reigning U.S. champ, former Canadian champ, former World silver medalist, and then some. Yeah, the men might be Chan vs. Hanyu, but I'm really looking forward to watching the ladies' competition. It's going to be quite the battle.
Rocker Predictions: 2015 Skate Canada
GOLD Elizaveta Tuktamysheva RUS - The triple axel isn't quite there yet this season for Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, but that's icing on the cake, as far as she's concerned. She's got enough technical firepower to make up for mistakes on the triple axel, as long as she rotates it. But more importantly, Tuktamysheva brings with her World champion PCS marks, which, in a field like this, is a nice advantage to have. This is, by no means, an easy competition for her to win, but she does come in as a solid favorite.
SILVER Ashley Wagner USA - This whole competition will depend on Ashley Wagner's ability to fully rotate her triple flip-triple toe combo. After experimenting - quite successfully - with a lutz-toe last season, she's gone back to the flip-toe, presumably as a less risky alternative because there's always a chance her lutz will get deducted on a wrong-edge call. Her Japan Open debut this season was solid (and just a bit underscored), but Canada should be friendlier waters for her PCS. I would not be surprised to see one or two personal best scores from Wagner this week if she can get the rotation right. She's definitely got a shot at gold - don't count her out.
BRONZE Kaetlyn Osmond CAN - After dealing with a season that was decimated by injuries, the two-time Canadian champ is back and looking even stronger than before. She took the title at Nebelhorn to start the season, with a career-best free skate. She won here three years ago in her Grand Prix debut, and you better believe that she would love to stay undefeated at her home GP. It will need to be a pretty perfect competition for that to happen, but she looks to be up for the challenge.
4. Alena Leonova RUS - So guess what? Alena Leonova is still around. In fact, she has even beaten Tuktamysheva in the free skate at Cup of Nice. So you can put on hold any thoughts of her hanging up her skates after her seventh-place showing at Russians last season. Her inconsistency stands in the way the most, but with a strong short program, she could definitely figure into the podium picture. But mistakes in the short will only send her down the standings, where her PCS won't be pushed up enough for her to be in the conversation.
5. Polina Edmunds USA - Eighth at Worlds two years in a row, Polina Edmunds is certainly on par with the best in her technical repertoire. But last year, we saw her have early-season troubles on the Grand Prix before stringing some solid skates together at the end. Like Leonova, a strong short program is key to her success.
6. Elizabet Tursynbaeva KAZ - Fourth in her Grand Prix debut last week at Skate America, Elizabet Tursynbaeva has already had a busy season with multiple competitions. Her consistency has definitely gotten better since the summer, and if there's a dark horse for the podium this week, she's the one. But if everyone else skates well, Tursynbaeva doesn't have the PCS to bring her up there quite yet.
7. Joshi Helgesson SWE - We saw some new tricks from Joshi Helgesson this season already - she's got a triple toe-triple toe in the short and a new triple flip in the free skate. And at Finlandia a few weeks back, she skated one of the best free skates of her career and won bronze. She's still technically lagging behind the top skaters, but she's definitely trending upward.
8. Gabrielle Daleman CAN - It's always a bit tough to place Gabrielle Daleman in predictions, because her consistency goes in wild swings. She's got the technical goods to compete, and if they work for her this week, you can expect her to contend for the top half.
9. Yuka Nagai JPN - After a strong junior season last year, the Japanese junior bronze medalist started this season with a sixth place at Nepela Trophy. She's not quite as consistent as she was last year, but it's still early in the season and it's her first full season on the senior international circuit. If she's clean, watch out.
10. Kanako Murakami JPN - Seventh was not where she had hoped to be at U.S. Classic, a less competitive international earlier in the season. Her jump technique has become a major liability in the past few seasons, and unless she can find a way to string together two clean programs, it's hard to see her finishing that high at Skate Canada this week. Note also that she's never been lower than seventh on the Grand Prix.
11. Veronik Mallet CAN - Tenth here last season, the Canadian bronze medalist is coming off a ninth-place finish at U.S. Classic.
12. Isabelle Olsson SWE - It's always nice to start the season off with a win, which is exactly what the Swedish bronze medalist did at Denkova-Staviski Cup recently. She's a late addition to the Skate Canada and is making her first Grand Prix appearance in a very tough field.