We start with the ladies this week because the lineup is just oh-so-intriguing. Russia sends three of its best to its home Grand Prix, the 2015 Rostelecom Cup. And whenever you have the Olympic champion, the World bronze medalist, and the World junior champion in the field, you know you're in for a treat. Can someone spoil a Russian sweep in the ladies event this week? Perhaps ....
Rocker Predictions: 2015 Rostelecom Cup
GOLD Evgenia Medvedeva RUS - Winning Skate America four weeks ago was something that you knew Evgenia Medvedeva had the potential to do but didn't think she would actually do it. But this expressive and jump-savvy skater delivers the whole package really well. She is where Radionova and Sotnikova were in previous seasons, reigning World junior champions with everything to gain in their first season as seniors. But it's her consistency and confidence that will propel her to the top yet again this week, setting up a very interesting Russian Nationals in just over a month.
SILVER Rika Hongo JPN - With three personal bests at Cup of China, Rika Hongo is certainly avoiding the sophomore slump after a breakthrough season last year. And she had this competition to thank for the breakthrough, which really would never have happened had she not won that competition that, frankly, went off the rails with loads of mistakes. But she's a stronger skater this season, living up to the hype that brought her all the way to sixth at Worlds. And if there's anyone to spoil that Russian sweep, it's most likely going to be her.
BRONZE Elena Radionova RUS - The growing pains are hitting, and Elena Radionova are getting used to them. She was third at Cup of China two weeks ago behind Hongo, and you could see that she was struggling with the inconsistency that has crept into her jumps this season. Mistakes are harder for her to shake off, if only because there's now a sense of doubt that we didn't see last season. But like Edmunds, Radionova comes in with greater maturity this year, and it's nice to see her skating improve. She is likely to make a few errors this week again, which will keep her from taking the title.
4. Adelina Sotnikova RUS - Who else is shocked and appalled that I have the reigning Olympic champion finishing off the podium this week? Adelina Sotnikova is in her comeback season after taking all of last season off with injuries, and she was solid in her return at Mordovian Ornament earlier this season. But she's never been the most consistent skater on the senior level, which makes it more difficult for her to return with a splash. With two clean skates, she can jump to the top of the podium, but I see a few mistakes here and there that are just going to keep her from being competitive with the top three.
5. Polina Edmunds USA - There were a whole lot of puzzled looks at Skate Canada when the former U.S. silver medalists kept seeing her TES be lower than she expected. There was the invalidated flying sit and two underrotated jumps in the short, and then four more underrotated jumps in the free - all of which added up to enough points to take what should have been a bronze medal off her neck. You better believe that she will come in with a different mindset this week to prove that she's more than capable of rotating those jumps completely. Make no mistake, the Polina Edmunds we are seeing this season is a more mature and well-rounded skater than ever. There's podium potential there.
6. Yuka Nagai JPN - With the bronze at Skate Canada, Yuka Nagai showed a great deal of improvement from her season debut at Ondrej Nepela, where she was a disappointing sixth. It will be a lot tougher for her to get on the podium this week, just given the field, but she could certainly surprise if the top skaters make mistakes.
7. Roberta Rodeghiero ITA - After a surprise third-place short program at Trophee Eric Bompard last week, the Italian silver medalist didn't get to finish up the competition after it was cancelled due to the terror attacks in Paris. But she will be back this week to prove that that short program was no fluke. But the competition is a step-up in depth from Bordeaux last week.
8. Riona Kato JPN - Kato surprised everyone with a fifth-place GP debut last year at NHK Trophy. She's got a solid set of jumps - and while her skating won't blow you away either technically or artistically, she gets the job done, and generally pretty well. Expect her to be solidly in the middle of the pack this week, which is no easy feat given this group of skaters.
9. Joshi Helgesson SWE - The remaining Helgesson sister has been up and down and up and down this season. She had such a promising third-place at Finlandia, only to find herself in ninth at Skate Canada. In this field, she's going to really need to clean up her jumps in order to even be in the top eight.
10. Alaine Chartrand CAN - The last time we saw Chartrand was at Skate America, where she was in shambles. After a solid attempt at a triple axel, she went on to have a disaster of a free skate and finished 12th. She's a hot or cold skaters, no doubt about that. But let's remember that a year ago, she surprised everyone with a bronze medal finish at Rostelecom. So if she catches fire this week, she's definitely got top six potential.
11. Hannah Miller USA - Underrotations are Miller's achilles. She's got solid programs that can score well internationally if she can put those jumps together. But this season so far, she's just not rotating enough of them to make an impact quite yet. She was tenth at Cup of China two weeks ago.
12. Dasa Grm SLO - In her first Grand Prix, Grm will be looking at this very much as a learning experience. Besides Worlds, she's never really been in a field quite as deep as this one.