You could do a competition with the top ten Russian women and it would likely rank as one of the best set of ten that you can put together. For the past five years, the ladies' event at the Russian Championships has been the most intense national competition in the world. And it's no different this year. An individual Olympic Champion, a team Olympic champion/World silver medalist, a World Champion, another World silver medalist, and a World bronze medalist ... and none of those are the favorite. Yeah ok. Brace yourselves.
Rocker Predictions: 2015 Russian Nationals
Believe it or not, there is actually a clear favorite for gold this week. Fresh off a spectacular Grand Prix Final win two weeks ago, Evgenia Medvedeva has the consistency, the components, and, frankly, the international reputation. to win these judges over for good. (And yes, she's the one without any of those Olympic or World medals ... because she's been too young up until this season.)
If everyone skates cleanly, the only one out there with a chance to beat Medvedeva is Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, solely because Tuktamysheva has the triple axel. The World champ has been off to a very slow start this season, and she's basically taken the intricacies and the fire out of her programs in order to address the inconsistency. Her Golden Spin performances three weeks ago put her back on the map. Still, I don't see Russian Nationals as the place she puts her best down this season, but I'm guessing she'll do enough to get her to Europeans.
Last year's champ, Elena Radionova, has really been willing her way through her programs this year amid growth spurts and a sometimes lack of confidence. Her Grand Prix Final bronze medal performances were not without issues, and she will need to combat with the consistency of Medvedeva and (who?) Polina Tsurskaya this week. So who's Tsurskaya? Well, she is what Medvedeva was last season, and what Radionova was the two seasons before, and what Julia Lipnitskaia was the season before that - the hotshot undefeated junior skater who can't seem to miss a jump in competition. She just won the Junior Grand Prix Final with two clean skates, and will certainly look to be medal-worthy this week.
So what about all those other decorated skaters I mentioned? Olympic champ Adelina Sotnikova has skated decently in her comeback season. But the consistency is just so not there. Make no mistake - she has never been consistent on the senior level - but she's not at the condition she was in when she won in Sochi. The jumps are there in isolation, but she's not quite program-trained yet. Her power isn't quite there yet, and so the second half of her free skates are on and off. Two clean programs will put her on the podium, but it's unlikely to happen. She's fighting for the third spot at Worlds at this point, which is an outside possibility.
And Anna Pogorilaya? It's a competition of redemption for her after the season of crazy falls. And Julia Lipnitskaia? It's also a competition of redemption for her, but for different reasons. Her loop and lutz have abandoned her, and even her flip is shaky. And even though she looks to be having more fun with skating this season, her chances for even top five are slim.
1. Evgenia Medvedeva
2. Polina Tsurskaya
3. Elena Radionova
4. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
5. Adelina Sotnikova
6. Anna Pogorilaya
7. Maria Sotskova
8. Julia Lipnitskaia
9. Alisa Fedichkina
10. Alena Leonova