Like the men's event, the ladies' competition at Four Continents this week had to take a couple of withdrawals. Mao Asada and Ashley Wagner, who would have been two of the headliners here, opted to skip in favor of resting and training for Worlds. Polina Edmunds, last year's surprise winner here, could not defend her title due to equipment issues. Yet the competition is still going to be plenty deep and plenty interesting, with the U.S. and Japanese champions going head-to-head.
Rocker Predictions: 2016 Four Continents
GOLD Gracie Gold USA - Let's just say that Four Continents has not been Gold's favorite competition. Crazily enough, she has not medaled in her two appearances here, but this week could be her best chance yet at getting that title. She comes in hot off one of her best free skates ever and a second U.S. title, and she's been generally strong all season, with the exception of a poor showing at Grand Prix Final. It will be interesting to see how her success at Nationals translates to her performances this week. But I like her chances here, and you may see a couple of personal bests from her.
SILVER Satoko Miyahara JPN - There's been a lot of validation this season for the reigning World silver medalist. Miyahara has not only backed that up with a silver at the Grand Prix Final, but also skated two strong programs at Japan Nationals to win her second Japanese title (and this one over Asada). So it's no secret that Miyahara is probably riding her most confident wave ever coming into Taipei this week. She will be a co-favorite for gold with Gold (parallelism intended), and if Gold makes a mistake or two, it's certainly Miyahara's to win.
BRONZE Mirai Nagasu USA - Let's hope there are no boot problems this time around. Nagasu had a solid fourth-place finish at Nationals after skating her short program on basically a broken boot and her free skate on a heavily repaired boot. She's taking no chances this week, bringing multiple pairs of skates with her. But all that being said, she looked as confident and focused at Nationals a month ago as I've ever seen her. The jumps are bigger and stronger, and her mindset just seemed positive and honed in. She's a strong favorite for a podium finish.
4. Rika Hongo JPN - After a strong start to her season, Hongo has seen her season fizzle a bit, with a fifth-place finish at Rostelecom and then off the podium at Japan Nationals. Maybe she peaked too early in the season? But we will have a better idea of where she is in her preparation for Worlds this week in Taipei. She's definitely one of the podium contenders though, especially if she is able to get those triple-triples fully-rotated.
5. Alaine Chartrand CAN - Chartrand became the last of the big three in Canadian ladies skating to win a Canadian title just last month, and she pulled that off in arguable (actually, definitely) the most competitive Canadians in recent memory. And what a turnaround too, considering she had some huge confidence blows on the Grand Prix with multiple-fall free skates that left her in tears. She's historically been a short program skater, but her Canadians performances showed that she can turn it up in the free skate as well. Chartrand finds herself an outsider for a medal and likely carrying in all-time high confidence.
6. Kanako Murakami JPN - Sixth at Japan Nationals, Murakami has had an ok season so far, though not anywhere near her career best a few seasons ago. But it's no surprise that she has taken her lutz out altogether in some programs this season because she hasn't been able to fix her entrance edge, and that just puts her behind the curve in base value. She may have a strong short program showing, but it will be tough for her to break into medal territory without the technical content. She's currently got a lutz planned in her free skate, plus a triple flip-triple toe, so we will see where she goes with that free skate.
7. Kaetlyn Osmond CAN - Osmond's components were not enough to make up for the mistakes she made at Canadians, and she ended up third and relegated to first alternate for Worlds. Her comeback season has been up and down, but as we've seen, she can deliver programs that rival the best in the world. Two clean programs can put her on the podium, but the chances of that happening are likely low with her inconsistency.
8. Karen Chen USA - Last year's U.S. bronze medalist hasn't had a dream senior international debut season. And an eighth at Nationals last month took her out of contention for Worlds. But as a result of Wagner and Edmunds' withdrawals, she's got a second chance at putting a solid close to her season. She's got top five potential with two strong skates.
9. Zijun Li CHN - The four-time Chinese champion did not impress on the Grand Prix, with a ninth at Cup of China and a seventh at NHK. Tough to see her breaking into the top this week.
10. So Youn Park KOR - After a season of inconsistency, Park skated a clean free skate for the first time in a long time just a few weeks ago at South Korean's Winter Games.