The women's field in figure skating this Olympic season is so deep that momentum, and indirectly, confidence, will have a lot to do with the trajectories of these skaters going into the Olympics in February. A few of those trajectories will be tested here at Internationaux de France this week, and as always, Grand Prix Final berths are on the line.
Internationaux de France predictions
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GOLD Kaetlyn Osmond CAN - Is this a sure bet? Far from it. Is Osmond the most complete skater in this field? Absolutely. And frankly, with all the general ups and downs of the entire Grand Prix series so far, who knows who will actually come away with the title here? But you can be sure that Osmond wants to continue her undefeated season and book her spot in the Grand Prix Final. Watch for the triple loop in the second half of her free skate, that's where troubles tend to start.
SILVER Alina Zagitova RUS - We have seen so far this season that Zagitova doesn't always have nerves of steel. And as great of a technician she is, there's something about seeing the mistakes that humanizes her skating. That said, she is certainly looking to put her mistakes behind her here and put down two clean programs. She is not quite as strong in the basics as the other top women here, but as we all know, her technical prowess makes up for it. If Osmond makes a mistake here, Zagitova will absolutely have a shot at gold.
BRONZE Mai Mihara JPN - With teammate Satoko Miyahara getting fifth last week at NHK Trophy, Mihara has the opportunity to continue proving herself as one of the top two Japanese women and make it to the Olympics. She comes off a fourth place finish at Cup of China and is a long shot for the Grand Prix Final, but she does have a clear shot once again at the podium this week, especially if she can regain the kind of consistency we have come to expect from her.
4. Maria Sotskova RUS - Silver at Skate Canada, Sotskova comes into this season with a refreshed sense of choreography and movement, and it's shown in her results so far. Her biggest obstacle this week may actually be making sure her jumps are fully-rotated. Even without that strict panel we saw at Skate Canada, we have seen Sotskova's jumps get called, especially with her combos. Two clean programs will put her right in contention for the podium.
5. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva RUS - As the former World champion tries to build a case for her Olympic chances, she continues to regain the consistency that we saw from her during that magical season. Her triple axel was back in the free skate at Cup of China, but she may need another one in her short program to make up for lost time.
6. Elizabet Tursynbaeva KAZ - Eighth at Rostelecom Cup to start her Grand Prix, Tursynbaeva has stalled a bit this season, both in her jumps and in her overall programs. Expect her to be in the middle of this field this week.
7. Yuna Shiraiwa JPN - Fresh off NHK Trophy last weekend, Shiraiwa goes intercontinental to her second Grand Prix here in Grenoble. She will need to be more solid in her jumps if she is to move up into the top half of this pack.
8. Laurine Lecavelier FRA - In the first meeting with Meite this season, it was Meite who got the upper hand by less than a point at French Masters. She started off slowly this season but is starting to gain momentum, with an eighth-place finish at Skate Canada a few weeks ago. In the race for that one Olympic spot for the French women, this competition will be crucial for her to set herself up for French Nationals.
9. Mae Berenice Meite FRA - It figures to be another close one between her and Lecavelier this week, and it really will depend on who is more consistent here. At Rostelecom Cup, Meite's jumps looked strong in practice, but they didn't quite translate to competition there. And she will need all of her jumps here to notch another win over Lecavelier as they look ahead to French Nationals. Her home Grand Prix was very good to her last season.
10. Polina Edmunds USA - Ninth at the Olympics four years ago, Edmunds has been sidelined with injuries for the past season and a half, and has made her return this season in a bid to get back to the Games. But based on her early season performances, her jumps may not be ready for primetime, and it's tough to see her really making a dent this week in Grenoble.
11. Nicole Schott GER - She was 10th at Rostelecom Cup to start her season, and in her very first Grand Prix event ever. Schott is the replacement for Gracie Gold after she officially withdrew a few weeks ago.