2015-16 Russian Nationals preview (men): Is it Pitkeev's time to shine?

The Russian men kick off the week of ridiculousness known as the Russian Figure Skating Championships AND the Japan Figure Skating Championships! Why ridiculous? It's just going to be a lot of mind-blowing skating in a matter of four days. You don't wanna miss it.

Rocker Predictions: 2015-16 Russian Nationals

In the post-Plushenko era (or maybe it could very well still be the between-Plushenko era?), the Russian men have seen a few potential standouts, but none of them have managed to find the consistency to make a huge impact. The closest one so far has been Maxim Kovtun, who was fourth at Worlds two years ago. And as talented of a jumper Kovtun is, he is completely ready to implode at every competition, the most recent example being NHK Trophy, where he went from 4th in the short to 10th overall with one popped jump after another.

The veterans in this field will most certainly be Sergei Voronov and Konstantin Menshov, both of whom have won the Russian title before. Neither of them have been impressive this season, though - still with booming quads but just inconsistent. This could be one of those make-or-break competitions for both of them, and if they can't get it together, it's very possible that they could be buried in the standings in favor of some of the newer talent.

Speaking of newer talent - it may very well be reigning bronze medalist Adian Pitkeev's year. He broke through this season with a silver at Rostelecom Cup. And of the up-and-coming men here, he's got the most well-rounded programs. Hot on his heels, though, is the standout Russian man on the junior international circuit, Dmitri Aliev. He just took silver at the Junior Grand Prix Final and we've seen brilliant programs from him. Is he podium material? Absolutely, but his effectiveness in the longer senior programs is still to be determined.

But there's a skater who has been very much under the radar. Whereas Pitkeev, Kovtun, Voronov, Menshov, and even Mikhail Kolyada and Alexander Petrov have all had international exposure this season on the Grand Prix (and Aliev was on the JGP), Artur Dmitriev, Jr., has not. But Dmitriev's winning Ice Challenge a few weeks back was definitely overlooked - he's still rough around the edges, but he's found a consistency this season that he's never had before. That plus, of course, the fact that his last name is Dmitriev put him squarely in the dark horse role in Yekaterinburg this week.

MEN (Predictions)
GOLD Adian Pitkeev
SILVER Maxim Kovtun
BRONZE Dmitri Aliev
4. Artur Dmitriev, Jr.
5. Sergei Voronov
6. Mikhail Kolyada
7. Konstantin Menshov
8. Alexander Petrov
9. Gordei Gorshkov
10. Alexander Samarin