2016 Canadian Nationals preview (ladies): Three contenders

The ladies event at this week’s 2016 Canadian Figure Skating Championships is unlike any other in recent memory.  It’s the sheer fact that there are three contenders for the title this year. All three are capable of big tricks and great skating, and all three have the ability to win that gold this week in Halifax. And add to the drama that Canada only has two spots at Worlds to give out, and you got yourself one interesting competition.

Perhaps the biggest X factor is two-time champion Kaetlyn Osmond, who returns to Canadians after missing last year’s nationals (and the entire last season, period) because of injury. Her return to competition at Nebelhorn Trophy was phenomenal, and many thought that it signaled the return to form for Osmond.

But her season completely shifted a minute into her short program at Skate Canada. She opened with a triple flip-triple toe and a triple lutz, only to take a nasty fall on a flying spin. She would go on to fall another nine times during the remainder of her Grand Prix Series. Now, whether the inconsistency was going to happen anyway or her confidence fell off the edge after being in a precarious balance, we won’t know. But what we do know is that she comes in to nationals likely not feeling competition-ready. Osmond is still the most complete skater in the field, and two clean programs will get her to the top. But after seeing her season so far, that may be a tall order.

Last year’s silver medalist, Alaine Chartrand, had the biggest short program of her life (and of any of the Canadian ladies) at Rostelecom Cup. Her triple lutz-triple toe certainly doesn’t hurt. But where she has trouble is in the free skate, and she took some disastrous hits in confidence at Skate America and at Rostelecom, with a total of six falls in the two free skates. Chartrand will certainly need every bit of that short program prowess to keep her in the conversation. But her shakiness in the free skate might just be the thing that takes her off of that Worlds team.

Defending champion Gabrielle Daleman had a steady but not impressive showing this season so far. But perhaps with her two closest competitors here being as unpredictable as they've been this season, being steady and not streaky may be the way to go. Her free skate at Skate Canada was one of the best of her career, and if she puts together a clean short program, I see the title heading back to Daleman this week.

Top 5 Predictions (Ladies)
GOLD Gabrielle Daleman
SILVER Kaetlyn Osmond
BRONZE Alaine Chartrand
4. Selena Zhao
5. Veronik Malle