Two of the most consistent women in figure skating right now headline the competition at 2016 Skate Canada International this week. Reigning World champion Evgenia Medvedeva and 2015 World silver medalist Satoko Miyahara are the favorites, with 2015 World champ Elizaveta Tuktamysheva looking to reassert herself on the international scene after a tough last season. The gold and silver look to be locks, so the battle for bronze might be the one to watch.
Skate Canada Predictions
Official hashtag: #SCI16
GOLD Evgenia Medvedeva RUS - Consistency has been her biggest weapon during the past season and a half, and she can continue to stay out in front this season with more clean performances. In a lot of ways, the other top women in the world can only hope to catch up to Medvedeva if she starts making mistakes here and there to let them back in the game. That's not to say that she's unbeatable, but it is to say that she has built up a reputation as a technically reliable skater with very strong components. The only one who can come close this week if she's clean is Miyahara.
Also, it's another edition of #WhosCallingEvgenia
SILVER Satoko Miyahara JPN - Speaking of Miyahara, she started this season very strongly at US Classic and then at Japan Open, where she was second to Medvedeva. Her two programs this season show off two different artistic sides - and for me, her free skate has been one of the highlights of this season so far. Where she trails Medvedeva is the amplitude of her jumps, but where she should be at least comparable is in her components. And whether it's Medvedeva being overscored or Miyahara being underscored, the two should be closer when it comes to PCS. It will be interesting to see how Miyahara fares this week relative to Medvedeva, but she is definitely in the hunt for gold.
BRONZE Mirai Nagasu USA - Is this a surprise pick? Perhaps. There are five skaters who could take the bronze here if you consider Medvedeva and Miyahara locks for gold and silver. And Nagasu is starting this season off very differently than she has started other seasons. She looks trained and prepared, and that personal best short program at Autumn Classic allowed her to reassert herself as one of the contenders again. Nagasu needs to carry that momentum that she built last season and capitalize on it - if she can get a couple of clean Grand Prix competitions under her belt, the international judges are going to skyrocket her back into the top group of women. Skate Canada may be where it all begins for her.
4. Alaine Chartrand CAN - Where Nagasu hit it out of the ballpark at Autumn Classic in the short, Chartrand did the same at the same competition in the free. Consistency has never been her thing, but when she puts it together, she's right up there with the rest. And that free skate at Autumn Classic could set her up really well for a strong showing this week in her home Grand Prix.
5. Kaetlyn Osmond CAN - Winning Finlandia Trophy over the likes of Mao Asada, Anna Pogorilaya, and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was likely a huge confidence booster for Osmond, who narrowly missed a berth to Worlds last season. She returns to the competition where she took her first Grand Prix win four years ago (in her very first Grand Prix appearance), though with the memory of an 11th-place finish last season.
6. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva RUS - So where does our other World champ fit in this week? She's taken out the triple axel for the time being with the goal of skating clean and consistent programs. But with that, she has also taken out her triple loop, and so her technical score has now become a liability. We've seen a couple of solid short programs from her this season, but she will most certainly need to put two strong programs down to get on the podium. And that may give her some much-needed confidence and momentum.
7. Rika Hongo JPN - After an eighth at Worlds last season, Hongo came into this season with a so-so start with a fourth-place finish at Autumn Classic. There was something about Worlds that seemed to differentiate the top women from the others in the pack, and Hongo left as a bit of an afterthought. With everyone else skating well and hitting their jumps, she just didn't have the components to stand out, and we saw that at Autumn Classic in her component marks.
8. Nahyun Kim KOR - Gotta love that triple loop-triple loop. Kim has established herself so far this season as one of the top Korean women on the senior ranks. She always flies a bit under the radar, but this week will be an opportunity for her to play the dark horse role.
9. Yuka Nagai JPN - In her first full senior season last year, Nagai had some strong moments, including a bronze at this very competition. But she proved to be more inconsistent than she had been as a junior skater, and it resulted in a few uneven competitions, including a disappointing seventh at Japan Nationals.
10. Dabin Choi KOR - Two fourth-place finishes in Challengers competitions to start, Choi has started more slowly than many have expected her to, especially after a solid 14th-place debut at Worlds in March. She has improved her skating since last season, but still doesn't quite compare in components - and so she will need all the technical points she can get in order to compete with the field this week.
11. Joshi Helgesson SWE - After three top 15 finishes at Worlds, Helgesson failed to make it out of the short program last season. Her first couple of competitions have not really marked any kind of return to where she was in previous seasons, and it's tough to see her up there this week at Skate Canada.