What? One national championships isn't enough for the week? In addition to Japan Nationals, Russian Nationals is taking place at the exact same time. I take a look at the men and ice dance here, with the ladies and pairs up next.
2016-17 Russian Nationals Predictions
Official hashtag: #RN2017
Men top 5 predictions
Two spots for Worlds
GOLD Sergei Voronov
SILVER Mikhail Kolyada
BRONZE Dmitri Aliev
4. Maxim Kovtun
5. Alexander Samarin
It's yet another unpredictable men's field for the Russian title here. It's been eight years since Sergei Voronov has won the Russian title - and his resilience has been something else, sticking it out through Evgeni Plushenko's return and injuries, Artur Gachinski's rise and retirement, and, most recently, Maxim Kovtun winning three in a row. Somehow, this season might just be Voronov's best yet, showing off the strongest programs of his career. A win here would be huge, in his 13th Russian Nationals.
Chief in his competition are both Kovtun and a skater who was the huge surprise last season, Mikhail Kolyada. Kovtun has not at all been immune to his inconsistency issues this season - and it's not just making mistakes, it's how he makes them. He has a tendency to single or double his quads and triple axels, which destroys his base mark, and that has been the source of many of his woes during his two seventh-place finishes on the Grand Prix.
Kolyada struggles with similar inconsistency issues, though more in the form of falls rather than pops. All else equal, though, he's got the full package of jumps and components to win this whole thing when he's on. He's also recently put in a quad lutz in his free skate, which could be a game changer if he lands it. But it could also be a complete downer for the rest of his free skate, as we saw at NHK Trophy.
The dark horse coming in might very well be Dmitri Aliev, fresh off his Junior Grand Prix Final victory. Like Kovtun and Kolyada, Aliev can be hot or cold, but his JGPF win may have been a sign of some steadying in the way he approaches competition.
Dance top 5 predictions
Two spots for Worlds
GOLD Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev
SILVER Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin
BRONZE Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov
4. Elena Ilinykh/Ruslan Zhiganshin
5. Tiffany Zahorski/Jonathan Guerreiro
Already the dance team with the most Russian titles, Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev are coming in favored to extend their record to six. In fact, they have won five of the last six Russian Nationals, with the one gap being their withdrawal due to injury for the 2014-15 event. The fight for silver (and likely the second and only other Worlds spot) will be incredibly intriguing, with three teams very much in it.
And while reigning silver medalists Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov and 2014-15 champs Elena Ilinykh/Ruslan Zhiganshin have both been up there before, it's 2013 World junior champions Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin who have really dialed it up a notch all around this season.