One more huge event before the Olympics - Four Continents starts mid-week this week and in the ladies' event, the Japanese women are in full display this week in Taipei as they look to take the entire podium with their top three from the All-Japan Championships. Can anyone spoil this sweep? Mariah Bell and Elizabet Tursynbaeva may have something to say about that.
Four Continents predictions
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GOLD Kaori Sakamoto JPN - Momentum is on her side, and it may very well just carry her all the way to the title this week. She has had one of the most surprising rises in skating this season, and the confidence that she carries into this competition this week could be her ticket to the biggest win of her career. It will take two clean programs, but she's up for the challenge.
SILVER Satoko Miyahara JPN - Up until just a couple of months ago, we were still wonder if Miyahara was healthy and ready enough to be competitive at her own Nationals after her injuries. But last month, she won her fourth Japanese title and made her first Olympic team. The big question for her, as always, will be the rotation of her jumps, which were not at their best at Nationals. She's still very much a favorite for gold here.
BRONZE Mai Mihara JPN - It's the short program that has been her nemesis all season, and it seems to have started from that errant fall that she had late in her short program at Worlds last March. A fall on her double axel at Japan Nationals cost her any real hopes of making the Olympic team, and relegated her to this Four Continents slot. But lest we forget, she finished fifth at Worlds last season and can absolutely just win this whole thing outright.
4. Mariah Bell USA - Bell is on an upswing, even if she didn't make it onto the Olympic team. She has had a so-so season but her U.S. Championships performances were her strongest of the season. And so she carries that most recent memory with her here as she tries to end her season on a strong note. Two more strong skates here can make her competitive, possibly as a spoiler of that Japanese sweep.
5. Elizabet Tursynbaeva KAZ - Tursynbaeva comes into Four Continents after a breakthrough at Internationaux de France, where she swept past some personal best scores. She's never been able to really hold it together during an entire season, but she should be coming in beaming with confidence. She was eighth here last year - should be an easy ascent from that placement this year.
6. Angela Wang USA - It's been a career-best season for Wang, capped off by her first appearance at an ISU Championships with this Four Continents assignment. She's found a level of consistency that she's never had before, and it's helped her put up the best scores of her career. She's got 190-point potential if she can keep it all together, which would be top five territory.
7. Starr Andrews USA - A stellar U.S. Championships qualified Andrews to her first senior ISU Championships - it will be her biggest competition, by far, and she will be soaking up all the experience that she can this week. The question is, can she channel the brilliance that she had in San Jose and end her season on a really high note here at Four Continents? This could really set her up well for a breakthrough next season.
8. Dabin Choi KOR - It was a bit of an iffy start for Choi this season, but she's ramped up her competitiveness this season and took second at Korean Nationals to grab a spot at the Olympics.
9. Alaine Chartrand CAN - Chartrand, the Canadian champ just two seasons ago, missed out on the third spot on the Olympic team after a subpar season that included a fourth-place finish at Canadians. Four Continents is a chance for her to salvage her season and end it on a high note.
10. Soyoun Park KOR - Like Chartrand, Park missed out on the Olympics by one spot. Her recovery from her ankle injury from a year ago has not gone as smoothly as she had hoped, but she has all the goods for a top ten finish here.