The ladies’ field at 2018 Skate America is the deepest of the four disciplines in Everett, Washington, this week. Even with Elena Radionova out of the competition with a back injury, this field will be packed. But among the Japanese, Russian, and American skaters, might there be a surprise in store?
Skate America predictions
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GOLD Satoko Miyahara JPN - She won US Classic to start her season, and she’s looking to back that up with a win in her first Grand Prix of the season. It won’t be an easy task in this field, and it certainly won’t be an easy task given the somewhat uncharacteristic inconsistency that we’ve seen from her at US Classic and at Japan Open. Her short program is classic Miyahara; but her free skate is breaking new ground for her artistically, and she’s still getting used to it. And comfort with this free skate may be the key to her success this week.
SILVER Bradie Tennell USA - Tennell is one of the few people who have ever beaten Evgenia Medvedeva in competition - she did that just a few weeks ago at Autumn Classic to open her season. And though her performance at Japan Open two weeks ago didn’t live up to the promise of her season opener, she’s got a solid shot at gold at Skate America this week. Miyahara has the advantage in components, Tennell can combat that with her technical prowess.
BRONZE Loena Hendrickx BEL - Did someone say breakthrough? I’m making my dark horse pick here and it’s Loena Hendrickx. She has transformed in the past season into an all-around skater with strong skating and big jumps. Getting that lutz-toe has been important for her to compete against the best in the world. It’s her Grand Prix debut this week, and I’m betting that she debuts with a splash.
4. Kaori Sakamoto JPN - One of the breakout stars last season, Sakamoto has had some early season jitters in her first two competitions. A fourth at Lombardia was not how she wanted to start, but she was resurgent at Japan Open. Which Sakamoto will we get at Skate America?
5. Marin Honda JPN - Honda is one of a few skaters to make a coaching switch this past off-season. Now training with Rafael Arutyunyan, she’s looking to rediscover some of the form that she had when she won Junior Worlds three seasons ago. Her debut at Nebelhorn was up and down, but her programs were sublime.
6. Sofia Samodurova RUS - Silver at Lombardia Trophy, Samodurova makes her Grand Prix debut this week. She will be looking to assert herself as one of the top Russian women in her very first senior international season.
7. Polina Tsurskaya RUS - Tsurskaya was fourth at Ondrej Nepela last month, but with two programs that did not nearly live up to the potential we’ve seen in the last few seasons. She’s certainly still getting used to her coaching change over the summer, but a strong showing here will be crucial for her to position herself for a berth at Euros and Worlds.
8. Starr Andrews USA - After having a breakout US Championships last season, Andrews earned herself berths on the Grand Prix this season (she just received a Skate Canada assignment as well). This could be just a good learning experience for her, or it could be a way for her to surprise the international scene against skaters who have more seasons under their belt.
9. Laurine Lecavelier FRA - She’s been on the senior circuit for a few years now and have shown some great promise. But her inconsistency has made it tough for her to make it big internationally.
10. Alaine Chartrand CAN - Nathan Chen isn’t the only new college student in this competition. Chartrand just started her studies at York University and is looking at this season as a way for her to skate for herself and recover from her disappointing Olympic season.
11. Megan Wessenberg USA - Making her first Grand Prix appearance, Wessenberg was seventh to start her season at Ondrej Nepela Trophy.