The last stop for the skaters for the 2009/2010 season will be the ISU World Figure Skating Championships which begin on March 23, 2010 in Turin, Italy and boasts the highest attendance of Olympic medallists since 1994 and signals the start of the climb towards the Sochi Games of 2014.
The men are as much about the competing “dynamic” as the competition. Neither the Olympic and defending world champion from the United States, Evan Lysacek nor the Olympic silver medallist from Russia, Evgeni Plushenko will be attending Worlds leaving Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi as the lone Olympic medallist in contention for the top spot in Turin. He is the kind of skater who seems to perform best with something to prove so I am not convinced that he is as comfortable being chased as he is doing the chasing. For this reason, I think that his main competition is going to come from three time Canadian champion, Patrick Chan who has made excellent training use of the intervening three weeks since the Olympic Games. Also in the hunt will be Japan’s Nobunari Oda who is undoubtedly looking to make up for the broken skate lace that waylaid his Olympic free program. The other names to watch out for are American Jeremy Abbott and Frenchman Brian Joubert whose disappointing Olympic results could spur them on to greatness here.
Korea’s Yu-Na Kim was crowned Olympic champion just about three weeks ago and is headed to Turin to defend her world title. Simply put, she is so far above the rest this season that the women’s title is hers to lose. In Vancouver, she earned personal best scores across the board and her overall score of 228.56 was high enough to not only take the women’s title, but to place her in the top 10 in the men’s Olympic event with one fewer jump element and 30 seconds less music. Her main rival in Italy will be 2010 Olympic silver medallist and 2008 world champion from Japan, Mao Asada whose skating can definitely keep up technically but whose programs this year seemed to fall short. American Mirai Nagasu was secure enough to take 4th place in Vancouver and I think will be the one to round out the podium here in her first trip to the Worlds.
Ice Dance will pit friend against friend in a re-match of the Olympic Games where three time Canadian champions, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir took the Olympic title and American champions and training mates Meryl Davis and Charlie White took the silver. Both teams have superb qualities and it could go either way on any given day but I think the Olympic win will give Virtue and Moir the “confidence edge” here. All things being equal, European silver medallists from Italy, Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali have shown outstanding improvement this season and their quality Original and Free Dance programs should put them on the podium in Turin.
The pair event was mostly lackluster at the Olympic Games with a couple of exceptions: one was 2006 World champions from China, Qing Pang and Jian Tong who took the silver medal. They are the team to beat in Turin. Their biggest challenge should come from two-time and reigning World champions from Germany, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, who have the ability to take the title again but have failed to consistently deliver this season despite a re-worked and magical free program to Out of Africa. Struggling with the same inconsistencies are Canadian champions Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison who could definitely be in the mix for a medal especially if they skate a strong short program to set it up. The Russian team of Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are the 2010 European Champions but only seem to be able to capitalize on other teams’ mistakes which could still work to their advantage in Italy.

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