I am in the air; Vancouver bound and getting really excited about the competition. Time to lay out my predictions.

There are so many hopes riding on the shoulders of the Canadian figure skating team that it’s time to really look at the who’s who and what’s what. Starting with pairs, it’s hard to imagine that Canada’s champions Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison won’t be on the podium on the strength of their spellbinding free program at Canadians in January. The problem, as I see it, for any contender is the need to deliver in the short program.

Time and time again, I have said that you can’t win an event based on the strength of a short program, but if the competition is really tight like it will be for pairs, you sure can lose it. I think it will be the two-time Olympic Bronze medalists from China, Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao who will prevail. I am picking China’s Qing Pang and Jian Tong over teammates and 2006 Olympic silver medallists Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang for silver based on their performance in the Grand Prix. What about the German two-time World champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy? This should have been their year but they had to scrap their free and start over with a terrific program but they seem to be striggling with nerves. European champions Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia seem to be the strongest candidates for the bronze but if Dube and Davison can perform “career” short and free programs they are definitely in the mix for the bronze.

The defending Olympic champion from Russia, Evgeny Plushenko is ahead of the pack coming into Vancouver and. I believe that he will dominate the competition here as the most consistent competitior in the field. His prowess as a jumper and as a skater have never been questioned it’s just the construciton of his programs that leaves something to be desired. He gets credit for his skill and gets a bit of a “gimme” for his programs when he could be brilliant. If I had had my way, I would have paired him with one of the legendary names in choreography like Lori Nichol, David Wilson, Catarina Lundgren, Marina Zueva or Tom Dickson to name a few, to produce a program that would have endured the test of time. Give me a reason to remember the 2010 Olympic Games! I am trying to decide who will fill the other two spots and with a field as deep as any I have seen in a long time, it’s tough. American champion Jeremy Abbott is a male version of Kostner in that as solid as he is one competition, he can fold like a house of cards the very next time out. For this reason, I believe that defending world champion from the United States, Evan Lysacek, has reached the point in the season where it’s time to “hit the ice skating”. Last year, he was on a slow build towards Worlds and in fact had been left off the radar by more than a few people in favour of Abbott, only to take the title in a show of determination and brilliant skating. Canadian favourite and defending world silver medallist, Patrick Chan will hopefully have put the three weeks between nationals and the Olympics to good use in his journey back to optimum health after a calf tear and a case of the flu in the fall had sidelined him. If there was ever a time to get your head out of the way and let your body and feet do what they know how to do, this would be it. If that is the case then he could definitely be in the running for a medal. That said, so could Japan’s Nobunari Oda, Daisuke Takahashi, Swtizerland’s Stephane Lambiel and France’s Brian Joubert. See what I mean? A list of contenders as long as my arm.

Figure skating. Who’s going to step up?

Time will tell and that time is almost here.

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