A number of medals on the World Determine Skating Championships are uncommon for the USA. This 12 months’s workforce might reverse that development.
And there could not be a greater time than in a pre-Olympic season.
Two-time defending champion Nathan Chen and fellow American Vincent Zhou each made the rostrum in 2019, the final time worlds have been held. Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue collected bronze in ice dance.
U.S. skaters have a powerful probability of exceeding that whole in Stockholm this week, possibly even with a doable ladies’s medal contemplating the advance by two-time nationwide champ Bradie Tennell and a few uncertainty in regards to the usually dominant Russians. The final U.S. medal in ladies’s competitors was Ashley Wagner’s silver in 2016.
“As most skating followers know, the women occasion is all in regards to the expertise of Russia and Japan,” says Johnny Weir, a three-time U.S. champion and now NBC’s analyst, together with 1998 Olympics winner Tara Lipinski. “A very powerful factor for Bradie Tennell and Karen Chen to do is to complete as excessive as doable so Staff USA would possibly get three spots on the Olympics subsequent February. Each U.S. girls are impeccable in so some ways: Bradie Tennell has sensible consistency and poise below stress, the place Karen skates with such magnificence and stream. However difficult for the rostrum will likely be powerful.”
Not not possible, Lipinski believes.
“Going into worlds final 12 months,” she says of the Montreal occasion canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, “it actually regarded prefer it was going to be a Russian podium sweep. This 12 months, there is a bit more room on the high. Japan has a stable probability on the podium with Rika Kihira. However my prediction for the gold is Anna Shcherbakova along with her unimaginable consistency and tenacity she’s proven all through this season. As for the American girls, Bradie Tennell is in peak kind and I believe she could have her greatest worlds consequence thus far.”
The 2 greatest rivalries, pleasant as they’re, will contain Individuals. Chen and two-time Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan stand (and leap) excessive above the remainder of the lads’s subject, with Zhou in stable form for a bronze. Hubbell and Donohue determine to be examined by Madison Chock and Evan Bates, with whom they’ve swapped U.S. titles in recent times.
“We’ve been ready for this showdown between Hanyu and Chen for fairly some time now,” says Weir, who together with Lipinski and Terry Gannon will name the occasion from the NBC Sports activities studios in Connecticut, with protection on the primary community, NBCSN and the Peacock streaming service. “It is 12 months later than anticipated however nonetheless I anticipate it to be epic.
“I’m excited to see Vincent compete as he tries to regain one other world medal. He regarded excellent at nationals and is on the ascent. I wouldn’t be stunned to see a set of statement-making performances from him.”
The U.S. ice dancers ought to profit from the absence of France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who’ve received 4 world crowns. Hubbell and Donohue edged Chock and Bates in January at nationals, reversing the end for every couple in 2019.
“Ice dancing might see two medals for Staff USA,” Lipinski says. “Madison Chock and Evan Bates have solely competed as soon as this season, the place Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue have been stellar of their occasions, and I believe the momentum is of their favor. Each groups carry one thing distinctive and distinctive to the ice and I’m excited to see them tackle the world.”
Pairs, wherein the final U.S. couple to medal at worlds got here in 2002, is a protracted shot. The brand new pairing of Brandon Frazier and Alexa Knierim, whose husband Chris retired after final season, has been formidable. Knierim/Frazier received nationals handily, however measuring as much as the highest Chinese language and Russians, amongst others, will likely be a serious problem.
These pre-Olympics worlds decide the variety of spots every nation could have for the Beijing Video games. The Individuals are hoping to get the utmost three in every self-discipline, with each males’s and ice dance very more likely to obtain that.
“As troublesome and daunting as this job seems to be,” Lipinski says, “I consider these athletes are ready and able to take this on. That is what athletes are greatest at, that is what they practice for. You practice for all various kinds of situations and put together for the sudden.
“This sport even with out a pandemic is unpredictable and I don’t doubt these skaters have had a plan in place for some time now to prepared themselves for this occasion. I do know all these skaters are simply so excited to have the chance to compete once more.”
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