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Countdown to the US Figure Skating National Championships
Nationals is one of the most anticipated events in US figure skating every year, and the event of January 2010 is very important because it will determine the structure of the figure skating that goes to the Vancouver Olympics in February 2010.
This year, the United States will be able to send two female gymnasts to the Olympics, thanks to their placement at the world championships in 2009. This fact will be widely discussed in the media during the international and Olympic games. The US will send three men’s and two ice dance teams to the Olympics.
On the men’s side, Evan Lysacek, who finished fourth in the Olympics in 2006, prefers to go to Vancouver. He won the 2009 World Championships and won all three of his 2009–10 Grand Prix events, including Gold in the Finals.
Another favorite of the men is Colorado Springs skier Ryan Bradley, who took 3rd and 4th place in his two Grand Prix appearances this season. Recently I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ryan in action, and he looks very strong, as does my fellow Broadmoor skater Brandon Mroz, who took silver at the 2009 US nationals.
Johnny Weir is another Olympian who should not be counted out. Despite his struggles this year, he won the bronze medal at the final Grand Prix this year.
Jeremy Abbott lists the US men who may be traveling to Vancouver. Jeremy had a successful season in 2008-09, winning the US national championship and gold at the Grand Prix Final. For 2009-10, he played strongly in the new training, and took first at Skate Canada and 4th at the Grand Prix Final.
The women’s side of US skiing is going through a tough time right now. After dominating the women’s world of figure skating for years, the US is currently looking for a strong leadership position.
Alyssa Czisny, who is reigning in the United States, has a long history of conflict with her figure skating. Alyssa is a seasoned professional figure skater, earning her first gold after eight appearances at the US Nationals at the senior level in 2009. She placed 11th at the World Championships, and took 2nd and 4th in her two Grand Prix appearances this season. . . It is the closest rival to one of Vancouver’s two locations.
Ashley Wagner took 4th at the 2009 US Nationals, 4th at the recent Grand Prix Final, and took 2nd and 3rd at the Cup of Russia and NHK Trophy, respectively. Ashley is a seasoned veteran, and she excelled in her Grand Prix career. In many ways, he acts as a “writer” recently, and has a chance to make the Olympic team.
Emily Hughes, the younger sister of 2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes, has struggled over the past few months, and skated across the North Atlantic to earn a trip to Nationals this year, where she finished second. Due to Kimmie Meissner’s injury, she played at Skate America and took 7th, which was good for her fourth international event in three seasons. Emily was an emergency replacement for the injured Michelle Kwan at the 2006 Olympics, where she took a respectable 7th. Emily missed the 2009 US Championships due to injury, but took a break from Harvard to train for this year’s Nationals and Olympics. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m a huge fan of Emily Hughes, I believe she’s got as much talent to shoot in Vancouver as anyone.
A number of other US women have had significant offseasons, due to various injuries and other factors. Mirai Nagasu, Caroline Zhang, Kimmie Meissner, and Sasha Cohen (who is trying to get back into competition) have all had tough seasons with little competition.
Perhaps the best hope for an American medal on the women’s side in Vancouver is Broadmoor skater Rachael Flatt. Rachael has been a consistent performer for the United States team over the past few years. Rachael is currently ranked 9th in the ISU World Standings, the highest of any US figure skater. He was the 2008 World Junior Champion, 2008 and 2009 US silver medalist, and placed 5th at the 2009 World Championships. He has taken 2nd and 4th in his Grand Prix career in the past two years. Rachael has been working hard to work on speed skating, something that has been constantly challenged for the past few years, and she is working on the triple Axel, although I do not know if this will be ready for the competition this year. . Rachael is a consistent jumper, and watching her in action recently she looks ready to compete. Yes, I’m a huge fan of Rachael Flatt, and I don’t hesitate to admit it, so it’s hard not to like her!
With just six weeks to go until the Olympics, and the US Nationals starting in two weeks, the heat is on for American figure skaters to polish their programs and show the world what they’ve got. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks, that’s for sure. Go Team USA!
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