Counting to Thirteen

Every country had two objective at a World Championships, win medals and earn entries for their country for the following year.  For the U.S., which has 2-3 three entries in each event this year, the goal is to pick up a few medals and to try and earn three entries in each discipline for next year.  For a country to earn three entries in a division, their two best results in that division must add up to no more than 13.

How do things stack up in that quest, as the World Champions are set to begin?


Based on performance at the Vancouver Games, the U.S. is in good position to earn those three spots, and to perhaps medal as well.  The results from Mirai Nagasu and Rachael Flatt already meet the requirement, and their positions were sufficiently solid that they should do equally as well at Worlds, if not better.  Joannie Rochette is skipping Worlds, which opens the door for both U.S. ladies to move up a place, and makes Nagasu a contender for a medal in the Ladies event.  Following U.S. Nationals Nagasu put considerable effort into cleaning up her jumps and the work paid off in Vancouver.  Nagasu also scored second best in jumps in Vancouver, so a chance at the silver medal exists, but the judges would have to overlook the holes elsewhere in her programs to get her there.  Flatt will again be relying on her triple-triple combination to stay in contention, and again they are likely to not be enough to reach the podium, but should keep her in or near the top five.


Had the team from Vancouver shown up at Worlds, this would be a no-brainer.  But they have not.  Evan Lysacek is busy being famous now, and comments and other clues from last month imply he had decided to, or was at least thinking of, skipping Worlds even before the Olympics.  In any event, he is not at Worlds, and neither is Evgeni Plushenko.  If only one of these two had skipped Worlds, the other was pretty much guaranteed to get the gold.  With both out, the favorite now is Daisuke Takahashi.

Johnny Weir has also decided to skip Worlds.  Perhaps the disappointment at being underscored in Vancouver, or being the whipping boy for the bashers in the Canadian media for the last two months, was too much for him;  but had he made a serious effort, all the entries that have have dropped out ahead of him would have left him in medal contention this month.

The burden for the U.S. team now falls on Jeremy Abbott, Ryan Bradley and Adam Rippon.  Getting to thirteen in the Men's event will be difficult.  Abbott's results in Vancouver were disastrous,  though not truly indicative of his potential given his results at Grand Prix events.  So it will depend on who has shown up this week, National Champion Abbott, or can't stand up on his jumps Abbott.   Then the U.S. will also need a strong result from Bradley or Rippon to get to thirteen.  Bradley has had the best success among the U.S. men with quads, but he has not had the consistency with the rest of the package -- meaning the other jumps, and program components -- that is needed.  In addition he will be skating with a broken bone in his right foot, injured in dance class a few weeks ago.  Rippon is talented but inexperienced, does not have a quad, and does not have a consistently solid triple Axel.

Most likely scenario, then, is no medal for the men, and perhaps 13 -15 points from the top two placing U.S. men. 


Pairs remains the weakest link of the U.S. skating program, despite modest improvements from our top teams in recent years.  No chance of a medal here, nor of earning three places.  Holding onto the two the U.S. currently has is a pretty safe bet, since that requires a combined result of no worse than 28 points from the two teams, and reaching 20-25 points seems reasonable.


Baring unforeseen disaster, Meryl Davis & Charlie White should hold their position form Vancouver and win the silver medal.  Moving past Virtue & Moir just doesn't seem in the cards, and certainly not in the three weeks since Vancouver.  Were Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto here, a second medal would be likely, and making thirteen points no problem, as Domnina & Shabalin will not be competing.  But neither the third nor fourth place teams from Vancouver are here, opening the door for Federica Faiella & Massimo Scali to win the bronze medal for the home audience.

In Vancouver, Davis & White and Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates combined for 13 points (2nd and 11th), so making 13 points here where it really counts seems likely, with two higher placing teams from Vancouver out of the event and also Delobel & Schoenfelder.  So our prediction is that the U.S. comes home from Turin with a medal and three entries in the dance event.  As a curiosity we are also interested to see where the International judges place Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre compared to Samuelson & Bates.

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Copyright 2010 by George S. Rossano