So...it's the start of not only a new skating season but a whole new Olympic cycle.
So what's the state of the American ladies at this point? I know there have been threads here and there about specific skaters (i.e. Zhang) but here's a place to try to paint a picture of the entire scenario.
It's sort of early now but here's how I will start. Real brief impressions and will stay that way until I see some action:
First, the no-shows.
Cohen- she's done.
Em Hughes- ditto.
Then, the current generation:
Nagasu - Coming off her worst showing ever at the Worlds...and also her best showing at the Olympics a month before. Recovering from injury. Remains the US' best hope for a world medal and 3 spots if she can find her legs again and skate like she did at Nationals and Olympics.
Wagner - After a disappointing 3rd place finish at Nationals, she has her sights on a new goal: Sochi 2014. A major step she claims she took after then was to fix her lutz entrance. That, coupled with the new rule change for jumps I think will work in her favor. Not sure how much of a factor she will be internationally, but as long as she is consistent she will continue to be a force to be reckoned with at the national level. 2011 World team in her future? A National championship? stay tuned.
Flatt - from 5th at 2009 Worlds to a National Championship, to 7th at the Olympics, to 9th at 2010 Worlds. It remains to be seen whether 2010 Worlds is an aberration and she will continue to be her steady and reliable self. With her focus now near 100% on skating, let's see if she can grow. Got this feeling personally that she has peaked already, but let's see.
Zhang - I think this will be a rebuilding phase for her if she is serious about overhauling her technique. Therefore, I don't expect much in the way of results this season.
Czisny - Like the Katy Perry song goes, she's hot then she's cold, she's yes then she's no, she's in then she's out With her first major coaching change in several years, it remains to be seen whether it will help her consistency. There are two huge obstacles holding her back- (lack of) consistency, and cautiousness. She could be a serious contender if she can overcome both.
And then there was...
Gao - People seem to be expecting big things out of this girl. She's staying in the JGP this fall, but could be an outside threat for the National podium, especially if there are mistakes by the skater(s) above. Unlike another poster, I do not see her winning the National title or getting on the world team, but she can make her case by finishing 3rd or 4th. If she does that, I think she has made a strong case for the future.
Hard to say much more before the season actually begins, but feel free to start your speculations, etc. and in this particular thread let's stick to the American ladies