Well IP - it seems you and I appear to be on the same wavelength for these Nationals and it will be interesting to say the least. Yes it may not be an Olympic year but it will be very telling to see if there is a push for certain skaters based on reputation etc (for the 3rd to 5th rankings). Here is my 2 cents:
- For the men - I would give the edge to Rogozine over Reynolds. I would love for Reynolds to be coached by someone besides McLeod. I would love to see him actually with Brian Orser. I am a big fan of Jeremy Ten but I don't think he will be ready mentally to compete at this stage after being injured for a prolonged period of time but hey he may be the wildcard here....
- For the pairs - The top two spots are a toss up between D/R and T-M/M. I think that both teams have different strengths and will be a good rivalry. Lawrence/Swiegers have potential and did not skate well at either Nebelhorn or their GP assignment and left a points on the table. If they skate fairly well - they should be in third. As for Dube/Wolfe - their programs are not as challenging as L/S and I thought that they were generously marked at TEB. I am also interested in seeing how they will be marked against L/S. I also find it a little strange that Dube is competing in singles.
- For dance - I am hoping that we will get to see strong performances from Paul/Islam provided that she is healthy. I also think that Ralph/Hill have improved. Obviously they benefitted when Crone/Poirier broke up and their coaching team had more time allotted to them. As for Gilles/Poirier, I also think that they have been very generously scored in local competitions - so we will see how those scores come down at Nationals.
The good thing that I am hoping to see in both dance and pairs is the variety of teams and programs. Ideally all teams skate fairly clean and we should be able to see who Skate Canada gives the inside edge to.
My general thoughts:
5. Can't decide but between Nam , Firus and Balde
I agree totally with heyhey on the mens side. I do hope Ten regains his jumps in time because he could finish 2nd if it happens. Ten will be no worse than 4th anyway. The one thing is that both Kevin and Andrei do tend to struggle at senior nationals.
It will also be a battle for 5th and the last national team slot between Balde, Firus and Nam for the last spot. Balde has skated badly internationally this season. Firus is in his last seaon of junior internationally but his jumps aren't even ready for the senior international circuit and his spins could be improved ( I do like his musicality, lines and basic control of the blade though ). I think that SC will think Nam has the most upside given his youth and might have the inside track for that spot even if his skating looks very juniorish at this stage.
I still want Nam to drop Mcleod as coach though. I fear he will stagnate at a critical point in his development under her.
5 . Descantis
A meh competition as far as who wins nationals though. Although Lacoste has skated better so far she tends to chokes at nationals so I think Phaneuf will win.
To me seeing the development of the top juniors and novices ( who are finally doing some harder triples than salchow and toe ) is the real excitement for me.
Let's just hope that SC chooses the right lady for JW. Personally I think Osmond is the best bet right now as she has been the most consistent this year. It is important to improve the JGP spots next year. I don't expect the max 14 whoever we send as we have no chance at being in top 3 countries. But countries 4 -6 ( ie 7 slots ) is doable and would be an improvement from the 4 we had this year. I would be very wary of sending Najarro even if she is the top finisher of those who can go to JW.