In Nice 2000, Stojko was back and did well to capture the silver medal, the showdown was between the 2 russians of Yagudin and Plushenko. Plushenko being the favourite - but it was not to be his day which is very unlike Plushenko who normally is very consistent, this was a rare thing for him and he saw himself out the medals - that made the way for Yagudin who changed his Free to "Tosca" and struck GOLD for his third title, Michael Weiss of the US has a solid program to steal bronze from Plushenko. From this event my memory is of the wonderful Stannick Jeanette of France who delighted the crowd with his wonderful "Solo" LP.
This time around - I cannot believe I would have said Plushenko is here 12 years on and would have been a medal contender here after winning Europeans once again on his 2nd comeback. The "King" has not entered the worlds since 2005 (which he withdrew after SP) - his last world chance must surely be in 2013 before he heads for Sochi (Injury free of course).
Enter the defending champion Patrick Chan who lets face has taken the mens discipline to another level and maybe Plushenko would have found him very tough to beat here on evidence of Chan's season. Patrick just puts everything out there with great speed and flow with no breathing spaces, the transitions are second to none and the judges love him. He is the overwhelming favourite in Nice of the 4 disciplines and it would be a SHOCK if he did not win here - that is if he nails all his content. SOMETHING I do not want to see is for Patrick to win with 2 or 3 falls - If that does happen the COP needs to be looked at by the ISU!!
Daisuke Takahashi Is probably the likely challenger to Chan, but Dai needs to nail everything to get close to him and might need a solid quad to take his 2nd title. Love both his programs even though Blues for Klook is an overused - dangerous choice to use but Dai somehow has made it his own - with lovely touches and nuances to the program. I would love Dai to win but maybe Chan is out on his own.
First tier of other medal contenders:
Artur Gachinski - Seems to be a big performer on the biggest stage, and comes here as Russian No1. I love Artur's programs this year - a big step from last year - just adore his LP entitled "The Demon" that suits him really well, still learning I feel and sometimes still looks Junior, needs to work on his artistry and steps in between but technically can be very good.
Javier Fernandez WOW!! Javier, what a transformation, like Wagner in the Ladies Javi has gone from strength to strength with the help of a certain Mr Orser. Love Javi's programs and I think his Jazzy SP is one of my fav's this year. If you can remember I touted him as favourite for Euro's and was surprised the nerves got the better of him. I feel he will redeem himself here and should get a top 8 finish - if not sneak in for that bronze medal.
Takahiko Kozuka It was a hard hard choice to round the top 5 of first tier skaters but I have put Kozuka in here. I just feel like Artur he is a big performer on the big stage and seems to pull something out the bag when it matters. Silver medalist last time around. I think Takahiko will struggle to retain that spot and not sure on the programs this year - even the outfits - that look a bit old fashioned. although his Nausicaa LP is growing on me, but surely that music belongs to Lu Chen.
the best of the rest:
Jeremy Abbott A lovely artistic skater that does struggle mentally, it can either be hot or cold with Abbott - I am just hoping he will be on form here, he has the talent to be at the top of the pile. The SP is the best out there so if he nails that he has a chance, the Muse LP is growing on me - but I feel his Tango four Seasons LP came too early - that was pure class. Would have loved to have put him in the first tier but I feel Jeremy might fall short here.
Adam Rippon Another US skater that oozes class, and has some wonderful arm over the head technique to his jumps which I adore. Still some sameness about Adam I wish he would be more original in his music choices as i am not a lover of his SP or LP. Can surprise if he is on form.
Michal Brezina Technically very proficient he seems to make it look very easy but can let him down from time to time - nerves seem to get the better of him, I like his SP but like Rippon the music choices are very suspect - nothing original. Still needs to work on his artistry but if he pulls off the quad and axel and triple triples he should be in the mix.
Yuzuru Hanyu Another Japanese powerhouse, I love Hanyu and I hope he does well. I love both his programs especially his SP which is full of emotion - love the speed and flow on the ice - and was wondering to place him in that Kozuka place of the top five but I feel his time will come but not yet - he may be regarded still as the number 3 here at Nice.
Florent Amodio well you might have thought that I might have said Joubert to round out the top 10 but I feel Amodio is the strongest for the home challenge here as I feel Brian has opted for his very overused Matrix LP which I feel is dated now and past its prime. Amodio is not having a good season after a breakout season last year but managed to capture the bronze at Euro's to everyone's surprise including his own. I am glad he changed his SP this time to "Tears in the Sun" and I think this suits him very well, some modifications to his free especially at the beginning to an arranged piano piece by S Damiani - and this is much better too. I hope he does well because he does capture the crowd.