Julia is fourteen, and most girls have hit puberty by then. She just doesn't seem to have experienced the stress and exhaustion that comes with growth spurts and weight gain, which can come out of nowhere and hit with the force of a semi. As long as she stays light and lean as a bird, though, she is Russia's current best. Compare her to the other big stars Liza, Adelina, and Alena, and you'll see why.
1. Liza T--One of the most mature teenagers out there (much more so than Julia), but as was already noted, she's been struggling with puberty and injuries. Did she seem slow and sluggish to anyone else at Skate Canada? I felt tired just watching her. Mishin was the one who said that she was going through a very stressful time for young girls, and was considering dropping out of SC up until two or three weeks before. Until she regains her 2011-2012 energy, she'll be finishing behind Lipnitskaia.
2. Adelina S--Massive jumps and usually has a good interpretation of the music, but consistency is her biggest issue by far. She yielded her lead to Gao at the Skate America free skate, and it wasn't much of a lead to begin with. She needs to work on more than just her jumps so that when nerves betray her, she has something to fall back on. She reminds me of Gracie Gold--huge potential, but hasn't found a way to channel that into artistry and fluidity.
3. Alena L--I think her seventh-place finish at SA speaks for itself, especially as she's been skating at the senior level for several years now. Any skater who can finish second at Worlds and then turn around and miss the podium at a GP will never be the federation's first choice when looking for reliability.
So the main issues for the Russians are consistency and puberty, neither of which Lipnitskaia has shown issues with just yet. I predict a growth spurt for her before Sochi rolls around, in which case one of the other teens (most likely Liza) will take her spot.