Mao and Carolina need to show they can skate clean and consistently. In the case of Mao no edge calls, no UR and land that 3Axel on one foot. CArolina must get her h arder jumps and must land stuff consistently. She has a natural elegant carriage and good speed but she has trouble sometimes relating to the music. Yuna's to lose. The other girls are just not there; I thought Wagner but after this year's world's she will be battling Gold to win her nationals.
There is really no one who can challenge a clean Kim. I believe Carolina Kostner comes closest--if she skates clean & Yuna makes a major mistake. Otherwise I don't see another real challenge at Sochi, but ice is slippery and Olympiads play head tricks! Just think Ladies' 1998 (Michelle a shoo-in, but Tara won); 2002 (Michelle again, or Irina, but Sarah with the skate of a lifetime); 2006 (likely Sasha, but Arakawa instead); 2010 (Yuna, & Yuna won!). So, a one in four odds that the favorite will win? Not the best odds. The post-figures era of Figure Skating (with perhaps the current judging system thrown in) really complicates prediction-making in closely contested races. However, barring a Kim injury, or poorly-chosen programs, I don't forsee the 2014 Ladies' FS Olympics event as being closely contested.
LOL based on what was Sasha favorite for 2006. A skater who in an already long career had 0 World or Olympic titles, and couldnt even win a U.S title in a year Kwan was entered as Olympic Gold favorite. No. Maybe some Americans hyped her as the favorite to feel good about themselves but many Americans are so clueless they would have called Kwan the gold medal favorite that year had she been able to skate (ROTFL). Everyone outside the U.S knew Slutskaya was the heavy favorite, with the asterix that Asada would have been atleast co-favored with her had she been able to skate. Once people saw the practices during those Games of all the skaters though, Shizuka became the pre short program gold medal favorite though.
Yuna is the favorite to win because she is the one most likely to skate clean. Mao is the least likely to skate clean given her crazy jump layout and because she has changed so much technically that one has to wonder how stable it is. However, if Yuna, Caro and Mao all skate clean, Mao would win, Yuna would come second and Caro third.
Hypothetically speaking, a clean Mao would certainly beat Yuna because Mao's base value in FP is higher than Yuna by 10 points. A hypothetically clean Mao would hypothetically get positive GOEs and therefore good PCS to match so if Mao went clean, Yuna could skate to her max and she still would not win.
Even in the short, a hypothetically clean Mao will beat a hypothetically clean Yuna. Krislite I think calculated Yuna's maxed out SP score and it's 77 (calculated based on 9.5 average in all PCS categories). Mao without 3-3 scored 74.49 and that's not hypothetical. A hypothetically clean Mao would not only have a clean 3-axel and 3-3 but all level 4 spins (Mao's 74.49 did not include 3-3 and all level 4) so she ought to be able to beat 77.
Now, whether or not Mao could match the hypothetical score is another matter. Maybe one in ten chance....
Vancouver: 3A+2T, 3F, 2A
Sochi: 3A, 3F+2Lo, 3Lo
Big difference to Mao's advantage. Clean Mao got the highest score this year, over 74. Clean Yu-Na at Worlds got 70. Clean Caro would get around 70 as well. Mao has the edge owing to her more difficult technical content.
However, as Worlds proved, even a ratified 3A with +GOE can't make up for other mistakes. It'll be interesting to see what Mao's strategy is at the beginning of the season. This season, she omitted the 3A during the GP, and I think that was a smart decision as it paid off in her most successful GP season of this quad.
Same for Carolina, she typically adds the difficult elements as the season goes on. However, in an Olympic season, the skaters are under a microscope from the beginning of the season.
As for Yu-Na, she got an edge call in the SP at Worlds that she didn't get in the FS. Take away the edge call and give her +GOE for her flip, and her score will go up a few points. She will likely get higher PCS for a more audience-friendly program like her James Bond SP versus Kiss of the Vampire.
Your basing scores on an event in Japan is flawed since Mao always scores higher in Japan than she will elsewhere for comparable mistakes. A hypothetical of Mao averaging 9.5s in PCS is also flawed as this will not happen (especialy outside of Japan).
1952- favorite won
1956- favorite won
1960- favorite won
1964- favorite won
1968- favorite won
1972- favorite won
1976- despite not being World Champion, Hamill was considered by most as favorite going in and won
1980- co-favorite won, Fratianne was World Champion but Poetzsch had always been her big rival and lost 79 Worlds to her only due to a very poor performance, and after Fratianne did poorly at her Nationals, no surprise Poetzsch won.
1984- favorite probably won really. Sumners was World Champion, but Witt had improved her figures and won the combined free skating at the last 2 Worlds, so Sumners was always in trouble, especialy after a mediocre season and Nationals.
1988- favorite won.
1992- co-favorite won, Yamaguchi was World Champ but co favored with Ito (and maybe Harding) going in.
1994- favorite won.
1998- Kwan was probably favored, but Tara was reigning World Champion and won.
2002- big surprise.
2006- minor surprise.
2010- favorite won.
Yu-Na is a case all her own too. She really was the one to watch from 2007-2010. Sure, Others won the WC (and rightfully so), but she really was the one who could have won in 07 and 08, but she had injuries and she had mistakes in her LPs. Really, she could have won both Ando's AND Mao's first world titles and been the three time reigning WC going into Vancouver... However, She came out like gangbusters in 2009 when she was FINALLY healthy for a full season, and rode that wave of Yu-Na Crack all the way to Vancouver. We compare Yu-Na to Kwan, but I don't think they are similar at all, other than being the Queens of their respective eras.