I think mentality is the key in Olympics.
In this case, Yuna is quite strong because she already has OGM, so the pressure is lessen(just my guess btw). She also knows how to handle pressure, and quite surprisingly, she performs well under pressure.
On the other hand, Mao was not able to get Gold in 2010, thus having more pressure from not only her own country, but herself as well. This may or may not effect her skate at Sochi.
I don't know what to say about Carolina. She's amazing, her edges and etc. I've never actually liked her, and her programs, but I found myself kept watching her Bolero
from 2013 Worlds. However, she's iffy... Her 2010 Olympics was a disaster, and who knows if she'll perform like that again or not.
Also, I think Carolina should execute more difficult jumps in the SP such as 3F+3T. Her score from 2013 Worlds was "too" generous for 3T+3T(With a fall).
I would like Carolina to skate to a higher content and deserve a score that everyone can respect.
Anyways, back to topic, Mao and Carolina definitely, but I really think anyone can rival them such as Zijun!!! (love her)
You're smart to mention Zijun, Melon. We have to keep her and the world's other skaters in mind. Though YuNa still competes at an astonishing level, and Mao is gaining more and more command over her jumps, and of course Carolina has many great qualities (though not consistency), there's always the possibility of a dark horse showing up, or everyone else having (Heaven forbid!) a bad night. Remember Sarah Hughes, who never before or again reached the peak she attained on one crucial night.
Just a thought.
Plus, Butyrskaya winning Worlds at 26 years and 9 months is a heck of a lot closer to 27 years old than Shizuka winning at 22 years and 1 month and you saying she won it at 23. And good on you for conceding that Shizuka became a major contender at 22 and not 24 as you initially suggested... even though she was winning major ISU medals starting at the age of 20.
And perhaps Butyrskaya never had another top 2 finish (very convenient that you didn't say "top 3", since then you would have had to include her World bronze in 2000 ) but she did win Europeans and have several Grand Prix series wins. I'm not even going to get into her Euros title over Slutskaya.
And if you want to define Shizuka winning 2 titles -- the Olympics once and Worlds once without even coming close to winning either at any other time -- as a "potential multi-title threat" then sure, go ahead. I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't define "multiple times" as 2 times and not even coming close any other time. That's of course not to discredit the two times she did win, but to label her as a continual threat is misleading and inaccurate.
What you say is correct... anything can happen on the night. However, we put Sarah Hughes in context earlier in this thread. She is the only OGM who was not only never a World Champ, but also never a National Champ. She is the exception to the rule, the extreme outlier.
Also, I would like to come back to Melon's point about the mental game. In this respect, I highly doubt Yuna would be affected either way by the previous Olympics. She, "skates stupid" amazingly well. By that I mean, she only thinks about what she has to think about during her performances, she has amazing ability to focus and block out distractions. There was tremendous pressure on her in Vancouver and had the best skates by any Female OGM ever (as you said, Melon). What you saw was an athlete who was trained so well, and who went after it as the favorite, instead of, as we've seen time and again, backing off and being tentative because of the pressure.
As we've seen, Mao and Carolina are both mentally weaker than Yuna. Carolina gets into her programs so much, that she sometimes loses concentration on the technical aspect in order to give that extra energy to the performance. Mao... seems like a very emotional skater, as in, her mood affects her performance, which can be both great (and not-so-great). These aren't out and out negatives, but, they can affect their skates, where as I doubt very much anything could phase Yuna
Mao is definitely more temperamental of a skater, but overall I think she's pretty tough mentally too, putting together 3 clean 3as when it counted the most. And having to skate after Yuna's long program and Yuna's monstrous score of 150, dealing with crushing knowledge that it was all but over and still going out there and skating like she did couldn't have been easy.
Based on Chan's PCS and BV (I can guarantee he'll be adding more quads for the Olympic season), as well as his previous results, give him the 30%.
I would give Hanyu (stamina struggles in the FS, but excellent presentation) and Fernandez (can bomb the SP, but is finally skating to his fullest potential) each a 25% chance, Takahashi (struggles with consistency) 10%, Reynolds (all tech content and no presentation) 5%, and Ten (dark horse) 5%.
By a small margin, Chan wins.
ETA: Chan's better odds are assuming that he goes clean or nearly clean with the most difficult technical content (which he CAN do, as long as he doesn't lose focus), while the other men make noticeable errors. No repeat of the Worlds fiasco here.
ETA (again): How did we get to talking about the men in a thread devoted to Yuna, Carolina, and Mao? Back to the ladies, if you please.
Also, I hope that the Olympic judges don't take it too far in the opposite direction by DENYING Chan the gold medal if he gives two excellent performances. Errors need to be penalized accordingly, but the marks of expert skating should be given their fair share of points.
To answer the question of the thread:
I think that the only skater who can rival Yu-Na is Zijun Li, She have the technical content and the quality who can rival Yu-Na, she just needs to work in her speed and her presentation espacially to be able to communicate more with the audience in her program.
And, also I have faith for Mirai Nagasu and Mao Asada, if they can skate clean and pull 3/3 or triple axel, they also can possibly rival Yu-Na.
*Sorry, for Kostner, I don't like her skating because she telegraph to much her jump and her presentation is force (not natural at all), if she change that I would possibly think that she could challenge Yu-Na maybe
What I'm really hoping for is that technical ability and clean programs are rewarded at the Olympics. I know better skaters will get higher PCS marks, as they should, but that shouldn't prop them up... I would much rather see a less polished skater with high difficulty executed cleanly be placed above an excellent skater who has programs full of errors.