I think that's Kim's true advantage, too--she's the only one who has an OGM in the bag already, regardless of what happens in Sochi. She has the most to gain by winning a second OGM--an incredibly rare and unique achievement--but she has less to lose than the others, too, should she not get the gold, since she already has one and a bag full of other medals.
Originally Posted by chuckm
That said, it's not over until it's over.
I think Kostner wants to get the Olympic medal that she didn't get in her previous two tries, and she wants to wipe away the disastrous memories of her past Olympic experiences. And she's at the very end of her career now, so it's her very last chance. And on top of that, if she's going for the gold, then you can't be hesitant at all, you have to put it all out there and skate without worrying about making a mistake. These are a lot of asks. I think she can control her nerves enough to get a medal, but she'll have to be perfect and maximize her technical content to put the pressure on Kim for the gold. That's a bit too much to ask of any skater on her third Olympics, particularly one with the history that Kostner has.
Never count Mao out--she's always full of surprises. Mao really needs to get a jumping layout that she can consistently execute cleanly. It's difficult to determine what Mao's scoring potential is when clean because what she plans on paper is far above what she actually executes. I fully expect Mao to be at the top of her game at the Olympics, but based on 2013 Worlds, my guess is that the judges would reward a clean Kostner more in terms of PCS than they would a clean Asada (or Kostner with mistakes versus Asada with mistakes). Now, Asada's TES potential is higher than Kostner's or Kim's if clean, but potential is just potential until it actually happens.
Looking back at the past 20 or so years, I am trying to think of ladies skaters who went to multiple Olympics and improved upon their previous placements in a substantial way. Off the top of my head, the notable ones are Sasha in 2006 vs 2002, Shizuka in 2006 vs. 1998 and Irina in 2002 vs. 1998, but none had really started to come into their own at their first Olympics and were not favorites there. If you look at Olympic medalists who went to multiple Olympics as favorites/medal contenders, their second performance was usually worse than their first--Irina (2006 vs. 2002), Michelle (2002 vs. 1998), Lu Chen (well, same bronze medal in 1998 vs. 1994, but she was VERY lucky to get that bronze medal in 1998 considering she wasn't the skater she used to be). Only Nancy Kerrigan improved on her placement from 1992 to the 1994 Olympics, and that surely must have had to do with the short 2-year break in between the Olympics. And I guess you'd have to go back to Sjoukje Dijkstra and Carol Heiss to find skaters who medaled at their first Olympics (non-gold) and then followed it up with a gold at their next.
So, I do think it's interesting that veteran world champions like Michelle Kwan and Irina Slutskaya and others had their best Olympic performances the first time they went as a favorite/top contender versus the second time. I think Kostner can break this trend and get a medal on her third time, but it'd be unprecedented if she got gold. Of course, anything can happen and I'm sure next season will be full of excitement.
Yuna possibly could leave the door open for the other two. I think of the few times a reigning gold medalist tried to defend, like Plushenko and Witt, and both left the door open with errors. I don't think Carolina can capitalize on Yuna's errors because she make too many errors herself and has not proven the ability to handle Olympic pressure. I don't think Mao can either because I don't think she can hit an 8 triple LP in practice and she loses so many points on GOE to Yuna that the difficulty almost doesn't help Mao at all. For me there's a huge gap between 1st and 2nd, and another huge gap between 3rd and the rest of the field. Gracie, Adelina, or Liza could medal just because they have such a high base value but they would have to be perfect and get help from Mao and Carolina. Yuna winning, to me, is a foregone conclusion.
With Yuna already having an OGM, I get the feeling that she's skating more for her own self- yes, setting an example for Korean skaters back home and getting those spots are also reasons, but so is a sense of personal glory. This is a much more confident Yuna this time around, and with the weight of attaining an olympic gold fallen off a bit (tho still weighty given her worlds margin of victory), this Yuna seems to have a clear sense of her skating.
I remember mathman saying that she skated 2013 worlds like a winning 6.0 program- clean, flowing, the individual elements all looking unified. And it's like what chuckm is saying- she just goes out there and skates, but that's a result of her utter singlemindedness to perfecting her practices to translating that on the ice. Obviously, it's much harder to get those 2010 and 2013 results than what I just wrote, but it def. seems like Yuna has found a formula and is sticking to it. That she made 2013 look almost "easy" might lead some to suggest that she's not taking "risks"- like bringing back her loop, or attempting a triple axel, etc...but given that she still does 2 lutzes, one in a big combo, plus a flip while skating around faster than almost every other lady means it was never, ever "easy".
Yuna's got that formula down. She knows what she wants and knows how to do it.
Mao and Caro are still looking for their magic formulas, tho imo, Mao is looking harder for it. Caro's approach seems closer to Yuna's.
The fact remains that at Worlds 2013, Kim beat Kostner by almost 20 points and Asada by almost 22. And YuNa did it with a 6-triple program where every element received high +GOE. Kostner planned 7 triples and landed 5 clean ones; Asada planned 8, but landed 6 of which only 3 were clean.
This x1000. Gracie Gold is the name you're looking for; and though I don't want to say she's in the same league as Yu-Na, entire package-wise, because she isn't, she IS in the framework (jumps: power, height, rotation, spins: she has better spins than Yu-Na, and footwork: I think Yu-na has found her style, and Gracie just needs to do the same). The big question here is artistry. She definitely needs the right packaging, and she needs the program of death.
Originally Posted by skateluvr
I agree though, Gracie's time is probably not Sochi, she's is definitely a lady to watch for the next quad. I doubt she catches up to Yu-Na by Sochi, but I do think she can make a good run at the podium with the usual caveat: 2 Clean Skates.
Out of Mao or Caro... I just don't know. It's a tossup on who skates better on the day, and its not gonna be for first. I agree that, barring injury or some freak performance from Yu-Na, these two will probably be battling for silver.
If Carolina can match her BV with Yuna's, then yes. Carolina has a chance.
If Mao can raise her jump quality just a wee bit more, then yes. Mao has a chance.
Both scenarios are possible. Caro's BV was a huge improvement this season compared to previous season, and if she can put in 3flip-3toe in short and second lutz/flip in the free, it's done. Mao's jump quality has been improving incrementally every season, so it's definitely within the realm of possibility that she'll get her jump technique down pat by Sochi.
Out of Mao and Caro, i would say Mao. She is more reliable, a bit more consistent. Even with her jumps not being on par with Carolina and even with her insecurity considering the changes she did on her jumps, she still was more clean than Kostner at worlds. The 1Loop was a fluke and beside that she went for everything and stayed on her feet, even landing a close to clean 3A after missing it time after time in practice and manage to rotate another one in the LP even if the landing was not very good. To me, that is grit and determination and out of the 3 ladies I think she wants it the most. With Caro its good she doesn't want it that bad, it keeps the pressure off now that she has a world title but some of the pressure and inner demons might come back at Sochi, she will probably want to skate well for the first time at the Olympics. However both ladies are on an ascending curve: Caro brought back 3Lz and 3F-3T and landed them at worlds for the first time while Mao is geting her 3A more consistent and with her new jump layout, even if she didn't do it cleanly so far, it gives her back the killer instinct. It was less obvious at worlds because she felt the pressure to make the podium after 2 years hiatus but it was pretty obvious at 4CC.
All 3 ladies will have their own major hurdle at Sochi: Yuna will be the defending champion( and if she does it she will be the best ladies figure skater ever, especially if she skates like she did at Worlds. Not that she is too shabby right now ), Carolina will have to redeem herself after 2 disastrous Olympics (her Vancouver LP still gives me nightmares, it was hard to be her fan sometimes) and Sochi might be Mao's last chance to fulfill her lifetime wish to became Olympic champion. If I could, I would give both 3 ladies the gold, they are that good, and if by some cruel twist of fate the gold won't be going to one of this 3 ladies I will be heartbroken. No Sarah Hughes please!
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I think Mao will pull one of her best skates ever out of her back pocket to win the silver again. Carolina's inconsistent and historically has not skated well at the Olympics.
I'm not so sure it's Mao last chance to get the Olympic gold. She might go to a third Olympic, she isn't that old. With team event before, she might already have a medal and that will take out some pressure from her. With 2018 there she can be the first lady to have 5 medals (if she is still there at her third Olympic and two team events). So I hope she is the one who stays in for another quarter.
I hope Carolina stick around with the formula, she has achieved her dream and skates for her joy. This year she has for the first time taken a break from competition not doing the GP. I think it was god as her body needed time to regenerate. I think that affected a little bit her programs as she hadn't time to get it out so often, her SB after two major competitions was at worlds. But it was not as she had two year rest, like YuNa, so it was still just a little break. Her knees are not at best, so to get back to the full jump arsenal the rest was important for Carolina. I hope she can take the break now and then prepare great new programs and get them out a lot of times. Last year she did 3 GP, the GPF, Euros, Challenge Cup and Worlds, to peak at the last competition. So I think the formula is getting out a lot of times. I hope she can medal a Olympics and bring us the emotions with her beautiful skate.
YuNa was perfect in the long program, I didn't like the sp at all, but that is personal taste. She did great and deserved the win, I'm not sure if by such a margin, but of course, going out last and being the only one perfect, there was no discussion of her great come back.
I would too like if all of them could get a gold medal, but that is not possible. I hope they are all on the podium, that all of them do perfect programs and the best win.
If I could decide I would put Carolina in first, Mao in second and Kim in third, for so are the emotions I feel when they skate at their best, but I think it will be YuNa as she will get out with perfect programs, Carolina with a really strong showing and Mao with great programs. All the others have to mature more, it takes a lot of work on PCS to get at the level of these great skaters.
Part A - Mao
Originally Posted by pangtongfan
Part B - Carolina
Part C - Carolina due to her previous encounters at the Olympics but Mao could easily be off the podium as well.
I agree with this, except for C. I think Mao is more likely to end up off the podium simply because the mistakes she makes (primarily URs and pops) are much more costly that the type Carolina makes (primarily falls with a few pops). Caro is pretty good about rotating all of her jumps and accrues a lot of points that way.
Originally Posted by snsd
I do wonder if there will be any more COP scoring changes that will favor layouts like Mao's though (women's triple axel, etc.)? I still see YuNa as the clear favorite, regardless, but that is one factor I don't think has been brought into the discussion.
I agree that Gold is one with the technical potential to match Kim, but she really needs the skates of her life and errors from Kim to have a remote chance of winning. She could definitely pull a Sarah Hughes on the competition, but under CoP she just might be a year or two too late in getting the sufficient PCS. A strong showing - top 5 - would be excellent for her though. And if she goes clean she can certainly beat Kostner or Asada who are arguably less consistent than Kim.
Originally Posted by zschultz1986
I'm 99% certain Asada will not skate a 8-triple program simply because it's way too ambitious and she hasn't sold me on her ability to land the 3-3 without UR and get a consistent 3A. It would be incredible though, but the reality is, if Kim goes clean, an 8-triple program will be the only thing that can beat her. It would really be an amazing feat though, and given Mao's improved skating (over, say, 2006 when she was just technically brilliant) it would be one of the best programs of all time if she were able to accomplish that.
As for Carolina, her overall skating is the best of the field but her jumping consistency immediately puts her out of the running, in my opinion. Granted, she could pull a Shizuka go clean with a less ambitious FS, and if Mao/Kim make errors she'll earn the victory. To me, her best strategy is to play it safe in the SP and go for a clean skate (an SP with 3F-2L, 3L, 2A can get her high 60s, maybe even above 70, and secure a medal for her). She really doesn't need to go for a 3-3 given the fact that 3T-3T is just 1 point higher than a 3F-2L and is much riskier for her. In the FS, if she wants to make a claim for gold against a clean Kim, she'll need at least a 3F-3T (ideally 3F-3T and 2A-3T). I would consider her capable of this, but other than Italian nationals Kostner hasn't gone clean at all this season so I really question her ability to win gold. Like Asada, if she were capable of producing a clean, difficult program at the Olympics, she could definitely challenge Kim (even a clean Kim) for gold, but I don't see it happening.
It is her last chance for sure, even if she chose to go to 2018 (which I doubt). She would be 28 years old in 2018. She knows that too and it is why she is going out all out with crazy ambitious jump layouts to try and get it. People that age never wins a singles gold at the Olympics. Not to mention her skating peak was really back in 2006-2008 despite that she is still up near the top now, and since then she has had to fight to regain some semblance of consistency in her jumps several times, so I cant imagine as an old amateur skater her mantaining it. There is no way she would hold off the horde of young skaters post Sochi. If she tried for the Olympics in Korea, I suspect she wouldnt even make the Japanese Olympic team by then.
Originally Posted by npavel
While I don't see Mao going for 2018, I don't think a 28 year old Mao would necessarily be so out of form to not make the team. Suzuki is 28, Caro is 26. She could still potentially skate after Sochi IMO and make the world podium. If she can maintain her form and skills, it remains to be seen.
Originally Posted by pangtongfan