I think people are full on cray cray if they don't think skating in Russia gives Liza and Adelina (or whoever else makes the team) a huge boost. Part of it will be that judges are human, and the cheering and applause will have an effect on them. But perhaps more importantly, the cheering and support will have an effect on the Russian ladies, a big positive effect. They are going to feed off the crowd and skate even better. Yes, there's a huge dose of pressure that comes with the situation. But whoever makes it onto the team will have to run an absolute gauntlet to qualify, so they will have to be competitors who can handle the pressure. Mind you, all the top Russian girls will be skating extra, extra hard for the honor and massive opportunity it is to represent the host country in the marquee sport of the Winter Olympics. Add to that the desire to prove themselves after losing a spot at the recent worlds. The qualifiers are going to be absolute beasts. I would not be the least bit surprised if we have one Russian on the podium.
Joannie's situation was a little different because the top two spots were already decided before the games, and neither Mao nor Yuna did anything to give them away. Were you surprised Joannie finished behind Yuna?
Here is why Zijun Li is going to make the podium.
At worlds she got fourth in the LP. In the SP she made one mistake which cost her 5.9 points. Giving her that one back, instead of finishing 12th in te SP, here she goes up the ladder.
On TES, she leaps ahead of Meite, zooms past Helgasson, surpasses Gold, overtakes Sotnikova, bests Sukuki, edges Asada, Wagner, Osmond... She's in third 0.13 points behind Kim and 0.21 points behind the leader, Murakami.
On the PCSs side, without the disruptive fall her scores rise from mid-sixes to mid-sevens (as she attained in the LP). This gives her aa boost of 4 points in PCS. She beats Meite, Helgasson, Gold, Sotnikova, Suzuki, Osmond, Murakami... she's fourth in PCS behind only Asada, Wagner, and Kim.
She matched that with a fourth place (in real life) finish in the LP, with TES second behind Kim, beating Kostner and Asada in TES.
All she needs is a rule change to give a bonus for "totally delightful" and she's in like Flynn.
Joannie actually had a real shot at the silver at the Vancouver Games. Had she duplicated her Canadians long program she would have gotten it for sure. Mao was not a lock for silver going into Vancouver. She had a poor season and hadnt even made the Grand Prix final, and had been 4th at the previous years Worlds. Although I can more easily see Gold, Wagner, or Suzuki slipping in for a bronze or even a silver in Sochi; I do think Sotnikova or another Russian has a very slim shot at bronze if one of Kostner or Asada bomb pretty badly and one of them skates great.
The only certainty is that Kim will medal and probably win gold, and the worst she could do is silver if she is a bit off and one of Asada or Kostner skates totally lights out (she is too consistent to be more than a bit off, or to ever lose to one of the second tier contenders, only Asada and Kostner have a very slim shot to beat her).
Lol sotnikova is getting a ridiculous amount of discussion because the Olympics are in Russia. Falls or singling on every other flip, Flutz, leaving out combos, too many combos, underrotating triple toes, barely top 10 at worlds, worst programs in skating, worst coach in skating, etc etc!!
For some odd reason I think at least one of Liza or Adelina will not make the Olympic team...they are the frontrunners going into this whole thing and that's a ton of pressure to bear, and at 16/17, one can't be certain post-puberty body changes aren't entirely behind them either, and further, we've seen both of them crumble under pressure/nerves before. I think Julia will be on the team and the second spot will go to ONE of Adelina or Liza, or even someone like Leonova, Korobeynikova, or Pogorilaya. I know a lot of people think the last 3 girls I mentioned totally suck right now, but they have the advantage of flying under the radar a bit which could play to their advantage - no one expects any of them to make the team, all the attention will be on Adelina and Liza, so in the case that the pressure gets to one or both of them, I bet one of these other girls will swoop right in and take advantage of the situation and earn a spot on the team (or at least deserve to - idk at this point if the Fed were to name Tuk and/or Sot to the Olympic team anyway even if someone like Korobeynikova or Pogorilaya beat them at Nationals...)
The judges really like Adelina, even when she makes big mistakes. I believe it is still true she hasn't placed off the podium at any international competition but Worlds (where she was 9 with major errors) and Rostelcom. I think that to suggest that if everyone skated clean, Adelina might finish behind Akiko, Gracie, Kanako, Zijun,Kaetlyn, the 3rd American lady, and her other Russian teammate, as another poster did, is ridiculous. The only one of those she might finish behind if all truly skated clean is Gracie, and IMO that is far from a sure thing.
This is not how I think it should be but where, objectively, I think international judges would likely place her.
At Worlds Osmond had bigger mistakes than Sotnikova and still beat her. Basically almost everyone who beat her had alot of mistakes, and it was not like she was disaesterous there, just her usual issues with URs and flutzing mostly. Tuktamysheva would have scored about the same as Sotnikova in the LP at Europeans even without her singled flip, and beat her when both were clean in the short at Nationals. I think in general Sotnikova is quite overrated, and the only reason I would give her a decent placement if all were clean at the Olympics (which wont happen so it is almost a silly discussion) is it being in Russia. I think in Russia a clean Sotnikova would be very close with a clean Wagner, clean Suzuki, and clean Gold if all are clean (unless Wagner gets a solid 3-3 in which case she pulls clear of that group); but outside of Russia she for sure would lose to all of those 3 and possibly Murakami, Osmond, and her own teammate in that scenario. That is even discounting her massive consistency issues.
I also agree that atleast one of Sotnikova and Tuktamysheva will miss the Olympic team. I fully expect Lipnitskaia to make it. She handles pressure and skates cleanly much more regularly than Sotnikova and Tuks do. One of Sotnikova and Tuktamysheva will probably take the other spot, but I wouldnt be shocked if someone else knocked them off and neither made it.
I would still have a hard time picturing any Russian lady on the podium, but you're right about the 7th to 5th place finish or something similar. In fact, taking it a step further, I think that if the wrong person won ANY color medal, there would be an uproar, which shuts out Sotnikova and Russian lady #2 (yes, even if COMPLETELY clean) from possibly medalling ahead of a decent performance by one of the Big 3. For what it's worth, I'm predicting right now that all of the Big 3 will have to make at least three major mistakes across the competition to drop off of the podium.
In the SP, Sotnikova lost points on a UR'ed 3-3 and a strange spin. What if she'd been clean? Well, she delivered a clean performance at Euros and scored 67+, which would have put her ahead of everyone except Kim. In the FS, she lost out on TES; if she'd not flubbed those jumps, we can again assume her Euros score, adding two or three points to the technical component. So in PCS, she overtakes everyone but the Big 3.
In the SP, Gold was shaky throughout. She UR'ed her 3-3 and missed a spin. Her scoring potential if clean is well over 60, perhaps verging on Sotnikova territory, with TES in the mid 30's. She would have overtaken Wagner, Asada, Suzuki, and probably Osmond. That puts her in 4th. In the FS, her potential score is HUGE -- seven triples were enough of a cushion that, even with 3 elements receiving -GOE, she bested everyone but Kim, Asada, and Li in TES. Clean, the quality of her technical elements puts her ahead of everyone but Kim, and that's not counting the PCS boost that comes with an error-free skate.
I think it's very possible that even if sotnikova and Adelina are beaten at nationals and don't qualify for euros they will be sent to euros anyway and if they recover and beat the person who Beat them at nationals at euros they will be sent to the Olympics. I think two euros spots are reserved for sotnikova and tuktamisheva but not Olympic spots. Hopefully that's not the case! Like if Liza places poorly at nationals because of a bad sp or sotnikova because of a bad lp they will find some way to get them to euros or Olympics. I know a lot of people say Julia doesn't even have a shot which is amazing but if the two worlds 2013 bombers bomb in 2014 why such goodwill for them?