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...)