Ah, yes...here it is:
Ah, yes...here it is:
To answer the title question, I believe Hanyu and Takahashi are a lock. The third man could be Kozuka or one of the new comers. I just cannot imagine Sochi game without Hanyu and Takahashi unless their own physical reasons. God, no! No injuries of any kind anymore for any skaters this season!!!
Right now, the only lock is Hanyu but Takahashi will be selected barring irredeemable disasters at Japanese nationals. His presence is necessary to divert media attentions and national expectations away from Hanyu. Oda, Kozuka and other guys can't do that job in the first place. The third spot should go to the the most promising #2 man after Sochi. Apparently Machida has taken some lead, and Mura is another candidate. Oda started out strongly as usual but probably runs out of steam by Japanese nationals. He ALWAYS makes stupid mistakes at major competitions. Even a couple of strong skates before nationals won't regain the federation's confidence. Kozuka has the least chance among the top six. There's a saying that Sato's #2 students tend to miss the Olympics.
After Skate America I can see I greatly underestimated Machida. He definitely has a huge shot, maybe the favorite for the 3rd spot right now.
well, with 3 of the Japanese men at SA and the other 3 at SC this coming week, we'll get a pretty even look at how things are shaking out.
It might be Hanyu, Machida and either Oda or Kozuka. If you asked me before the start of this season if Takahashi would be there, I would have laughed at the possibility of him staying home. However, he has been at his worst as of late. Even as a fan I think he's at risk of not making the team. I'm not sure if Machida will hold up, either, because last year he did well on the GP and then kind of sunk a bit from there. I could even see a Hanyu/Oda/Kozuka team. Oda's another question mark since he's not that consistent either.
Takahashi will be hard pressed to make the podium at Japanese nationals. I agree about the media attention and how he's way more prolific than any of the Japanese men, but if Oda/Hanyu/Machida do really well on the Grand Prix (as Machida already has so far and Oda/Hanyu seem poised to do), it will be really difficult to justify Takahashi's presence. Machida scored almost 30 points higher than Takahashi at Skate America. Takahashi's PCS marks will keep him up, but only until people start finally saying the emperor isn't wearing any clothes. I'm glad he rotated his quad and did his axels in his Skate America FS though, which shows he's a fighter and isn't willing to give in that quickly. He's quite fortunate Brown had a really disastrous FS, otherwise he could have been 5th. I can't remember, but skaters in the past have made the GPF with a 4th and a 1st, right?
Takahashi has to do something drastic. NHK will be do or die for Takahashi and he will have to beat Fernandez and Oda. Can't see it unless both Oda (possible based on past years except that he skated well at Nebelhorn) and Fernandez (unlikely) cack. I have to really admire Takahashi's class by reason of the short interviews he did in English after Skate America though. But he still has to up his skating.
I can see the JFed holding Dai up so that he makes the team (if he bombs JN). He does rack in the advertising dollars... and this is the VERY last chance to milk his popularity dry. Who realistically has the chance to podium and grab OGM besides Yuzuru of the remaining 5 anyway? Yuzuru's got the podium covered already and the networks need their 2 national heroes to bring in the viewers. That would be my theory behind Yuzuru (who is a lock) and Dai making the team. The 3rd man, will either be between the "oldies" Oda and Kozuka with Olympic experience or the newer 2 without that experience. If Oda and Kozuka do well, I can see the better of the two (from GP series and JN) going. I do think Oda's history of bad performances when it counts will be taken into consideration. If Kozuka can blow his next GP out of the water and at JN, he has the upper hand against Oda. Machida and Mura haven't built that consistency yet to tackle Olympic nerves. To me, they are high risk investments. True, they are the ones staying post-Sochi but for Sochi, the fed may not want to put all their eggs into Yuzuru and an on and off Dai.