Caroline Zhang at 2014 Nationals
For what it’s worth, Caroline Zhang’s short program score of 51.11 at sectionals was the highest SP score she’s received since the 2012 Skate Canada from October 26-28.
She also received 0 underrotation calls!! (first time since 2012 Cup of Russia).
Believe it or not, it actually won’t be that hard for her to make top 5 at Nationals.
Since the US started using IJS in 2006, the two lowest scoring nationals have been Olympic year Nationals.
So, for the US Ladies at Olympic year Nationals, lots of skaters tend to do poorly.
So far this season,
Gao has been hit or miss.
Nagasu has been hit or miss.
Zawadzki has been hit or miss.
The list goes on and on.
Zhang at her best would beat Gao, Nagasu, and Zawadzki at their worst.
Is that likely? Not really. But it’s more possible that one might initially believe.
There is quite a bit of parity in this particular ladies field, aside from Ashley and Gracie (despite a subpar GP season).
As a result, getting to the top 5 for Caroline isn't just a matter of beating one of Agnes, Mirai and Christina, it'a also getting past Polina, Hannah, Mariah, Ashley Cain and Barbie. Not to mention up-and-comer Franchesca Chiera. And even Rachael Flatt, who is nowhere near her 2010 Olympic form, beat her at sectionals.
Of course, I like a good comeback story, so I'd love to prove me wrong.
Zawadski can fall in the SP and beat Caroline's sectional score by 15 points. A few others can beat it by 10+ points by going clean (Mirai, maybe Gao and Courtney).
Lets be real here. If Zhang places top 10 at Nationals this year that would be like a gold medal for her (and might keep her in the sport awhile longer). Personally I think it is more likely she comes almost dead last and retires.
No at this point she would not beat those skaters you mentioned even if she skates well and they fall. Only a total meltdown could get her anywhere close to any of the skaters you named. Especialy if you actually believe her Sectionals SP score is close to the best she can do well, as a score like that will be way way down the board at Nationals.