I don't think Gracie or really Adelina are in the hunt for bronze, not even Akiko so much. Being in Russia could maybe help Adelina but I just don't see it happening for her this season. Julia, Caro, and Ashley are the 3 really in the hunt, I'd be surprised if bronze didn't go to one of those 3.
I agree about Gracie but I don't see why skaters like Akiko or Sotnikova wouldn't be able to compete for a Bronze Medal at Sochi when they staking well.
And people here a acting like it is already a foregone conclusion that Kim and Mao will win Gold and Silver, which it is IMO clearly not especially if the judges finally will detect Mao's obvious underrotations.
Further, Adelina has gone head-to-head with Ashley twice this season and lost to Ashley both times, including at TEB where she had a perfect FS. A perfect FS from Adelina only scored 2 points more than a not so great FS from Ashley, and with her track record and questionable jump technique, I just don't see Adelina putting 2 clean programs together at the Olympics where I think Ashley feasibly could as she usually skates clean or nearly clean. In other words, one clean program from Adelina isn't likely to be enough to get her on the medal stand, and the last time we saw Adelina deliver 2 clean programs in the same competition was like 3 years ago, before puberty, pressure, and the rise of her competition at home all took their toll.
Akiko was gaining momentum the past couple of seasons but after what happened at Worlds, losing to Radionova at NHK (who did not manage to beat Wagner at GPF despite skating almost perfectly while Ashley was far from her best), and not making the GPF, I think her stock has gone down a bit and she will be marked fairly conservatively at the Olympics because of it. With 2 brilliant skates she could sneak away with a medal, but like Adelina, she rarely puts 2 super solid programs together so I think it might not happen.
Kostner was my pick for bronze at the start of the season but her injuries and not so great programs have opened up the field a bit now. She withdrew from Nationals, didn't make the GPF, and was beaten by 15 year olds Pogorilaya and Lipnitskaya (with a meltdown in the FS) on the GP, so really, she is a question mark right now.
Lots of ladies could theoretically challenge for the bronze, but at this point, I think Julia and Ashley are by far the top 2 contenders for that last medal.
I think that Mirai Nagasu have a great chance to win the bronze medal in Sochi.
TBH I'm not certain that Mao can go squeaky clean in Sochi. I think Yuna is capable of doing it (she's done it twice at big comps now) and still do the planned layout (no doubling triples to not fall, etc.).
She did participate at Worlds last season, before Sochi, so I don't know how much the ISU might still begrudge her for missing out recently. The fact that they have a returning ladies Olympic champion at all is quite rare (hasn't happened since Witt), so I hope at least some of the judges keep it in perspective. But I do think she can afford fewer mistakes this time around compared to Vancouver. She's probably well aware of that.
Neither Yu-Na nor Mao have the ideal resume this quad for an OGM favorite. Yu-Na has two worlds medals, with one being the key penultimate world title, but only senior B international wins otherwise. Mao has 4CCs and two GPF wins, but only one World bronze medal, which, regardless of the reasons why, is rather shocking given that she came into this quad as the reigning OSM, reigning world champion, had every rule change in her favor, and was completely expected to dominate. Carolina Kostner arguably has a better resume than both, as she has the most world medals and a world title, Euros, GPF, GPs, etc, but her technical skills have not stayed competitive and she has the weakest programs of this quad this season.
If they both skate perfectly, I'd expect Mao to come out on top given her advantage in base value, but that's a very tall order. If they both make mistakes, the result depends on what kind of mistakes. Neither can afford to miss one of their money jumps--3A for Mao, 3Lz/3T for Yu-Na. Mao can maybe afford 1 UR and a slight landing error (i.e. two-footed) out of her 3 3As, but she can't really afford to pop them or fall on them. If all else is well, Mao can afford a mistake on the 2A/3T or the 3S and she'd be fine. If Yu-Na executes all else perfectly, she could afford maybe one mistake, say, doubling the salchow as she did in 2009 Worlds where everything else was perfect.
As for the bronze medal, I think there are two tiers of bronze medal contenders, with the upper tier being Carolina, Ashley, and Julia, and the lower tier being Akiko and Adelina. I can't consider Gracie as a bronze medal contender with the season she's had.
Mao is obviously in a good position momentum wise this time around, much better than in 2009-2010, but she still has to deliver at the Olympics. Her comfortable win at 4CCs last season set her up perfectly to deliver at Worlds, but she didn't.
If you're a favorite and you don't deliver at the Olympics, then you don't win. See Michelle Kwan, Irina Slutskaya, Sasha Cohen.
I think Julia's marks at COR were telling. The writing is on the wall. Mind you, I hope that I'm proven wrong and that the best three skaters medal on the night.