Well, you know what time of year it is. After the Olympics, how do the US women stack up? Like in previous editions, I would like the discussion to focus mainly on the US women and how they stack up against each other, and not on the international scene (it's fine to reference int'l skaters but please don't sidetrack).
So, we'll begin. I'll do it in order of finish at 2014 Nationals, for the top 4:
- Status: Went from runner-up in 2013 (and 6th at worlds), struggled at the beginning of the Olympic season...got a new coach and new attitude...suddenly she makes the rise to the top I predicted all along, winning 2014 Nationals convincingly...does respectable at the Olympics (4th, along with a team bronze medal) and despite a rough Worlds, still remains top 5 and improves one spot over last year.
- Needs to work on: Mental toughness. She's made progress here, but if she cannot finish the deal when she is in medal position, she'll never win anything major.
- Would like to see: More personality from her. Too cookie-cutter/ice-princessy for my taste.
- Hopes for next year: That she finally qualifies for the GPF and takes a medal there. Ends the 8(!!!!!) year drought for the US women by getting onto the 2015 World Podium.
- Status: Appeared seemingly out of nowhere this year. Very few people even had her in contention for the 2014 US team but she swoops in and grabs 2nd at Nationals (plus a spot on the Olympic team), serving notice to everyone else to watch their backs...9th and 8th place finishes at Olympics and Worlds, while not exactly lighting the world on fire, are quite respectable for her first international senior competitions. Don't think anyone was expecting miracles from her, anyway.
- Needs to work on: Improving her PCS mark. She has phenomenal technical ability...if she can develop the components to back it up (without losing her jumps), she could be a formidable competitor.
- Would like to see: That she makes it through puberty unscathed (or with minimal effect).
- Hopes for next year: Establish herself on the international scene and gain some "street cred" so she can compete with the Russians...
- Status: Mostly counted out by fans early on in the year....I figured she could be right in the mix if she got her 2010 form back. She showed improvement throughout the GP, even if she didn't exactly light things up. Then, in the SP at Nationals she proved she meant business. We saw a fire in her that had been missing for years...she really wanted to get on this Sochi team. 2 strong performances put her in 3rd, but unfortunately she gets passed up for Olympic & World team selection in an unprecedented move by USFS, which devastates her. She gets 4CCs but isn't able to redeem herself at that competition. She had a great chance at a medal but finished with a whimper...and that's all she wrote.
- Needs to work on: Jumps! Get rid of those pesky URs. And mental toughness as well...her inconsistency sinks her time and time again.
- Would like to see: Find what motivated her so strongly in 2010 and again in 2014 and FIND A WAY to let that drive her through these next 4 years. Now she knows (for better or worse) that she can't just sleepwalk here and then do another "Ta-da!" in 2018 expecting USFS to send her to the Olympics.
- Hopes for next year: If she has a strong season and finds her way onto the World team in 2015, just one wish: please don't wilt...Anyway, I just want her to be proud of whatever result she achieves. It was tough to watch her dreams crushed right in front of everyone.
- Status: Came into this season as the top American for the past 2 years...maintained that status through the GP, qualifying for the GPF and getting bronze there. However, behind the numbers and results, she was slipping....Things bottomed out at Nationals as she felt not only the pressure of the defending champ but saw her lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian flash in front of her eyes. Unlike 4 years ago, with 3 spots this time all she needed to do was STAND UP. She had numerous sponsorships and NBC was promoting her quite heavily in its coverage. It all culminated in her worst competition in 3 years, putting her 4th with 3 spots going to the Olympics. It seemed as if she'd just miss out on the Games for the 2nd straight time. Then came the wildcard that changed it all - USFS, in a most unprecedented decision, chose to deviate from order of finish at Nationals in naming the US Team when there was no injury, petition or extraordinary circumstance to consider...and picked her to go to the Olympics. Bittersweet moment for her as the response from the public and fans was swift and vicious and they let her have it on social media. Wagner chose to make some drastic moves...went back to last year's FS, buckled down on her training, shut out social media distractions...proved the haters wrong by holding it together in the team SP and individual competition en route to a 7th place finish...then went to Worlds and perhaps had the freeskate of her career to place 7th there as well. Finishes season as #2 American behind Gracie Gold, with Polina Edmunds nipping at her heels. Wants to continue another 4 years.
- Needs to work on: Normally I would say she needs to work on eliminating the 2-foots on her jumps and end it there...but if she truly wants the success she craves, the list lengthens considerably. Everything from spins to smarter program execution/planning to upping technical difficulty to regaining the street cred she has lost this season...she has her work cut out for her. And she's likely already very near the ceiling of her capabilities...
- Would like to see: Similar style programs for next season. She plays the fierce, confident persona very well and that is her style. And it would be nice to see her finally get that world medal as I know how badly she wants one and how hard she has worked up to this point. But that shot gets exponentially longer every passing year.
- Hopes for next year: Regain the street cred she lost last season and begins getting scores that truly reflect her level of performance. Remain healthy (she has been on the scene a while and is getting up there in skating years...)
I was thinking of adding Christina Gao and Agnes Zawadzki but I don't know if they are sticking around or not.
Anyway, thoughts? This isn't so much a prediction thread (although it can be as the season nears) as it is an evaluation/hopes thread.