Very refreshing to finally hear the opinions of the non-Kwan fans being aired. I really have been waiting for this for a very long time.
Let's face it, there are a lot of Kwan fans here. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. So therefore the majority of the opinions here will favor her. And I think that with the vast majority of posters here being in/from North America, it also makes sense that European/Russian skaters may be under more scrutiny than American ones.
Assuming that one is a fan of a skater just because of an opinion they may hold is IMO not only unfair, it's totally ridiculous and non-sensical.
Anyway- I have my own personal opinions about these skaters, and while I think Irina is the heavy favorite for gold at the OLYS, anything- and I mean ANYTHING- can happen.
Like many other posters here, I don't particularly care for Irina (her attitude "I should have won in SLC" just turned me off completely) but I'll give credit where I think it's due. And even though I do think she's been overmarked at times, she deserved all of her wins last season. She WAS dominant. And I DO think she is the favorite in 2006. Does this mean she'll win? I don't know. The judges may well have it in for her, but (hopefully) she still has to prove that she deserves it. And that means beating every other skater that night. Just like Moscow Worlds. She didn't need the judges to hold her up to win that one. She WON it. She was untouchable that night. Cohen (the next one down) looked so slow and boring compared to her.
And...MK, MK, MK. What am I doing to do with her. I can't say this any clearer: she HAS to mean business this season. She may have 9 (very well 10) National titles, 5 world titles, etc. but that means squat right now. She is in the position of the underdog for the FIRST time going into the Olympic year. She has taken it easy for the past four years. Say what you will, but this put her in "catch-up" territory. I think the question here is, Does the OGM still mean as much to her as it once did? Is she willing to just throw caution to the wind (something she's never been able to do with the pressure REALLY on) and just give it her all? She's going to have to do this, PLUS possibly rely on a stumble from Slutskaya or even Cohen, the way things have been looking the past two years. Can she do it? It's not impossible. She just has to have the right mindset and, while taking on a fuller schedule, not get too tired out. But with the way she's been doing it, is this even possible?
Some people already seem to be proclaiming Cohen the 2006 National champion since the US is for the first time using the Cop, or the "NJS", for their judging system. I say not so fast. Kwan's got a streak here. I don't see any reason why she's going to stop now. 2005 was a clear indication to me that Kwan just simply OWNS Nationals. No one can even touch her in that comp. Even last year, we saw a tentative, cautious Kwan simply blow the competition away. How can anyone POSSIBLY think that SC could step it up THAT much to convince the judges to hand her the title instead? Sorry, I don't see that happening as long as Kwan is on skates. And if Cohen can't handle the national pressure, there's no reason for me to think she can handle the olympic pressure, which will be even greater. There will be a lot of pressure on these two, and Irina as well, so I wonder if another teenager will swoop in and take it away from them yet again this time around.