Gold: Carolina Kostner
Why? Because to have two Olympics as disastrous as she has means she has my sympathy; that she has found a way to continue and even win means she has my admiration. Because when I wrote this out last season, I said I would uber her this year, and she came out with two programs full of intriguing nuances and challenging artistry.
What next? Show skating. I suspect with a world title, she’ll get opportunities to grow. I’d like to see her work as a choreographer or music consultant in some way as well.

Silver: Ashley Wagner
Why? Hard work, determination, goals, attitude, natural talent, amazing beauty, terrific programs. Seven triples planned. Triple-triple in the short. The pleasing coincidence of a nation having the world senior and junior silver medalists (last year Canada had Chan/Rogozine with gold. The year before we had Pang/Tong and Sui/Han, Asada/Murakami, and Takahashi/Hanyu). What’s not to like?
What next? A one year/two year plan. Aim for Sochi like a laser.

Bronze: Mao Asada
Why? Because she doesn’t have a bronze medal. Because she’s one of the all time greats but I’m not convinced she’s great this season. Because the way she handles her troubles reminds us she’s a classy, genuine person along with an all time great. Because “Jupiter” deserves to be seen as a gala.
What next? She will win worlds next year with a fully rotated triple axel and put the RBB on notice. She’s one of the rare athletes who’s achievements seem to transcend the sport while being entirely conjoined to it at the same time.

Fourth: Akiko Suzuki
Why? Because I couldn’t take it away from Carolina, Ashley or Mao. Because a top five finish would be marvellous. Because she’s awesome. Because she landed a triple triple combination for the first time at age 26. Because she’s defied the odds. Because she has two really good programs. Did I mention she’s awesome? Maybe she should win.
What next: She’ll win worlds next year (tie with Asada) and the Japanese figure skating community will be so delighted that the sport will never die off, and we’ll get to see more and more great Japanese skaters. Their respective comebacks will inspire a generation.

I’ll keep my expectations low

Fifth: Alissa Czisny
Why? Because failed experiments deserve just as much credit sometimes as successful ones, and her attempt to get all seven triples and go for a triple-triple deserves applause. Because her short program is a thing of beauty. Because the desire to write her off after this season of growth and comebacks from other skaters seems way too pre-emptive. Because two spots in the top five, a world medal, AND the coveted three for the pre-Olympic season for the American team would be awesome.

Sixth: Ksenia Makarova
Seventh: Polina Korobeynikova or Alena Leonova

Why? Because the depth in Russian ladies isn’t to be trifled with. Because for all the brouhaha surrounding Makarova, it would be hilarious if she was the top Russian. Because I respect Alena for forging her own path even if I don’t care for it. Because I respect Polina’s abilities even if I don’t think she’s all that and cat’s pyjamas too.

Eighth: Viktoria Helgesson
Why? Because her free program to Sunset Blvd is one of the year’s best. Because it’s nice to see someone work hard at getting levels (level four footwork this year!) and PCS without letting it overwhelm them.
What next? Continued growth. I can imagine her doing a wonderful performance to “Sinfonietta”

Ninth: Elene Gedevanishvili
Why? Because leaving Morosov should be rewarded. Because she’s skating solidly this season. She looks faster, at any rate.
What next? Ehh, Truthfully, she doesn’t interest me THAT much as a skater – but branching out would be nice. No Phantom.

Tenth: Amelie LaCoste
Why: Duh. I want her to get the second spot. I want her to prove SC’s indecision and mendacious politicking wrong. And also who cares when you get down this low.
What next? A DIFFERENT COACH. One with a much smarter COP strategy. If you’ve got a negligible success rate with a jump, why include it in the short program?