Friday, December 30, 2016

End of Grand Prix Power Rankings: 2016-2017

I started doing Power Rankings back in the 2013-2014 season and it's become part of the post list here at Naked Ice.  So you should know the drill by now...Based on what we've seen so far, here are my Power Rankings for the top 10 ladies.  We'll take a look at where they are and what we can expect in the second half of the season.

10. Ashley Wagner (USA)

Ashley started her season off decently with a respectable skate at Japan Open.  Everyone got a good look at her "Exogensis" program and could see that despite some errors, she appeared to be ready for the season.  Skate America was a lopsided win for Ashley.  She was excellent in the SP but her FS was rather poor from a technical standpoint.  Her technical issues continued at Cup of China where she struggled in both programs and turned in her worst GP placement in years.  Ashley has a lot of work to do for nationals at this point.  The good news is her closest competitor is doing worse than she is this season.  None of the American "go-to girls" look ready to make a push.  If Ashley wants to make it back to Worlds this season, she has her work cut out for her.

9. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN)

Wakaba had a solid debut on the senior level finishing 3rd at Trophee de France and 4th at NHK Trophy.  There is a lot to love about Wakaba's skating (speed, edges, big jumps, great presentation) but she's lacking a bit in consistency.  In both events she had a shot at a higher placement; however, her habit of blanking out and losing focus in her programs cost her better placements.  Wakaba is so talented and the judges really like her.  If she can start turning in consistently clean skating she can move up a lot in the rankings.  She is eligible to make that World team this year so she needs to focus and put her best foot forward at nationals.  Mao and Rika have not been very competitive this season so a spot on the team is definitely possible for her.

8. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS)

It's been a slow and steady climb back for Liza T but she's doing better so far this year.  She had solid placements (3rd and 4th) at both of her events and has also done well at the Senior B events she attended.  Liza isn't back to her 2015 form but even if she does somehow get all of the jumps and the consistency back, I'm not so sure that it will be enough now.  Next to her Russian teammates and several other competitors Liza's skating is still lacking.  The judges have made that clear with the PCS she gets; they're not close to the top tier.  The only thing that can really give her a leg up is that triple axel.  With the field in Russia being so deep, Liza is a long shot for the World team this year but strong performances can set her up for a few more Senior Bs next year.

7. Gabrielle Daleman (CAN)

Gabrielle has had a somewhat disappointing season so far.  She was right on the cusp of landing on the podium at both of her events but ended up placing a close 4th.  The good news is her overall skating has been strong and she has improved her standing with the judges as well.  Gabby is fast, explosive and a strong performer.  The judges see that now which means it's time for her to put it together.  She is easily top 5 material when she's at her best.  Canada has two spots for Worlds this year and Gabby should occupy one of those spots...but she still has to earn it.  If she can put forth two strong performances she should make the trip back to Worlds.

6. Elena Radionova (RUS)

Elena's season on the Grand Prix was much more successful than I expected it to be.  She placed 2nd at Rostelecom and won Cup of China which earned her another trip to the Final.  The level of competition at the Final was very high this year and, unfortunately, Elena couldn't hang and finished last at the event.  That was not the kind of momentum Elena wants as we head into Russian nationals but she is nothing if not resilient.  The difference this year is she really has her work cut out for her.  Maria Sotskova has bumped Elena out of that 3rd spot and if Elena wants to make to Europeans and Worlds this year, she is going to have to go into nationals ready to fight.

5. Maria Sotskova (RUS)

Maria's debut season on the senior level has been a success so far.  She was able to turn in strong performances at both of her events, placing 2nd at Trophee de France and 3rd at NHK Trophy and earning a trip to the Final in her first year.  Even though Maria isn't as flashy as some of the other Russian skaters she's been consistent enough to get the judges on her side which bodes well for her in an international setting.  Competition will be fierce at nationals but she's proven that she holds up well under pressure.  Beating Elena at the Final is also another plus for her heading into nationals. Strong performances there should position her well for a spot on the European and/or World team.

4. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)

This has been Kaetlyn's most successful season on the Grand Prix thanks in large part to the fact she's managed to stay healthy.  Her strong performances in the SP helped to set her up for strong finishes despite not skating her best FS at either GP event.  Kaetlyn placed 2nd at both Skate Canada and Cup of China, and earned her first trip to the Final where she placed a close 4th with two strong performances.  With her speed, huge jumps and strong programs Kaetlyn has a good chance of recapturing the Canadian national title.  Consistency in the FS has been her downfall but if she can deliver, I think Kaetlyn has a great shot at landing on the podium at Worlds.

3. Satoko Miyahara (JPN)

Satoko started off the season in a bit of a bind.  The under-rotation issues that she's battled from time to time started to nag at her again.  Even though some of the jumps were giving her issues Satoko continued to turn in strong overall performances and that kept her in the mix, earning her a bronze at Skate Canada and silver at NHK Trophy and another trip to the Final.  With the way things had been going I didn't expect to see Satoko on the podium at the Final.  She turned in two amazing performances and the judges rewarded her for it.  The GPF silver medal sets Satoko up nicely for nationals (where she is the favorite to repeat as champion) and also gives her an edge internationally as we head into the second half of the season.

2. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)

After a semi-disastrous Grand Prix last year Anna has completely turned her skating and her career around this season.  She rediscovered that solid consistency that served her well during her junior days and paired it with the presence, maturity, speed and polish that she's gained over the past few years.  Anna captured gold at both Rostelecom Cup and NHK Trophy and went to the Final as a podium favorite.  She was able to deliver well under pressure and walked away with her first Finals medal.  Anna is a favorite for the podium at nationals and a favorite for the Euro and World teams.  Competition is going to be fierce in Russia but Anna has an excellent shot at making the podium if she can deliver.

1. Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS)

Evgenia has broken that one-year Russian curse.  It's been two full Grand Prix seasons and Evgenia stayed on top of the standings.  More than that, she solidified her position as the one to beat.  In all actuality it wasn't even a contest this season in terms of who is on top. She's undefeated for over a year now and is showing no signs of slowing down.  In terms of a dominant skater, she's the best the women's field has had since as far back as I can remember.  You can point to skaters like Michelle Kwan or Yuna Kim...but Michelle dropped competitions to Irina and Yuna lost to Mao, even during their dominant periods.  Evgenia has not lost a competition.  It hasn't even been close.  The only person to come within 10 points of Evgenia's overall score this season has been Satoko Miyahara at the Final (9.33 points separated 1st from 2nd).  Evgenia is fast-tracking herself to another national, European and World title.  I honestly can't see anyone beating her anytime soon.  Stranger things have happened but as of now, Evgenia is the undisputed queen of figure skating.

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