Monday, May 1, 2017

End of Season Power Rankings: 2016-2017

Another season in the books!  With all of the competitions over and done with it's time to look back at how the skaters from my End of Grand Prix Power Rankings did in the second half of the season and give some notes on what we can hope to see from them next season.

10.  Karen Chen (USA)

Previous Ranking: N/A  Karen's skating was a mixed bag after the Grand Prix.  She shocked everyone by skating lights out at nationals where she beat out a mostly clean Ashley and won her first national title.  Then it all came crashing down when she tanked at Four Continents and finished 12th.  She redeemed herself in grand fashion by placing a surprising 4th at Worlds and maintaining 3 spots for the U.S.  Unfortunately her final performances were rather poor at the World Team Trophy where she placed a distant 9th overall.

Next Season:  Karen is strong across the board and has the potential to score very well.  When she's clean she receives good GOE on her jumps, her spins get a lot of extra points and her PCS are very competitive as well.  The issue is she's a seesaw skater: up one competition, then down in the next, then up and then down again.  You never know what you're going to get from her which makes her a very unreliable competitor.  The U.S. needs a stable go-to skater for this upcoming Olympic season.  In order for Karen to move up she has to find some kind of consistency.  If she can't, she may get passed over for one of those Olympic spots she helped to keep.

9.  Ashley Wagner (USA)

Previous Ranking: #10 (+1)  Ashley had a more productive second half of the season.  She delivered two solid performances at nationals and earned a silver medal.  Her trip to Worlds was decent though not what she wanted.  She finished in 7th place overall which was enough to help retain 3 spots for the U.S. women.  Ashley participated in the World Team Trophy event and turned in her best skates of the season.  She finished 6th overall in the women's event.

Next Season:  Ashley's under-rotation issues are killing her.  The level of skating continues to go up every season and she is struggling to keep up.  Unfortunately her overall skating is not strong enough (a la Carolina Kostner's) to get by on her second mark alone.  Not having a reliable 3-3 will hurt her quite a bit next season, especially if some of the other American girls wake up and start skating well.  She's still the #1 woman for the U.S. as of now; however, if she wants to be competitive on the international stage she needs to work on her transitions, her spins need improving and she has got to get those combinations around.

8. Elena Radionova (RUS)

Previous Ranking: #6 (-2)  Elena's second half of the season started off with a 5th place finish at nationals.  That marked the first time Elena has finished off of the podium at nationals since the 2011-2012 season.  Missing the podium cost Elena a trip to both the European Championships and Worlds.  She competed at the 2017 Winter Universiade and won the event.  After Anna and Maria's performances at Worlds, Elena received the nod to compete for Russia at the World Team Trophy.  She made the most of the event and skated two strong performances and finished 5th overall in the women's event.

Next Season:  Despite some ongoing technical issues (that lutz landing is still really iffy) Elena is still competitive with the majority of the field. The issue next season will be how she stacks up next to her Russian teammates.  In addition to more consistency, Elena has to clean up her jumps.  It's easy to find a Russian skater who can nail a 7-triple program; the ones who get ahead are the ones who know how to stack points in +GOE and manipulate the scoring system.  Elena's skating needs a lot more if she is going to make the trip to Pyeongchang next year.

7. Maria Sotksova (RUS)

Previous Ranking: #5 (-2)  Maria made some strides but also took a few steps backwards in the second half of the season.  She took a big step forward at Russian nationals where she shocked a lot of people by beating out Anna and earning the bronze medal.  Maria made her first appearance at the European Championships but did not have the kind of performances she wanted to have.  She finished a distant 4th at that event.  After some discussion she got the nod to go to Worlds where she under-performed, placing 8th overall when most people assumed she'd place top 5.

Next Season:  Maria's debut season was solid but based off of what she's capable of she did drop the ball at Euros and Worlds.  The competition will intensify next season as there will be no fewer than seven girls competing for three spots to the Olympics...well more like two spots as we all know Medvedeva is a virtual lock for one spot.  Maria's technical content is good and her overall skating is appreciated by the judges.  However with the newbie Russians coming in, Maria will need to find some way to separate herself and stand out if she hopes to maintain her positioning in the Russian lineup.

6.  Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)

Previous Ranking: #2 (-4)  Anna had a tough time after the Grand Prix Final.  She battled an injury during nationals which resulted in a 4th place finish.  She made the trip to the European Championships and though it was a bit of a struggle, she held off Kostner to claim to the silver medal.  Anna came into Worlds as a co-favorite for silver.  She delivered a strong SP and was positioned to challenge for the podium; however, she had a devastating FS that dropped her all the way down to 13th place overall.  It's believed that the Russian federation bypassed her for the World Team Trophy and Radionova was sent in her place.

Next Season:  No one knows how that performance at Worlds will affect Anna's confidence and her mentality next season. It's possible that the bad performance may cost Anna more than we realize.  The Russian federation has a deep reserve of skaters; they don't need to wait for Anna to prove herself again.  It's possible that they will push her aside to make room for Zagitova, Tsurskaya or one of the other Russian newbies in line.  Anna will have to erase Worlds from her mind and come out on fire next season to prove herself (again) and put herself in the running for a shot at that Olympic team.  If she can do that the only hurdle she'll have to get past is her own federation...

5.  Carolina Kostner (ITA)

Previous Ranking: N/A  Carolina made her comeback in the second half of the season.  Despite being away from competition for an extended period of time she settled back into the flow of things quite easily.  She won her 8th national title and made her 13th appearance at the European Championships.  Her performances there were surprisingly competitive and she placed a very close 3rd at the event.  She competed in a minor event (2017 Nordic Championships) and won that before heading to Worlds. Carolina's performances at Worlds were shaky and not her best, but even at about 75% she was able to score well enough to place a close 6th overall.

Next Season:  Carolina has the judges' respect which helps to carry some of the scoring load.  Her jump arsenal was very light this season but I do expect her to ramp up her content as Pyeongchang approaches just as she did last Olympic season.  Unlike nearly every other skater on this list Carolina's ticket to her 4th Olympic Games is already stamped.  That is a luxury that will allow her to coast for most of the season and then turn on the afterburners once she reaches Pyeongchang.  If she can deliver the content cleanly, Carolina does have a chance of standing on the Olympic podium again.

4.  Mai Mihara (JPN)

Previous Ranking: N/A  Mai didn't make the Power Rankings at the end of the Grand Prix when she honestly should have (that was my bad!).  Nevertheless, she's on the list now.  Mai finished 3rd at nationals and went on to win gold at Four Continents.  With Satoko out for Worlds Mai took on the responsibility of carrying the load for Japan and, after a tough SP, lived up to expectation by placing 4th in the FS and 5th overall.  Mai's scores at World Team Trophy were very high (like everyone's were) but she still skated very well and placed 2nd overall in the women's event.

Next Season:  Japan lost their 3rd spot to the Olympics which means competition in Japan will be extremely fierce next year.  Mai has made an excellent case for herself to occupy one of those spots with her performance this year.  Her jumps, spins and skating skills are great; however, her packaging is generic and juniorish.  Mai needs more mature packaging (music, choreography, costume, presentation) to really make her stand out and grab the judges' attention.  Better packaging will help that all important second mark to go up.  If she can do it, Mai will be one of the front-runners for the podium in Pyeongchang.

3.  Gabrielle Daleman (CAN)

Previous Ranking: #7 (+4) Gabrielle picked up steam in the second half of the season.  She put up a great fight at nationals and finished 2nd.  Her performances at Four Continents were strong and even though a mistake cost her gold, she still walked away with her first ISU medal.  Gabby's biggest achievement was a surprise podium finish at Worlds where she won a bronze medal with two excellent performances under pressure.  She backed up her World bronze medal performances at World Team Trophy where she finished a close 4th in the women's event.

Next Season:  Gabby's consistency and focus have improved immensely over the course of the season which has helped her scores to rise.  Unfortunately her scoring ceiling doesn't seem to be as high as some of her other competitors which does put her at a disadvantage.  One way she can combat this is by upping her technical content; it's solid but there's room for improvement in that area.  Increasing her content, maintaining her newfound consistency, and finding two strong programs for next year will be her keys to a great season.

2.  Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)

Previous Ranking: #4 (+2)  The second half of the season was good for Kaetlyn though not without its struggles.  Kaetlyn regained her national title despite some sub par skating in the FS.  She lost ground at Four Continents where she finished a distant 4th after imploding in the FS.  Most had Kaetlyn pegged for the podium at Worlds if she could keep it together...and to the shock of nearly everyone, she managed to deliver her two strongest back-to-back performances of the season.  She set personal bests in both segments and won a World silver medal.

Next Season:  As of now Kaetlyn has the highest scoring ceiling of anyone else in the field (except for Medvedeva of course).  Her elements earn a lot of GOE and when she skates well her PCS are excellent.  With a World silver medal under her belt Kaetlyn can push her scoring potential even higher.  The judges love her speed, huge jumps and on ice presence and score her very well when she's clean.  If Kaetlyn can start delivering her programs consistently her scores will climb and she'll be able to separate herself from the field which will put her in a great position to stand on the podium in Pyeongchang.

1.  Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS)

Previous Ranking: #1 (--)  Evgenia has maintained her #1 spot in the rankings for two full seasons now.  Since becoming a senior only one skater has ever defeated her (Elena Radionova) and that was all the way back in November of 2015, which also marks the last time she lost a competition.  She easily defended her national, European and World title this wasn't even close.  Evegnia's stock with the judges is the highest for any woman ever under this scoring system thanks to her unbelievable consistency and competitive focus.  In my twenty-some-odd years of watching skating, I've never seen a skater (of any discipline) be so dominant.

Next Season:  The scores Evgenia received at the World Team Trophy broke records (yet again) and set an insurmountable bar that no one has a snowball's chance in hell of reaching next year.  Her GOE is off the charts and her PCS are so far beyond what anyone else achieves...there's no competition between her and the rest of the field.  Assuming Evgenia maintains her form, come this time next year she'll likely be the 2018 Olympic champion as well as a 3-time World champion.  She's unshakable, untouchable, unstoppable and unbeatable.  We'll see if that will continue next season.

Next season should be very interesting.  Olympic seasons are always intense and very competitive.  So many skaters are fighting for position and for a spot on that coveted Olympic Team.  Even more exciting, there are a number of newbies entering the ranks from Russia and Japan who can shake up the standings.  Also we have skaters like Satoko Miyahara (who was injured in the second half of the season) and Gracie Gold (who had a bad year) who can jump back in and mix things up as well.  It's going to be a great year of skating and I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Thanks to everyone who checked in and read my ramblings this season.  I appreciate it a lot :)  Everything will be quiet here for the next few months.  I'll start posting my Off Season Fun series in July ahead of the Junior Grand Prix season.  I haven't done any Around the World in Skating posts in a while.  If something interesting comes up I may throw together something.

Til then, laters y'all!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome and entertaining read as usual. Thanks ๐Ÿ˜ Wondering about starting a fs blog too! I'm hoping a lot of interesting stuff happens in the off season.
    Who'll u be rooting for next season? Me: kaetlyn. Plz be consistent!!