The number one question I get here in Vancouver about figure skating is, “Who do you think will win the ladies competition?”
My answer: “Kim Yu-Na of South Korea is the one to beat.”
Kim Yu-Na leads a super deep field of women in the upcoming ladies' competition. She is the reigning World Champion, Grand Prix Final Champ, and has looked the best of any other women this season. She’s artistic, elegant, graceful, athletic: everything the judges are looking for in a skater. Key for her will be hitting her triple lutz/triple toe combo and landing her triple flip which has given her trouble this season.
She will be pushed by the Japanese team, however, which boasts two former World Champions. Miki Ando was the 2007 World Champion and Mao Asada was the 2008 World Champion. They are joined by Akiko Suzuki, who was the Bronze Medalist at this year's Grand Prix Final. All three ladies come with unique abilities. Miki Ando, while not as artistic, is a great technician with solid triple jumps. Mao Asada will be the first women to try a three triple axels in competition. If she hits them she’ll be in the hunt for the Gold Medal. Akiko Suzuki comes armed with charm and showmanship that can win any crowd over.
Canada’s Joannie Rochette will attempt to spoil the party and bring home gold on home soil. She is the reigning World Silver Medalist and recently had the skate of her life at the Canadian National Championships.
Two American women will try to sneak in for a medal. National Champion Rachael Flatt, who actually beat Kim Yu-Na in the free skate portion of the competition at Skate America last November, and Mirai Nagasu, the 2008 U.S. National Champion.
From Europe, Finland’s Laura Lepisto and Russia’s Alena Leonova might be in the medal mix as well.
These ladies will have intense media scrutiny on them as they prepare to take the ice for Olympic gold.