The 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championships: Preview
The 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championships are set to take place at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, U.S.A., March 22-29. These championships will present the last opportunity for skaters to tweak their programs and test competition nerves before the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.
The athletes to watch:
Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison (CAN): after a horrible accident when Davison slashed open the cheek of Dube with his skate, the pair has really re-emerged. They placed third at last year’s Worlds and had a strong performance at the Four Continents Championships in Vancouver in February of this year.
Qing Pang and Jian Tong (CHN)/ Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang (CHN): both Chinese couples are coming to the world championships very strong with their powerful lifts and throwaways. These two couples are regulars on the podium. Zhang and Zhang are the 2006 silver Olympic medalists.
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy (GER): as one of the most technical and elegant couples in modern skating, Savchenko and Szolkowy will fight for the gold one year before the Olympics.
Patrick Chan (CAN): the 2009 Canadian and Four Continents Champ has a solid chance to not only medal, but win gold. Chan is bursting with confidence and has been impeccable this season.
Thomas Verner (CZE): Verner had a disastrous World Championships last year when he fell apart completely in his free skate, finishing 15th. He has been picking up pace this season, and with some self-control and great skating can easily score a medal.
Brian Joubert (FRA): one can never write off Brian Joubert. Despite health problems and injuries, which marred his last two seasons, Joubert is the 2009 European Champion, and will definitely try to reclaim his 2007 world title.
Jeremy Abbott (USA): with Johnny Weir (USA) not qualifying, it is Abbott’s time to step up. Abbott has beautiful lines and powerful jumps, it is just the question of whether his lack of competition experience will stand in the way of his success.
With the 2008 World Champion Jeffrey Buttle and the two-time World Champion Stephane Lambiel out of the game, the door is wide open in the men’s competition.
Canadians have a good chance to medal in all four disciplines, which is terrific prospects for the Canadian team, heading into the 2010 Olympic Games at home.
Joannie Rochette (CAN): it seems the five-time back-to-back Canadian Champ Rochette is always close to the World's podium but is never strong enough to end up with a medal. She looks more prepared than ever with her now stable and consistent performances. Rochette will look to break into the top three.
Mao Asada (JAP) and Yu-Na Kim (KOR): the Japanese skating sensation Mao Asada has to battle it out with the Korean skating sensation Yu-Na Kim. The two skaters are perfectly matched in their technical mastery and natural beauty on the ice, so it might come down to who can control the nerve jitters better. Asada is the reigning 2008 World Champion, while Yu-Na Kim has not risen above bronze in the world championships so far. This season Asada is coached by the famous Russian coach Tatiyana Tarasova, and Kim trains with the Canadian coach legend Brian Orser.
Carolina Kostner (ITA): Kostner knows what pressure feels like. In his home Turin during the 2006 Olympics, she failed to medal under pressure, and will fight to win a medal at the 2010 Olympics. She has to ensure a strong showing at this year’s Worlds to be able to accomplish that. Kostner was second at the 2008 Worlds.
American women are heading into this week’s championships with a surprisingly weak squad. U.S. ladies have always had strong showings, but this year it seems no medals are in the reach of the American women.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (CAN): battered by endless troubles with Virtue’s injuries, the couple was unable to compete for most of the season. They came in second at the 2009 Four Continents championships in Vancouver and were second at last year’s Worlds.
Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali (ITA): the Italians placed second at this year’s Europeans and are hungry for more. The couple has been competing since 2000, and has been slowly picking up pace, until last year’s Worlds when they came in 5th.
Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin (RUS): after Shabalin’s knee surgeries and a motivational gold at last year’s Europeans, the couple is hoping to regain ground but the injuries are still a concern for them.
Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski (RUS): the 2009 Russians champs are definitely on this year, having displayed original choreography and powerful skating at this year’s Europeans, which lead them to win gold.
Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto (USA): the veteran couple seems to be on the competitive decline sliding from second to fourth over three years at the World Championships. Critics say the couple’s inexpressive choreography might be to blame. But with regained dance moves, Belbin and Agosto have all the potential to medal.
The 2008 dance champions France’s Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder pulled out and won’t compete because of Delobel’s injured shoulder