The 2014 World Figure Skating Championships kicks off on Tuesday, March 25 in Saitama, Japan. Post-Olympic World Championships are known for being quite an interesting event, as most skaters are completely spent following the Olympic Games and most of the medalists do not return for the World Championships, leaving quite a void, yet allowing for some newbies to land on the podium. This season is no different.
Of the twelve figure skating medalists from the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, only five skaters will compete at these World Championships. Some skaters have retired directly following the Olympics, while others are making this their final farewell and a few young faces are appearing onto the scene as well.
The ladies event should be very fascinating. Newly crowned Olympic gold medallist, Adelina Sotnikova is listed as a sub as her federation announced that they wanted to give her time to rest after the Olympics. Yuna Kim is also out of the picture as she chose to retire directly following the Olympic Games, so the door is open for Olympic bronze medalist, Carolina Kostner. If she skated as well as she did in Sochi, the world title could very well be hers, but she has a youngster on her tail. Russia’s Julia Lipnitskaia will be competing at this event. It will be so interesting to see how Julia does after her devastating performance at the Olympics—this could either be redemption for her or reveal that she is not completely ready for this type of intense competition.
The American ladies will have their work cut out for them. Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds all competed at the Olympic Games and now will have one more shot this season at the World Championships in hopes of overcoming Mao Asada, Carolina Kostner and Julia Lipnitskaia. After a very full season it will be interesting to see how they do.
The scoring in the ladies event will also be worth watching. After the uproar at the Olympics, it will be very intriguing to see what the judging looks like for the Russian skaters. Many wonder if the scoring was the Russian “home field” advantage or if the scores were legitimately earned.
Three-time World Champion, Patrick Chan has opted not to compete at worlds this season, which leaves the door wide open for a new champion to emerge. One of the few Olympic medalists competing is Olympic Champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, who will most likely make this a golden year by adding World Champion to his growing repertoire.
Contenders for the second and third spot could very well be Spain’s Javier Fernandez or possibly even the American men. This is supposed to be Jeremy Abbott’s final competitive event and after a tough Olympics, one can only guess what will happen next. After not making the Olympic team, Max Aaron has got to be hungry to go out there and compete. Without an Olympic Games to drain him, he might just come ready for the fight.
Olympic gold medalists, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, have chosen not to compete at worlds this year, leaving the door open for the Germans to possibly have some redemption. Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy were going for the gold in Sochi, but after a rough free skate barely held onto the bronze. Hoping to give the Germans a run for their money, Russian silver medalists, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov will be contenders this year after a surprisingly strong performance at the Olympics.
Just days before leaving for Japan, American Caydee Denney suffered an injury forcing Denney and Coughlin to withdraw and giving Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay one more event this season. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, from the United States are also set to compete.
This might just be one of the most exciting ice dancing events in years. With gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White opting out of worlds and Virtue and Moir choosing to retire, the world title that has been owned by these two teams since 2010 is now up for grabs. This will be another event where the scoring will be very fascinating to examine as there was some debate about the Russian skating scores at the Olympic Games.
Russian Olympic bronze medalists Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov are sure to be contenders along with Olympic fourth place finishers Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat from France and Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte.
There is quite a bit up in the air for this World Championships this season, but one thing is for sure—there will be some new faces on the world podium this year.