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Sochi Figure Skating preview (men): Handicapping the men (Part 2)

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With the big names in the first two groups previewed, let's take a look at Group 4 from tomorrow's short program, which includes three of the podium favorites. Boy, what a lineup it is to start off this group.

Related: Men's short skate order

Yuzuru Hanyu JPN (Group 4) - It's looking more and more like Hanyu has emerged as the slight favorite. After two so-so silvers on the Grand Prix series to start the season, he's had a heck of second half, beating a solid Patrick Chan at the Grand Prix Final and winning his second Japanese title a few weeks after. And if the team event short program was any indication, Hanyu looks ready and confident. The important thing for Hanyu on his quest to become the first Japanese man to win the Olympics is avoiding the lapses of concentration that we've seen from him in the past.

Javier Fernandez ESP (Group 4) - Apart from Kevin Reynolds, Fernandez is the guy with the most difficult technical content in the field, and that's what makes him a threat for the podium. With one quad in the short and three quads in the free skate, he is going to be a legitimate gold medal contender. But Fernandez hasn't had the greatest season thus far, though he has gotten stronger, most recently taking his second European title last month. PCS-wise, he won't be able to challenge a Hanyu or a Chan, but his technical content could help equalize the difference. His biggest problem, actually, will be the short program, because he is just not capable of scoring in the upper-90s, which both Chan and Hanyu are able to do.

Patrick Chan CAN (Group 4) - Three in a row - what a super start to Group 4. Chan comes in as the three-time World champion, and if this were two years ago, he would be the heavy, heavy favorite. But in the past two seasons, skaters have been catching up to him, and it's finally at the point where you can say that Chan is legitimately beatable by more than one person. That said, he is still one of the best - but if there is any jump he should be watching out for, it will be the triple axel (one in the short and one in the free skate).

Florent Amodio FRA (Group 4) - Without a consistent quad, Amodio is not going to be doing too much damage in Sochi. He has had a pretty unsightly season, most recently dropping to 13th at Europeans. But we've see him rise from the ashes before (see: fifth-place finish at 2012 Worlds after an awful Grand Prix series), and his short program in the Team Event may be the good sign that he's been looking for.

Brian Joubert FRA (Group 4) - In his fourth Olympics, Joubert has been flying under the radar all season, partly as a result of being withdrawn by his own federation from the Grand Prix because he didn't participate in a domestic competition. The only real data point we have for Joubert is Europeans, where he was eighth. It's tough to see him doing too much here in Sochi, but it could be the last hurrah for a great champion.

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NEXT: Handicapping the men (Part 3)

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