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Sochi Figure Skating preview (men): Top 12 prediction time

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It's a deep field in the men's competition, with at least eight men capable of making their way to the podium. And really, this competition is incredibly unpredictable - the risk factor in every one of these programs is so high that you just don't know who is going to put down two clean programs, or who is going to make the fewest mistakes, for that matter.

Men's preview: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

GOLD Yuzuru Hanyu JPN - The first Japanese man to win Olympic gold in figure skating? Very possible. It's a matter of not making silly mistakes with Hanyu. From the looks of his Team Event short program and his practices, he seems ready to make it happen.

SILVER Patrick Chan CAN - Fifth in Vancouver, it's tough to see Chan not be on the podium this time around. Gold is definitely there for him, but he isn't that one favorite anymore. And his biggest disadvantage could be in the free skate, where his base value isn't at the level of the other gold medal contenders (mostly because he only does one triple axel).

BRONZE Javier Fernandez ESP - Another skater who could be a first for his country - Fernandez could earn Spain's first ever figure skating medal. All four quads will have to be solid, though, for that to happen. And if they are, and there are mistakes from the other guys, gold is possible.

4. Daisuke Takahashi JPN - Bronze four years ago, Takahashi is the sentimental favorite here, much as Pang/Tong were in the pairs' event. How his quad toes and triple axels hold up will determine whether or not he will get back on that podium.

5. Evgeni Plushenko RUS - Now that he's earned his second Olympic gold, Plushenko likely comes into the men's event a bit more relaxed. There's no doubt that he goes into tomorrow's short program as an underdog for the first time. He will need to pull out all the stops to win his fifth Olympic medal. Can his back handle it?

6. Jeremy Abbott USA - Another sentimental favorite here. Can Abbott finally put down at least one program that is worthy of his greatness in a major international competition? The Team Event could've been a good way for him to hit the reset button. Let's hope.

7. Tatsuki Machida JPN - Machida has the potential to be a dark horse here, with strong technical content and solid components.

8. Kevin Reynolds CAN - Five quads planned, that could be Reynolds' ticket to the top five. But it's a risky proposition.

9. Han Yan CHN - China's first viable men's competitor in quite a while, Yan has the technical goods to make some noise here.

10. Jason Brown USA - No quad, and that's going to be a problem. But it could also help him sneak up there, especially with these high-risk programs. But Brown will have to look a lot more comfortable than he did in the Team Event.

11. Denis Ten KAZ - Alas, where is Ten's preparation coming into Sochi? He's the World silver medalist, but he's such an unknown right now. Two clean programs and he can most certainly challenge for a medal.

12. Michal Brezina CZE - Getting his head around the competition will be crucial for Brezina. If he does, he's got top eight potential.



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