Once upon a time, and not all that long ago, it was easy to predict who would represent the USA at the Winter Olympics. The "kings and queens for figure skating" reigned in four year increments. Once in awhile, a skater, pair, or ice dance team lost a crown or "place in line," but that was rare.
Months before the Winter Olympic Games, those who wrote about figure skating had their articles written in advance and the television figure skating commentators were able to predict who would win and who would qualify and who would medal at the US national figure skating championships that took place a few weeks before the Olympics began.
Those days ended after the 2002 Olympic figure skating scandal since a new judging system was implemented that made figure skating "more fair," but also made figure skating unpredictable. And...it's a known fact that ice skating fans miss their kings and queens and princes and princesses, and some say that the changes in figure skating have made the sport lose its popularity.
Except for the ice dance event, the upcoming 2014 United States Figure Skating Championships which will take place in Boston from January 5 through January 14, 2014 and is also the event where the United States Olympic Figure Skating Team is chosen, will be full of surprises. Everyone who watches "nationals" will be sitting at the edge of their seats. The excitement will be overwhelming. Which US figure skaters will qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games?
Here's this author's thoughts (or perhaps rambles) on this subject:
The United States will want to send the skaters that will do the very best in Sochi, but the team will be chosen based on how skaters place in Boston during "nationals." Until then, we can only speculate and wonder. Keep in mind that a skater who did really well at the US national figure skating championships or even won the national title during the year before the Olympics or in previous years, may not qualify for this Winter Olympics.
Olympic champ, Evan Lysacek, announced that he won't be competing on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, so that leaves the door wide open for other US men. Will 2013 US men's champion, Max Aaron defend the US national title and qualify for Sochi? Will he land two quadruple jumps again? Or...will three-time US men's champion, Jeremy Abbott, win again and/or compete in a second Olympic Games? Skaters such as world junior champion Joshua Farris could move into the top three. Jason Brown recently astounded the audience in France and then there is 2013 US silver medalist Ross Miner. All of these men are amazing skaters, but only two will get to go to Sochi. Who will those two men be?
Will two-time US ladies champion, Ashley Wagner, keep her crown or will Gracie Gold, who captured America's heart in 2013 at the US national figure skating championships win? Rachael Flatt, who won the 2010 US ladies title and competed in Vancouver is back. Can she qualify again although being a student at Stanford University has been her priority? Or...can Agnes Zawadzki, who won the ladies short program in 2012, be consistent and qualify? And..there are other US ladies who could definitely move into the top spots. Who will the three lucky ladies be?
Only two pair skating teams will qualify for Sochi. Which two US pairs will make it? Will it be Caydee Denney and John Coughlin who missed the 2013 competition season due to injury or will Caydee's sister, Haven, with her longtime partner and childhood friend, Brandon Frazier, who won "junior worlds" in 2013 make the Olympic team? Wouldn't that be "cool" if both Denney sisters went to Russia? Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim are the reason the US gets to send two pairs to this Winter Olympics based on their 9th place finish at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships. Will they be in Sochi and/or will the current 2013 US pair champions, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, be part of the team?
It is fairly certain that 2010 Olympic silver medalists and two-time world ice dancing champions, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, will win another US national ice dance title, but which other ice dance teams will be part of the United States Olympic team? The Shibutani sister-brother team, already won a world bronze medal, but seemed to have been bypassed by 2010 Olympic ice dancer Evan Bates and his partner Madison Chock...some of the time, that is. Or...will Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue take up one of the Olympic ice dancing slots?