How Many Times Has Russia Won The World Cup Countdown to the US Figure Skating National Championships

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Countdown to the US Figure Skating National Championships

Nationals are one of the most anticipated events in US figure skating each year, and the January 2010 event is particularly significant because it will determine the makeup of the figure skating reserve for the Vancouver Olympics in February 2010.

This year, the United States will only be able to send two female skaters to the Olympics, due to placements at the World Championships in 2009. This fact will be heavily discussed in the media during the national and in the Olympics. The United States will send three men to the Olympics, and two ice dancing teams.

On the men’s side, 2006 Olympic 4th place finisher Evan Lysacek is a favorite for Vancouver. He won the 2009 World Championship and a medal in all three of his 2009-10 Grand Prix appearances, including Gold in the Finals.

Another favorite for the men is Colorado Springs skater Ryan Bradley, who took home 3rd and 4th place in his two Grand Prix appearances this season. I recently had the pleasure of seeing Ryan practice, and he looks pretty strong, as does his fellow Broadmoor skater, Brandon Mroz, who took silver at the 2009 USA nationals.

Johnny Weir is another Olympian who should not be counted out. While he has personally experienced a challenging season this year, he won a bronze medal in the Grand Prix final this year.

Jeremy Abbott rounds up the list of possible men from the United States to be on their way to Vancouver. Jeremy had a breakout season in 2008-09, winning the US national championship and gold in the Grand Prix Final. For 2009-10, he has skated strongly under new coaching, and took first at Skate Canada and 4th at the Grand Prix Final.

The US women’s figure skating side is currently on the cusp of a turbulent period. After dominating international women’s figure skating for decades, the United States is currently looking for strong leadership.

Alyssa Czisny, the reigning US national champion, has a long history of inconsistency in her skating. Alyssa is a seasoned veteran of the senior skating ranks, and captured her first gold medal after eight appearances at the US Nationals at the senior level in 2009. She placed 11th at the World Championships, and took 2nd and 4th in her two Grand Prix appearances this season. She is a strong contender for one of the two spots for Vancouver.

Ashley Wagner took 4th at the 2009 US Nationals, 4th at a recent Grand Prix Final, and took 2nd and 3rd at the Russian Cup and NHK Trophy, respectively. Ashley is also a veteran of the senior circuit, and turned in some excellent performances in her Grand Prix appearances. In many ways, she’s kind of “on a roll” lately, and has a good chance of making the Olympic team.

Emily Hughes, the younger sister of 2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes, has had a rough time during the last two seasons, and had to skate in the North Atlantic region in order to earn a trip to the Nationals this year, where she came 2nd. Due to injuries Kimmie Meissner skated at Skate America and took 7th, which was a good outing for her in only her fourth international event in three seasons. Emily was filling in for the injured Michelle Kwan in an emergency at the 2006 Olympics, where she took a respectable 7th place. Emily did not skate at the 2009 USA Championships due to injury, but has taken time off from Harvard to train for this year’s Nationals and Olympics. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m a bit of an Emily Hughes fan, and believe she has as much of a shot at making it to Vancouver as anyone.

Several other US women have had periods off, due to a variety of injuries and other issues. Mirai Nagasu, Caroline Zhang, Kimmie Meissner, and Sasha Cohen (who is trying to make a competitive comeback) have all had rough seasons with little competition.

Possibly the best hope for an American medal on the women’s side in Vancouver is Broadmoor skater Rachael Flatt. Rachael has turned in the most consistent performances for the US team for the last few years. Rachael is currently ranked 9th in the ISU World Rankings, the highest among US women’s skaters. She was the 2008 World Junior Champion, US silver medalist in 2008 and 2009, and placed 5th at the 2009 World Championships. She has had 2nd and 4th place finishes in her Grand Prix assignments the past two seasons. Rachael has been working hard to work on her skating speed, something she has been criticized for in recent years, and is working on a triple Axel, although I don’t know if that will be ready for this year’s competition or not. . Rachael is a very consistent jumper, and seeing her practicing recently she looked ready for competition. Yes, I’m a huge fan of Rachael Flatt, and I have no qualms about admitting it, so it’s hard not to be biased!

With the Olympics just 6 weeks away, and the USA Nationals starting in two weeks, the heat is on for American figure skaters to polish their programs and show the world what they’ve got. It will be an interesting few weeks, that’s for sure. Go Team USA!

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