USA's 16-year-old Mirai Nagasu, who jokingly threatened to "bust out a quad," acknowledged, "We're 16 and 17, which has its advantages and disadvantages." Referring to gold medal favorite South Korea's Kim Yu-Na, she added, " (Kim) does have more international experience and she has more
experience in her skating because she's been skating longer. Because we don't know what she knows yet, we can just go in there with a blank mind and attack out there and have fun." Nagasu says, "I didn't come to the Olympics to be nervous and have the nerves overtake me. I came here to have fun, and that's what I'm doing."
USA"s 17-year-old Rachel Flatt, the newly-crowned US Champion, thinks coming in as an underdog helps."Mirai and I are both incredibly excited to go out there and kick some butt." Flatt is considered the most athletic skater the US has had since Tara Lipinski. Flatt performed seven triple jumps at nationals, most of them in combination. But she's heard the criticisms that "Flatt's program is flat." She concedes that she needs to work on her artistry. Flatt is a consistent skater, however, and has a good chance for a medal, especially if any of the leaders falter.
Reigning Olympic silver medallist Sasha Cohen, whose heartbreaking falls in her Romeo and Juliet program in Torino cost her the gold, told People Magazine, "The U.S. girls are young and haven't competed as much internationally, so they're kind of hit or miss. They're good skaters, they're just not at the same level as the international girls." Sasha, who could have been our best hope for a medal but can't seem to stay on her feet, didn't even qualify for the Olympics this year, so she might not want to speak out of school, especially after she predicted Evan Lysacek would only take bronze.
Even though these girls are being given short shrift, when you're counted out, and just go out there to do your best, your best just might end up being "the best." Odds are, however, this could be an Asian sweep. Favorites South Korea's Kim Yu-Na, and Japan's Mao Asada and
Miki Ando have all won the last three world titles.
South Korea's Kim Yu-Na and Japan's Mao Asada have a sizzling rivalry between them. Nineteen-year-old Kim is the reigning world champion, taking the title away from Asada. Kim has only lost twice in two years, both times to Asada. A gold for her would give South Korea its first Olympic figure skating gold.
Nineteen-year-old Mao Asada, the Japanese national champion, has been the only one to outskate Kim, twice in the past two seasons. She's had a rough couple of years, not qualifying for last year's Grand Prix final. But she does have those two wins against Kim, and all eyes will be on her. Asado's teammate, 22-year-old Miki Ando, is best known for her jumps, landing a quad in competition at age 14. Last year she won the Cup of Russia and NHK Trophy, and took bronze in the 2009 Worlds. She is definitely a contender. Japan's Akiko Suzuki, who won the Cup of China and placed second at nationals and third at the Grand Prix final, is also not counting herself out for a medal.
Twenty-two year old Canadian Joannie Rochette, six-time national champion, is Canada's best chance for a medal since Elizabeth Manley won the silver medal in 1988. Tragically, her mother has died in Vancouver over the weekend of a heart attack at age 55. Rochette is determined to compete, appearing on the practice rink the next morning, wiping tears away, but landing her jumps consistently.
The Ladies Short Program will be skated on Tuesday, February 23rd, the Long Program on Thursday, February 26th.
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