The US National Figure Skating Championships are being held this week in Spokane, Washington. There is more interest than usual because this is where we will find out who will probably go to the Olympics. A lot of people are Olympic Figure Skating fans only.
The first event will be Pairs....a weak area for US skaters. That's because our pairs do not stick togther long enough to learn how to skate as one. As soon as the girl is no longer about a fourth of the size of her partner she's dumped for a smaller girl. And why is it always the girl's fault for being "too big" (over 90 lb is considered "too big" for a typical female pairs skater) --why isn't it the guy's fault for not working out to be strong enough to hurl her around?
So the Pairs short program was this afternoon and favorites Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker had a disappointing skate and are currently in 5th place but I think they can pull up to win or at least place second to make the Olympic team. I almost feel like I know these two. They Broadmore Skating Club in Colorado Springs and my daughter used to skate at a compete there --so we cheer for their skaters. Also my daughter's former coach is friends with their former coach.
Old fart John Baldwin and his partner Rena Inou are still in contention in fourth place. They wowed crowds at the last Olympics four years ago with the first throw triple axel ...but I don't think we are going to see that again. I think that second spot is wide open.
Men - we can send three men this year and it is going to be a fierce fight between Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir, both of whom are strong contenders for gold at the Olympics My favorite is Johnny but he's such a head case. I hope he finishes second so he will go into the Olympics with a little less pressure as the underdog. Be prepared to see lots of references to Evan's girlfriend Ice Dance Champion Tanith Belbin so you will all know that *he* is the straight one. Not sure I believe it...but this is figure skating ... I don't care who you sleep with!
That third spot is wide open to a lot of also-rans who will not likely make the top ten at the Olympics.
Ladies (that's right they are called "Ladies" not "women" in Figure Skating) Astounding that after dominating Ladies Figure Skating for generations, this Olympics we can only send two women. The number of people a country can send to the Olympics is based on how well the skaters did at last years World Championships. And our ladies did not do well last year.
There's a lot of talk about 2006 Silver Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen coming back. I predict she will pull out of Nationals, but even if she makes it, she will not be on the Olympic team this year. I predict Alissa Czisny will have a bad short program, but redeem herself with a beautiful free skate and win the title...but will not even finish in the top ten at the Olympics. She has never skated two clean programs. I'm gonna go with Rachael Flatt being number 2 and she will make it to the top ten at the Olympics. Maybe even be in the final group. That girl doesn't know what pressure is.
Dance - thanks to five-time champions and 2006 Olympic Silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto we get to send three dance teams to the Olympics. Number two will be Meryl Davis and Charlie White I haven't followed dance enough to say who will be number three. But both our top two dance teams will be in the top ten at the Olympics. Maybe another medal for Belbin and Agosto.
Let the games begin!
US Nationals TV Schedule (my time- Central)
Sat. Jan 16 3:30-5pm NBC Pairs Freeskate
Sun. Jan 17 3:30-5pm NBC Mens Free Skate
Sat. Jan. 23 3-5 pm NBC Free Dance
Sat. Jan. 23 8-10 pm NBC Ladies Free Skate
Sun. Jan. 24 3-5 pm NBC Exhibitions