There may be new faces on the horizon. But on the senior circuit, experience matters. There are Olympic and World medalists and national champions who are eager to pick up where they left off, or in some cases, even make a comeback. Kanako Murakami and Agnes Zawadzki? They have to get past Asada and Ando first.
Related: Finlandia Trophy results
The Olympic Medalist and World Champion
With both Olympic champion Yuna Kim and Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette skipping the Grand Prix, the only one left who is still in is the silver medalist. After switching coachs to Nobuo Sato a few months ago, Olympic silver medalist and World champion Mao Asada hopes to rediscover her triple lutz and put herself back in the mix after a dismal Grand Prix series last season.
Joining Asada and Rochette is a cast of familiar names, including 2007 World Champion Miki Ando, two-time World medalist Carolina Kostner, and three-time World medalist Fumie Suguri, who will be starting her 15th season on the senior level. All three ladies had a somewhat mediocre Olympic season and will be back and hoping for some redemption this season. Of course, Ando and Suguri will continue to battle the talented field of Japanese ladies, including one of last year’s breakout stars, Akiko Suzuki.
Add in Laura Lepisto, Kiira Korpi, Cynthia Phaneuf, and Alena Leonova, who just won Coupe de Nice last weekend, and we’ve already got an exciting season!
Don’t forget about the Americans
Speaking of breakout stars, last season, 2008 U.S. champion Mirai Nagasu had a breakthrough season, placing a super impressive fourth at the Olympics and winning the short program at Worlds before a disappointing free skate dropped her to seventh. She will only be hungrier for medals this season after getting a glimpse of success last year.
In addition to Nagasu, U.S. champions Rachael Flatt and Alissa Czisny, and U.S. medalists Ashley Wagner and Caroline Zhang, will be making a case for themselves in a talented field of American ladies. Zhang is now coached by Tammy Gambill and has been working hard on her jump technique during the off-season.
Some Japanese lady will sweep the Grand Prix series. Murakami will be the surprise of the season. The Americans will be on more podiums than they have been in recent memory.
Note: This article was updated to reflect Joannie Rochette’s withdrawal from the Grand Prix series.
Follow Jackie on Twitter for breaking news: http://twitter.com/examinerskating. Get the latest results and analyses on the Grand Prix Series by clicking the “Subscribe” button.