Road To The Olympic Games

Figure Skating·Preview

Ready or not? Figure skating worlds will reveal Olympic contenders

At the final World Figure Skating Championships before the 2018 Olympics, we'll get a sneak peek at who's in the mix for gold next winter — even if they're not quite there yet.

Pyeongchang hopefuls show their stuff this week in Helsinki

Patrick Chan hasn't looked Olympic-ready for much of this season, but the Canadian champion has a habit of saving his best skating for last. (Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

What everyone looks for at the final World Figure Skating Championships before the Olympics are hints about who the front-runners might be for next year's Winter Games.

Sneak peek of the 2018 Olympic Figure Skating Arena

Sports

4 years ago
1:37
CBC Sports' Kelly VanderBeek takes us on a tour of the figure skating venue in Gangneung, South Korea 1:37

At these world championships, which begin Wednesday in Helsinki, Finland, I'll be watching for athletes who show they could be in the mix for gold in Pyeongchang — even if they don't look quite ready at the moment.

Before I break down each competition at worlds, a reminder that you can watch live streams of every short and free skate on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Sports' YouTube channel, beginning with the ladies' short on Wednesday at 3:40 a.m. ET. You can also watch daily action on CBC Television. For a full streaming and broadcast schedule, click here.

Men: Chan, 'King of Quads' need time

One of those athletes who doesn't seem Olympic-ready right now is Canadian champion Patrick Chan, who is still finding his footing in his second season back from a brief hiatus. Chan is a skater who takes his time to figure things out, and even at his best he always seemed to perform better later in the season.

Patrick Chan misses out on podium at Four Continents

Sports

4 years ago
8:24
The Canadian finished in fourth place on Saturday at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, Korea. 8:24

Another skater who will be a bigger threat next season than at these worlds is American champion Nathan Chen. The "King of Quads" and recent Four Continents winner has everything he needs to contend for the top step of the Olympic podium. But, for now, he needs to catch his breath after a whirlwind season and the incredible amount of energy he must have burned to get this far.

Nathan Chen puts the 'quadruple' in Four Continents

Sports

4 years ago
0:32
The 17-year-old American landed 5 quads en route to winning gold at the ISU Four Continents in South Korea 0:32

The skating of defending champion Javier Fernandez is like a breath of fresh air. He's so engaging and entertaining. But, despite winning his fifth European title, I'm not sure Fernandez has the momentum to carry him through to a third consecutive world title in Helsinki.

Yuzuru Hanyu, on the other hand, appeared to me as if he woke up in the free program at the Four Continents last month in Korea. Until then, he seemed as if he was wandering somewhat aimlessly through the season. Not being in the lead after the short program seemed to bring Hanyu's attention back into sharp focus. This clarity is what will allow him to reclaim the world title he has only won once, in 2014.

Yuzuru Hanyu wins 4th-straight ISU Grand Prix final title

Sports

4 years ago
9:22
The Japanese skater won the men's title at the ISU Grand Prix final with a total score of 293.90 points 9:22

Dance: Virtue & Moir put win streak on the line

The contest with the most at stake is the ice dance, with two-time and defending world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France taking on Canadian legends Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who have also won two world titles.

Virtue, Moir capture ice dance title at Four Continents

Sports

4 years ago
8:35
The Canadian duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won their third career ice dance title at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships on Friday, finishing with a combined score of 196.95. 8:35

All things being equal, the team to beat is Virtue and Moir, who are undefeated since their return to competition this season, beating the French team both times they met. The things to watch for are the margin by which Virtue and Moir take the title and which team rounds out the podium.

Ladies: Marvelous Medvedeva looks unbeatable

The women will be lead by Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva, who is a marvel.

Apart from one event last season, Medvedeva is undefeated. Her streak includes the 2014 Junior Grand Prix Final title, the 2015 world junior title, the 2016 world title and the last two European and Grand Prix Final titles.

Evgenia Medvedeva successfully defends her ISU Grand Prix final title

Sports

4 years ago
8:51
The 17-year-old Russian won the women's title at the ISU Grand Prix final with a total score of 227.66 points 8:51

Realistically, if anyone is going to take her down, it will have to be a person with experience, but only on their best day. The possibilities are American Ashley Wagner, the 2016 world silver medallist, or 2012 world champion Carolina Kostner of Italy.

Pairs: Junior champs arrive on big stage

I'm looking forward to seeing how newly crowned junior world champions Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor fare after their historic outing as the first Australians to win an ISU championship title.

Australians Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor win junior pairs gold

Sports

4 years ago
8:32
ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships from Taipei City, Taiwan 8:32

They'll be facing some tough competition. Two-time and reigning world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada are in the hunt, but have been performing uncharacteristically under par this season. Radford revealed before the start of worlds that he's battling a hip injury he suffered last week.

Duhamel, Radford lock up pairs silver at Four Continents

Sports

4 years ago
8:03
The Canadian duo of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford finished in second place on Saturday at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Korea with a score of 212.23. 8:03

That leaves the door open for two-time world silver medallists Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China to walk through.

China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong earn pairs gold at Four Continents

Sports

4 years ago
8:51
The Chinese tandem won the pairs title on Saturday at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Korea with a score of 225.03. 8:51

The other team to watch out for is Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, the European and Grand Prix Final gold medallists from Russia.

Pj's gold-medal picks

Men: Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)

Ladies: Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia)

Pairs: Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (China)

Dance: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pj Kwong currently does freelance work for Skate Ontario as the Business Development manager and has consulted for Alpine Canada in media relations. She’s been a veteran stadium announcer for eight Olympic Games, two Paralympic Games, one European Games, and the Arab Games. Most recently she’s done stadium announcing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, and the 2019 Pan American Games and Parapan American Games. Pj has worked as a freelance writer for CBC Sports since 2006 covering figure skating. Outside of the CBC, Pj has worked in Press Operations for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, Media Relations for the Toronto 2017 Invictus Games.

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