World Skater Rankings: Taking a look at the ladiesAsada tops chart; Wagner leads U.S. contingent; Kim lurking at No. 7
Icenetwork is revealing one discipline in the initial World Skater Rankings each week. We wrap up our rundown with the ladies, who are headed by Japan's Mao Asada.
1. Mao Asada, Japan (3,556.80 points) - Asada reigns despite logging finishes of third, sixth and sixth at the last three world championships. Her lofty ranking comes mostly from her consistency in the Grand Prix Series (four golds and a silver in the last two seasons) and her success at the Four Continents Championships (gold in 2013, silver in 2012). Don't expect much of a drop-off from this seasoned competitor.
2. Carolina Kostner, Italy (2,787.50) - Kostner was the undisputed No. 1 after the 2011-12 season, but her decision to skip last fall's Grand Prix Series led to her dropping a spot. She is still head and shoulders above the rest of the competition in Europe; the question is, does she have what it takes to defeat her Asian adversaries?
3. Ashley Wagner, United States (2,460.38) - The adopted Californian continued her ascent up the rankings after her most successful season to date, including two wins in the Grand Prix Series, a silver at the Grand Prix Final and her second consecutive U.S title. She still has been unable to crack the world podium, however, a hurdle she is striving to overcome.
4. Akiko Suzuki, Japan (2,139.80) - "One has to wonder if this will be the year she starts to show her age." That was written in this space a year ago about Suzuki, and it proved prophetic as the Japanese stalwart appeared to run out of gas in the second part of the season, when she finished off the podium (fourth) at her country's national championships and a lowly 12th at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships. (She did mix in a second-place finish at the 2013 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.) A rebound is definitely a possibility, but she has a lot of tread on those tires.
5. Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, Russia (1,619.20) - 2012-13 was a mixed bag for the young Russian. Yes, she won her first national title, qualified for the Grand Prix Final and finished on the podium, in third, at the 2013 European Figure Skating Championships, but she never really established herself as a viable contender on the world stage. The Olympics being held in her home country should provide all the motivation she needs to take the next step.
6. Kiira Korpi, Finland (1,357.64) - The veteran Finn was having one of her finest seasons to date last year -- winning a Grand Prix event (Rostelecom Cup), qualifying for the Grand Prix Final for the first time and achieving a career-best placement (second) at the European championships -- but she could not avoid the injuries that have plagued her of late, and she was forced to skip worlds for the second year in a row. She could make some noise with a clean bill of health, but that is far from a guarantee.
7. Yu-Na Kim, South Korea (1,242.50) - While this may look too low for Kim to be ranked, consider that this is based on only two competitions -- the 2012 NRW Trophy and the world championships -- both of which she won handily. With a full slate of events lined up for 2013-14, it's inevitable that the Queen will find herself at or near the top of the rankings by season's end.
8. Adelina Sotnikova, Russia (1,241.64) - The hightlight of Sotnikova's season was unquestionably her silver-medal finish at the European championships, where she came within less than a point of unseating Kostner. That showing is evidence that she has the potential to hang with the best; the question is, was that a sign of what's in store or an aberration? Surrounded by a wealth of talent, she will have to be on her game if she wants to secure one of her country's two spots at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
9. Julia Lipnitskaia, Russia (1,198.40) - Last season was a bizarre one for Lipnitskaia. She performed well enough in her first season on the Grand Prix circuit, winning a silver and a bronze in her two assingments, but had to withdraw from the Final (and the Russian championships) after suffering a concussion, the result of a fall in practice. She then went on to place an inexplicable fifth at the Russian Junior Championships before losing her world junior title to countrywoman Elena Radionova. She's old enough now to compete at senior ISU championships and the Olympics, but is she ready to be a major player at either?
10. Kanako Murakami, Japan (1,183.28) - The bubbly Murakami has posted consistently solid results the past few seasons, and she can be an absolute joy to watch on the ice, but there just seems to be something missing in her skating. Maybe her surprise fourth-place finish at the world championships will serve as the springboard she needs to vault her into the upper echelon of ladies.
Next five: Gracie Gold (U.S.), Kaetlyn Osmond (Canada), Alena Leonova (Russia), Radionova (Russia), Christina Gao (U.S.)