Who will be the men's breakout stars of 2014-15?Icenetwork's writers predict which men will come into their own this season
Icenetwork asked its contributors to select their men's breakout stars for the 2014-15 season.
Joshua Farris has gained international fame on the junior circuit, even defeating Jason Brown for the gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championships. He placed a strong fourth at the U.S. championships two years ago, and he followed that up with another fourth-place showing last season. A reliable skater, Farris could well be the breakout skater of the year, both on the domestic and international scenes.
Maxim Kovtun of Russia was one of the most watched-over skaters during the 2014 European Championships in Budapest. Many experts thought that Evgeni Plushenko would get the one spot for Russia at the Olympics, regardless of Kovtun's performance. Others suggested that, should Kovtun win the championship, he could be selected to represent Russia in Sochi. Kovtun presented more than ambitious programs (five quads in total!) but failed at both objectives. Nonetheless, he fought like a lion and will want redemption. His technical ability, his elegance on the ice and his falling short of the Olympics nurtured the ambition will make him one of the men to beat this season.
Jason Brown definitely made a breakthrough last season. He also laid down a strong foundation for making an even bigger one. In my opinion, he's the favorite for the next U.S. title. Who knows, maybe he will also beat his 4 million hits on YouTube with new, impressive programs.
Reigning world junior champion Nam Nguyen has the potential to build on last season's successes.
Sarah S. Brannen
Several U.S. men who already had breakout years look to keep their grip on the top places. But with two gorgeous programs to swoon for, this could be Joshua Farris' year to make the world team for the first time. His short program, choreographed by Jeff Buttle, is stunning, and he's keeping his beautiful Schindler's List free skate. It's also possible that this will be the season Timothy Dolensky fulfills his promise. Dolensky has a lovely, classical technique, and he skates his short program to music he composed himself.
The men's field will look different with Patrick Chan sitting out the 2014-15 season. It will be interesting to see what Maxim Kovtun will do; he was good last year, showing flashes of brilliance. According to published articles he was -- understandably -- devastated to be left off of the Olympic team in favor of Evgeni Plushenko. Has he been training with extra motivation?
Joshua Farris, the 2013 world junior champion, has finished fourth at the last two U.S. championships, but his workman-like training regimen and blinders-on approach should start to pay off this season.
Insanely talented yet epically wobbly, Maxim Kovtun would have skated in Sochi if Evgeni Plushenko had swallowed his pride a little. The teenager (yep, still only 19) should steady himself this year to become a consistent international threat.
Joshua Farris is not a new name to the senior circuit, having finished fourth the past two years at the U.S. championships, but he does appear to be ready to break out onto the podium this year. One key to helping him succeed could come from performing with Stars On Ice this past summer. Cast members say they noticed Farris showing a different side to his skating, having more fun on the ice. He also showed off some serious guitar skills on bus rides.
Considering he did not get a chance to compete on the Olympic stage in his home country of Russia, Maxim Kovtun had a disappointing year last season. With Evgeni Plushenko no longer competing (we think), this could be the time for Kovtun to emerge from the great one's shadow. Kovtun, who is scheduled to compete at the Cup of China and Trophée Eric Bompard, has said he is planning five quads (two in the short; three in the free skate) this season.
One name here: Joshua Farris. After two straight fourth-place finishes at the U.S. championships, it's time for him to step up to the U.S. world team. The 2013 world junior champion has the angst-ridden programs so many international judges love, paired with a unique ability to show both vulnerability and strength on the ice. He needs confidence and greater consistency on his more difficult elements, including the quad toe, to climb the podium.
Nam Nguyen, the 16-year-old world junior champion, is perfecting his quadruple Salchow this summer and could give Brian Orser his first Canadian title as a coach. I'd also like to give a shout out to Elladj Baldé, the charismatic, talented Canadian who has upped his training game and fitness this summer. Baldé's Benji Schwimmer-choreographed short to James Brown hits is exactly what the sport needs: easily accessible entertainment with a quad kick. Baldé has to do it when it counts, though, because a fourth consecutive fourth-place finish at the Canadian championships just won't cut it.
Joshua Farris - 4.5
Jason Brown - 1
Timothy Dolensky - 0.5
Maxim Kovtun - 4
Nam Nguyen - 1.5
Elladj Baldé - 0.5