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World Skater Rankings: Of ice and men

Chan is man to beat for forseeable future; Cluster of Americans poised to make move

Canadian Patrick Chan has vaulted himself high above the rest of the competition.
Canadian Patrick Chan has vaulted himself high above the rest of the competition. (Getty Images)

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By icenetwork.com
(07/31/2012) - Icenetwork.com is revealing one discipline in the initial World Skater Rankings each of the next four weeks. In the men's field, Patrick Chan is in a league of his own.

1. Patrick Chan, Canada (4,736 points) -- Right now, the two-time defending world champion is leaps and bounds ahead of all challengers, and that's been the case since he won the 2010 Grand Prix Final. Excluding the 2012 World Team Trophy -- which does not factor into the rankings -- the five-time Canadian titlist has not lost a single contest in the last two calendar years. That -- is dominance!

2. Daisuke Takahashi, Japan (2,836 points) -- Though he trails Chan by precisely 1,900 points, the 2010 Olympic bronze medalist closed the season on a high note, ousting Chan at the World Team Trophy. Prior to that, the 26-year-old Takahaski played second fiddle to Chan at the Grand Prix Final, Four Continents Championships and world championships. He has since reunited with coach and choreographer Nikoli Morozov, hoping to become figure skating's concertmaster once more.

3. Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan (1,684.90 points) -- It was a banner season for the surging Brian Orser product. Hanyu triumphed at Nebelhorn Trophy and Rostelecom Cup, but it was his bronze-medal performance at worlds that sent shock waves around the world. This coming year will tell if this upstart 17-year-old is a legitimate threat to the upper echelon or a flash-in-the-pan finder of loose treasure.

4. Michal Brezina, Czech Republic (1,680.36 points) -- Brezina got off to a stellar start in 2011-12, capturing gold at Skate America and bronze at Trophée Eric Bompard, but then he missed the podium at the Grand Prix Final, European championships and worlds. He will get a head-to-head shot to surpass Hanyu when he defends his title at 2012 Skate America.

5. Jeremy Abbott, USA (1,615.40 points) -- Abbott's 2011-12 campaign was an insoluble mixture of highs and lows. His victory at Cup of China helped catapult him into the Grand Prix Final, and he was absolutely masterful in winning the U.S. championships. However, a sore hip kept him out of Four Continents, and he stumbled to an eighth-place finish at worlds. Which Abbott will show up this year?

6. Takahiko Kozuka, Japan (1,556.30 points) -- It was a forgettable season for the 2011 world silver medalist. A disappointing third-place finish at 2011 Skate America kept him out of the Grand Prix Final, and he sputtered to 11th place at the world championships. Look for him to try and reassert himself in a crowded field at 2012 Skate America (Hanyu, Brezina and Abbott are all slated to compete).

7. Javier Fernandez, Spain (1,490.70 points) -- The Spanish champ punched his ticket to the Grand Prix Final with silver medals at Skate Canada and Rostelecom Cup, and once there, he seized the bronze. Things went south, however, at Europeans and worlds, where he registered sixth and ninth-place finishes, respectively. Many think he has the talent to break the top five, so this could be a breakout season for him.

8. Florent Amodio, France (1,394.86 points) -- The 2011 European champion stumbled out of the gate, placing ninth at Skate America and fifth at Trophée Eric Bompard, but he regained his focus and claimed the bronze at 2012 Europeans. Now a movie star and France's best young skater, the 22-year-old has an important season in front of him.

9. Tomas Verner, Czech Republic (1,157.12 points) -- The affable Verner scored a respectable fifth-place result at the European championships, but he really struggled at worlds, landing in 16th overall. For the upcoming 2012-13 season, Verner will look to rediscover the magic from his 2010 Rostelecom Cup victory, when he downed Chan.

10. Artur Gachinski, Russia (1,138.76 points) -- Coming off a bronze medal win at the 2011 World Championships, Gachinski seemed ready to join the elite skaters of the sport, but a disappointing free skate at Cup of China and a stunning 18th-place finish at 2012 worlds marred his season. He still showed flashes, however, capturing silver at the European championships, and he is fully capable of becoming a major factor again on the world stage.

11. Brian Joubert, France (1,132.10 points) -- Many dismissed the French legend after he placed eighth at Europeans, but he proved he still had plenty left in the tank at worlds, using a vintage free skate performance to Matrix to earn fourth place. Will the years finally catch up to him this season, or does he still have another great run left in him?

12. Han Yan, China (1,034.30 points) -- The 16-year-old Yan has been plundering medals for years on the junior circuit, and the 2011-12 season was no exception. He won gold at JGP Austria and JGP Italy, and silver at the Junior Grand Prix Final. It all culminated when he topped the podium at the world junior championships. The potential is clearly there, but the top-ranked Chinese men's skater has decided to take another turn on the junior merry-go-round in 2012-13, likely keeping him down in the world standings.

13. Nobunari Oda, Japan (950.88 points) -- Injuries derailed the Japanese jumping master's once-promising year. He managed to take home the silver at Cup of China, but his seventh-place finish at Trophée Eric Bompard was his last appearance of the season. He will try to recapture his 2010 Grand Prix Final silver medalist form at 2012 Skate Canada.

14. Nan Song, China (897.66 points) -- Song claimed his first Chinese championship in 2011-12, but despite a solid Grand Prix showing, he was not as successful in the major international competitions. He closed the year placing 11th at Four Continents and 16th at worlds. China is depending on him to raise his profile in the big contests.

15. Denis Ten, Kazakhstan (838.06 points) -- The great-grandson of a famous Korean general, Ten has proven to be an indelible ambassador for the sport in Kazakhstan. He also recorded some satisfactory results this past season, finishing sixth at Four Continents, fourth at junior worlds and seventh at worlds. Considering his hard work ethic and insightful personality, many have great hopes for him in 2012-13.

16. Adam Rippon, USA (804.92 points) -- In many ways, this past year was Rippon's coming out party. He stormed into second place at the U.S. championships and finished fourth at Four Continents. His 13th-place showing at worlds definitely left something to be desired, but he cemented his place as one of America's top male skaters. As he channels Don Draper in the upcoming season and further redefines himself, his future as a global competitor should take shape -- even if some miss his old hair.

17. Evgeni Plushenko, Russia (787.50 points) -- After sitting out a year, the Olympic gold medalist proceeded to wipe the floor at Russian nationals and Europeans. With all due respect to Rippon, Ten, Song and most of the skaters in front of him, Plushenko is down here only because he didn't accumulate enough competition points. The real Plushenko is much higher.

18. Ross Miner, USA (696.28 points) -- The Skating Club of Boston product shagged his second straight national bronze medal, and he added a bronze at Four Continents to his hardware store, too. He enters the new season with a legitimate shot of becoming the best American, depending on if he can hit some quads and if his planned Errol Flynn emulation resonates with the judges.

19. Joshua Farris, USA (641.70 points) -- Just 17 years of age, Farris swept both of his Junior Grand Prix events and then took home bronze at the Junior Grand Prix Final (sliding in behind rival teammate Jason Brown). His most impressive achievement, however, was winning silver at junior worlds. Despite his junior success, he has yet to prove himself on the senior level -- something he must do if he wants to ascend the world rankings.

20. Richard Dornbush, USA (641.70 points) -- Dornbush blitzed into the season with dreams of winning international medals, but things turned sour quickly. After a respectable fourth-place finish at Skate America, he placed sixth at Cup of China, 13th at the U.S. championships and 13th again at Four Continents. If he can shrug off those disappointments and recommit himself to his old success, he will climb the rankings again.