The 2018 World Championships take place March 21 – 25 at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan, Italy.
As is usual following an Olympic Winter Games, a few of the top names will be missing from the competition roster. Some have retired, others are taking a break, and others have been forced to sit this one out due to injury.
The absence of reigning World champions Yuzuru Hanyu and Evgenia Medvedeva, both sidelined with foot injuries, has left the door wide open for two new global champions to be crowned in the singles disciplines.
A total of 192 skaters from 43 ISU member nations are slated to compete: 37 men, 37 ladies, 28 pairs and 31 ice dance teams. Berths at the 2019 World Championships are on the line in Milan and those nations that did not receive a full complement in each discipline last season will be chasing that magic number of 13 this year.
Japan’s Shoma Uno, Boyang Jin of China and America’s Nathan Chen will be in a three-way battle for the coveted title. Uno has to be the odds-on favourite after claiming the silver medal in PyeongChang, followed by Jin who skated into fourth with two solid programs.
Chen will need to get his nerves under control and focus on the competition and not placement – or hype – if he hopes to defeat Uno and Jin. He has the technical goods but his artistic skills are still a work-in-progress, as was evidenced by the program component scores he received for his free skate in PyeongChang.
Alina Zagitova seems a sure bet to take the gold in her senior debut in Milan, but who will land on the other two steps of the podium? Kaetlyn Osmond has had the best season of her career to date and, after claiming bronze at the Games, she will be looking to close out the season with a silver lining. Japan’s Satoko Miyahara, who finished fourth at the Olympics, could also be in the mix to medal in Milan.
This will be the final competition for Carolina Kostner, who would no doubt love to close out her career with one final World medal. However, Russia’s Maria Sotskova will be looking for redemption following her disappointing result at the Games as will Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. If her triple Axel holds up a podium finish could also be in the cards for her.
Germany’s Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, the only Olympic medalists who will compete in this discipline in Milan, will be chasing their first World title. With the retirement of Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford and China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han forced to skip the competition as she recovers from a serious foot injury, there are two open steps on the podium.
Three other teams have the potential to claim them. If Russia’s Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov can skate clean they will be prime candidates. French stars, Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès, fifth in Korea, are also top picks for a podium finish, but they, like the Russians, will need to keep the mistakes to a minimum and not repeat the performances they laid down in PyeongChang.
Italy’s Valentina Marchei and Ondřej Hotárek were on fire at the Games. If they can bring that same energy to their performances at Worlds, they will also have a good shot at claiming a step on their first World podium.
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France will have no challenge reclaiming the title they lost to the Canadian team last season, and with the Shibutani siblings sitting this one out, silver and bronze are up for grabs.
America’s Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are at the top of the list. With error-free performances they would be a solid bet to take the silver. A freak fall in the free dance in Korea left their teammates, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, buried in the standings, but they are fighters and will be seeking redemption in Milan. Homeland favorites, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, will also be chasing a podium finish to close out the season on a high note.
LIVE IN MILAN:
Just getting to Worlds proved to be a challenge for many skaters whose flights were rescheduled or cancelled due to early Spring weather. This resulted in delays and long layovers in foreign airports for some. Michal Březina tweeted on Monday afternoon that he sat for two hours on an American Airlines flight at Miami International that ended up not going anywhere.
Canadian pairs skaters Camille Ruest and Drew Wolfe arrived in Milan without luggage or his skates. Lufthansa was still trying to find the bags on Monday evening, which meant he missed a day of practice. Wolfe said he was advised on Wednesday the airline had found the luggage and hoped to get it to Milan “within a couple of days.”
The South Korean pairs team of Kyuen Kim and Alex Kong Chan Kam are also in Milan without luggage. Kim has her skates but Kam does not currently have his.
Brazil’s Isadora Williams had an unpleasant start to her Worlds experience. We hope the rest of her week is a lot brighter.