Here we go. GPF starts in 5 days. I may do predictions for the Junior Ladies, but I may have to watch the performances before I make any sort of legitimate predictions.
Anyways, for your information, here are the senior Ladies qualifiers in rank order: Ashley Wagner, Mao Asada, Kiira Korpi, Akiko Suzuki, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, and Christina Gao.
1. Ashley Wagner
Ashley's been on a roll this season, and I can't really see anyone getting in the way of her winning this, not even Mao Asada. While Asada did win both of her events, she looked shaky in both of them, and her NHK win was a joke. As Jackie Wong of Examiner discussed in an article after SA, Ashley now has a solid international reputation, and as long as she goes clean, she should take this. Nothing has led me to believe throughout all of 2012 that Ashley isn't going to skate clean, so I would be shocked if she didn't win this. It could also possibly be a landslide win. Expect a SP score around 64 or so, a LP score between 125 and 130, and a total score somewhere around 190.
2. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
This is where it gets tricky. Ashley seems like the obvious choice for Gold, but honestly, any of the other five could take silver and bronze. Last year, after winning both of her GP events, everyone thought Tuktamysheva would easily run away with the GPF, but she struggled in the SP and only finished 4th. Still, she's looked solid this season, and if she hits her jumps, she could easily be second. Or last.
3. Akiko Suzuki
Akiko has not only looked good this season, but she's probably headed to Sochi with revenge in her heart, given that she was completely robbed of the NHK title. I don't think she can quite get the silver, but bronze is well within her grasp. She also has a strong international reputation, she's the top finisher at this competition from Worlds last year (bronze medal), and she's looked better and better as she's matured and gotten older.
4. Mao Asada
Even though she won both her Grand Prix events, she looked shaky in both of them, as opposed to Wagner who looked at the top of her game here. Mao is still grieving from the death of mother less than a year ago. The memories of withdrawing and not making it back in time to say goodbye to her mother may haunt her at this year's GPF. She hasn't peaked yet this season, and I don't believe it will happen this week. This field is too competitive for her to expect that her shaky performances will make the podium.
5. Kiira Korpi
She has looked great this season, but I don't she quite has the technical level to challenge for a medal, nor the strong international reputation of some of the other ladies such as Suzuki and Wagner. Don't take this to mean she won't skate well - I think this will be a close final, given that these ladies are some of the consistent ladies skaters around today. I'm banking on Kiira skating solidly and having SP scores around 60, LP scores around 110-115, and a total around 175 or so. Her program components are her main weapon in this competition, since most of these ladies lean towards stronger on the technical side.
6. Christina Gao
I could be completely wrong here. However, Christina most likely wasn't banking on a withdrawal, and therefore was probably not training at full strength, given that she wasn't fully planning on going. I think she'll skate well, but she's just not quite at the level of the others, and while she's done well this season, she doesn't have a strong enough international reputation like some of the others ladies. She may also skate well and end up 4th, or skate well and still be 6th. I don't think this years GPF will be like last year when and injured Czisny made a mess out of her LP and finished a distant 6th. I think all 6 could actually be quite close this year.
To close, I think the competition will go one of two ways:
1. Ashley wins by a landslide and the other 5 are packed together, within about 10 points of each other or so
2. Ashley wins, but she's packed together with the other 5, albeit a teeny bit farther out.
Well that's it for the Ladies! I'll probably tackle Ice Dance next, since I'm a bit of a fan of Ice Dance.
Please read and comment!