With all of the selectors’ emphasis on the candidates’ “body of work,” is the United States sending its best figure skating team to the Olympics in terms of medal chances?
In dance, undoubtedly. In the women’s event, probably. In men’s and pairs, likely not.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the reigning global champs, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Maia and Alex Shibutani clearly are the country’s top three dance couples. Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds are obviously the top two women in terms of the rigor of their programs. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir are two-time pairs champs. And Jeremy Abbott, who won his fourth men’s national crown, couldn’t be denied. The questions involve the second man, third woman, and second pair.
While Jason Brown has a charming and creative long program, he doesn’t have a quadruple jump.
“Most guys in the top eight have two,” observed Elvis Stojko, the two-time Olympic medalist who was here for the US championships at TD Garden. “If you don’t attempt one, are you going to crack the top 10?”
Max Aaron, who finished third after winning last year, has the most difficult free skate, including a quadruple salchow-triple toe combination plus a solo quad sal, and it’s crammed with bonus-point triples in the second half.
“That is incredibly difficult,” said Stojko.
When the judges hung Aaron with hockey-player scores for choreography and interpretation, they kept him off the team, but he’s the only Yank with enough game to sky with Canadian world champ Patrick Chan and the Japanese.