A brief synopsis of the season so far and then my prediction for the ladies at the 2013 World Championships.
Ten ladies with a chance at the podium? I think so. The depth right now is really remarkable, and a far cry from the last several seasons.
Mao Asada (JPN) - Mao has revitalized her career this season, winning every competition she has entered, including the Grand Prix Final and Four Continents Championship. She plans a triple Axel in both programs as well as a triple-triple combination in her short program. Like Takahashi in the men, she's going to likely need to fully rotate the triple Axel to have a chance at gold.
Gracie Gold (USA) - Total outside shot to be near the top, but if she can get both of her programs to be consistent in one competition, who knows what could happen. Her free skate at the US National Championship was a total jump clinic.
Yuna Kim (KOR) - Coming back after missing the 2012 season, Kim proved that she again will be a threat after delivering a great free skate at an early-season international.
Carolina Kostner (ITA) - Carolina has re-added the triple Lutz to her free skate this season and is also attempting the triple flip-triple toe combination. She looks good for a medal, but she's going to have to put it all together once again to reign once more as champion.
Kanako Murakami (JPN) - A mistake with counting jumps cost Murakami a shot at the Grand Prix Final earlier in the season, but she delivered a solid competition at the Four Continents Championship. Remember, she was in 2nd place in the short program at Worlds last season.
Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) - After taking the skating world by storm earlier this season, Osmond faltered in the Four Continents Championship. Will she be able to rebound in front of a home-country audience in her first trip to Worlds?
Adelina Sotnikova (RUS) - Sotnitkova won the short program at the European Championships and narrowly lost the gold to Carolina Kostner overall. She's looking more and more solid as the season progresses.
Akiko Suzuki (JPN) - After a dip in the middle of the season that included a 4th-place finish at her own National Championship, Suzuki rebounded to win the silver medal with a great performance at the Four Continents Championship. She also won bronze at the Grand Prix Final and many people believe she out-skated Asada at NHK Trophy, where she was second.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) - Like Sotnikova, Tuktamysheva is building as the season goes. She qualified for the Grand Prix Final and won the free skate at Europeans, as well as earning gold at Russian Nationals. A strong short program is important for Elizaveta here, as it may be difficult to rebound from outside the final group in the free skate on her quest for a medal.
Ashley Wagner (USA) - Strong showings earlier in the season, but Wagner fell twice in the free skate at her two most recent competitions, the Grand Prix Final and US Nationals. Without a triple-triple combination in the short program, Ashley may have to dig herself out of a deficit as many of the other ladies are planning one.
Alena Leonova (RUS) - Simply put, who knows where she will end up. She's had a disastrous season to say the least and is lucky to even be here, even though she's the reigning silver medalist.
Zijun Li (CHN) - Tremendous potential and had a great showing at the Four Continents Championship. Has a solid shot at the top 10 here.
1. Yuna Kim
2. Carolina Kostner
3. Mao Asada
4. Akiko Suzuki
5. Adelina Sotnikova
6. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
7. Ashley Wagner
8. Kanako Murakami
9. Kaetlyn Osmond
10. Gracie Gold
11. Zijun Li
12. Alena Leonova
13. Valentina Marchei
14. Kexin Zhang
15. Viktoria Helgesson