Three ladies are trying to qualify to Grand Prix Final at NHK.
Mao Asada is the one who will very likely go there as she won Cup of China three weeks ago. Mao Asada is missing the Grand Prix Final since Seoul 2008 where she won. She didn’t qualify in 2009 and 2010 and had to withdraw last year. Mao has become a little bit inconsistent in the past two years, especially for the struggles she have had with her triple axel and sometimes with the rotation on easier jumps. At Cup of China she looked pretty strong on the whole and she has delightful programs. As far as she avoids the triple axels which is an element she does not land constantly, she is kind of sure to be on the top (maybe Ashley Wagner alone could top her).
The second Japanese lady could qualify for the final too. Akiko Suzuki won the silver at Skate Canada behind Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond who wasn’t able to get a second assignment at NHK replacing Czisny who is still recovering from injury. At Skate Canada Akiko struggled in her short program but won the free with about 120 points (a score three points more than Asada’s free skate) getting, in my opinion, underscored on components. She is the 2011 NHK Trophy champion and could defend pretty well her title.
While the Japanese ladies, as favourites in the upcoming event, are almost sure to get to the final, other skaters need to fight for the last available spot.
Agnes Zawadzky is one of those. She earned the bronze medal at Cup of Russia with two very good programs. She has always been kind of inconsistent jumper but not this year yet and with a silver medal she is in the final (could possibly with a bronze medal too).
Mirai Nagasu was supposed to skate just at Cup of China, but since Polina Shelepen withdrew from NHK, Mirai had a chance of a second grand prix. At Cup of China she wasn’t so brilliant and her future perspective aren’t very bright considering that USA has two spots for ladies at next worlds and the national field is on a higher level at the moment. She placed fourth there struggling a lot on rotating her jumps (she got three under rotations and two jumps were downgraded). Her possibilities of being on the podium at NHK depend on how Zawadzky performs.
Gold: Mao Asada (JPN)
Silver: Akiko Suzuki (JPN)
Bronze Agnes Zawadzky (USA)