While it’s almost certain that the winners of the men’s, women’s, pairs, and dance events at the US championships at TD Garden will be named to the Olympic team on Sunday, they’re not automatic.
An association subcommittee will consider the top five finishers here, and based on their body of work at major events this season and last, will recommend a team to the USFSA’s international committee, which will make the final selection.
“The belief was that with the new scoring system it was important to look at overall performance,” executive director David Raith said at a Thursday news conference, adding that consistency would be the paramount consideration.
In the unlikely event that an unexpected champion is left off the squad, the association is prepared for what would be a public reaction of bafflement, at best.
“We have a process and we’re going to follow that process and we believe in that process,” Raith said.
Besides these championships, the other events are last month’s Grand Prix Final, last year’s world championships, this year’s six-event Grand Prix series, last year’s Four Continents Championships, last year’s US championships, last year’s world junior championships, and last month’s junior Grand Prix Final.
After a Grand Prix season where none of the top US contenders skated well, the men’s competition that begins Friday night is more up for grabs than in any Olympic year in recent memory. Max Aaron, last year’s surprise champion, has deleted a quadruple jump from his long program and changed the music and choreography.
“A new start of Max,” proclaimed Aaron. Ross Miner, the Skating Club of Boston stalwart who is the only man to make the podium at the last three nationals, has been recovering from an ankle sprain. “Whatever I do, I have to be solid,” he says. “I want to focus on doing things well.” Jeremy Abbott, the three-time champ who beat Evan Lysacek at the last Olympic-year nationals, was third last year. In the mix as well are former medalists Adam Rippon, Brandon Mroz, Richard Dornbush and Stephen Carriere, plus world junior champion Joshua Farris.
Surest bets on the board are ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the Olympic silver medalists and reigning world champions who’ll begin chasing a record sixth title Friday afternoon.
“We’re really worried about ourselves more than ever,” says Davis, who with White will be favored to be the first American dance titlists at next month’s Games. Likely to be with them on the Sochi express are Madison Chock and Evan Bates, last year’s runners-up, and Maia and Alex Shibutan .
Tickets for all remaining events as well as for Sunday evening’s Skating Spectacular are available through ticketmaster.com or at the TD Garden box office . . . Gracie Gold may have the perfect Olympic name but it’s not always glittery. “There can be wonderful headlines and funny jokes about ‘GOLD GETS GOLD’ and ‘GRACEFUL GOLD’ but there’s also the other side where ‘GOLD GETS SILVER’, ‘GOLD GETS BRONZE’, ‘FALL FROM GRACE’,” she says. “It definitely comes with a price.”