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Who will stand on the podiums in Saint Paul?

Icenetwork contributors weigh in with their U.S. championships predictions
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According to our experts, Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon and Max Aaron all have a good shot at being crowned 2016 U.S. champion. -icenetwork

Icenetwork asked contributors Sarah S. Brannen, Nick McCarvel, Amy Rosewater and Lynn Rutherford who they thought would come home with hardware from the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Sarah S. Brannen

Ladies

1. Gracie Gold
2. Ashley Wagner
3. Polina Edmunds
4. Courtney Hicks

Wagner and Gold continued to distance themselves from the rest of the ladies field this fall, but neither was dominant over the other: Wagner looked very strong at Skate Canada and faltered later before returning to form in the Grand Prix Final free skate, and Gold was somewhat hampered by the cancellation of the Trophée Eric Bompard free skate. This could go either way, but one-time champ Gold might be slightly more motivated to get her title back than three-time winner Wagner. The other two places are up for grabs.

Men's

1. Max Aaron
2. Nathan Chen
3. Adam Rippon
4. Ross Miner

The men's event is the toughest to predict, as none of the competitors, apart from Chen, were consistent this fall. It really is going to come down to who skates the best on the night. Aaron's improved choreography could lift him back to the top; he has the highest international score of any U.S. man this season. Chen has the goods, but he has been competing against juniors all season, and it's a big jump to the top of the senior men. Rippon is a bit of a wild card; on the right night, he could win the whole thing.

Pairs

1. Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim
2. Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea
3. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran
4. Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage

Scimeca and Knierim did very well in their fall events, earning a spot in the Grand Prix Final. They had a lot of trouble in their free skate in Barcelona, but being back in front of a home audience, they should be able to deliver and defend their title. Kayne and O'Shea continue to look strong. If Castelli and Tran can land their side-by-side jumps, they could make the world team, but that is a big "if."

Dance

1. Madison Chock and Evan Bates
2. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani
3. Madison Hubbell and Zack Donohue
4. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker

Given their international results this season, a change in the order of finish looks unlikely. World silver medalists Chock and Bates have only solidified their position as the top U.S. team, although the Shibutanis have delivered some sparkling programs and are likely to make a strong run again this year. 

Nick McCarvel

Ladies

1. Gracie Gold
2. Ashley Wagner
3. Courtney Hicks
4. Polina Edmunds

There have been too many ups and downs for Wagner this season for her to get my vote as national champion for a fourth time. Gold hasn't been that much more solid, but the battle between these two Los Angelenos will go to Gold this year. The gap between these two and the field seems to be widening: No other U.S. lady (Edmunds included) has stepped up to challenge them. Will that hold true in Saint Paul? I think so.

Men's

1. Nathan Chen
2. Adam Rippon
3. Max Aaron
4. Richard Dornbush

Why not go out on a limb here? Chen was dazzling at the Junior Grand Prix Final, and the other U.S. men were...well, that's the point: They weren't there. The opportunity is there for the 16-year-old to step up and deliver on the senior stage. Rippon, Aaron and Dornbush all have a fighting chance, but I haven't been overly impressed with any of them this season.

Pairs

1. Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim
2. Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea
3. Caitlin Fields and Ernie Utah Stevens
4. Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage

I like the confidence that Scimeca and Knierim have displayed this season, even if the Grand Prix Final was a humbling experience for them. They are motivated to be a part of the global conversation in pairs, from which the U.S. has been absent in recent years. I like Fields and Stevens coming out of the junior ranks and nabbing a spot on the podium.

Dance

1. Madison Chock and Evan Bates
2. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue
3. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani
4. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker

Chock and Bates have been standouts again this season, if not almost perfect. If they want to fully grab the mantle from Meryl Davis and Charlie White, they'll need to defend their national title (which I think they will) as the first step in trying to win that elusive world championship gold medal. For some reason, I'm convinced that Hubbell and Donohue will hopscotch over the Shibutanis for the first time, although the ShibSibs showed steely resolve at the Grand Prix Final.

Amy Rosewater

Ladies

1. Ashley Wagner
2. Gracie Gold
3. Courtney Hicks
4. Karen Chen

Ashley or Gracie? Gracie or Ashley? This race is so close; their top scores this year are a scant three-tenths of a point apart. It comes down to who wants this more. I am giving Wagner a slight edge based mostly on her third-place free skate performance at the Grand Prix Final. Hicks has had a strong season, including a silver-medal performance at NHK Trophy, and I don't think she's come close to realizing her full potential. Karen Chen is a lovely skater who had a breakthrough performance last year in Greensboro.

Men's

1. Adam Rippon
2. Nathan Chen
3. Max Aaron
4. Ross Miner

With Jason Brown sidelined, the only thing certain in the men's event is that the defending champion will not win in Saint Paul. In winning Skate America, Max Aaron posted the highest total score of any of the American man this season (258.95), but he went on to finish seventh in the short program at Trophée Eric Bompard. Nathan Chen has the potential to blow away the field, but he is only 16 and this is just his second go-round at the U.S. championships at the senior level. Adam Rippon's programs are beautifully choreographed, and he was the U.S. silver medalist last season. Ross Miner is a veteran who is also strong artistically. He has an outside shot at making the world team, which will compete in his hometown of Boston.

Pairs

1. Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim
2. Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea
3. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran
4. Jessica Pfund and Joshua Santillan

Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim hope to defend their title, and they have the goods to do so. Not only have they upped the technical ante, but they also have a great connection on the ice. Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea overcame injury issues from last year to finish a surprising third. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran are in their second season together and seem to click on and off the ice. If they make the world team, it will be a homecoming of sorts for Castelli, who spent much of her career at the Skating Club of Boston. Jessica Pfund and Joshua Santillan teamed up in May 2015 and have looked impressive in the early stages of their partnership.

Dance

1. Madison Chock and Evan Bates
2. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani
3. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue
4. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker

Madison Chock and Evan Bates, the world silver medalists, are heavy favorites to win the title. Fellow Olympians Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani remain one of the most consistent U.S. ice dance teams and continue to be fan favorites. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue will see if changing coaches and moving to Montreal will pay off with a podium finish. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker are another team to watch. 

Lynn Rutherford

Ladies

1. Ashley Wagner
2. Gracie Gold
3. Courtney Hicks
4. Polina Edmunds

Both of the top U.S. ladies had their ups and downs during the Grand Prix Series. Wagner ended on a higher note, performing a career-best free skate at the Grand Prix Final. Judging from Gold's remarks at that event, her confidence is shaken, and she may change her jump layout, perhaps switching out the troublesome triple flip in her short program with a triple loop. If Hicks attacks her programs and minimizes mistakes, her power and athleticism will be rewarded.

Men's

1. Max Aaron
2. Nathan Chen
3. Adam Rippon
4. Ross Miner

This one is Aaron's to lose. If he can duplicate the programs he put out at Skate America, he will win his second U.S. crown. Chen gained international credibility and experience this season; the 16-year-old's quads and newly honed competitive mindset will lead to a senior breakthrough. Rippon's technical scores have been hurt by downgrades of his quad lutz, and he might consider removing it from his short program in Saint Paul.

Pairs

1. Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim
2. Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea
3. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran
4. Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage

Scimeca and Knierim are earning international respect, having gained career-high components scores this season. Barring a repeat of their disappointing free skate at the Grand Prix Final, they will prevail. Kayne and O'Shea will likely ditch efforts to land a throw quad in Saint Paul and concentrate on doing clean programs with two solid throw triples. While Castelli and Tran are stylish and well matched, their throws and jumps have not been consistent.

Dance

1. Madison Chock and Evan Bates
2. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani
3. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue
4. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker

Chock and Bates had a challenging fall, unveiling a new short dance at Skate America and revising much of their free dance prior to the Grand Prix Final. They've had time to train their routines and should unveil fast, polished efforts in Saint Paul. The Shibutanis' free dance is electric; had they defeated Chock and Bates in Barcelona, they might have pulled off the upset. As it is, form will hold.

Icenetwork Consensus*

Ladies

1. (tie) Gracie Gold (14 points), Ashley Wagner (14)
3. Courtney Hicks (7)
4. Polina Edmunds (4)

Men's

1. Nathan Chen (13)
2. Max Aaron (12)
3. Adam Rippon (11)
4. Ross Miner (3)

Pairs

1. Alexa Scimeca/Chris Knierim (16)
2. Tarah Kayne/Daniel O'Shea (12)
3. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (6)
4. Madeline Aaron/Max Settlage (3)

Dance

1. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (16)
2. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (11)
3. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (9)
4. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (4)

*First-place predictions were four points, second-place predictions three points and third-place predictions two points and fourth-place predictions one point.