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Which skaters are poised to win medals in Helsinki?

Icenetwork contributors make their picks for the world championships
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Nathan Chen (left) will attempt to knock two-time defending world champion Fernández off his perch, while Evgenia Medvedeva is the heavy favorite to win a second straight world title. -Getty Images

Icenetwork asked several of its contributors who they think will come home with hardware from the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships.

Lynn Rutherford

Ladies

1. Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia)
2. Anna Pogorilaya (Russia)
3. Ashley Wagner (USA)

Medvedeva has competed 10 times on the international senior stage and lost just once, and I don't see her slowing down. Pogorilaya had a few minor glitches at the Grand Prix Final and Europeans, but she was strong and consistent, and she's come into her own as a performer. Wagner has the technical difficulty to beat out Carolina Kostner for bronze, but it will depend on whether she fully rotates her jumps.

Men's

1. Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)
2. Nathan Chen (USA)
3. Javier Fernández (Spain)

The excitement of Chen landing four different quads doesn't dim Hanyu's luster. He competes with three different quads, and although Chen's program component scores have climbed, Hanyu's will still likely be 6-8 points higher, perhaps more if he skates exceptionally well. If Hanyu puts two strong programs out in Helsinki, he will win. Fernández' recent international performances haven't been up to his usual standards, but he's a great competitor, and I think he's saving his best for Helsinki.

Pairs

1. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (China)
2. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (Germany)
3. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (Russia)

I'm basing this pick on Sui and Han's performance at the 2017 Four Continents Championships, where they attacked their elements and seemed hungry for success. I think it's their time. The other two medals are a complete toss-up for me. A bad step sequence in the short program likely cost Savchenko and Massot the European title, and their free skate is stronger than that of the Russians.

Dance

1. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)
2. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA)
3. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (France)

Virtue and Moir's combination of superb technical skill and captivating performance quality sets them apart from a very strong field. I'm betting the Shibutanis, with their consistently excellent execution and creatively ambitious programs, will edge ahead of the French, who have been a bit error-prone this season, particularly in their short dance. 

Nick McCarvel

Ladies

1. Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia)
2. Anna Pogorilaya (Russia)
3. Ashley Wagner (USA)

It's bold to push Ashley onto this podium, but I see her delivering the same kind of worlds performance she did in Boston last year. Medvedeva is a cut above the field; as long as she stays healthy and continues to skate the way she has this season, she is by far the best in the world.

Men's

1. Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)
2. Nathan Chen (USA)
3. Shoma Uno (Japan)

I'm tempted to thrust Nathan into that gold-medal spot, but I think Yuzuru steps up and really delivers the goods this time around. With the Olympics lurking, Chen will be better served with a silver medal moving forward anyway. Uno is always in contention, and this time I see him out-jumping Javier Fernández and Patrick Chan for the bronze medal.

Pairs

1. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (China)
2. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (Germany)
3. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (Canada)

Don't forget that it was Sui and Han who led after the short program at worlds in 2016, only to be overtaken by Duhamel and Radford in the end. With the Canadian team's inconsistencies this season, no one has taken control of the pairs field. This is the most open of the four disciplines heading into Helsinki, and I expect a tight race for each of the three medal positions.

Dance

1. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)
2. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (France)
3. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA)

It would be senseless to pick against Tessa and Scott at this point, right? Their comeback has been more fairy tale-esque than even they could have imagined, and I see that narrative continuing at worlds. They'll continue full speed ahead for a second Olympic gold medal -- a full eight years after winning their first.

Vladislav Luchianov

Ladies

1. Anna Pogorilaya (Russia)
2. Carolina Kostner (Italy)
3. Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia)

Reigning world bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya is not the prototypical Russian skater who wins mostly by technique, and fans of the sport will see her work ethic pay dividends in Helsinki. Sitting out for two seasons appears to have heightened the passion and performance level of Pogorilaya's role model, Carolina Kostner. Evgenia Medvedeva will enter as the favorite, but repeating as world champion -- something no lady has done since Michelle Kwan in 2000 and 2001 -- is an extremely difficult feat to pull off.

Men's

1. Nathan Chen (USA)
2. Javier Fernández (Spain)
3. Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)

The 2017 U.S. champion will receive huge challenges from rivals Javier Fernández and Yuzuru Hanyu, but the momentum Chen has built this season will propel the talented American to the top of the podium.

Pairs

1. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (Russia)
2. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (Germany)
3. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (China)

Tarasova and Morozov have become a team with a full arsenal, and one that is undoubtedly capable of winning a world championship. Reigning world bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot possess the ability to take down the Russians, but it won't be easy. Sui and Han are also strong, but I believe their main competitors have the advantage because of the training time the Chinese lost earlier in the year, after she underwent offseason surgery on both of her feet.

Dance

1. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)
2. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (France)
3. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA)

With their irreproachable technique and artistry, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are in line for a third world title. Two-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron will do everything in their power to win a third consecutive title, but they will fall just short. The same thing can be said for U.S. champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, who are in the midst of another wonderful season.

Philip Hersh

Ladies

1. Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia)
2. Carolina Kostner (Italy)
3. Anna Pogorilaya (Russia)

Reigning champion Medvedeva is unbeaten this season and has won 11 of her last 12 events. In a comeback from a season off and a 16-month, doping-related suspension, six-time world medalist (and 2012 world champion) Kostner has programs heavy on components but light on technical content. Anna Pogorilaya gets a second straight bronze in a close decision over 2016 world silver medalist Ashley Wagner.

Men's

1. Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)
2. Nathan Chen (USA)
3. Javier Fernández (Spain)

I see Hanyu avoiding the big mistakes that have undone him at the last two world championships. Chen will literally jump onto the podium in his senior worlds debut. Two-time defending champion Fernández holds off Shoma Uno of Japan for bronze.

Pairs

1. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (Germany)
2. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (China)
3. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (Canada)

Savchenko, a native of Ukraine who is married to a Brit, wins her fifth world title for Germany, this time with a Frenchman. Following her foot surgery last spring, Sui and her partner made a triumphant season debut at last month's Four Continents. Defending champs Duhamel and Radford, who have had a rocky few months, win a ferocious battle for bronze.

Dance

1. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)
2. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (France)
3. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA)

Virtue and Moir, back after a two-season absence, win their third world title and first since 2012, as the results duplicate those of December's Grand Prix Final. The Shibutanis, the 2016 world silver medalists, give the U.S. at least one ice dance medal at 11 of the last 13 world meets.

Jean-Christophe Berlot

Ladies

1. Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia)
2. Kaetlyn Osmond (Canada)
3. Ashley Wagner (USA)

Medvedeva has been nothing short of magnificent over the past two seasons and could very well win her second world title. Osmond has displayed one of the best short programs of the field throughout the season, and she has also managed to improve her free program. The time for Osmond to claim a world championship may be now, but she will only reach the podium if she delivers a perfect skate. Wagner has endured a rough season, so she is arriving in Finland as an underdog. 

Men's

1. Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)
2. Nathan Chen (USA)
3. Javier Fernández (Spain)

Let's assume that each one of these talented skaters will deliver their best performances in Helsinki. Chen's well-publicized prowess has pushed Hanyu and Fernández to the point that both have been reaching to get even more out of their respective programs. Hanyu has three different quads in his arsenal, and while Chen has four, the 17-year-old still needs to increase his components score. The Spaniard has only two different quads, but his mesmerizing skating partially compensates for the difference.

Pairs

1. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (Canada)
2. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (Germany)
3. Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov (Russia)

The pairs event may be the most open of the four. Duhamel and Radford have struggled this season, but they know how to peak at worlds. Savchenko should now have fully recovered from her injury, and the German pair may display some new tricks embedded inside their beautifully crafted programs. Stolbova and Klimov are on the way up and could be strong contenders as well, but only if they manage to cultivate their trademark unison.

Dance

1. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (France)
2. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)
3. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA)

Virtue and Moir won gold at the Grand Prix Final, but Papadakis and Cizeron skated a superlative free at the European championships. The skating skills, choreography and interpretation components of the French are their strongest assets, whereas performance and transitions might favor the Canadians. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are now combining their great and smooth technique with a newfound personality and temper, through what Alex Shibutani simply refers to as "ownership."

Sarah S. Brannen

Ladies

1. Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia)
2. Anna Pogorilaya (Russia)
3. Ashley Wagner (USA)

Medvedeva looks like a sure thing to hang on to her crown. Undefeated all season, the Russian has been steadily consistent and able to show off her stellar performance skills in both programs. With Satoko Miyahara's withdrawal, the other two spots will be interesting. Thirty-year-old Carolina Kostner is the wild card, as she continues her improbable return to top form following a two-year suspension.

Men's

1. Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)
2. Nathan Chen (USA)
3. Javier Fernández (Spain)

I'm almost brave enough to predict Nathan Chen for the gold; he has already beaten each one of his rivals this season. He has the highest technical content in the world and the consistency to match. But if Hanyu skates clean, he'll win. The Japanese star wasn't quite in top form all season, but I have a hunch he's going to deliver in Helsinki. Fernández seems to always bring his A-game to worlds. Shoma Uno could be a spoiler.

Pairs

1. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (China)
2. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (Canada)
3. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morosov (Russia)

Sui and Han finally have the maturity to match their technical fireworks. Duhamel and Radford have delivered their absolute best at worlds the past two years, so they shouldn't be counted out. The third spot is between Tarasova and Morosov, and Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, and it's a tough call.

Dance

1. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)
2. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (France)
3. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA)

Virtue and Moir returned to competition with added maturity and experience, and all of their technical skills intact. Before the season, I wouldn't have expected them to beat the French team, but I think they're going to. The Shibutanis have kept up their high level of consistency, but the siblings seem best slotted in third place.

Wei Xiong

Ladies

1. Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia)
2. Anna Pogorilaya (Russia)
3. Mai Mihara (Japan)

No one has successfully defended the world ladies title since Michelle Kwan in 2001; I expect Medvedeva to pull off that feat in Helsinki. The once hot-and-cold Pogorilaya has become Anna "Pogoreliable" this season, and she will improve her placement from last year and win the silver. I'm going to be bold and pick Mai Mihara to make the podium.

Men's

1. Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)
2. Nathan Chen (USA)
3. Javier Fernández (Spain)

Hanyu usually performs well when he is not considered the front runner, the position he is in coming into this week. I expect him to give his best performance of the season and win his second world title. Chen has everything it takes to be a world champion, but maybe not in his first appearance at the event. Fernández will find it extremely difficult to top the field again with his relatively "easy" five-quad layout, but if he can nail his elements with quality, he will still make the podium.

Pairs

1. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (China)
2. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (Canada)
3. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (Germany)

If Sui and Han can nail their two quads -- throw and twist -- in their free skate, they are really hard to beat. With their difficult program layouts, Duhamel and Radford are assured of a medal if they can pull off two decent performances. Savchenko and Massot should finish third.

Dance

1. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)
2. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (France)
3. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA)

As long as Virtue and Moir carry the momentum they've built throughout the season into the event -- and don't make any fatal mistakes -- they will bring home their third world title. Papadakis and Cizeron, the two-time and defending world champions, are no doubt one of the very best couples in the world, and that's why they will certainly finish on the podium. This season has been great for the Shibutanis, who will win their third world medal.

Icenetwork Consensus*

Ladies

1. Evgenia Medvedeva (19 points)
2. Anna Pogorilaya (12)
3. (tie) Ashley Wagner/Carolina Kostner (4)

Men's

1. Yuzuru Hanyu (19)
2. Nathan Chen (15)
3. Javier Fernández (7)

Pairs

1. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (15)
2. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (10)
3. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (9)

Dance

1. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (21)
2. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (14)
3. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (8)

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