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Who will be the ladies breakout stars in 2017-18?

Icenetwork predicts which skaters will come into their own this season
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The latest in a line of dominant Russian junior ladies, Alina Zagitova will see how she sizes up at the senior level this season. -Getty Images

Icenetwork asked its contributors which ladies skaters they thought would take the next step forward in the 2017-18 season.

Philip Hersh

U.S.

After Karen Chen delivered a comeback season to reaffirm herself as the leader of "generation next" (the post Wagner-Gold-Nagasu group), look for 19-year-old Bradie Tennell to do the same thing this season.

International

Marin Honda's stunning free skate at the 2017 World Junior Championships was the most beautiful -- and stunningly performed -- ladies program I saw all season. As she prepares to make her debut on the senior circuit, look for Honda to compete for a spot on Japan's Olympic team.

Vladislav Luchianov

U.S.

Mariah Bell, the 2017 U.S. bronze medalist, has worked hard this offseason, particularly on the technical side of her skating. If she can bring what she has been practicing to the competitive ice, she will contend for a gold medal in San Jose.

International

Maria Sotskova experienced some up-and-down seasons early in her career, but she seems to have emerged an even more elegant and artistic skater. She is quite capable of achieving high results at her international competitions.

Jean-Christophe Berlot

U.S.

Tessa Hong displayed her potential at the U.S. championships last season, finishing a credible fourth in the short program, just between Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold. Although her free skate was a disappointment, she impressed enough for U.S. Figure Skating to make her an alternate for the world junior championships. With her well-rounded and balanced skating, the 15-year-old Californian could be a surprise in the senior ranks this season.

International

Wakaba Higuchi made a strong senior debut last season, medaling at her first Grand Prix assignment, Trophée de France. Already a three-time Japanese medalist, she is full of energy and ambition, and she is consistent in her jumps. She ended last season on a high note, contributing to her team's triumph at the World Team Trophy with her third-place finish in the free skate.

Sarah S. Brannen

U.S.

Starr Andrews has had a pretty swift and steady rise, from U.S. juvenile pewter medalist in 2014 to U.S. junior silver medalist last season. If she keeps up this rate of improvement, she'll live up to her name in the not-too-distant future.

International

The Russian machine has been churning out young phenoms on an annual basis, and this year is no different. The latest prodigy to hit the scene is Alina Zagitova, the 2017 world junior champion, who will make her senior international debut at the Lombardia Trophy this week. And we should get a sense right away of how well she measures up to her competition: Also in the field at the event are fellow breakout candidate Wakaba Higuchi of Japan and Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner.

Lynn Rutherford

U.S.

I'm cheating a bit here, as I chose Bradie Tennell for my breakout pick for the 2015-16 season. Now 19, the American -- who competed four times over the summer -- broke the 190-point mark at the Broadmoor Open, won gold at the Philadelphia Summer International and earned the host pick at Skate America. Her triple lutz-triple toe is strong, and I think she will significantly improve upon her ninth-place finish at the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

International

Alina Zagitova is the obvious pick here, and I'm going to be obvious. The 15-year-old Russian won the world junior title, broke the 200-point mark at the 2016 Junior Grand Prix Final and placed second at the Russian championships. A strong competitor, she is also age eligible for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. If she adds a bit more polish to her presentation, I see her challenging for the podium.

Nick McCarvel

U.S.

Can a jump be a breakout star? Why not. Mirai Nagasu has been working hard on that triple axel of hers, and if she can land it succsssfully, it could be the ultimate game-changer on the domestic scene -- and, perhaps, the thing that will help her punch her ticket to a second Olympic Games.

International

Just 15 years old, Alina Zagitova is already the reigning world junior champion and Russian silver medalist. She has been training with coach Eteri Tutberidze and alongside Evgenia Medvedeva in the lead-up to her debut senior international season. What does all that mean? Watch. Out.

Wei Xiong

U.S.

Junior ladies from the United States don't typically garner the same level of attention as their Russian or Japanese peers, but, nevertheless, Emmy Ma caught my eye during the 2017 Glacier Falls Classic and after her short program at the Junior Grand Prix in Latvia. She possesses a relatively mature performing style and a good quality to her skating, skills that allow her to stand out on the junior circuit. She'll become all the more dangerous once she masters her jumps.

International

If you remember how Evgenia Medvedeva, Elena Radionova and Julia Lipnitskaia rocked the ladies field during their first senior seasons, you shouldn't have any doubt that Alina Zagitova -- the 15-year-old Russian who won the world junior title a few months back -- will shine brightly and find her way to the podium this season. The fight for a spot on the Russian Olympic team will be brutal, but the reigning Russian silver medalist certainly has an edge thanks to her consistency.

FINAL TALLY

U.S.

Bradie Tennell - 2
Starr Andrews - 1
Mariah Bell - 1
Tessa Hong - 1
Emmy Ma - 1
Mirai Nagasu - 1

International

Alina Zagitova - 4
Marin Honda - 1
Wakaba Higuchi - 1