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What will the senior podiums look like in San Jose?

Icenetwork contributors make their picks for the 2018 U.S. Championships
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Our experts believe that someone who was not even on the podium last season has a good chance of claiming the ladies title at the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. -Jay Adeff

Icenetwork asked contributors Sarah S. Brannen, Philip Hersh, Nick McCarvel and Lynn Rutherford to predict the medal-winners at the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, California.

Sarah S. Brannen

Ladies

1. Ashley Wagner
2. Bradie Tennell
3. Mirai Nagasu
4. Karen Chen

What a difference a year makes. With Gracie Gold out of the picture, I expected Ashley Wagner and Karen Chen to lay a solid foundation as they prepared for PyeongChang; instead, both have looked shaky, and the third spot seems wide open. With her wealth of experience and her fighting spirit, Wagner, I think, will grab her fourth title. Nagasu wasn't at her best all fall, but she always shines at the U.S. championships.

Men's

1. Nathan Chen
2. Adam Rippon
3. Jason Brown
4. Vincent Zhou

Chen is so far above all the other U.S. men that he could falter badly and still win. Rippon has built a really convincing case this fall to make his first trip to the Olympics. At his best, Zhou can outskate everyone but Chen, but he'll have to be close to flawless to make the team.

Pairs

1. Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim
2. Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier
3. Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc
4. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran

The Knierims are clearly the best team in the U.S., and they will go to Korea. To be honest, I have no idea who will take the remaining podium spots, as none of the other U.S. pairs looked good in their competitions this fall.

Dance

1. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani
2. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue
3. Madison Chock and Evan Bates
4. Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter

I'm predicting a slight upset in the dance event, as Hubbell and Donohue have continued their steady rise up the world standings. I expect this to be the year McNamara and Carpenter start their ascent through the senior ranks.

Philip Hersh

Ladies

1. Bradie Tennell
2. Ashley Wagner
3. Mirai Nagasu
4. Karen Chen

With three Olympic spots at stake, no national ladies event in recent history looks harder to predict than this one, as only Tennell skated well in the fall. Can reigning U.S. champion Chen suddenly put it together, as she did last year after a similarly unimpressive Grand Prix season? Another name to keep in mind is Courtney Hicks, who has an outside shot at the podium.

Men's

1. Nathan Chen
2. Adam Rippon
3. Max Aaron
4. Jason Brown

Chen, who just won the Grand Prix Final, seems a sure bet to repeat as national champion, but he is looking for the solid overall performance that has eluded him so far this season. The others -- and possibly Vincent Zhou, last year's runner-up -- will be in a fierce battle for the remaining two Olympic spots, with Rippon having a leg up on one.

Pairs

1. Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim
2. Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc
3. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran
4. Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier

The Knierims could get the United States' lone Olympic spot even by finishing second or third, since they have the edge over the other teams in several other selection criteria.

Dance

1. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani
2. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donahue
3. Evan Bates and Madison Chock
4. Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter

The top three teams have won every medal at the U.S. championships in this Olympic cycle, so nothing should prevent all three from punching their tickets to PyeongChang. The Shibutanis, world medalists the past two seasons, will get a third straight U.S. title.

Nick McCarvel

Ladies

1. Ashley Wagner
2. Bradie Tennell
3. Mirai Nagasu
4. Karen Chen

I see Wagner stepping up, and with the debut of her much-anticipated La La Land free skate, she could wow the crowd en route to her first national title in three years. I expect Tennell and Nagasu to deliver as well.

Men's

1. Nathan Chen
2. Adam Rippon
3. Jason Brown
4. Max Aaron

Chen's season -- which includes three victories -- has been remarkable, but you also have to admire what Rippon and Brown have done. Without the technical firepower of many of their chief rivals, those two managed to make the Grand Prix Final, and they have assembled the strongest résumés of any U.S. men not named "Chen." For Chen, the focus will quickly shift to winning not only an Olympic medal but an Olympic gold medal.

Pairs

1. Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim
2. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran
3. Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier
4. Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea

No one has really risen to challenge Team Knierim, which has faced myriad issues, most notably Alexa's health problems. But the Knierims are by far the strongest U.S. team internationally, and they had a fruitful, if underwhelming, Grand Prix Series. That one Olympic pairs spot is theirs to lose.

Dance

1. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani
2. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue
3. Madison Chock and Evan Bates
4. Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter

The U.S. ice dance teams were separated by less than a point in the final standings at the Grand Prix Final, but the real fight to me is for second, as Hubbell and Donohue have been a touch stronger in the judges' eyes this year than Chock and Bates. Nevertheless, this should be the most competitive discipline at the U.S. championships through and through, as all three of these teams are vying for gold.

Lynn Rutherford

Ladies

1. Bradie Tennell
2. Karen Chen
3. Ashley Wagner
4. Mirai Nagasu

After Chen won gold at the 2017 U.S. Championships and delivered a clutch fourth-place finish at worlds, I expected her to medal at her Grand Prix events this fall; instead, she suffered from confidence issues and a lack of conviction in her music choices. Wagner, too, was a muddle, and arrives in San Jose with the much-discussed but untested La La Land free skate. Nagasu's triple axel efforts are admirable, but under-rotation calls still limit her results. Only Tennell has produced consistently solid programs with clean triple-triples, as she did at Skate America, the Lombardia Trophy and her summer competitions.

Men's

1. Nathan Chen
2. Adam Rippon
3 .Jason Brown
4. Max Aaron

Chen is unapproachable, and Rippon is skating the most consistent programs of his career. After that, it's a bit of a free-for-all. Brown is a clutch competitor who shines the U.S. championships, but he has yet to connect with his "Inner Love" free skate and his triple axel has disappointed. I'm betting he will have things sorted out by San Jose, but if Aaron skates a clean-ish short and a strong free, he could easily crack the top three.

Pairs

1. Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim
2. Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier
3. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran
4. Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay

If the Knierims bring their quad twist and improved triple throws to San Jose, they should recapture the title they won in 2015. The other medals are up for grabs. The 2016 champions, Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea, showed earlier this month at the Golden Spin of Zagreb that they are still rounding into form following Kayne's serious knee injury.

Dance

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

Just 0.85 points separated the top three teams at the Grand Prix Final, where the Shibutanis edged the other two American couples for the bronze. If they all skate their best in San Jose, I'm betting the judges will give the two-time defending champions the edge. Both Chock and Bates, and Hubbell and Donohue are, however, quite capable of bringing down the house with intense, emotional free dances, and if either one is close to the Shibutanis after the short dance, it's possible we could see a new champion crowned.

Icenetwork Consensus*

Ladies

1. Bradie Tennell (14 points)  
2. Ashley Wagner (13)
3. Mirai Nagasu (7)
4. Karen Chen (6)

Men's

1. Nathan Chen (16)
2. Adam Rippon (12)
3. Jason Brown (7)
4. Max Aaron (4)

Pairs

1. Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim (16)
2. Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier (9)
3. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran (8)
4. Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc (5)

Dance

1. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (16)
2. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (11) 
3. Madison Chock and Evan Bates (9)
4. Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter (3)

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