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World Skater Rankings: A look at the ladies

Kostner stands tall at No. 1; Two Japanese vets right behind her; Young Russians rising fast

Carolina Kostner occupies the top spot in the World Skater Rankings by a wide margin.
Carolina Kostner occupies the top spot in the World Skater Rankings by a wide margin. (Getty Images)

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By icenetwork.com
(07/25/2012) - Icenetwork.com is revealing one discipline in the initial World Skater Rankings each of the next four weeks. Leading off are the ladies, who are headed by Italian Carolina Kostner.

1. Carolina Kostner, Italy (4,080 points) -- The reigning world champ said this offseason she was mulling retirement but then decided to stick around through the next Olympics. Her supremacy will be seriously challenged by the return of Japan's Miki Ando, the 2011 world champion, and Korea's Yu-Na Kim, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist.

2. Akiko Suzuki, Japan (2,214.26) -- The now 27-year-old continued to defy Father Time in 2011-12, medaling at all five of her events, including the Grand Prix Final and the World Figure Skating Championships. Though she shows no signs of slowing down, one has to wonder if this will be the year she starts to show her age.

3. Mao Asada, Japan (1,877.50) -- The 2011-12 season was a tumultuous one for Asada, who withdrew from the Grand Prix Final after the untimely death of her mother and posted her second straight sixth-place finish at worlds. Is that a sign of things to come or just a blip on the radar?

4. Alissa Czisny, USA (1,775.38) -- Last season started out well enough for Czisny, but it could not have ended any worse, as the 25-year-old placed an astonishing 22nd at worlds. Offseason hip surgery only adds to the uncertainty of her season forthcoming, which won't begin until the NHK Trophy, the final event in the Grand Prix Series.

5. Alena Leonova, Russia (1,717.10) -- Leonova had her finest season in 2011-12, medaling at the Grand Prix Final and worlds. It will be interesting to see how long she's able to hold off the so-called "Russian babies."

6. Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, Russia (1,478.50) -- The 15-year-old phenom set the skating world on fire last fall, winning both of her Grand Prix events and beating Kostner, Suzuki, Czisny and Leonova in the process. She and her coach, Alexei Mishin, opted to end her campaign early, but she's eligible to do a full slate of events this season, one that could vault her into the upper echelon of ladies.

7. Ashley Wagner, USA (1,381.28) -- The self-proclaimed "Almost Girl" established herself as the one to beat among U.S. women, taking the title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and the Four Continents Championships, and placing fourth at worlds. She has momentum heading into the season, but the pressure on her is greater now that she has a target on her back.

8. Miki Ando, Japan (1,305) -- After taking last season off, Ando has vowed to return this fall, when she is scheduled to skate in two Grand Prix events, Cup of China and Trophée Eric Bompard. Her coaching situation is still up in the air (she left Nikoli Morozov), but if she is, indeed, fully committed to competing, she can quickly move up the rankings.

9. Kanako Murakami, Japan (1,136.24) -- "Mercurial" is the word that best describes Murakami, who has not yet realized her potential in her two seasons skating senior. She certainly has the talent and the performance skills to make "the leap;" the question with her is consistency and maintaining focus throughout a competition.

10. Kiira Korpi, Finland (1,134.64) -- A withdrawal from worlds dampened an already uneven 2011-12 season, one in which she finished well off the podium at both of her Grand Prix events but rebounded to earn the silver at the European Figure Skating Championships. The accomplished Fin has had a good run, but it's fair to ask how much she has left in the tank.

11. Adelina Sotnikova, Russia (1,119.50) -- Though only 16, Sotnikova already has three Russian titles to her credit, to go along with her pair of world junior medals and two podium finishes at Grand Prix competitions. The biggest thing (or things) standing in her way are her two aforementioned country women, Leonova and Tuktamisheva, as well as the fast-rising...

12. Julia Lipnitskaia, Russia (996.80) -- Lipnitskaia was the dominant junior skater in the world last year, winning the Junior Grand Prix Final and the World Junior Figure Skating Championships by healthy margins. You never know how the move up to senior is going to go for any skater, but Lipnitskaia appears as well-equipped to handle it as anyone.

13. Mirai Nagasu, USA (941.44) -- While Nagasu has shown flashes of greatness throughout her career, those occurrences have been too infrequent to classify her a serious medal contender at ISU championships. Consider: She has never medaled at both of her Grand Prix events in the same season (and, thus, has never competed at the Grand Prix Final), and has failed to qualify for the world championships each of the last two years.

14. Elene Gedevanishvili, Georgia (870.88) -- The Georgian picked up her second European medal last season, and while she hasn't shown signs of regression, she also hasn't given any indication she's improving. She has finished between fifth and eighth at all nine of her Grand Prix events, dating back to 2007, and come in 10th at three of the last four world championships.

15. Ksenia Makarova, Russia (853.10) -- Makarova finished off the podium at all five of her events last season, although she did pick up her third straight top-nine finish at worlds. It's telling that her federation almost sent junior skater Polina Shelepen to worlds over her. With the rise of the younger Russian ladies, her days could be numbered.

16. Viktoria Helgesson, Sweden (837.48) -- Helgesson became the first ladies skater from Sweden to medal at a Grand Prix event when she earned the bronze at 2011 Skate America. A European medal is certainly within reach, but that's about where her ceiling is.

17. Valentina Marchei, Italy (731.40) -- After battling ankle and knee injuries all season, Marchei posted up a career-best, eighth-place finish at the world championships, competing at the event for the first time in four years. If she has a clean bill of health, it'll be interesting to see how much she can grow -- at this stage in her career -- under Jason Dungjen and Yuka Sato.

18. Rachael Flatt, USA (694.08) -- Flatt suffered through an awful Grand Prix season last year but actually performed quite well at the U.S. championships, where she placed sixth. She has only one Grand Prix assignment this fall (Skate America), so it's hard to see her moving up the standings much.

19. Amélie Lacoste, Canada (656.16) -- The good news? Lacoste won her first Canadian title last season and earned a trip to worlds based on her edging country woman Cynthia Phaneuf at Four Continents. The bad? She placed 16th at worlds for the second year in a row.

20. Polina Shelepen, Russia (604.60) -- Shelepen occupies a kind of no-(wo)man's land in Russian skating. She's not one of the veterans (Leonova, Makarova) -- although she has competed on the Junior Grand Prix circuit for the last three years, winning eight medals in that time -- but she's also not among the crop of up-and-comers (Tuktamisheva, Sotnikova, Lipnitskaia). Her inclusion in these rankings is tenuous at best.