2017 US Nationals Field Guide: Championship Men Part 2

Nathan Chen in his free skate at the 2016 Grand Prix Final.

2017 Nationals have begun! While juvenile and intermediate champions earn the first medals of the year, I’m hustling to finish guides to the top-level skaters who will compete next weekend. Since there are 21 men in this year’s senior field, I’ve split my men’s field guide into two posts. The first half of the alphabet is over here. For this guide only, I’m alphabetizing by first name, to spread out the top contenders more evenly between the two. If you’re interested in reading about juniors and/or ice dance, I also have the following guides ready to go:

  • Junior Ladies, with some of the biggest jumps you’ll see in any ladies’ event, performed by some of the smallest humans
  • Junior Men, with 11 new reasons to mix a cocktail and watch through your fingers (one of the dark horse competitors, William Hubbart, has unfortunately withdrawn)
  • Junior Ice Dance, with most of last season’s World Junior podium angling for a repeat
  • Championship Ice Dance, with most of last season’s World podium in a hip hop dance-off

I’m more invested in the men’s event than any other, so I have lots to say about all of these guys, from those at the top of the field to the ones who will be proud to not place last. Although I recognize that some are quite young, senior-level skaters should be able to handle brutal honesty, especially since it’s all delivered with a heavy dose of admiration for what they’re capable of. I don’t do predictions, but I’m willing to divide the competitors into five categories that reflect where I think they stand. The Front Runners are those most likely to win; Dark Horses have a strong shot at a medal, maybe even a gold one. Skaters On the Rise are looking to build for future seasons and get their moment on NBC, while the Just Happy to Be Here crowd are fulfilling their season goals just by qualifying to Nationals. The last group are the ones who are too unpredictable or too far outside the conventional order to predict. They are why I love this sport, but also Why I Drink.

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