It's officially been over a year since the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, and while 2022 still seems a lifetime away, winter athletes across the world already have their sights set on the next Games. At the end of March, the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships will take place in Saitama, Japan, marking the first major competition of the new Olympic cycle and the first step towards the 2022 Games for the world's best figure skaters. Here are 10 athletes to watch on the ice, both this week and over the next four years.
1. Alina Zagitova (Russia)
After a surprise first-place finish at the Olympics last year, Zagitova has had a bit of a rough start to her 2019 season. However, she continues to find a place on international podiums with her programs set to "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Carmen", and is a favorite to win in Saitama. At only 16 years old, she surely has a bright future ahead of her.
Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia)
Medvedeva, who has dominated the skating world for the past three years, was favored to take the gold at the Pyeongchang Games. After a surprising second place finish behind Zagitova, an unexpected coaching switch after the season, and struggles in competition this year, Medvedeva was able to bounce back and once again qualified to the World Championships. She has proven over and over that she has what it takes not only to get back to the top, but to stay there, too.
Nathan Chen (USA)
Despite missing out on the Olympic podium due to several falls, Nathan Chen is still training hard, on top of working towards his undergraduate degree at Yale University. His determination and highly difficult programs, containing multiple quadruple jumps, make him a podium favorite and one of the best skaters in the world.
While his jumps aren't always the most difficult, Jason Brown always brings style and flare to the table with unique programs such as one set to the soundtrack of Lin Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton". His originality and passion for the sport make him shine. Who knows what he'll bring to the ice next?
Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizéron (France)
After narrowly missing the gold at their first Olympics, Papadakis and Cizeron have continued to top podiums in 2019, finishing first at the European Championships with a whopping margin of 19 points. They are unrivaled in the sport of ice dance, and it doesn't seem like they'll have another team to challenge them any time soon.
Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (Canada)
While a competitive comeback seems unlikely for Canada's sweethearts, the three-time Olympic champions have not officially retired yet. With a skating tour planned for fall 2019 and Scott's involvement in coaching, it's clear they haven't left the world of figure skating behind. I'm sure they'll end up in Beijing one way or another, whether it's through commentating, coaching, or being on the ice themselves.