US Figure Skating Championship 2013: Top Skaters to Watch in 4 Major Events

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

Female figure skater Ashley Wagner
Female figure skater Ashley WagnerMichael Steele/Getty Images

The 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championship has kicked off, with the best figure skaters the United States has to offer arriving in Omaha, Neb.

It's the biggest national event of the year for American figure skaters. The results go a long way in deciding who will make the Olympic team every four years.

The reward might not be so great this year, but that doesn't mean you should avoid tuning in.

If you want to read more of a primer for the event, you can check out the preview here on Bleacher Report.

Here are the top contenders for each of the four main events at the U.S. Championship.

Ladies' Singles: Ashley Wagner

Only 21 years old, Ashley Wagner is already far and away the best U.S. figure skater in the ladies division. ranks her as the third-best female skater in the world.

Prior to last year, she had flirted with the gold from 2008-2010 before putting in a disappointing effort in 2011, finishing sixth. Wagner rebounded extremely well to finish first in 2012, with her free skate program especially impressive.

Wagner will be the runaway favorite this year.

Men's Singles: Jeremy Abbott

No American male skater has been as dominant lately as Jeremy Abbott. He's won three of the last four U.S. Championships, including last year's edition.

It doesn't matter what sport it is, fans should always be excited to see an athlete assert his dominance in his or her respective area. That's where Abbott is right now regarding the American figure skating scene.

Evan Lysacek has withdrawn (h/t The Miami Herald), so there's the opportunity for Abbott to affirm his status as the biggest male star in American figure skating.

Ice Dancing: Meryl Davis & Charlie White

Meryl Davis and Charlie White absolutely ran away from the competition last year. They won both the short and free dance programs, racking up a final score of 191.54. Their next closest competitors were about 13 points behind.

The two are the reigning four-time champions. With another title, they could match the success of Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto before them, who had won the U.S. Championships five years in a row before being unseated by Davis and White

Pairs: Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir

The pairs title is quite up in the air. None of the top three finishers from last year are back.

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir did well enough in the short program, finishing fourth, before struggling in the free dance, finishing seventh. As a result, the pair ended up fifth overall, which was the second year in a row for Castelli and Shnapir.

With almost all of the competition ahead of them now out of the way, the path is clear for Castelli and Shnapir to get that ever-elusive medal in the U.S. Championships.