I think the final two teams will come from ITA, FRA, CHN, and JPN. I don't think Germany will make it, since their only strong discipline is Pairs, and China has stronger Ladies and Men.
Since points are cumulative, the advantage to a weaker participant in the FS/FD is that last is six points instead of one (in the SP/SD). The biggest obstacle to gold for the US should be the points gap after the SP/SD, and that's where Pairs is likely to come in, with USA behind RUS, GER, CAN, CHN, and possibly ITA.
For the US best case scenarios for each individual discipline aren't the best for the total; for the gold, +/-/neutral is how each could impact the distance between the US and RUS or CAN:
- FRA: + for Dance, - for Men, neutral for Ladies. P/B should put space between D/W and either I/K or B/S, however, Amodio or Joubert should put space between Chan and the US Man.
- CHN: neutral for Ladies, Dance, and Men, - for Pairs. P/T should put space between V/T and D/C, and possibly between D/R and D/C.
- ITA: - for Pairs (potentially) and Ladies, neutral for Dance and Men. B/H could put space between V/T and D/C and D/R and D/C.
- JPN: - for Men and Ladies, neutral for Pairs and Dance. [Japanese woman] could put space between [Russian woman] and Wagner. [Japanese Man] could put space between US Man and Chan.
D/W are likely to place ahead of a Russian Dance team, and could place ahead of V/M, but I wouldn't count on it; without FRA in the final, it will only be a one-point gain in the FD.
vs. RUS: +2 in the SD, +1 (no FRA) or +2 in the FD.
vs. CAN: Oh, who knows. Maybe they'll split it and the points will come out equal.
D/C are likely to place behind [a Russian team], S/S, P/T, D/R, maybe B/H. Without GER in the final, it's likely they'd be 4th. Without GER and ITA in the final, it's likely they'd be 3rd.
vs. RUS: -5 if V/T in 1st and B/H ahead in the SP. -3 if V/T in 2nd and D/C ahead of B/H in the SP. -4 if [Russian pair] win and ITA and CHN are in the FS. -3 if [Russian Pair] win and ITA or CHN is in the FS, -2 if [Russian Pair] win and ITA and CHN not in FS.
vs. CAN: -2 in SP, -2 in the FS if ITA in, -1 if ITA out.
Assuming Wagner is the US woman, at this point, if Kostner doesn't crumble in the Olympics, Wagner could very well be behind Kostner, Asada, and one of the Russian Ladies -- maybe Sotnikova is the stronger SP skater. Without a very bad skate, she's unlikely to be behind FRA, CHN, GER, CAN (although, who knows, especially in the SP), FIN?, UKR?, ESP?, whoever the last two teams are.
vs. RUS: -1 to -3 in the SP, -1 if JPN and ITA don't make the final, -2 if either don't make the final.
vs. CAN: +1 to +3 in SP and FS. I think, unless FIN is in the final and Korpi skates well in the SP, Osmond could be Top five in the SP.
I have no idea who US man will be for each program. Abbott, of all the US Men, has the potential to medal, but has yet to skate two programs to his potential. I'm not sure it matters, placement-wise, if it's Abbott or Miner. (Or, possibly, Farris). Of all of the disciplines, this is probably the biggest crap shoot: If ESP is somehow one of the last two teams, Fernandez could skate a blinder, as could Han Yan, if the Chinese Fed decides to send him. Will Plushenko be okay for Sochi, and, if so, and Kovtun gains two places in London, will he skip the Team Event? It could be -2 for the US if Fernandez and Han Yan skate and skate well. JPN, Chan, and FRA have great shots at going ahead of a US Man, as does Fernandez, if Spain competes. If CZE is in, Brezina could, too.
vs. RUS: +1 to -3, depending on whether there is a strong Plushenko or Kovtun in the SP and whether Fernandez skates, and +1 to -1 if JPN or FRA does not make the final.
vs. CAN: -3 in the SP, and -2, if JPN or FRA does not make the final.
I think CAN has an advantage over the US in everything but Ladies -- I don't see D/W winning both the SD and FD segments over V/M -- and that the advantage isn't that great, because there won't be three Ladies from Japan and Russia, just one. The US will have a small advantage over RUS in Dance, smaller if FRA doesn't make the final, but a big disadvantage in the Pairs SP and a possible, small disadvantage in Men, depending on who shows up in what condition.