As always, there were a few rounds of musical partners on the ice dance/pairs stages this summer. But, the dust has settled. Couples are happily training (as far as I can tell, anyway!), and the competition ice awaits.
Dancers, Are You Ready?
Despite the coach shuffle in Canton over the off season, Meryl Davis and Charlie White still enter as the clear-cut favorites.
Don’t get me wrong — both Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje are coming with top-notch stuff, no one has proven they have what it takes to beat the world’s top two (Davis/White, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir). Until someone does, Davis and White are the obvious choice.
Speaking of Bobrova and Soloviev, they do have a leg up on the Americans — they’ve already done the whole “debut” thing. With a 159+, they took home the Finlandia title a few weeks back.
Weaver and Poje, too, put their programs out early. They were even better — a 161.38 at the Nepela Ondrej Memorial.
Unless something dramatic happens, you’re looking at your top three. Now, the order is up for (some kind of) debate.
Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmidtt (who will now officially be referred to by me as simple, “Lynn and Logan!”) would love nothing more than to break up that top group’s party, though. The duo was third at the US International Classic, but have yet to achieve the kind of scores that could mess with the predicted podium.
Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi are fresh off a bronze medal at Nebelhorn, too. But, their Free Dance was only good enough for 5th in the field in Germany. That’s going to have to change if they have any shot at a podium finish here.
Gold: Meryl Davis/Charlie White
Silver: Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje
Spoiler alert: Lynn and Logan
It may not seem like it, but there’s a lot of history between these teams. Okay, maybe “history” isn’t quite the world. But, if you like those head-to-head matchups from the top dance groups, you’ll love this:
The top three pairs faced each other at Worlds, then four of the eight saw each other this season already at Nebelhorn.
Will that help or hurt them?
What I do know is, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov are up to their old tricks again (and that’s a good thing!) — two stunning programs, complete with ridiculous technical difficulty. They only lost two events last season, and the two they took second in? By tenths of points.
After a full season and offseason together now, Caydee Denney and John Coughlin appear far more comfortable on the ice with one another. They’ve improved in some key areas, too — adding difficulty to their death spirals, spins, and steps.
It’s not enough yet to catch Volosozhar/Trankov, but it’s a great start.
Qing Pang and Jian Tong are still a bit of a wild card. (As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, I know all about being the wild card!) Not competing most of last season, to a disappointing 4th place at Worlds, they proved they still have some of the goods. The question is, can they pull out those “goods” when the skaters around them up the ante?
Both the other American teams come prepared with exquisite programs, just dying to be performed cleanly. That’ll be their goal this weekend.
Between Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir’s throws, and Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff’s lifts, these teams have guts. And they’re going for it. For someone, that’s going to pay off.
Could it be Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, instead? These two have two sets of judges scores already — one from the 3rd place finish at Nebelhorn, and the second from the French Masters. At the second event, their scores were more than 15 points higher than the previous weekend.
Maybe something’s in the air. We’ve got to have an underdog story somewhere, right?
So for those predictions …
Silver: Denney/Coughlin (out on a bit of a limb, here!)
Spoiler alert: Castelli/Shnapir
And there we have it. THe first official previews for the first official international event.
Now, it’s go time.