2017 Cup of China Pairs Preview

This is the Chinese team’s signature event, and they are sending their top two pairs to this competition.  Neither have competed in a major event so far this season, so there are some unknown variables, but it is highly likely that China will walk away with two medals from this event.

Cain and LeDuc and Zhang and Song will make their Grand Prix debuts here.  The youngest lady is Xiaoyu Yu at 21 years old, while the oldest is Valentina Marchei at 31.  Both Michael Marinaro and Cong Han are 25, while Hao Zhang and Ondrej Hotarek are 33.  Three of the teams have scored over 200 points in their careers.

Sui and Han are going into their 6th season on the Grand Prix, after missing 2012 and last season.  They have won nine medals, but have only won gold once, at Skate America in 2015.  They have qualified for the Final two times, most recently in 2014, and won bronze each time.  They have not competed yet this season and had to miss the first half of the season last year as she recovered from surgery, however, they hit the end of the season hard, and won their first World title with personal best scores across the board.  They are capable of both throw quad salchows and quad twists and even without competition experience this season, should be able to at the very least land on the medal podium here.

Yu and Zhang won two medals in their Grand Prix debut as a team last season and qualified for the Grand Prix Final, where they won silver.  They started their season with a gold medal at the International Cup of Nice, but this was a senior B event, and scores do not count toward season’s best.  They finished 4th at Worlds last year with a personal best free skate and total score.

Marchei and Hotarek finished 4th at Rostelecom Cup.  They need a gold medal to stay in contention for the Final.  In Russia they hit the side by side triple salchows and throw triple lutz and earned Level 4 for their lift and death spiral.  At Lombardia Trophy, earlier this season they earned Level 4 for their step sequence.  Their program components were strongest at Rostelecom Cup, ranging from 7.79-8.29.  Their free skate had their best side by side jumps of the season so far with an under rotation call and a fall on the triple toe but they did hit the triple salchow + double toe + double toe combination.  They hit their triple loop and triple lutz throws cleanly and received Level 4 on their lifts and side by side spin.  Again, their program components were higher here in the high 7s to low 8s, but they also received a one point deduction for going over time.  They have the 8th best short program and 9th best total scores.

Della Monica and Guarise are going into their 6th season on the Grand Prix, but they have never finished higher than 5th place.  This could be their breakthrough year as they won silver at both Lombardia and Finlandia Trophies to start their season and set a new personal best free skate and total score at Finlandia Trophy.  At Lombardia, their short program included side by side triple salchows and a throw triple loop, with Level 4 on their triple twist, lift, and death spiral.  They earned all positive GOEs and had program components in the mid to high 7s.  Their free skate featured side by side triple salchows and they both fell on the triple toe combination.  For their throws they have triple loop and triple salchow.  They earned Level 4 on their triple twist, pairs spin, two lifts, and their side by side spin.  Their program components were slightly better, in the mid 7s to low 8s.  At Finlandia, they earned Level 4 on their triple twist, lift, step sequence, and pairs spin in the short program and had similar program components.  Their free skate included the triple toe + double toe they fell on earlier that season and they earned Level 4 on their triple twist, pairs spin, death spiral, two lifts, and their side by side spin.  Their program components were slightly better, reaching the mid 8s.  They have the 7th best free skate and 10th best total scores.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Sui/Han

Silver: Yu/Zhang

Bronze: Della Monica/Guarise

 

Bios of the competitors:

Moore-Towers/Marinaro, CAN: They placed 7th at Worlds.  Their personal best is 199.65.  She is 25 and he is 25.

Sui/Han, CHN: They are the reigning World Champions and reigning Four Continents Champions.  They are the 2015 and 2016 World Silver Medalists; 2012, 2014, and 2016 Four Continents Champions; and 2010, 2011, and 2012 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 232.06.  She is 22 and he is 25.

Yu/Zhang, CHN: They finished 4th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents.  They won silver at Skate Canada and gold at Cup of China last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won silver.  Their personal best is 211.51.  She is 21 and he is 33.

Zhang/Song, CHN:

Della Monica/Guarise, ITA: They placed 13th at Worlds and 8th at Europeans.  They finished 6th at Skate Canada and 5th at Cup of China last season.  Their personal best is 193.50.  She is 28 and he is 29.

Marchei/Hotarek, ITA: They finished 9th at Worlds and 6th at Europeans.  They placed 4th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 203.92.  She is 31 and he is 33.

Cain/LeDuc, USA: They placed 9th at Four Continents.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 176.35.  She is 22 and he is 27.