2017 Skate Canada Pairs Preview

Four of these teams qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season, including Savchenko and Massot who had to withdraw and Zabiiako and Enbert who were first alternates and took their place.  Only one team is making their Grand Prix debut.  The youngest female competitor is 20 while the oldest is 33.  The youngest male competitor is 23 and the oldest is 33.  Six of the teams have scored over 200 points, while three teams have scored over 220.

This looks to be a really exciting event, as three of these teams have top 5 scores for the season so far, and five teams have placed in the top 8.  These teams definitely have some technical firepower with two attempting throw quad salchows and one attempting throw triple axel.

Duhamel and Radford have a big advantage on their solo jump with a triple lutz.  This has a base value of 6.00 compared to the base value of 4.40 for the triple salchow completed by James and Cipres and Savchenko and Massot.  However, in the free skate, their lutzes only earned .20 points after a downgrade and a fall.

Both Duhamel/Radford and James/Cipres complete a throw triple lutz in their short program, worth 5.50 points.  Savchenko and Massot have a throw triple axel worth 7.70 points, however they only earned 3.70 points after their fall.  Both the Canadians and the French earned positive GOEs, worth a total of 6.76 and 5.92 respectively, widening the gap even more.  If Savchenko and Massot hit the axel, there is no way for the other two teams to catch them technically, however they have to be able to land it cleanly with a positive GOE to gain an advantage.

James and Cipres landed the throw quad salchow in their free skate with a base value of 8.20.  They had only a slight negative GOE and earned 7.80 points overall.  Duhamel and Radford fell on their attempt, only earning 4.20 points when accounting for the one point deduction.  Savchenko and Massot again went for the triple axel and earned just 3.70 points after their fall.  Savchenko and Massot’s second throw jump is a triple salchow, worth a full point less than the lutz of the other two teams.

Outside of these big moments, where these teams are really going to set themselves apart is hitting their levels, especially on the lifts.  No team has maxed out their levels yet and several have received Level 3 or less on one of more of their lifts, leaving lots of points on the table.  Savchenko and Massot have come closes at Nebelhorn Trophy in their free skate, which made up for errors they made on their jumps.  They actually made errors on three of the four jumping passes in that program, but still hold the second highest free skate score of the season.

Savchenko and Massot are entering their sophomore season on the Grand Prix as a team after winning two gold medals and qualifying for the Final last season.  They won silver at Nebelhorn Trophy to start their season.  Their short program includes solo triple salchows and a throw triple axel that she fell on, but was fully rotated.  They earned Level 4 on their death spiral, pair spin, and step sequence.  Their program components were in the low 9s.  Their free skate includes a solo triple toe + triple toe sequence (fall) and  a triple salchow (doubled).  Their throw jumps include a triple axel (fall) and triple salchow.  They earned Level 4 on their lifts, spins, and death spiral.  Their program components were in the low to mid 9s.  They have the 4th best short program, 2nd best free skate, and 2nd best total scores.

James and Cipres will compete on the Grand Prix for their 7th season this year, although most of their past appearances have been host picks at Trophee de France, although the last three seasons they have earned two slots.  They have won two medals and have never qualified for the Final.  They started their season with a gold medal at the Autumn Classic International.  Their short program includes a solo triple salchow and a throw triple lutz.  They earned Level 4 on their lift, death spiral, and step sequence.  They had all positive GOEs, earning 7 points, and heir program components were in the mid to high 8s.  They did lose a point for going over time.  Their free skate included a side by side double toe + double toe + double toe (first jump should be a triple) and a triple salchow.  Their throw jumps include a triple lutz and a quad salchow which she stood up on and was fully rotated.  They earned Level 4 on their death spiral, spins, and one lift.  Their program components were in the mid 8s to low 9s.  They have the 3rd best short program, 3rd best free skate, and 3rd best total scores.

Duhamel and Radford will compete for the 8th season on the Grand Prix and they have medaled at ever event since 2011, including six consecutive gold medals.  They have qualified for the Final each of the last six seasons, and have medaled the last three.  However, they had their worst finish of their career at Worlds last year, placing 7th.  They won silver at the Autumn Classic International to start their season.  Their short program includes side by side triple lutzes and a triple lutz throw.  They earned positive GOEs on the solo lutzes, earning 7.26 points overall.  They earned Level 4 on their lift and spin.  They had all positive GOEs, earning 8 points, and their program components were in the high 8s and low 9s.  Their free skate was a bit of a mess with three falls in the program.  Their side by side triple lutzes were downgraded and they missed the combo on an under-rotated triple salchow.  They have a throw quad lutz and she fell on a fully rotated quad salchow attempt.  They earned Level 4 on their triple twist, two lifts, and both spins.  Their program components were in the mid 8s.  They have the 2nd best short program, 10th best free skate, and 5th best total scores.

Peng and Jin are starting their second season on the Grand Prix as a team after winning two silver medals and qualifying for the Final last season.  They won gold at Finlandia Trophy earlier this season.  Their short program includes a triple toe and a throw triple loop.  They earned Level 4 on their twist, death spiral, and lift.  They had all positive GOEs and program components in the high 7s to mid 8s.  Their free skate includes side by side triple toe + double toe and triple salchow (fall) and their throw jumps are a triple loop and triple salchow (fall).  They earned Level 4 on their twist and all three lifts.  Their program components were in the high 7s to low 8s.  They have the 6th best short program, 9th best free skate, and 7th best total scores.

Zabiiako and Enbert will compete for their third season on the Grand Prix and won their first medal last year at this event, qualifying them for the Final.  They won gold at Lombardia Trophy and gold at Ondrej Nepela Trophy to start their season.  At Lombardia Trophy, they received Level 4 for their triple twist, lift, and pairs spin and landed a side by side triple toe and a throw triple loop.  They received all positive GOEs and had program components in the mid to high 7s.  Their free skate had a triple toe + double toe + double loop and a doubled salchow as their side by side jumps with a throw triple lutz and a throw triple loop.  They earned Level 4 for their spins and lifts.  Their program components were again in the mid to high 7s.  At Nepela Trophy, their short program levels were lower, receiving only a Level 2 for their twist and their program components were also lower in the low to mid 7s.  Their free skate at that event included the triple salchow they had doubled previously but they earned Level 3 on one of their lifts.  Their program components were similar in the mid 7s.  They have the 7th best short program, 7th best free skate, and 8th best total scores.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Savchenko/Massot

Silver: James/Cipres

Bronze: Duhamel/Radford

 

Bios of the competitors:

Duhamel/Radford, CAN: They placed 7th at Worlds and are the reigning Four Continents Silver Medalists. They won gold at Skate Canada and gold at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They are the 2015 and 2016 World Champions; 2013 and 2014 World Bronze Medalists; 2013 and 2015 Four Continents Champions; and 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 231.99.  She is 31 and he is 32.

Ilyushechkina/Moscovitch, CAN: They finished 6th at Worlds and are the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They won bronze at Skate Canada and bronze at Cup of China last season.  Their personal best is 206.19.  She is 25 and he is 33.

Kolodziej/Deschamps, CAN:

Peng/Jin, CHN: They placed 5th at Four Continents.  They won silver at Cup of China and silver at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 6th.  Their personal best is 204.49.  She is 20 and he is 23.

James/Cipres, FRA: They finished 8th at Worlds and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They placed 4th at Skate America and won bronze at Trophee de France last season.  Their personal best is 222.59.  She is 30 and he is 26.

Savchenko/Massot, GER: They are the reigning World Silver Medalists and reigning European Silver Medalists.  They won gold at Rostelecom Cup and gold at Trophee de France last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final but they had to withdraw due to injury.  They are the 2016 World Bronze Medalists and 2016 European Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 230.30.  She is 33 and he is 28.

Zabiiako/Enbert, RUS: They finished 12th at Worlds and 5th at Europeans.  They won silver at Rostelecom Cup and placed 4th at Trophee de France to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they placed 4th.  Their personal best is 200.75.  She is 23 and he is 28.

Denney/Frazier, USA: They placed 20th at Worlds and 8th at Four Continents.  They won silver at Skate America and finished 4th at Skate Canada last season.  They are the 2013 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 192.65.  She is 21 and he is 24.