Cup of China Dance Preview

Pechalat and Bourzat are the reigning World Bronze medalists but this could be a three-way race for gold.  Weaver and Poje train alongside the French and were nipping at their heels all season, finishing just off the podium in 4th place at Worlds.  Bobrova and Soloviev showed great improvement in their posture and expression at Skate America and narrowly defeated Weaver and Poje for the silver medal. These teams will be neck and neck and any mistake could cost them the title.

Pechalat and Bourzat are debuting here while the other two teams have already competed twice.  They won’t have the benefit of judge’s feedback on their levels and choreography and will have to shake off some of the competitive rust.

Weaver and Poje lost ground when they didn’t achieve the levels they were looking for in their free dance.  If they can clean up those elements they should be able to edge out a lead over the Russians.  They’ll need at least a silver medal if they want a chance to make the Grand Prix Final.

Bobrova and Soloviev have tended the last few seasons to start strong and gradually slip as the season continues.  They’ll need to buck this trend and show improvement from event to event if they want to hold off up and coming Russian teams.  They’l need a medal of any kind to have a shot at the Final but a silver medal or better will give them their best chance.

Two potential spoilers are Chock and Bates who have not won a Grand Prix medal yet but have received rave reviews for their Dr. Zhivago free dance and Sinitsina and Zhiganshin, the reigning World Junior Champions who are making their senior debut.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Pechalat/Bourzat
Silver: Weaver/Poje
Bronze: Bobrova/Soloviev

Bios of the competitors:
Weaver/Poje, CAN: They finished 4th at Worlds and are the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They won bronze at Skate America.  They placed 4th at the Grand Prix Final last season.  They are the 2010 Four Continents Champions and 2007 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 166.55.  She is 23 and he is 25.

Huang/Zheng, CHN: They placed 12th at Worlds.  They placed 5th at Cup of China and 6th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 130.29.  She is 25 and he is 25.

Yu/Wang, CHN: They placed 7th at Four Continents.  They finished 6th at Cup of China last season.  Their personal best is 125.75.  She is 26 and he is 26.

Pechalat/Bourzat, FRA: They are the reigning World Bronze Medalists and European Champions.  They won silver at Skate America and Trophee Eric Bompard last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They are the 2011 European Champions.  Their personal best is 169.69.  She is 28 and he is 31.

Guignard/Fabbri, ITA: They placed 11th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 129.46.  She is 23 and he is 24.

Bobrova/Soloviev: RUS: They placed 7th at Worlds and are the reigning European Silver Medalists.  They won silver at Skate America.  They placed 6th at the Grand Prix Final last season.  They are the 2011 European Silver Medalists and  2007 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 163.52.  She is 22 and he is 23.

Sinitsina/Zhiganshin, RUS: They are the reigning Junior World Champions.  They won gold at JGP Poland and JGP Austria last season to qualify for the JGP Final where they won gold.  Their personal best is 153.81.  She is 17 and he is 20.

Chock/Bates, USA: They finished 4th at Skate Canada and 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 135.10.  She is 20 and he is 23.