Cup of China Pairs Preview

This should be an interesting event as several teams are looking to claim their place in the world and at home.  Pang and Tong should easily win Gold at this event and seem to be skating well after a stellar season last year.  They are also a team that tends to improve as the season progresses so it will be interesting to see their scores here.  Sui and Han are a young Chinese team but they are not coached by Bin Yao.  They had an outstanding junior season last year, but have had mixed results this year.  They are capable of landing throw quads.  Having competed in juniors thus far this season, it will be interesting to see how they bring their programs up to the senior level.  Iliushechkina and Maisuradze had a great competition at Skate Canada despite a few mishaps in their free skate.  They are looking to claim a spot amongst the elite Russian pairs teams and move up the ranks at home.  The back to back competitions could negatively effect their performance here.  Evora and Ladwig are coming off a dream season and with Denney and Barrett gone, they are the top pairs team at their rink and should be receiving more attention.  Their lifts are among the best in the world and if they can nail their other elements they have the performance skills to be very competitive.  Yankowskas and Coughlin are another American team that has all the elements to medal but can never seem to put together two clean performances.  Their free program is about his mothers death earlier this year and they really give everything to this program. 

Podium Predictions:
Gold: Pang/Tong
Silver: Iliushechkina/Maisuradze
Bronze: Sui/Han

Information on all the teams competing is below.

Kaleigh Hole/Adam Johnson, CAN: Hole and Johnson placed 10th at the World Junior Championships in their first season together.  They won gold and bronze at their two Junior Grand Prix assignments and placed 5th at the Grand Prix Final.  This is their Grand Prix debut.

Huibo Dong/Yiming Wu, CHN: Dong and Wu placed 17th at the World Championships.  They won bronze at the 2008 World Junior Championships.  They placed 6th at both of their Grand Prix assignments last season and placed 7th last weekend at Skate Canada. 

Qing Pang/Jian Tong, CHN: Pang and Tong won silver at the Olympics (with personal bests in the free skate and total score) and are the reigning World Champions (with a personal best short program).  They also won the World Championships in 2006.  They are three time Four Continents gold medalists and two time silver medalists.  They won both of their Grand Prix assignments last season before winning silver at the Grand Prix Final.  They won gold at their first assignment this season, the NHK Trophy.

Wenjing Sui/Cong Han, CHN: Sui and Han are the reigning World Junior Champions with personal best scores in the short program and total score.  They won both their Junior Grand Prix assignments last season, including the Junior Grand Prix Final.  They placed 2nd and 1st at their assignments this season, again qualifying them for the Final.  This is their Grand Prix debut.

Nicole della Monica/Yannick Kocon, ITA: They placed 12th at the Olympics with personal bests in the short and free programs.  They were 6th at Europeans.  They finished 5th at their Grand Prix debut last season in Moscow.

Lubov Iliushechkina/Nodari Maisuradze, RUS: They are the 2009 World Junior Champions.  They placed 5th at their Grand Prix debut last season in Beijing.  They won Skate Canada last weekend.

Amanda Evora/Mark Ladwig, USA: They placed 10th at the Olympics with personal best scores in the short and free programs and 9th at the World Championships.  They placed 7th and 5th at their Grand Prix assignments last season.

Caitlin Yankowskas/John Coughlin, USA: They placed 4th at the Four Continents Championships with personal best scores in the short and free skate.  They placed 7th at their lone assignment to Skate Canada last season.  They finished 4th at NHK Trophy this season.