2013 Cup of China Pairs Preview

Savchenko and Szolkowy were the favorites for Olympic gold going into Vancouver but found themselves winning just the bronze after strong performances by the Chinese team.  Again, they were the leading contenders but lost their World title to the Russians last year and Volosozhar and Trankov have been dominating setting world record after world record at their events.  They’ll need to score 17 points better than their personal best set back in 2011 if they want to catch the Russians.  They’re pulling a Hail Mary and including the throw triple axel in their programs in an attempt to increase their technical score but they had limited success with the element last season.

Pang and Tong had the free skate of their lives to pull ahead of Savchenko and Szolkowy and win the silver medal at the 2010 Olympics.  They’ve struggled in the years since and haven’t been able to match the score or the magic they had in Vancouver.  They haven’t medaled at the last two Worlds and are facing an uphill battle.  However, their choice of free skate music mirrors their program in 2010 and might be just the vehicle they need to make one last run at Olympic gold.

Peng and Zhang are in their 2nd season together and have lots of big tricks like quad twists but have yet to develop the artistic side of their skating.  There’s also a huge gap between them in ages which makes it difficult for them to put together programs and relate to each other.  They finished 11th at Worlds and are looking for their first career Grand Prix medal.

Scimeca and Knierim teamed up last season and found both instant success and personal chemistry.  They won a silver medal at US Nationals and were the top US team at Worlds.  They just missed the podium in their Grand Prix debut last year but had to sit out a good chunk of the summer with an injury.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Savchenko/Szolkowy

Silver: Pang/Tong

Bronze: Scimeca/Knierim

 

Bios of the competitors:

Pang/Tong, CHN: They finished 5th at Worlds.  They won silver at Skate America and gold at Cup of China last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They are the 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists; 2006 and 2010 World Champions; 2007 World Silver Medalists; 2004 and 2011 World Bronze Medalists; 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011 Four Continents Champions; and 2003, 2005 and 2007 Four Continents Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 213.31.  She is 33 and he is 34.

Peng/Zhang, CHN: They placed 11th at Worlds and 5th at Four Continents.  They finished 5th at Cup of China and 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 174.40.  She is 16 and he is 29.

Wang/Wang, CHN: This is their Grand Prix debut.  He is 25.

Popova/Massot, FRA: They placed 7th at Europeans.  They placed 5th at Skate Canada and 7th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 157.12.  She is 20 and he is 24.

Savchenko/Szolkowy, GER: They are the reigning World Silver Medalists and European Silver Medalists.  They won gold at Skate Canada last season.  They are the 2010 Olympic Bronze Medalists; 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 World Champions; 2010 World Silver Medalists; 2007 World Bronze Medalists; 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 European Champions and 2006 and 2010 European Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 217.85.  She is 29 and he is 34.

Martiusheva/Rogonov, RUS: They placed 5th at Rostelecom Cup and NHK Trophy last season.  They are the 2009 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 162.25.  She is 18 and he is 23.

Scimeca/Knierim, USA: They finished 9th at Worlds.  They placed 4th at NHK Trophy last season.  Their personal best is 173.51.  She is 22 and he is 25.

Zhang/Bartholomay, USA: They finished 4th at Four Continents.  They placed 7th at Skate Canada.  Their personal best is 168.42.  She is 20 and he is 24.