Cup of China Pairs Preview

Due to injuries, the field at this event has shrunk to only six teams but there will still be a fierce battle for the podium.  Pang and Tong won the silver medal at Skate America despite toning down some of their technical fire due to knee injuries.  If they can maintain their level of skating or even improve the number of successful jumps, they could earn their second Grand Prix medal of the season.

Kavaguti and Smirnov open their season here.  After four Grand Prix medals last season (including one at the Final) they missed Europeans due to injury and finished 7th at Europeans.  She’s had shoulder injuries that have impacted their career for years and make some of their innovative lifts difficult to perform.

After Moore-Towers and Moscovitch failed to make the Grand Prix Final last season and then missed out on the Canadian Worlds team, they vowed to retool their training and programs and regain their competitiveness.  They won gold at the U.S. Figure Skating Classic earlier this season and are determined to regain their spot as the top Canadian Pairs team.

Stolbova and Klimov are an up and coming Russian Pairs team.  They already have two World Junior medals as well as a European medal.  They won the silver medal at Cup of Nice this past weekend so they’ll have a quick turnaround for this event which could affect their ability to perform at the highest level.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Pang/Tong
Silver: Kavaguti/Smirnov
Bronze: Moore-Towers/Moscovitch

Bios of the competitors:
Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, CAN: They won bronze at Skate America and Cup of China last season.  Their personal best is 177.43.  She is 20 and he is 28.

Pang/Tong, CHN: They finished 4th at Worlds.  They won silver at Skate America.  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 32 and he is 33.

Peng/Zhang, CHN: This is their international debut.  She is 15 and he is 28.

Wang/Zhang, CHN: This is their international debut.  She is 15 and he is 24.

Kavaguti/Smirnov, RUS: They finished 7th at Worlds last season.  They won gold at Cup of China and NHK Trophy and silver at Rostelecom Cup last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They are the 2009 and 2010 World Bronze Medalists, 2010 European Champions, 2009 and 2011 European Silver Medalists and 2008 European Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 213.15.  She is 30 and he is 28.

Stolbova/Klimov, RUS: They are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They placed 7th at Trophee Eric Bompard and 5th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  They are the the 2011 World Junior Silver Medalists and 2010 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 171.81.  She is 20 and he is 22.