Nebelhorn Trophy Pairs Preview

Volosozhar and Trankov of Russia should easily win this event.  They won the silver medal at Worlds in their first season together.  Everything about them is elegant from their gorgeous lines to their classically Russian positions and they are a joy to watch.  They were only 6 points behind Savchenko and Szolkowy and I expect that gap to close.  I don’t think they’ll put up huge scores here, since it is still early in the season, but they’ll likely have a nice lead over the rest of the field.

Bazarova and Larionov are another absolutely gorgeous Russian team.  Her lines are some of the best in the business.  Their jumps can be a little rocky and they’ve been criticized for a lack of connection between them in their programs.  They made a big jump last season, winning two Grand Prix medals, qualifying for the Grand Prix Final, and medaling at Europeans.  They also set new personal bests in most of their events.  This season will be critical for them to see if they can continue to grow and push into the upper ranks or if they stagnate and will be surpassed by other Russian teams.

Lawrence and Swiegers from Canada also had a breakout season last year, winning a Grand Prix and Four Continents medal.  They only have one Grand Prix assignment this season, so this event will be a great preparation run that will hopefully lead them to another medal on the GP.

Denney and Coughlin of the United States are the wildcard at this event.  They have done extremely well in their summer events and have only been together for a few months.  Their pair elements are huge and they are really working on their packaging.  They’ve set big goals for this season, but this will be their first chance to see what the international judges think about their pairing.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Volosozhar/Trankov
Silver: Bazarova/Larionov
Bronze: Denney/Coughlin

Bios of the competitors:

Dube/Wolfe, CAN: This is their first season together.  She is the 2005 World Junior Silver Medalist, 2008 World Bronze Medalist and 2009 Four Continents Silver Medalist with her former partner.  She is 23 and he is 21.

Lawrence/Swiegers, CAN: They are the reigning Four Continents bronze medalists.  They won bronze at Skate Canada and finished 5th at Cup of Russia last season.  Their personal best is 171.73.  She is 21 and he is 24.

Hausch/Wende, GER: They finished 12th at Worlds and 6th at Europeans.  They placed 7th at NHK Trophy and won bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 157.42.  She is 22 and he is 27.

Vartmann/Van Cleave, GER: She is 22 and he is 24.

Monalbano/Krasnopolski, ISR: They finished 20th at Worlds.  She is 22 and he is 22.

Bazarova/Larionov, RUS: They finished 5th at Worlds and are the reigning European bronze medalists.  They won silver at NHK Trophy and Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  They are the 2007 World Junior silver medalists.  Their personal best is 188.24.  She is 18 and he is 25.

Volosozhar/Trankov, RUS: They are the reigning World silver medalists.  Their personal best is 210.73.  She is 25 and he is 27.

Denney/Coughlin, USA: This is their first season together.  She is 18 and he is 25.

Vise/Baldwin, USA