NHK Trophy Pairs Preview

Pang/Tong, Volosozhar/Trankov, Kavaguti/Smirnov and Duhamel/Radford have all earned their tickets to Sochi while Denney/Coughlin and Berton/Hotarek await the outcome of this event.

Bazarova and Larionov started off their season with a silver medal at home at Rostelecom Cup.  They have struggled to put together two clean programs and land the side by side jumps but in this field they should be able to claim the top spot.  They need a 4th place finish or higher to qualify for the Final.

Moore-Towers and Moscovitch have approached the season with a new vigor, determined to reclaim their spot at the top Canadian pairs team.  They finished a disappointing 4th at Cup of China and will need a silver medal or better to qualify for the Final, which they should be able to do in this field.

Castelli/Shnapir and Martiusheva/Rogonov can qualify if they win the gold medal.  While this would be a tall order, Castelli and Shnapir have been gaining confidence all season and if they can sneak past Moore-Towers and Moscovitch for the silver medal, they can send their teammates Denney and Coughlin to the Final.

Scimeca and Knierim earned their spot at this event by winning Cup of Nice earlier this season.  They are still a relatively new team in their first season together but could be a spoiler at this event if they can clean up their free skate.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Bazarova/Larionov
Silver: Moore-Towers/Moscovitch
Bronze: Castelli/Shnapir

Bios of the competitors:
Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, CAN: They placed 4th at Cup of China.  Their personal best is 177.43.  She is 20 and he is 28.

Della Monica/Guarise, ITA: They placed 15th at Worlds.  They finished 7th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 142.53.  She is 23 and he is 24.

Bazarova/Larionov, RUS: They finished 6th at Worlds and are the reigning European Silver Medalists.  They won silver at Rostelecom Cup.  They are the 2011 European Bronze Medalists and 2007 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 193.79.  She is 19 and he is 26.

Martiusheva/Rogonov, RUS: They placed 5th at Rostelecom Cup.  They are the 2009 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 151.10.  She is 17 and he is 24.

Castelli/Shnapir, USA: They placed 5th at Skate America.  They are the 2009 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 164.19.  She is 22 and he is 25.

Davis/Ladwig, USA: They placed 7th at Skate Canada.  Their personal best is 122.26.  She is 20 and he is 32.

Scimeca/Knierim, USA: This is their Grand Prix debut.  She is 21 and he is 25.