Olympic Games Dance Preview

Since 2010, the Ice Dance world has been dominated by Davis/White and Virtue/Moir.  They finished 1-2 at the last Olympics and have broken several records.  Youngest dance team to win Olympic gold, first North American team to claim World and Olympic gold, first North American sweep of the podium and world record score after world record score.  Now in their highly anticipated, likely final showdown these training mates both have Olympic gold on their minds.

Davis and White have not lost a competition since Worlds in 2012 and were scoring much higher than Virtue and Moir all season.  The gap narrowed at the Grand Prix Final but Davis and White finished a stunning 10 points ahead of their training mates in the team event.  Meryl was seen in the team box studying her scores after the event and they’re likely to continue to improve even though they beat their own world record in the free dance.  Their short dance to My Fair Lady is light and charming and their free dance to Scheherezade is full of nuances and difficult elements.  They leave everything out on the ice and have some of the more daring and impressive elements in the field.  I don’t think the gap will remain as large between these teams but it does seem to be Davis and White’s event to lose.  If they win, they will become the first Olympic Ice Dance Champions from the United States.

Virtue and Moir were noticeably disappointed in their scores in the team event and they are unlikely to give up without a fight.  Tessa has struggled with her twizzles in the short dance at several events this season and that has left them having to make up ground.  Despite the mistakes, their Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong short dance is gorgeous and one of the best skated programs of the season.  Their free dance which depicts the journey of their career and is meant to be their farewell to skating is beautiful and technically done well but seems to be missing that spark that their 2010 program had.  Even on Olympic ice it still seemed to be missing something and they’ll need to find that extra oomph in their program if they want to repeat as Olympic Champions.  They are retiring after this season and it’s unclear if they will continue on to Worlds, so the fact that this might be their last two performances could give them the edge they need.

There are five teams in the running for the bronze medal.  Pechalat and Bourzat should be the front runner for the medal, but they’ve been up and down over the last few seasons.  They won their first World medal in 2012 but mistakes and injuries kept them from repeating last season.  After mixed results on the Grand Prix they were able to claim bronze at the Grand Prix Final but they still only have the 6th best total score this season.  Their short dance to Chicago sparkles but was not rewarded by the judges in the team event and they finished 4th.  This is also their last season and might be their final event.

Ilinykh and Katsalapov are one of the most promising young ice dance teams but have not always lived up to their potential.  They’ve struggled with inconsistent work habits and programs that didn’t work for their style.  They returned to their roots this season with a Swan Lake free dance that plays to all of their strengths and was fabulously skated in the team event.  At their best, they have the ability to win the bronze but they can also skate poorly and fall in the standings.

Bobrova and Soloviev have been the top Russian team over the last two seasons.  They did well in the short dance in the team event, setting a season’s best score.  They’ve worked to fix their problems such as posture and speed and that contributed to their World Bronze Medal last season.  While their short dance was technically very good, there wasn’t anything memorable about their program and in such a crowded field, that could effect their placement.

Weaver and Poje have a delightful short dance to 42nd Street and a passionate tango free dance.  They’re some of their strongest programs to date and they’ve really rebounded from their injury last season.  Their total scores are the third best of the season, but they scored them at Skate Canada and haven’t been able to match the scores since.  They finished just 5th at the Grand Prix Final, ten points below their season’s best.  They’ll need to up their levels if they hope to find their way on to the podium.

Cappellini and Lanotte also have a short dance to 42nd Street and Lullaby of Broadway and it’s hard to say who’s is better. This could actually work against them as the judges may have a hard time choosing between the two programs and both could suffer in the scores.  They won their first European title a month ago ahead of Ilinykh and Katsalapov but finished just 5th in the short dance in the team event.  They’re often not given full credit for the elements and will need to make sure they have all the levels as well.  If they hit them, they have a great shot at the podium.

The other two Americans in the field Chock and Bates and the Shibutanis likely will not factor into the medals but should easily claim a top ten finish.  Chock and Bates had a slow start to their season but their Les Miserables free dance came to life in Boston and they surprised many by winning their second consecutive silver medal.  They should easily set season’s best scores here and set themselves up for a good finish at Worlds.  The Shibutanis have never quite lived up to their World Bronze Medal but have made improvements this season and their Michael Jackson free dance should play well to the crowd.  They made changes to their program for US Nationals and this should help bring up their international scores and their Michael Buble short dance plays right into their strengths.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Davis/White

Silver: Virtue/Moir

Bronze: Pechalat/Bourzat

 

Bios of the competitors:

O’Brien/Merriman, AUS: They placed 7th at Four Continents.  Their personal best is 127.20.  She is 24 and he is 25.

Zlobina/Sitnikov, AZE: They placed 16th at Worlds last season and 6th at Europeans.  They finished 8th at Skate America.  Their personal best is 147.78.  She is 24 and he is 27.

Paul/Islam, CAN: They placed 5th at Skate Canada.  They are the 2010 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 143.77.  She is 22 and he is 24.

Virtue/Moir, CAN: They are the reigning World Silver Medalists.   They won gold at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won silver.  They are the 2010 Olympic Gold Medalists; 2010 and 2012 World Champions; 2008 and 2011 World Silver Medalists; 2009 World Bronze Medalists; 2008 and 2012 Four Continents Champions; 2009 and 2013 Four Continents Silver Medalists; 2006 and 2007 Four Continents Bronze Medalists; 2006 World Junior Champions and 2005 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 190.00.  She is 24 and he is 26.  They have the 2nd best short dance, free dance and total scores.

Weaver/Poje, CAN: They finished 5th at Worlds.  They won silver at Skate Canada and Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 5th.  They are the 2010 Four Continents Champions, 2012 Four Continents Bronze Medalists, and 2007 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 175.23.  She is 24 and he is 26.  They have the 4th best short dance, 3rd best free dance and 3rd best total scores.

Huang/Zheng, CHN: Their personal best is 133.90.  She is 27 and he is 26.

Carron/Jones, FRA: They placed 12th at Worlds last season and 13th at Europeans.  They finished 6th at Skate America and 4th at Cup of China.  Their personal best is 145.98.  She is 27 and he is 25.

Pechalat/Bourzat, FRA: They placed 6th at Worlds.  They won gold at Cup of China and bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They are the 2012 World Bronze Medalists and 2011 and 2012 European Champions.  Their personal best is 173.18.  She is 30 and he is 33.  They have the 3rd best short dance, 5th best free dance and 6th best total scores.

Kolbe/Caruso, GER: They placed 11th at Europeans.  They placed 7th at NHK Trophy.  Their personal best is 142.54.  She is 23 and he is 26.

Zhiganshina/Gazsi, GER: They finished 10th at Worlds last season and 7th at Europeans.  They placed 6th at Skate Canada and 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Their personal best is 154.27.  She is 26 and he is 29.

Coomes/Buckland, GBR: They placed 13th at Worlds last season and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They placed 7th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Their personal best is 158.69.  She is 24 and he is 24.  They have the 10th best short dance, 9th best free dance and 8th best total scores.

Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA: They placed 4th at Worlds last season and are the reigning European Champions.  They won silver at Skate America and NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 6th.  They are the 2013 European Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 171.61.  She is 27 and he is 28.  They have the 6th best short dance, 6th best free dance and 5th best total scores.

Guignard/Fabbri, ITA: They placed 17th at Worlds last season and 8th at Europeans.  They finished 7th at Skate Canada.   Their personal best is 144.40.  She is 24 and he is 26.

Reed/Reed, JPN: They placed 20th at Worlds.  They finished 5th at Skate America and 6th at NHK Trophy.  Their personal best is 141.75.  She is 26 and he is 24.

Tobias/Stagniunas, LTU: They placed 15th at Worlds last season and 9th at Europeans.  They placed 7th at Skate America.    Their personal best is 142.31.  She is 22 and he is 28.

Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS: They are the reigning World Bronze Medalists.  They won silver at Cup of China and gold at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 4th.  They are the 2013 European Champions, 2011 and 2012 European Silver Medalists and 2007 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 169.25.  She is 23 and he is 24.  They have the 5th best short dance, 7th best free dance and 7th best total scores.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov, RUS: They finished 9th at Worlds and are the reigning European Silver Medalists.  They placed 4th at NHK Trophy and won silver at Rostelecom Cup.  They are the 2013 European Silver Medalists, 2012 European Bronze Medalists and 2010 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 171.89.  She is 19 and he is 22.  They have the 7th best short dance, 4th best free dance and 4th best total scores.

Sinitsina/Zhiganshin, RUS: They finished 4th at Europeans.  They placed 8th at NHK Trophy.  They are the 2012 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 153.81.  She is 18 and he is 21.

Hurtado/Diaz, ESP: They placed 19th at Worlds last season and 10th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 137.58.  She is 21 and he is 23.

Agafonova/Ucar, TUR: They placed 28th at Worlds last season and 17th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 127.96.  She is 23 and he is 29.

Heekin-Canedy/Dun, UKR: They placed 14th at Worlds last season and 23rd at Europeans.  They placed 8th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 141.88.  She is 22 and he is 24.

Chock/Bates, USA: They finished 7th at Worlds.  They won bronze at Cup of China and Rostelecom Cup.  They are the 2013 Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 164.91.  She is 21 and he is 24.  They have the 10th best free dance.

Davis/White, USA: They are the reigning World Champions.   They won gold at Skate America and NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won gold.  They are the 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists; 2011 World Champions; 2010 and 2012 World Silver Medalists, 2009, 2011 and 2013 Four Continents Champions; 2008 and 2012 Four Continents Silver Medalists; and 2006 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 191.35.  She is 27 and he is 26.  They have the best short dance, free dance and total scores.

Shibutani/Shibutani, USA: They placed 8th at Worlds.  They won bronze at Skate America and NHK Trophy.  They are the 2011 World Bronze Medalists, 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalists and 2009 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 163.79.  She is 19 and he is 22.  They have the 8th best short dance and 10th best total scores.