Skate America Pairs Preview

Savchenko and Szolkowy are coming off a rough Olympic season which they entered as favorites and left with the bronze medal and then lost their world title.  They seem to have the desire to keep competing and go for the gold in Sochi and they should have no problem winning gold here.  The young Canadian team of Moore-Towers and Moscovich and the young Chinese pair Sui and Han both have silver medals to their credit.  Both had personal best scores on route to these finishes.  With Dube and Davison out for the season, the top Canadian pairs spot is wide open and this team seems poised to take it if they can put out another strong performance here.  Sui and Han also have an excellent shot at a medal as they had one of the highest scores of the year with 4 deductions between their two programs.  With one international competition under their belt and not skating in front of the home crowd which expects a lot from their pairs, they should be able to calm down and hit more of their elements and I’d love to see them hit a clean throw quad.  This is their 4th international competition of the season and 2nd in two weeks so fatigue may be a problem.  For team USA, national champions Denney and Barrett are at their second event and looking for a better performance.  If one of the top team falters, they could sneak in for a medal but they would have to skate clean.  Castelli and Shnapir are also at their second Grand Prix and had higher scores than Denney and Barrett so it will be interesting to see how the two match up here.  National junior champions Zhang and Toth are making their Grand Prix debut here.

My podium predictions are:
Gold: Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy
Silver: Wenhing Sui/Cong Han
Bronze: Kristen Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch

My USFSA Fantasy Team is
A) Savchenko/Szolkowy
B) Moore-Towers/Moscovitch
C) Kemp/King

Information about all of the competitors is below.

Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, CAN: They placed 9th at Four Continents.  They finished 6th at Skate Canada last season and won silver at Skate Canada this season with personal best scores across the board.

Sui/Han, CHN: Sui and Han are the reigning World Junior Champions.  They won both their Junior Grand Prix assignments last season, including the Junior Grand Prix Final.  They placed 2nd and 1st at their assignments this season, again qualifying them for the Final.  At their Grand Prix debut at Cup of China, they won the silver medal with personal best scores across the board. 

Savchenko/Szolkowy, GER: They won bronze at the Olympics with a personal best short program score and silver at Worlds and Europeans (with a personal best free skate and total score).  They have 2 additional Gold and 1 Bronze medal at the World Championships and 3 Gold and a silver at Europeans.  They won bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard and gold at Skate Canada last season, qualifying them for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.

Kemp/King, GBR: They placed 16th at Olympics (with a personal best total score) and Worlds and 11th at Europeans with a personal best free skate.  They placed 7th at Skate America last season.  They started their season with a 8th place finish at Skate Canada.

Stolvoba/Klimov, RUS: They are the reigning World Junior bronze medalists.  They won both of their Junior Grand Prix assignments this season.  This is their Grand Prix debut.

Castelli/Shnapir, USA: Castelli and Shnapir placed 10th at Four Continents.  They are the 2009 World Junior Bronze medalists.  They finished 7th at their Grand Prix debut in Paris last season.  They started this season with a 4th place finish at Skate Canada with personal best scores across the board.

Denney/Barrett, USA: They finished 13th at the Olympics and 7th at Worlds with personal best scores across the board.  They finished 4th and 5th at their two Grand Prix assignments last season.  They started their season with a 5th place finish at NHK Trophy.

Zhang/Toth, USA: Zhang and Toth finished 9th at World Juniors with personal best scores in the short program and total score.  They finished 6th and 11th at their two Junior Grand Prix assignments last season.  Zhang also competes internationally as a junior in singles.  This is their Grand Prix debut.