Skate America Pairs Preview

Volosozhar and Trankov finished just tenths of a point away from gold behind Savchenko and Szolkowy at two events last season.  They have shown they have the ability to be the top pairs team in the World.  After two straight World Silver medals they’ll look to put up a strong score here and set themselves up for the season.  Their 196 points at Nebelhorn put them on the right track and they’ll be almost unbeatable here with good lifts and jumps, beautiful lines and great performance quality.

Pang and Tong sat out the majority of last season and were disappointed to find themselves in 4th place at Worlds.  They’ve committed to competing the full season in preparation for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.  They still have the goods to compete with the best but they’ll need to stay healthy and up their game if they want to challenge Volosozhar and Trankov.

Denney and Coughlin won the silver medal at Nebelhorn Trophy earlier this season but scored nearly 20 points less than Volosozhar and Trankov.  They have amazing technical elements and nearly tied the Russians on the technical side but they’ve admitted their focus for this season is bringing up their 2nd mark.  They’re unlikely to catch the top two teams here but how close they can get will tell the story for this season.

Donlan and Speroff will have to pull out the performance of their lives to medal here in their Grand Prix debut but their Sleeping Beauty free skate is stunning and will be a highlight of the competition regardless of how they finish.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Volosozhar/Trankov
Silver: Pang/Tong
Bronze: Denney/Coughlin

Bios of the competitors:
Pang/Tong, CHN: They finished 4th at Worlds.  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.

James/Cipres, FRA: They finished 15th at Worlds and 6th at Europeans.  They placed 8th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Their personal best is 151.93.  She is 25 and he is 21.

Montalbano/Krasnopolski, ISR: They finished 17th at Worlds and 11th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 120.32.  She is 23 and he is 24.

Volosozhar/Trankov, RUS: They are the reigning World Silver Medalists and European Champions.  They won gold at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final last season where they won silver.  They are the 2011 World Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 212.08.  She is 26 and he is 29.

Castelli/Shnapir, USA: They placed 7th at NHK Trophy last season.  They are the 2009 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 137.47.  She is 22 and he is 25.

Denney/Coughlin, USA: They placed 8th at Worlds and are the reigning Four Continents Silver Medalists.  They placed 4th at Skate America and 5th at NHK Trophy last season.  Their personal best is 185.42.  She is 19 and he is 26.

Donlan/Speroff, USA: This is their Grand Prix debut.  She is 18 and he is 24.