2017 World Championships Pairs Preview

Sui and Han missed the first half of the season as she had surgery last spring.  They are the reigning World Silver Medalists and reigning Four Continents Champions.  Their personal best came at Four Continents, where they scored 225.03.  They have a quad twist in their free skate, but what is most impressive about their programs is the quality of the elements they execute.  They routinely receive +2 and +3 GOE, giving them bonus points on their base score.  This quality performance gives them the best element score in a short program this season.  They have the 2nd best short program, 4th best free skate, and 2nd best total scores.

Stolbova and Klimov also missed the first half of the season due to injury.  They finished 4th at Worlds last season, and 4th at Europeans this year.  Their personal best was set at the Grand Prix Final last season, where they scored 229.44.  Technically there is nothing that stands out in their programs.  They don’t have quads or difficult side by side combinations.  This doesn’t give them a lot of wiggle room and they’ll have to execute everything cleanly to make up for the lack of technical firepower.  The only real difference between them and gold at Europeans was their technical score in the short program after they made errors on the side by side jumps.  They have the 7th best short program, 5th best free skate, and 6th best total scores.

Savchenko and Massot had to sit out the middle of the season, missing the Grand Prix Final, due to injury.  They took home gold in their two Grand Prix assignments and are the reigning World Bronze Medalists and European Silver Medalists.  They set a personal best at Europeans, scoring 222.35.  They had to water down some of their content at Europeans as they were making their way back from the earlier injury.  However, they are capable of landing throw triple axels in the short program and free skate and they have a throw quad salchow planned for the end of their free skate.  It’s a risky move putting such a difficult element as the last thing in the program as it is the last impression the judges have, however, if it’s landed well, it can greatly inflate the program components as the overall impression of the program will likely be higher.  Even with the watered down content, their passionate free skate at Europeans earned the the highest score of the season in program components and the second highest in technical elements.  They have the 4th best short program, best free skate, and 3rd best total scores.

Yu and Zhang have made the most of their new pairing, winning a gold and silver on the Grand Prix and silver at the Grand Prix Final.  They set their personal best at the Final, scoring 206.71.  They finished 4th at Four Continents.  They recently upgraded to a quad twist in their free skate.  They are still a new team and are learning how to perform together in a program.  This is reflected in the steady rise in their program components, staring around 29 points and moving to 33 points in the short program, and going from 65 to 68 points in the free skate.  They have the 5th best short program, 9th best free skate, and 8th best total scores.

Duhamel and Radford are the two-time reigning World Champions and Four Continents Silver Medalists.  They won two gold medals on the Grand Prix and bronze at the Grand Prix Final.  Their personal best was set at Worlds last year when they scored 231.99.  They have difficult programs planned with a throw triple axel in the short program and a throw quad salchow in their free skate.  They haven’t had as much success with these elements, so it will be interesting to see if they include them to prepare for the Olympic season, or if they go for more guaranteed elements and a clean program to try and hold on to their title.  They are fairly successful at their side by side triple lutzes in both programs.  Most teams are attempting a triple toe in their short programs worth 4.30 points, while the lutz is worth 6.00.  They have the 3rd best short program, 6th best free skate, and 5th best total scores.

Tarasova and Morozov didn’t really come in to the season as a team that was on the radar.  They finished 5th at Worlds last year, but were 10 points from the podium.  They won a bronze and silver on the Grand Prix and then were the surprise winners of the Grand Prix Final.  They claimed their first European title in January with a personal best score of 227.58.  In general, the elements of their program are not super difficult, with the exception of the quad twist in their free skate (which they did not include at Europeans), but they have quality.  Everything they do earns positive GOEs.  While their programs are a little bit paint by the numbers, they are clean and have the classic Russian look that earns them high program component marks.  The biggest difference in their success this season has been getting consistency in the free program.  At Skate America, they earned only 49.84 points in the free skate for TES, but they earned 72.82 points at Europeans.  They have the best short program, 2nd best free skate, and best total scores.

James and Cipres had the best performance of their careers to take home the bronze medal from Europeans with a personal best 220.02.  They also won a bronze medal at Trophee de France.  Their biggest improvement has been in the program components.  At Skate America, their free skate earned only 59 points in that segment, while they earned 71.57 at Europeans.  They have the highest technical score in a free skate this season.  They have dialed back some of their side by side content this season but do plan a quad salchow in their free skate.  They do a lower value Group 5 lift in their free skate, which is worth a half point less than other teams are doing.  It’s a small thing, but that half point in base value could make a difference in a tight competition.  They have the 6th best short program, 3rd best free skate, and 4th best total scores.

Seguin and Bilodeau have had a bit of an up and down season.  They won gold at Skate America and then placed 5th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 208.30, but was set at a Challenger Cup series, and they have yet to come close to that score in any other event.  Like James and Cipres, one of the Group 5 lifts in their free skate is a lower base value, although theirs is a full point less.  They have the 7th best free skate and 7th best total scores.

Iliushechkina and Moscovitch are the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They won two bronze medals on the Grand Prix.  They have steadily been making improvements in their scores throughout the season, but the biggest thing holding them back is the side by side jumps in their free skate which they’ve yet to hit cleanly.  They have the 9th best short program, 10th best free skate, and 9th best total scores.

Zabiiako and Enbert finished 5th at Europeans.  They won silver at Rostelecom Cup and finished 4th at the Grand Prix Final, coming in as a first alternate.  Their technical score in the free skate is a bit behind the other teams as they are doing a throw double axel.  This is worth at least a half a point less in the throws than any of the other top teams.  However, if they decide to go for the full triple axel, that element would give them an extra three points in base value.  They have the 10th best short program score.

Also trying to crack the top ten are Scimeca Knierim and Knierim (6th at Four Continents) and Denney and Fraizer  (silver at Skate America).

Peng and Jin have the 8th best short program, 8th best free skate, and 10th best total scores, but there were only two spots for Chinese teams at Worlds this year.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Savchenko/Massot

Silver: Sui/Han

Bronze: Tarasova/Morozov