World Championships–Dance Preview

Davis and White have won every event they have entered this season.  There have been no competitors at their level, but they have continued to push themselves and they have an extremely demanding free skate.  They’ve struggled with the levels on their Golden Waltz sequences but the extra time should have given them the ability to tweak their technique and get in extra repetitions.  They are looking to win the first World Gold Medal in ice dance for the United States and have been working toward this goal all season.  They have the 2nd best short dance, 1st best free dance and 1st best total score of the season.

Virtue and Moir have been out all season due to injury.  They competed at Four Continents, but had to withdraw a few seconds into their free dance due to tightness in Tessa’s quad.  They say they are 100% healthy now and feel like a brand new team.  Their short program is classic Virtue and Moir and is magical to watch.  Their free skate is very different than what they have done before or what other teams are doing.  It has a lot of promise but was sloppy at Four Continents.  They’ve had an extra month of training to add the finishing touches, but I’m not sure they can catch up to the momentum that Davis and White have created.  They have the best short dance score of the season.

Pechalat and Bourzat have made a remarkable jump this season including winning their first European title.  They are not at the class of the top two teams but they have a nice lead over the rest of the pack.  They seem to be truly enjoying their programs this season and they connection they have with each other and the story of their programs comes out on the ice.  They also have home field advantage as they practice in the rink where Worlds is being held.  They have the 3rd best short dance, and 2nd best free dance and total scores for the season.

Bobrova and Soloviev are another team that has come into their own this season as they have become the top ranked Russian dance team.  They won their first European medal earlier this year and have stated that they believe the world podium is within their grasp.  I was not a fan of their short dance and following the Grand Prix Final, they went back to the drawing board and brought a new short dance to Europeans.  Their free dance is nice but it’s also forgettable and in this field, it could leave them off the podium.  They have the 4th best short dance and 3rd best free dance and total scores for the season.

The Shibutanis have made the biggest jump of the season, becoming the first team to win two medals in their first season on the Grand Prix.  They climbed into second place at US Nationals coming very close to Davis and White’s scores.  They then went on to win a silver medal at Four Continents.  Their programs are both enchanting and fit them like a glove.  They’ve continually been climbing over teams this season, and I could see them making another big leap here.  I’m not sure they’re quite ready to be on the podium, but they should be in the final group at Worlds.  They have the 8th best short dance, and 5th best free dance and total scores for the season.

Crone and Poirier started the season with a bang, earning a trip to the Grand Prix Final.  However, their scores and placements have been dropping throughout the season and their seasons best scores were set way back at Skate Canada.  Their short program doesn’t seem to suit their personalities, the choreography and performance doesn’t match the music, and I’m not wild about their costumes.  Their free dance has been better received all season although some of the magic seems to be wearing off.  They have the 7th best short dance and free dance and 6th best total scores of the season.

Ilinykh and Katsalapov had a slow but respectable start to their season coming off their Junior Worlds medal. They did medal at their second Grand Prix event and placed in the top 5 at Europeans.  This team hasn’t made quite the same splash as the Shibutanis and they have another Russian team that came up with them at the same time.  They should do well here and have a shot at securing three spots for Russia in dance next season.  They have the 9th best short dance, 6th best free dance and 7th best total score for the season.

Weaver and Poje have one of my favorite short dances of the season.  They are an exceptionally elegant couple and have great lines on the ice.  However, their free dance has never come together for them and they seem to let nerves get in the way and make mistakes that cost them placements and medals.  They’ll have to go through the qualifying round in which they’ll have to perform their free dance.  If they do well it could increase their confidence going into the competition, but if errors are made it could shake their nerves and effect their short dance performance.  They have the 5th best short dance and 8th best total score of the season.

Absent from this event are Kerr/Kerr (4th best total score and European Silver Medalists) of Great Britain who withdrew due to injury and have since retired.  Riazanova/Tkachenko (9th best total score) of Russia did not receive a place on the World team.  Faiella and Scali (10th best total score) of Italy retired after Europeans and will also not be attending.

My podium predictions: 
Gold: Davis/White
Silver: Virtue/Moir
Bronze: Pechalat/Bourzat

My USFSA Fantasy Team:
A) Davis/White
B) Shibutani/Shibutani
C) Guignard/Fabbri
The competitors (a D indicates a direct entry into the short program):

O’Brien/Merriman, AUS: They finished 9th at Four Continents.  They were 25th at Worlds last season.

Geil/Eisenbauer, AUT: They finished 10th in the preliminary round at Europeans.

Valadzenkava/Vakunov, BLR: They finished 13th in the preliminary round at Europeans.

Tremasova/Lichev, BUL: They finished 24th at the World Junior Championships.  They were 15th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  They placed 13th and 16th at their two JGP assignments this season.

Crone/Poirier, CAN (D): They won bronze at Four Continents.  They finished 14th at the Olympics and 7th at the World Championships last season.  They won bronze at the Grand Prix Final after winning gold at Skate Canada and silver at Skate America.

Virtue/Moir, CAN (D): Virtue and Moir are the reigning Olympic and World Champions.  They sat out the Grand Prix season due to injury.  They are the 2006 World Junior Champions.  They are the 2006 and 2007 Four Continents Bronze medalists, 2009 silver medalists, and 2008 champions.  They are the 2009 World Bronze medalists and 2008 silver medalists.

Weaver/Poje, CAN: Weaver and Poje finished fourth at Four Continents with personal best scores across the board.  They are the 2007 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  They finished 5th at the Grand Prix Final after winning silver at NHK Trophy and finishing 4th at Skate America.

Huang/Zheng, CHN: They placed 6th at Four Continents with personal best scores across the board.  They placed 5th at Cup of China and Trophee Eric Bompard.

Mysliveckova/Novak, CZE: They placed 10th at Europeans.  They finished 6th at NHK Trophy and 5th at Cup of Russia.  They finished 16th at Worlds last season.

Good/Sorensen, DEN: They placed 24th at Worlds last season.

Carron/Jones, FRA (D): They placed 9th at Europeans.  They finished 5th at Skate Canada and 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  They finished 12th at Worlds last season.

Pechalat/Bourzat, FRA (D):   They are the reigning European Champions.  They won gold at Cup of China and Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won silver.  They placed 7th at the Olympics and 4th at Worlds last season.

Reed/Japaridze, GEO: They placed 17th at Europeans.  They finished 22nd at the Olympics and 21st at Worlds last season.

Zhiganshina/Gazsi, GER: They placed 7th at Europeans.

Coomes/Buckland, GBR (D): They placed 14th at Europeans.  They finished 8th at NHK Trophy and Skate America.

Walden/Edwards, GBR: This is their first ISU competition.  They are the reigning national champions.

Hoffman/Zavozin, HUN (D):  They placed 8th at the European Championships.  Zavozin used to compete for USA and won the World Junior title in 2005.  They finished 4th in their Grand Prix debut at Cup of China, won silver at Cup of Russia, and placed 6th at the Grand Prix Final.  Hoffman and Zavozin placed 13th at the Olympics and 10th at Worlds last season.

Nagy/Fejes, HUN: They finished 11th in the preliminary round at Europeans.

Frieling/Rumi, ISR (D): They placed 20th at Europeans.

Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA (D):  They finished 5th at NHK Trophy.  They placed 11th at Worlds last season.

Guignard/Fabbri, ITA (D): This is their first ISU competition.  They are the reigning national silver medalists.

Reed/Reed, JPN (D): They finished 7th at NHK and Skate America.  They placed 15th at Worlds last season.

Tobias/Stagniunas, LTU: They placed 12th at Europeans.

Bruhns/Westenberger, MEX: They finished 10th at Four Continents.

Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS (D): They are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They are the 2007 World Junior Champions.  They won silver at Cup of China and gold at Cup of Russia to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 4th.  They placed 15th at the Olympics and 8th at Worlds last season.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov, RUS (D): They placed 4th at Europeans.  They are the 2010 World Junior champions.  They placed 4th at NHK Trophy and won bronze at Cup of Russia.

Hurtado/Diaz, ESP: They finished 9th at Junior Worlds and 15th at Europeans.  They placed 10th and 5th at their two JGP assignments this season.

Elsener/Roost, SUI: They finished 19th at Europeans and 14th at the World Junior Championships.  They finished 7th and 13th at their two JGP assignments.

Heekin-Canedy/Shakalov, UKR: They placed 11th at Europeans.

Chock/Zuerlein, USA (D): Chock and Zuerlein finished 5th at Four Continents.  They are the 2009 World Junior Champions.  They won bronze at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard.

Davis/White, USA (D): They are the reigning Olympic and Worlds Silver Medalists.  They are the reigning Four Continents Champions.  They are the 2009 Four Continents champions and 2008 silver medalists.  They are the 2006 World Junior bronze medalists.  They won gold at NHK Trophy and Skate America to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won gold.

Shibutani/Shibutani, USA (D): They won silver at Four Continents.  They are the 2009 World Junior Silver Medalists.  They won bronze at the NHK Trophy and Skate America.