Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2011 Skate Canada: Pairs Preview

This pairs event is sure to be a heated battle between Russia & China, with a little Canada & Japan sprinkled in. The two top teams were born in different decades, so that gives you an idea of how diverse this field is. They take the ice at 3:45pm EST on Friday October 28th for their short program and 4:15pm on Saturday October 29th for the free.

The fact that Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov (RUS) are making their Senior Grand Prix debut here is a technicality because they come in as World silver medalists. They look like they were born to skate together and proved that in Moscow last May. They are in a class of their own and shouldn't have any real competition until they face Savchenko & Szolkowy in the Final. Wenjing Sui & Cong Han (CHN) are fresh off two wins on the Junior Grand Prix circuit and are a solid bet for a medal here. They are completing solid Quad twists and throws which gives them a technical leg up, and are also improving their performance level. Lubov Iliushechkina & Nodari Maisuradze (RUS) started strong in 2010, making the Grand Prix Final, but fell off at their own Nationals and failed to make Worlds. They had a disastrous free skate at O Nepela earlier this month and finished 3rd when they were favored for Silver, so a medal here would restore their confidence for the rest of the season. Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (CAN) are beginning their 2nd season together, but already have a Silver at Four Continents and a 7th place finish at Worlds under their belt. It would be a great season starter for them to do well on home ice. Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran (JPN) were all over the map last season, but they owned the Junior circuit and many see them as threats for major Senior medals. For me, they're not quite there yet and still have a very Junior-ish quality, but that being said I'm also very open to seeing how they've progressed and where their new programs will take them. Don't forget reigning Skate Canada and Four Continents bronze medalists Paige Lawrence & Rudi Swiegers (CAN) who are aiming to improve their scores this season by upping their program components. Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin (CHN) were stars this year on the Junior Grand Prix, winning two Silvers behind Sui & Han and qualifying to the Final. Moving from Junior to Senior is a big step up and I'm excited to see how they transition.

My Podium Predictions:
1) Volosozhar & Trankov (RUS)
2) Wenjing Sui & Cong Han (CHN)
3) Iliushechkina & Nodari Maisuradze (RUS)

Competitive History:

Jessica Dube & Sebastian Wolfe (CAN)-6th 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, PB: 192.78 (Dube/Davison) at 2008 Worlds

Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (CAN)-7th 2011 Worlds, 2nd 2011 Four Continents, 5th 2010 Skate Canada, 3rd 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy; PB: 181.79 at 2011 Four Continents 

Lubov Iliushechkina & Nodari Maisuradze (RUS)-3rd 2011 O Nepela, 1st 2011 Winter Universiade, 4th 2010 Grand Prix Final, 4th 2010 Cup of China, 1st 2010 Skate Canada; PB: 177.44 at 2010 Grand Prix Final

Paige Lawrence & Rudi Swiegers (CAN)-5th 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 3rd 2011 Four Continents, 5th 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 3rd 2010 Skate Canada; PB: 171.73 at 2011 Four  Continents

Wenjing Sui & Cong  Han (CHN)-1st 2011 JGP Latvia, 1st 2011 World Juniors, 3rd 2010 Grand Prix Final, 3rd 2010 Skate America, 2nd 2010 Cup of China, 1st 2010 JGP Germany, 2nd 2010 JGP Austria; PB: 179.04 at 2010 Grand Prix Final

Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran (JPN)-9th 2011 Worlds, 7th 2011 Four Continents, 1st 2010 JGP Final, 2nd 2010 Cup of Russia, 3rd 2010 NHK Trophy, 2nd 2010 JGP Germany, 2nd 2010 JGP England; PB: 165.47 at 2010 Rostelecom Cup 

Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov (RUS)-1st 2011 O Nepela, 1st 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 2nd 2011 Worlds, 1st 2011 Mont Blanc Trophy; PB: 210.73 at 2011 Worlds

Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin (CHN)-3rd 2010 JGP Final, 1st 2010 JGP Czech Republic, 3rd 2010 JGP Austria; 140.58 at 2010 JGP Final 

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