Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011 Cup of China: Pairs Preview

Pairs has gone from my least favorite discipline to my favorite in the past year and I think that is because of all the different styles that are emerging. Cup of China will showcase a variety of styles from lyrical and elegant to athletic and aggressive. They skate their short program on Friday November 4th at 8:45 a.m. EST and their free skate on Saturday November 5th at 8:30 a.m.
Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov (RUS) have struggled with consistency in big events in recent seasons, but if they skate cleanly they'll be favored to win here. They've grown on me a lot in recent seasons and I've come to love their soft lyrical style. Their Clair de Lune free skate was gorgeous last season and I'll be happy to see it again, especially paired with a new short program. If they fail to execute at a high level, the young dynamos Wenjing Sui & Cong Han (CHN) will be ready to seize the top spot of the podium with their Quadruple twist and other top-notch elements. Their elements are do die for, but they are still a step below the top teams in their presentation and interpretation, though they are working toward a higher level of maturity and polish. Kirsten-Moore Towers & Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) are a fun team to watch because for their speed, energy, and athleticism, though they lack the finesse and precision of the Russians and the Chinese. Amanda Evora & Mark Ladwig (USA) should be essentially neck and neck with the Canadians in this event as they normally put up similar scores, though they have all the elegance and polish, but often lack the consistency in jumps and throws. I would say a clean Evora & Ladwig will beat a clean Moore-Towers & Moscovitch, but both are unpredictable. Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang (CHN) returned to the scene this year with a debut at Skate America, picking up a Bronze. Both programs were clean, but unimpressive in my opinion. Their programs don't seem to have a lot of growing room so I can't see them scoring much higher than they did at Skate America. They'll likely skate cleanly so a medal is in reach if the inconsistent Canadians or Americans make mistakes. Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin (CHN) are very young team competing in their second senior GP, having skated at Skate Canada last week. Their poorly executed short program kept them out of the medal hunt, but they finished 4th in the free skate.

My Podium Predictions:
1) Kavaguti & Smirnov (RUS)
2) Sui & Han (CHN)
3) Moore-Towers & Moscovitch (CAN)

Competitive History:

Amanda Evora & Mark Ladwig (USA)-11th 2011 Worlds, 6th 2011 Four Continents, 3rd 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 5th 2010 Cup of China; PB: 171.92 at 2010 Winter Olympics

Klara Kadlecova & Petr Bidar (CZE)-15th 2011 Worlds, 7th 2011 Europeans, 6th 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 6th 2010 Ice Challenge, 4th 2010 Coup de Nice, 7th 2010 JGP England, 7th 2010 JGP Austria; PB: 147.84 at 2009 JGP Budapest 

Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov (JPN)-4th 2011 Worlds, 2nd 2011 Europeans, 1st 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 3rd 2010 Worlds, 4th 2010 Winter Olympics; PB: 213.15 at 2010 Europeans

Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch (CAN)-8th 2011 Worlds, 5th 2011 Four Continents, 6th 2010 Grand Prix Final, 2nd 2010 Skate America, 2nd 2010 Skate Canada; PB: 175.48 at 2010 Skate America

Taylor Steele & Robert Schultz (CAN)-4th 2010 JGP Final, 6th 2010 JGP Czech, 4th
2010 JGP England; PB: 133.08 at 2010 Junior Grand Prix Final

Wenjing Sui & Cong  Han (CHN)-2nd at 2011 Skate Canada, 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: 120.82 at 2011 Skate Canada

Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin (CHN)-7th at Skate Canada, 3rd 2010 JGP Final, 1st 2010 JGP Czech Republic, 3rd 2010 JGP Austria; 158.36 at 2011 Skate Canada

Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang (CHN)-2nd at 2011 Skate America, 5th 2010 Worlds, 5th 2010 Winter Olympics, 6th 2009 Grand Prix Final; PB: 197.82 at 2008 Worlds

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