Monday, November 21, 2011

2011 Rostelecom Cup: Ice Dance Preview

The 6th and final Grand Prix of the season is always bittersweet for me. It's arguably some of the best skating of the season, but then again it's the last time we get to see most of these skaters before Worlds, unless they make the Final. It's also the one event that I won't be able to watch in its entirety because it happens to fall on Thanksgiving weekend here in the States. Ice Dance is shaping up to be a nice event in Russia, as 5 of the 8 teams have medaled in their previous Grand Prix events including two Gold medalists. The dancers skate their short Friday November 25th at 12:20 p.m. EST and their free Saturday November 26th at 12:25 p.m.
Reigning World Champions Meryl Davis & Charlie White (USA) have this title wrapped up, and as I've been saying all season, they won't face a challenge until they meet Virtue & Moir at the Final. They'll look to make technical adjustments from Skate America and up their performance quality in preparation for meeting their rivals in 2 weeks. Any color medal here will put them into the Grand Prix Final. Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (RUS) are skating at home and that, coupled with the incredibly high (too high in my opinion) scores they received winning Cup of China puts them in good stead to grab Silver. Their programs are very dramatic, which clearly appealed to the judges in China, and I suspect they'll have a similar effect on home ice. Any color medal here will put them into the Grand Prix Final. Kaitilyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (CAN) are stronger than the Russians in my opinion, but they can't seem to get out of their own way and skate perfectly. But if this is anything like last season, they'll peak at Worlds, which ultimately matters most. Because this is their 3rd event, they've already qualified for the Grand Prix Final, that is unless Pernelle Carron & Lloyd Jones (FRA) or Isabella Tobias & Deividas Stagniunas (LTU) win this event, which won't happen. Both the French & Lithuanian teams won Bronze at their first event and though they are each fine teams, they medaled in relatively weak fields and neither team is much of a podium threat. Each team needs a win to make the Grand Prix Final. The one team that has an outside chance of upsetting the top 3 is Ekaterina Riazanova & Ilia Tkachenko (RUS) though they had a weak start finishing 5th at Skate Canada. For some reason, the judges didn't take to their programs in Canada, but I trust they've made adjustments in the 3 weeks between events and will finish strong at home in Russia.

My Podium Predictions:
1) Davis & White (USA)
2) Bobrova & Soloviev (RUS)
3) Weaver & Poje (CAN)

Competitive History:

Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (RUS)-1st at 2011 Cup of China, 6th 2011 Worlds, 2nd 2011 Europeans, 4th 2010 Grand Prix Final, 1st 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 2nd 2010 Cup of China; PB: 163.52 at 2011 Cup of China

Pernelle Carron & Lloyd Jones (FRA)-3rd at 2011 Cup of China, 12th 2011 Worlds, 9th 2011 Europeans, 4th 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 1st 2010 NRW Trophy, 5th 2010 Skate Canada, 1st 2010 Coup de Nice, 1st 2010 Mont Blanc Trophy; PB: 140.86 at 2011 Worlds

Meryl Davis & Charlie White (USA)-1st at 2011 Skate America, 1st 2011 Worlds, 1st 2011 Four Continents, 1st 2011 Grand Prix Final, 1st 2011 Skate America, 1st 2011 NHK Trophy; PB: 185.27 at 2011 Worlds 

Ekaterina Pushhkash & Jonathan Guerreiro (RUS)-6th at 2011 Skate Canada, 2nd 2011 World Juniors, 4th 2010 JGP Final, 1st 2010 JGP Czech, 2nd 2010 JGP Japan; PB: 136.80 at 2010 JGP Czech

Cathy Reed & Chris Reed (JPN)-7th at 2011 NHK Trophy, 4th 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 13th 2011 Worlds, 2nd Asian Winter Games, 7th 2010 Skate America, 7th 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 133.33 at 2011 Worlds

Ekaterina Riazanova & Ilia Tkachenko (RUS)-5th at 2011 Skate Canada, 6th 2011 Europeans, 2nd 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 5th 2010 Skate America, 3rd 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy; PB: 146.79 at 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard 

Isabella Tobias & Deividas Stagniunas (LTU)-3rd at 2011 Skate America, 5th 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 14th 2011 Worlds, 12th 2011 Europeans, 3rd 2010 NRW Trophy, 11th 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy; PB: 131.01 at 2011 Worlds

Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (CAN)-2nd at 2011 NHK Trophy, 2nd at 2011 Skate Canada, 5th 2011 Worlds, 4th 2011 Four Continents, 4th 2010 Grand Prix Final, 4th 2010 Skate America, 2nd 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 160.32 at 2011 Worlds 

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