Monday, November 21, 2011

2011 Rostelecom Cup: Pairs Preview

Two of the top pairs here have already qualified for the Grand Prix Final so its essentially a free event for them, but you can bet they'll still go all out to try and top one another. The fight for Bronze will be intense, so that is certainly the race to watch. The pairs skate their short Friday November 25th at 8:35 a.m. and their free Saturday November 26th at 8:45 a.m.
World Champions Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy (GER) have struggled all season, in the short at Skate America and in the free at NHK Trophy, but I'm confident they've worked out the kinks and that both programs will come together in Russia. Even though they had trouble, they still managed a Gold and a Bronze, which has already earned them a spot in the Final. Another team guaranteed to compete in the Final is Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov (RUS), the only team to win both of their events thus far. Their programs are less difficult than the Germans, but as they showed two weeks ago in Japan, they can win when the Germans make mistakes. They'll also have the home-ice advantage if you believe in such things. Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek (ITA) after placing 4th at NHK Trophy have an outside chance of making the Grand Prix Final, though they'd have to win and that is highly unlikely. They will fight for the podium though and that could give them a shot at being a Grand Prix Final alternate. Katarina Gerboldt & Alexander Enbert (RUS) could also make the podium, especially on home ice. They were an impressive 4th at last year's Europeans, but we haven't seen much of them since. They were also .02 below the Italians at Cup of Nice this season so they'll look to overcome them and get that monkey off of their back. If they are at that level, they should grab a Bronze here in their lone Grand Prix. Another team looking to grab a medal is Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov (RUS). They had a disastrous Trophee Eric Bompard last week and I'm not entirely sure their programs are suited to their strengths, but if they hit them, they can contend for a medal. Then you have Maylin Hausch & Daniel Wende (GER) who looked so promising at the end of last season and then bombed at Skate America to finish last. They're looking at redemption and if they skate to their potential, they can be in that medal race as well. Ashley Cain & Joshua Reagan (USA) & Brittany Jones & Kurtis Gaskell are both making their senior debuts here. They finished 4th and 6th respectively at last year's World Junior Championships. They won't contend for medals unless something goes horribly wrong at the top, but this is a great opportunity to make a strong debut and improve their World rankings.

My Podium Predictions:
1) Savchenko & Szolkowy (GER)
2) Kavaguti & Smirnov (RUS)
3) Gerboldt & Enbert (RUS)

Competitive History:

Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek (ITA)-4th at 2011 NHK Trophy, 1st at 2011 Cup of Nice, 2nd 2011 O Nepela, 10th 2011 Worlds, 5th 2011 Europeans, 1st 2010 NRW Trophy, 6th 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 2nd 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy; 167.86 at 2011 Cup of Nice 

Ashley Cain & Joshua Reagan (USA)-4th 2011 World Juniors, 5th 2010 JGP Final, 2nd 2010 JGP England, 6th 2010 JGP Czech; PB: 134.40 at 2011 World Juniors

Katarina Gerboldt & Alexander Enbert (RUS)-4th 2011 Europeans, 4th 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 1st 2010 Coup de Nice; PB: 169.95 at 2011 Europeans

Maylin Hausch & Daniel Wende (GER)-8th at 2011 Skate America, 4th 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 12th 2011 Worlds, 6th 2011 Europeans, 1st 2011 Bavarian Open, 3rd 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 1st 2010 Ice Challenge, 7th 2010 NHK Trophy, 5th 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy; PB: 157.42 at 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard

Brittany Jones & Kurtis Gaskell (CAN)-6th 2011 World Juniors, 6th 2011 JGP Final, 4th 2010 JGP Germany, 6th 2010 JGP Austria; PB: 133.41 at 2010 World Juniors

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

Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy (GER)-3rd at 2011 NHK Trophy, 1st at 2011 Skate America, 1st 2011 Worlds, 1st 2011 Europeans, 1st 2010 Grand Prix Final, 1st 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 1st 2010 Skate America, 2nd 2010 Worlds, 3rd 2010 Winter Olympics; PB: 217.85 at 2011 Worlds

Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov (RUS)-2nd 2011 World Juniors, 2nd 2011 JGP Final,
5th 2010 Skate America, 1st 2010 JGP England, 1st 2010 JGP Austria; PB: 159.79 at
2010 JGP Austria

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