Monday, February 6, 2012

2012 Four Continents Championships: Ice Dance Preview

This is a picture we haven't seen in two seasons, Virtue & Moir wearing Gold while Davis & White wore Silver. To be fair, the Canadians were not at 100% last season even when they did compete, but this season the teams are on a level playing field and Davis & White won the singular head-to-head battle at the Grand Prix Final. Can they repeat here? I say...yes!

Podium Predictions:
1) Davis & White (USA)
2) Virtue & Moir (CAN)
3) Shibutani & Shibutani (USA)

It's splitting hairs comparing the top two teams but I think Davis & White (USA) have the winning free skate. It's operatic, it's beautiful, it's elegant, it's shall we say European. Virtue & Moir (CAN) have a more theatrical free skate and while I happen to prefer it, it do not feel that the judges will score it as highly as the Americans in head-to-head competition. The teams are perfectly matched in terms of technical elements and program components so it simply comes down to the judges' preferences and whether one team will make a mistake as Virtue & Moir did with their fall in the short dance at the Grand Prix Final.

Another key battle will be for the bronze medal between Shibutani & Shibutani (USA) and Weaver & Poje (CAN). The Canadians were slightly behind the Americans at NHK Trophy, but went on to beat them by 6 points at the Grand Prix Final in December. The young Americans were majorly lacking in the short dance, which they've since beefed up. The Shib Sibs almost always skate clean while Weaver & Poje are known for making mistakes in high pressure situations so I'm going with the safe bet and taking the Americans based on their penchant for clean skating and upward improvement throughout the season. For the record, I personally hope Weaver & Poje can go clean and take bronze here and at Worlds.

I'm on the fence about Hubbell & Donohue (USA) in that I like their skating and I think they bring out the best in one another and have meshed very well in under a year. However, I think they still look a little tacky in their packaging. Now that they're going to be on 4CC and World teams with Meryl Davis, Madison needs to step it up in costume, hair, and makeup department. Ice dancing is so aesthetic and Meryl Davis is all class all the say...Madison Hubbell should take a page from that book. But back to the skating, they impressed with a win at Nebelhorn, but slumped when their programs weren't received well at Skate America. They beat some good teams to take 3rd at US Nationals, but I fear they won't score as well here or at Worlds as Chock & Bates could have scored. Again, that's just my personal opinion. I hope they prove me wrong.

The biggest disappointment of the season for me has been Paul & Islam (CAN). I expected them to seize the 3rd spot in Canada with the retirement of Crone & Poirier but they had a disastrous Grand Prix and for some reason their programs aren't clicking with the judges and they finished a disappointing 5th at their Nationals. Canada truly extended an olive branch by sending them to this event. I hope they can up their stock and build some momentum for next season.

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