Tuesday, October 22, 2013

2013 Skate Canada: Pairs Preview

I am a big fan of Meaghan Duhamel & Eric Radford (CAN). They have really shown us the value of hard work and also that a pair can rise up the ladder quickly if they are on the same page. I was thrilled to see them on the World podium last season and they have a real shot at the Olympic podium. They are the favorites here and if they win, it will be their first GP win. Two huge performances on home ice could help set them apart from Moore-Towers & Moscovitch.

We didn't see much of Wenjing Sui & Cong Han (CHN) last season, only a disappointing 12th at
Worlds. They were a force to be reckoned with in their first two years on the Grand Prix. They are exciting to watch and I hope they get that little bit of magic back. They are a near lock for the Olympic team since the Chinese pairs are in such dire straits, but they need to work their way back up the rankings and their road to Sochi starts here. Knowing their energy, I cannot wait to see their Chicago free skate, but I hope they've worked on their connection and chemistry.

Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek (ITA) are not my favorite team in the world, but in a weak field, they look poised to medal. His yellow pants blinded us at Skate America....how lucky are we to see them again? All jokes aside, I must say that their one handed lift in the short was the highlight of the pairs event for me. They are a taller pair, so they have much longer lines and some more impressive lifts than the smaller pairs. I missed their free skate at Skate America, so I'll be excited to see it here. They have a handful of Grand Prix medals and I think they'll add to their collection here.

I'm looking for Paige Lawrence & Rudi Swiegers (CAN) to step it up. They have been spinning their wheels for the past two seasons, but with Canada earning 3 pairs spots for the Sochi Olympics, they have a golden opportunity to step up and seize it. If they flop here again, Canada could look to send a younger team of the future.

My dark horse pick, not necessarily to medal, but to turn some heads and make a splash would be Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier (USA). They are the reigning World Junior champs and this is their first major senior event. It isn't nearly as hard to break into the senior level in pairs as it is in ice dance, case in point, Sui and Han. This team has the technical goods, their artistry is improving, and they are quite consistent. Don't be surprised if they sneak in for a bronze.

Podium Predictions:
Gold: Duhamel & Radford (CAN)
Silver: Sui & Han (CHN)
Bronze: Berton & Hotarek (ITA)

The Rest of the Field:
Lawrence & Swiegers (CAN)
Purdy & Marinaro (CAN)
Vartmann & Van Cleave (GER)
Davis & Brubaker (USA)

Denney & Frazier (USA)

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