Gold: Chock & Bates (USA)
Silver: Shibutani & Shibutani (USA)
Bronze: Stepanova & Bukin (RUS)
Madison Chock & Evan Bates emerged as the solid number two team in the US last season and just barely missed a world medal. With Davis & White temporarily retired, they are the top team in the US. Madison Chock was anointed by Tara Lipinski as one of the next great divas in ice dance, and we all know Evan Bates has some of the best technique in the sport, so they should have a nice run over the next four year.
Maia & Alex Shibutani are a classic example of what happens when you fall out of favor with ice dance judges. They were the young phenoms in the post-Vancouver season and have been dropping steadily ever since. This year is key for them. I personally think they should've left Marina, but that's neither here nor there. That Michael Jackson program was a hot mess last year, but the Strauss should be a move back toward the classics that helped them start off so strong on the senior circuit four years ago.
Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin are one of those throwback Russian teams. They bring the drama, the pain, and anguish, and the garish costumes. I can only hope she will grow into one of those grand Russian divas who conveniently forgets to take her mood stabilizers. They won junior worlds last year and with the recent split of Ilinykh and Katasalapov, the top Russian spots are up for grabs.
The Rest of the Field:
Orford & Williams (CAN)-5th at 2014 Four Continents, 2nd at 2014 US International Classic, 6th at 2014 Autumn Classic
Paradis & Oullette (CAN)-5th at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy
Guignard & Fabbri (FRA)-8th at 2014 Europeans, 14th at 2014 Olympics, 2014 at 2014 Worlds, 2nd at 2014 O. Nepela Trophy
Testa & Csolley (SVK)-12th at 2014 Europeans, 23rd at 2014 Worlds, 3rd at 2014 O. Nepela
Cannuscio & McManus (USA)-3rd at 2014 US International Classic, 3rd at 2014 Finlandia Trophy