Both ice dance and pairs competitions at Skate America have a roster with one team that will almost certainly clinch the gold barring major disaster or injury.
In pairs, World Champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are likely to win the competition, with their biggest competitors being the Zhangs, 2006 Olympic silver medalists. The Chinese pairs team sat out last season due to an injury to Hao Zhang’s hand. The Zhangs are not really entertaining to watch and unexpressive so I’m expecting a silver medal at Skate America and a so-so result at Worlds. But that’s really getting ahead.
As for the bronze medal, there are 3 teams who could be strong contenders to finish off the podium. the first being Moore-Towers and Moscovitch, who started the season out strong (undoubtedly bolstered by Dube/Davison’s absence and the subsequent Skate Canada politicking) but whose success greatly waned as the season progressed. Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov has the potential to get bronze… as long as Bazarova’s jumps get off the ice. Vera is clearly fighting with puberty and despite this team’s natural grace, I see her battle with growth as a losing one. Her jumps are getting progressively lower and as a lower ranked Russian team, a successful career seems to be very, very far from their reach at this point. They might be able to salvage the bronze here but they might not have much else to offer in future seasons. The new pair of Caydee Denney and John Coughlin may end up being a contender for bronze. A summer skate shows that the two are working well together, though we have yet to see if the inconsistencies that plagued them in their previous partnerships will come back to haunt them.
Gold: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Silver: Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang
Bronze: Caydee Denney & John Coughlin
With this roster in ice dance, Meryl Davis and Charlie White can still fall 3 times in the competition and still win based off of their strong skating skills and prestige of being the product of Queen Marina and King Igor and last season’s World Champions. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat who suffered a great defeat in the battle for the World bronze medal must rally to show the judges that they’re starting out fresh and strong for future competitions but they should take the silver medal here quite easily as well. CBC has been touting Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill as the next generation of great Canadian ice dancing but I’m not really captivated by these two. Still, they’ve had some success, which is why I’m putting them in the bronze medal position in my predictions. If they actually do win the medal, CBC will be insufferable.
Gold: Meryl Davis & Charlie White
Silver: Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat
Bronze: Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill
What are your predictions for Skate America 2011? I’d love to hear them!
~The Rinkside Cafe