I know, I'm very early with this weeks Pic of the Week, but by weeks end I hope to share some photos from the action in Cleveland!
The action is underway in Cleveland with all the Novice and Junior skaters buzzing around the Ice but the Senior competition begins soon with the Pairs and Ice Dancers.
The Ice Dance competition looks to be a no brainer. Davis and White medaled in every Grand Prix competition this season including a Bronze at the Grand Prix Final. There biggest hurdle has withdrawn from the competition, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, due to injury. The other team that might have caused them problems, Gregory and Petukhov, are not competing this season due to financial woes. Given all this, it's Meryl and Charlie's competition to win or lose. Other teams that look to crack the podium include Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre, Jane Gilles and Todd Summersett, and Jennifer Wester and Danill Barantsev.
If you would have asked me three months ago, I would have told you the pairs event would be a piece of cake for McLaughlin and Brubaker, however I'm not so sure that will be the case. To be sure, Keauna and Rockne are the favorites and if they skate well, they'll be tough to beat. The good money is definitely on them. Inoue and Baldwin didn't look sharp at all at Skate America but seemed much more together at NHK. If they can skate as well in Cleveland they'll contend for the Gold, especially if they can manage the throw triple axel. The 2007 Champs are making their season debut here. Castille and Okolski had to sit out the Grand Prix due to injury. This will be the second season in a row that they've begun their season at Nationals. Another team to keep an eye on will be Vise and Trent. They have steadily crept up the standings and always have a throw quad salchow in their back pocket. One other team I might throw in for consideration Yankowskas and Coughlin. I was super impressed with this team at Skate America and I think they have the goods to be top contenders as well.