Sunday, March 21, 2010

Worlds Preview - Pairs

The Pairs field remains mostly intact from Vancouver with only the Ukranian's Volosozhar and Morozov and the Gold Medalists, Shen and Zhao not competing. Shen and Zhao have retired from eligible competition and news is Tatiana Volosozhar is looking for a new competitive partner at Stanislav Morozov's request.

So we are left with a showdown between two teams that have both claimed the top spot at the event. Reigning Champs and Olympic Bronze Medalists Savchenko and Szolkowy of Germany and 2006 World Champs and reigning Olympic Silver Medalists Pang and Tong of China. The momentum, at this point would seem to favor the Chinese, who not only bested Savchenko and Szolkowy at the Grand Prix Final, but also was leaps ahead of them at the Olympics (where they actually won the free skate portion of the competition). Savchenko and Szolkowy, have struggled to stay on podiums this season with Bronzes at the Grand Prix Final and the Olympics where they were considered by many favorites for Gold. I still think Savchenko and Szolkowy have the superior program, they just have to skate it.

There are other teams lurking in the background including two teams from Russia; Kavaguti and Smirnov and Mukhortova and Trankov. Both dropped the ball for Russia at the Olympics leading to a Russian Pairs medal shut-out, the first since 1960. That's huge considering Soviet or Russian teams had won every Olympic Pairs Gold from 1964 - 2006. So these two teams have a little face saving to do. Kavaguti and Smirnov are the reigning World Bronze Medalists and were 4th at the Olympics so perhaps they have the best shot at spoiling the party at the top.

Some other teams that could pounce upon opportunity include Zhang and Zhang of China who have looked better in the back half of this season, winning the Four Continents Cup. They are the reigning World Silver Medalists and can't be counted out. Also, Dube and Davison of Canada, who didn't have the skate they wanted in Vancouver. Bronze Medalists in 2008, they have a chance to return to the podium.

I'd like to think that the American's Denney and Barrett and Evora and Ladwig have a shot to, if not medal, at least perhaps sneak into the top six. That would be an amazing result!

Medal Predictions: (GOLD) Pang and Tong, (SILVER) Kavaguti and Smirnov, (BRONZE) Savchenko and Szolkowy

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