This is probably the second-most stacked discipline of the event, with four teams already having earned medals on the Grand Prix competing. However, it will probably end up the easiest to predict, as well.
The Olympic and World Silver Medalists come to Portland as the heavy favorites and with a re-choreographed tango free dance. Neither of their programs wowed me at NHK Trophy like the Bollywood original dance and Phantom of the Opera marathon of a free dance did early last season, but their overall score in Japan was still ten points better than that of Crone/Poirier, who won Skate Canada. My hope is that I am engaged much more by their skating in Portland, and I am looking forward to see the "easier to breathe" free dance. In any event, this should be another easy win for the team.
This is a team that is improving rapidly, moving from 12th to 7th at the World Championships in just one season. I wasn't amazed by their Dancing With the Stars-sounding short dance at Skate Canada, but I really enjoyed their free dance to Eleanor Rigby. If Crone/Poirier can once again deliver, they should most definitely be looking at the silver medal here, and a ticket to the Grand Prix Final as one of the top qualifying teams.
The battle for bronze
Weaver/Poje and Shibutani/Shibutani will be fighting it out once again for the third step of the podium. The Canadians bested the Americans (silver and bronze) at the NHK Trophy, but the Shibutanis had a fall in their short dance that kept them from passing the Canadians overall after beating them in the free dance. Due to withdrawals and roster make-ups at the last three Grand Prix, Weaver/Poje will probably miss the Grand Prix Final with a 2nd and even a 4th, while the Shibutanis are in the same situation in the event that they win a second bronze medal. The hurdle for the Americans will definitely be getting through the short dance cleanly.