Wednesday, November 10

Skate America Preview Part III: The Pairs

The Pairs
This field has more-or-less stayed in tact since the original Grand Prix assignment listings, with American pair McLaughlin/Brubaker having split being the only change in the roster. However, much like Skate Canada, the race for the silver and bronze medals should be intense.

The German World Silver Medalists should easily win the title in Portland, where they are making their season debut. While they had a less-than-ideal start to last season at the Nebelhorn Trophy and Trophee Eric Bompard, Aliona and Robin should have plenty of cushion room in the components scores here-- if they even need it. I'm curious to see their free skate to The Pink Panther, and I'm hoping it isn't as cheesy as I imagine.

The race for silver and bronze
Five teams should have a pretty realistic chance of ending up on the podium here.
Denney/Barrett had one of their poorest international outings since becoming a pair at the NHK Trophy, and will need to finish with the silver medal to have any hope of qualifying to the Grand Prix Final. Their chances look good if they can deliver.
Sui/Han caught the eyes of many while skating their way to a silver medal last week at Cup of China. The World Junior Champions have more flair and excitement to their skating than just about every other team, but they are still young and have plenty of ways to go in their overall skating quality. I think their chances to medal are once again very good here, but don't expect the components scores to be as high as they were at home.
Moore-Towers/Moscovitch had a great long program at Skate Canada that won them the portion and the silver medal overall. Much like the young Chinese team, they can still work on the smoothness and finish of their skating, but the excitement level is high. A top four finish would give them a great shot at qualifying for the Grand Prix Final, something I'm sure they never saw coming.
Stolbova/Klimov will come in as the "Who?" team, but the World Junior Bronze Medalists beat both Sui/Han and Takahashi/Tran (NHK Trophy bronze medalists) earlier this season on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. If they can medal here, I see a real push to try to get them a second assignment in either Russia or France.
Castelli/Shnapir missed out on the podium at Skate Canada by a little over a point, but their short program was solid and I'd guess they will once again attempt the throw triple Axel in the free skate here.

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