|Sui and Han. Photo from daylife.com|
Now, to be fair to the ISU, I have to remember that many of the high-level pairs are withdrawn from one or both events with injury (Zhang/Zhang, Dube/Davison, Kavaguti/Smirnov) or retired/split after last season (Shen/Zhao, Mukhortova/Trankov, Volosozhar/Morozov, McLaughlin/Brubaker). This has definitely resulted in a bigger hit to the competition rosters than in any of the other disciplines, and allowed younger and lower-ranked teams to stand on the podium. The ISU couldn't have expected this, and as far as I see, didn't create a rule stating what would happen in this situation.
|Takahashi and Tran. Photo from daylife.com|
Takahashi and Tran compete at the Rostelecom Cup in Russia next week, and a bronze medal there would also make their qualification chances very high. However, Takahashi in particular had extreme difficulties with her jumping elements at the NHK Trophy, where they earned 11 points for their bronze medal. Another bronze isn't out of the question, but I'd guess the level of skating will be higher in Russia than it was in Japan.
Pang and Tong (CHN), Iliushechkina/Maisuradze (RUS), and Bazarova/Larionov (RUS) should all be qualified into the Grand Prix Final, barring disaster from the latter team at Trophee Eric Bompard. Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER) compete at Skate America as well as in France, and should also have no trouble qualifying. Two spots left. This leaves the two "junior" teams, Canadians Moore-Towers/Moscovitch (who have a silver medal from Skate Canada and compete again this week), and American teams Yankowskas/Coughlin (with a 3rd and 4th place finish in their events) and Denney/Barrett fighting it out for those places. Denney/Barrett would have to win the silver medal at home this week in order to have a chance-- and that isn't out of the question.
Who do you think will comprise the six teams in the senior Final? If either of Sui/Han and Takahashi/Tran do qualify for both events, which one do you think they are most likely to skate in, assuming they won't do both?