Duhamel/Radford also debuted last season and finished 7th at Worlds. The element they struggled with most last season was the triple twist and she broke his nose at Worlds on the element. They've cleaned up this step and have a high technical content including strong side by side jumps. They need a 1st-2nd place finish to qualify for the Final and a bronze medal to stay in the hunt.
Evora/Ladwig are setting the bar as the top U.S. pairs team with their 4th place finish earlier this season. They have strong lifts but their biggest weakness is their side by side jumps. If they can land the jumps, they can compete with the Worlds best. They need a 1st-2nd place finish to qualify for the Final and a bronze medal to stay in the hunt.
Bazarova and Larionov struggled in their first event this season. They have all the elements to be a top pair team with beautiful lifts, throws, and lines but they struggle with the side by side jumps. If the other teams make mistakes, they can make up enough points to make the podium, but they often can't put together two clean programs and if the other teams do, they can be left out of the mix. They need a gold medal finish to qualify for the Final.
Stolbova and Klimov are another Russian team competing here and are making their Grand Prix debut after winning the silver medal at Junior Worlds last season.
My podium predictions:
Bios of the competitors:
Dube/Wolfe, CAN: They placed 6th at Skate Canada. She is the 2005 World Junior Silver Medalist, 2008 World Bronze Medalist and 2009 Four Continents Silver Medalist with her former partner. Their personal best is 158.44. She is 23 and he is 21.
Duhamel/Radford, CAN: They finished 7th at Worlds and won silver at Four Continents. They won bronze at Skate Canada. Their personal best is 181.79. She is 25 and he is 26.
Dong/Wu, CHN: They finished 14th at Worlds and 10th at Four Continents. They placed 7th at Skate Canada and Cup of China last season. They are the 2008 World Junior Bronze Medalists. Their personal best is 146.49. She is 22 and he is 24.
James/Cipres, FRA: This is their Grand Prix debut. She is 24 and he is 20.
Bazarova/Larionov, RUS: They finished 5th at Worlds and are the reigning European bronze medalists. They placed 5th at Skate Canada. They qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season and placed 5th. They are the 2007 World Junior silver medalists. Their personal best is 188.24. She is 18 and he is 25.
Stolbova/Klimov, RUS: They are the reigning World Junior Silver Medalists. They placed 5th at Skate America last season. They qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final last season and won silver. They are the 2010 World Junior bronze medalists. Their personal best is 159.79. She is 19 and he is 21.
Volosozhar/Trankov, RUS: They are the reigning World silver medalists. They won gold at Skate Canada. Their personal best is 210.73. She is 25 and he is 27.
Evora/Ladwig, USA: They finished 11th at Worlds and 6th at Four Continents. They placed 4th at Cup of China. Their personal best is 171.92. She is 26 and he is 31.