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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

World Championships Dance Preview

Since the 2010 Olympics, the story has been the same: Virtue and Moir vs Davis and White.  Virtue and Moir won back their World title last season but have not beat Davis and White at their next three meetings.  To make matters worse, Virtue and Moir had to stop their free dance at Four Continents as Tessa was experiencing leg pain.  She has struggled with compression syndrome and has undergone surgery to alleviate the pain.  They attributed this setback to overtraining.  They have the top short dance score of the season and the 2nd top short dance score of all time.  Their Carmen free dance is hit or miss depending on the audience.  Some love it's fiery intensity and modern take on a classic tale.  Others find the choreography awkward and disjointed.

Davis and White have made attempts to silence their critics this season from their spot on portrayal of the Giselle ballet in the short dance and their emotional Notre Dame free dance.  I admit that I was not a fan of their free dance, but the changes they made before US Nationals have added a new layer to their program.  One of my favorite moments is the sustained arabesque spirals in the middle of the program.  They narrowly lost to Virtue and Moir in the short dance at Four Continents but ended up winning by three points.  While their point advantage has been slowly shrinking over the season, I'm not sure Virtue and Moir will be able to catch up in time to overtake their training mates.

Pechalat and Bourzat were hoping to use this season to set themselves up to challenge for Olympic gold.  After winning gold at both of their Grand Prix assignments, they won bronze at the Final.  They missed the chance to defend their European title due to his groin injury.  Fabian has admitted that he is still experiencing pain from the injury, however, they have not had to make any changes to their programs to compensate.  They won their bronze medal at Worlds last season while she had a broken nose and have proven they can still compete with an injury.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov and Bobrova/Soloviev have been trading places as the number one Russian team over the past few seasons.  Bobrova and Soloviev finished ahead at both the Grand Prix Final and at Europeans.  However, they only bested their teammates by .11 at Europeans.  Both have faced criticisms over the years: Bobrova/Soloviev for their poor posture and lines and Ilinykh/Katsalapov for their work ethic and choreography.  Bobrova and Soloviev have made great strides in improving their style this season and are showing off their improvements in their lyrical programs.

Cappellini and Lanotte took home the bronze medal at Europeans and nearly defeated Virtue and Moir on home ice at Skate Canada earlier this season.  While they haven't quite been able to keep up with the top teams in the World, they should easily be able to replicate or improve on their 6th place finish at Worlds last year.  Their Carmen free dance has a classic interpretation but doesn't have quite the technical levels to put them on the same level as Virtue and Moir.

Weaver and Poje had a slow start to their season, failing to qualify for the Grand Prix Final and then suffering a training injury which required surgery for Kaitlyn and kept her off the ice for 8 weeks.  They missed Canadian nationals but are competing at Worlds on their home turf.  While their modern free dance choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance alum Allison Holker was interesting to watch and nicely put together, they weren't getting the levels or the scores they were expecting.  They've taken their time away from competitive ice and completely revamped their program in hopes of maintaining their place as one of the top five teams in the world.

Fighting for the number two US spot are Chock/Bates and the Shibutanis.  Chock and Bates have beat the Shibutanis at their last two events, US Nationals and Four Continents.  While both were by a small margin and the Shibutanis had mistakes, the mistakes seem to be a consistent problem for them this season.  These two teams used to be training partners, but in the split, Chock and Bates moved to Novi with Shpilband and seem to be flourishing as one of the top teams in the rink.  On the other hand, the Shibutanis programs do nothing for them this season.  The short dance pattern should be perfect for them but they chose to go with an out of the box program that doesn't suit them.  However, the Shibutanis are some of the best technical skaters in the ice dance event and do have a World Bronze Medal to their credit.  Both teams are likely to finish in the top 10 and should be able to easily secure three spots for the US in Sochi combined with Davis and White's result.

Riazanova and Tkachenko have taken a back seat to their Russian teammates, and while they fly under the radar they have had consistent good results this season.  After winning bronze at both of their Grand Prix events, they placed 4th at Europeans.  They finished 9th at Worlds last season and should be able to improve.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Davis/White
Silver: Virtue/Moir
Bronze: Pechalat/Bourzat

Bios of the competitors:
Zlobina/Sitnikov, AZE: They placed 17th at Worlds last season.  They finished 7th at Europeans.  They finished 6th at Skate Canada and 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Their personal best is 144.83.  She is 23 and he is 26.

Kavaliova/Bieliaiev, BLR: They placed 21st at Junior Worlds.  They finished 9th at JGP France and 11th at JGP Austria.  Their personal best is 111.34.  She is 18 and he is 20.

Gilles/Poirier, CAN: They placed 5th at Four Continents.  They finished 4th at Skate Canada and 6th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Their personal best is 157.83.  She is 21 and he is 21.  They have the 7th best free dance and 10th best total scores.

Virtue/Moir, CAN: They are the reigning World Champions and Four Continents Silver Medalists.   They won gold at Skate Canada and gold at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won silver.  They are the 2010 Olympic Gold Medalists, 2010 World Champions, 2008 and 2011 World Silver Medalists, 2009 World Bronze Medalists, 2008 and 2012 Four Continents Champions, 2009 Four Continents Silver Medalists, 2006 and 2007 Four Continents Bronze Medalists, 2006 World Junior Champions and 2005 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 183.84.  She is 23 and he is 25.  They have the best short dance, 2nd best free dance and 2nd best total scores.

Weaver/Poje, CAN: They finished 4th at Worlds.  They won bronze at Skate America and Cup of China.  They are the 2010 Four Continents Champions, 2012 Four Continents Bronze Medalists, and 2007 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 166.55.  She is 23 and he is 26.  They have the 7th best short dance, 10th best free dance and 9th best total scores.

Mysliveckova/Brown, CZE: They placed 14th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 124.62.  She is 23 and he is 23.

Shtork/Rand, EST: They placed 22nd at Worlds last season.  They finished 11th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 132.90.  She is 19 and he is 20.

Karmi/Lindholm, FIN: They placed 19th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 110.92.  She is 20 and he is 22.

Carron/Jones, FRA: They placed 21st at Worlds last year.  They finished 10th at Europeans.  They finished 7th at Skate Canada and 8th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Their personal best is 142.27.  She is 26 and he is 24.

Pechalat/Bourzat, FRA: They are the reigning World Bronze Medalists.  They won gold at Cup of China and Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They are the 2011 and 2012 European Champions.  Their personal best is 173.18.  She is 29 and he is 32.  They have the 4th best short dance, 3rd best free dance and 3rd best total scores.

Zhiganshina/Gazsi, GER: They finished 11th at Worlds last season.  They placed 6th at Europeans.  They placed 5th at Skate America and 5th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 147.28.  She is 25 and he is 28.

Coomes/Buckland, GBR: They placed 14th at Worlds last season.  They finished 5th at Europeans.  They placed 7th at Rostelecom Cup and 6th at NHK Trophy.  Their personal best is 152.95.  She is 23 and he is 23.

Nagy/Fejes, HUN: They placed 23rd at Worlds last season.  They finished 16th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 117.60.  She is 26 and he is 25.

Reed/Rogov, ISR: She is 18 and he is 22.

Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA: They placed 6th at Worlds last year and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They won silver at Skate Canada and at Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 4th.  Their personal best is 165.80.  She is 26 and he is 27.  They have the 6th best short dance, 6th best free dance and 6th best total scores.

Guignard/Fabbri, ITA: They placed 9th at Europeans.  They finished 5th at Cup of China.  Their personal best is 142.48.  She is 23 and he is 25.

Reed/Reed, JPN: They placed 24th at Worlds last season.  They finished 7th at Four Continents.  They finished 5th at NHK Trophy.  Their personal best is 133.33.  She is 25 and he is 23.

Tobias/Stagniunas, LTU: They placed 18th at Worlds last season.  Their personal best is 139.53.  She is 21 and he is 27.

Plutowska/Gerber, POL: She is 21 and he is 20.

Bobrova/Soloviev: RUS: They placed 7th at Worlds and are the reigning European Champions.  They won silver at Skate America and silver at Cup of China to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 5th.  They are the 2011 and 2012 European Silver Medalists and  2007 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 169.25.  She is 22 and he is 23.  They have the 3rd best short dance, 5th best free dance and 4th best total scores.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov, RUS: They finished 5th at Worlds last season and are the reigning European Silver Medalists.  They won silver at Rostelecom Cup and silver at NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 6th.  They are the 2012 European Bronze Medalists and 2010 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 169.14.  She is 18 and he is 21.  They have the 5th best short dance, 4th best free dance and 5th best total scores.

Riazanova/Tkachenko, RUS: They finished 9th at Worlds last season.  They placed 4th at Europeans.  They won bronze at Skate Canada and bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Their personal best is 157.77.  She is 21 and he is 26.  They have the 9th best short dance.

Testa/Csolley, SVK: They placed 12th at the preliminary round at Worlds last season.  They finished 17th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 114.62.  She is 19 and he is 22.

Hurtado/Diaz, ESP: They placed 19th at Worlds last season.  They finished 15th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 124.26.  She is 20 and he is 22.

Agafonova/Ucar, TUR: They finished 16th at Worlds last season.  They placed 13th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 127.59.  She is 22 and he is 28.

Heekin-Canedy/Dun, UKR: They placed 15th at Worlds last season.  They finished 12th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 129.36.  She is 21 and he is 23.

Chock/Bates, USA: They are the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They finished 4th at Cup of China.  Their personal best is 160.42.  She is 20 and he is 24.  They have the 8th best short dance, 9th best free dance and 7th best total scores.

Davis/White, USA: They are the reigning World Silver Medalists and Four Continents Champions.   They won gold at Skate America and gold at NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won gold.  They are the 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists, 2011 World Champions, 2010 World Silver Medalists, 2009 and 2011 Four Continents Champions, 2008 and 2012 Four Continents Silver Medalists, and 2006 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 188.55.  She is 26 and he is 25.  They have the 2nd best short dance, best free dance and best total scores.

Shibutani/Shibutani, USA: They placed 8th at Worlds last season.  They finished 4th at Four Continents.  They finished 4th at Rostelecom Cup and won bronze at NHK Trophy.  They are the 2011 World Bronze Medalists, 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalists and 2009 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 163.79.  She is 18 and he is 21.  They have the 10th best short dance, 8th best free dance and 8th best total scores.

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