If there's one sure thing at this event it is that Davis and White will claim the gold medal. The duo won every event they entered last season and are competing for their 4th consecutive Skate America gold medal. They've also won the last four Grand Prix Finals. Their Scheherezade free skate is very nuanced with lots of attention to detail along with some mindblowing lifts that had the crowd on their feet at the US International Figure Skating Classic. They set a very good early season score at that event and look to break some of their own records this season.
Cappellini and Lanotte almost pulled off a major upset at Skate Canada last season and kept rolling from there. They won the bronze medal at Europeans and finished just off the podium in 4th place at Worlds. They are definitely in contention for a medal at the Olympics but should still be well behind Davis and White here.
The Shibutanis showed such promise in their freshman season winning medals at both of their Grand Prix events and winning the bronze medal at Worlds however they haven't been able to replicate those results. Plagued with injuries and illnesses along with some lackluster choreography, they even dropped to 3rd place at US Nationals last season. They withdrew from the US International Figure Skating Classic earlier this season due to a neck injury to Alex and are fighting an uphill battle to regain their place as the 2nd best US Ice Dancing team. Regardless of their performances here, their twizzles are not to be missed and are some of the best in the world.
Hubbell and Donohue had a strong but disappointing season last year. After finishing just off the podium at both their Grand Prix outings, they placed 4th at US Nationals and were left off the Worlds team in their sophomore season. They've vowed to fight for an Olympics spot and started off their season with a come from behind win at Nebelhorn Trophy.
My podium predictions:
Bios of the competitors:
Zlobina/Sitnikov, AZE: They placed 16th at Worlds and 7th at Europeans. They finished 6th at Skate Canada and 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season. Their personal best is 144.83. She is 24 and he is 27.
Carron/Jones, FRA: They placed 12th at Worlds and 10th at Europeans. They finished 7th at Skate Canada and 8th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season. Their personal best is 145.98. She is 27 and he is 25.
Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA: They placed 4th at Worlds and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists. They won silver at Skate Canada and at Trophee Eric Bompard last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 4th. Their personal best is 168.04. She is 26 and he is 28.
Reed/Reed, JPN: They placed 20th at Worlds and finished 7th at Four Continents. They finished 5th at NHK Trophy last season. Their personal best is 141.75. She is 26 and he is 24.
Tobias/Stagniunas, LTU: They placed 15th at Worlds. Their personal best is 141.64. She is 22 and he is 28.
Davis/White, USA: They are the reigning World Champions and Four Continents Champions. They won gold at Skate America and gold at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won gold. They are the 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists, 2011 World Champions, 2010 and 2012 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 189.56. She is 26 and he is 25.
Hubbell/Donohue, USA: They placed 5th at Skate Canada and 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season. Their personal best is 147.11. She is 22 and he is 22.
Shibutani/Shibutani, USA: They placed 8th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents. They finished 4th at Rostelecom Cup and won bronze at NHK Trophy last season. 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 19 and he is 22.