Duhamel and Radford won their first World medal last year and many thought they should have beat Savchenko and Szolkowy to claim the silver. This is their fourth season together and they have steadily been climbing the ranks and crossed the 200 point threshold last season. They are skating their short program to an original composition put together by Radford and is promises to be a very emotional piece. They also have some of the most difficult technical content in the pairs world especially in their side by side jumps.
Berton and Hotarek finished 5th at Skate America last week but in this younger and weaker field they have the chance to make the medal podium here.
Davis and Brubaker are a new team this season and after a disappointing finish at 2010 Nationals and a string of partnerships that didn't work out, Brubaker is more determined than ever to make the Sochi team. They still have a lot of work to do and limited time but starting with a medal here would be a good start.
Sui and Han spent almost all of last season sitting out due to injury and couldn't quite regain their previous form at last year's Worlds. They finished just 12th, nearly 40 points below their personal best. They've long been known for their big tricks and infectious personality on the ice but at 18 and 21 they'll need a new tact and more grown up programs to compete with the best.
Lawrence and Swiegers just missed the podium at both of their Grand Prix events last season and are hunting their first Grand Prix medal since 2010. After several years of international competition, Vartmann and Van Cleave are making their Grand Prix debut and will be hunting their first medal as well.
My podium predictions:
Bios of the competitors:
Duhamel/Radford, CAN: They are the reigning World Bronze Medalists and Four Continents Champions. They won silver at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 4th. They are the 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalists. Their personal best is 204.56. She is 27 and he is 28.
Lawrence/Swiegers, CAN: They finished 6th at Four Continents. They placed 4th at Skate Canada and 4th at Rostelecom Cup last season. They are the 2011 Four Continents Bronze Medalists. Their personal best is 162.30. She is 23 and he is 26.
Purdy/Marinaro, CAN: They are the reigning World Junior Silver Medalists. They finished 8th at Skate America. Their personal best is 154.70. She is 18 and he is 21.
Sui/Han, CHN: They placed 12th at Worlds. They are the 2012 Four Continents Champions and the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Junior Worlds Champions. Their personal best is 201.83. She is 18 and he is 21.
Vartmann/Van Cleave, GER: They placed 16th at Worlds and 8th at Europeans. This is their Grand Prix debut. Their personal best is 162.81. She is 24 and he is 26.
Berton/Hotarek, ITA: They finished 10th at Worlds and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists. They placed 5th at Skate America. Their personal best is 187.45. She is 23 and he is 29.
Davis/Brubaker, USA: This is their Grand Prix debut. Their personal best is 156.91. She is 21 and he is 27.
Denney/Frazier, USA: They are the reigning World Junior Champions. This is their Grand Prix debut. They placed 4th at JGP USA last season. Their personal best is 155.83. She is 17 and he is 20.