Does anyone else think the mens event is by far the most exciting event going into the season? It clearly has the most contenders and the most uncertainty around it.
The womens event will be exciting with Meissner, Asada, and Kim all going head to head as all 3 together for the first time since juniors(although Asada met Kim last year, and Meissner met Asada). However those 3 really seem a cut apart, and they are all similar ages and points in their careers. Cohen if she returns by the end of the year, or Suguri, could be factors I suppose but they will have a huge task to get on the podium at Worlds this year.
The pairs event seems like an all Chinese battle, Shen/Zhou's return almost does serious harm to the hope of possable non-Chinese contenders from Russia, Germany, the U.S, or Canada, cracking the podium this year. That will be interesting to watch in a sense, but the battle between different countries is always something that brings some extra appeal to the competition. Just as in the womens these 3 seem likely to be a cut apart going into next year, now that Pang/Tong, arguably the weakest of the 3 teams have the confidence as World Champions. Petrova/Tikhonov might challenge them a bit, but they are getting quite gold, and were a surprise to even continue into this year. The Germans must rediscover the confidence and momentum they had before the Olympics next year to challenge.
The dance event might be a bit weak this year. Denkova/Stayvinski and Belbin/Agosto probably go into this year as co-favorites. Dubreuil/Lauzon had a great year last year but can they substain that this year, last year was a career year for them, and they are getting older as well, it might be hard to substain. Delobel/Schoenfelder still have failed to crack a World or Olympic podium, and the question now begs if they ever will. Are Domnina/Shabalin really ready to contend this year? Maybe given some retirements, and their inevitable rising being the best Russians, although I dont find them particularly interesting or intoxicating. Moir/Virtue and Mathews/Zazovin venturing into international senior competition will be interesting, and although in no way contenders this year, where they position themselves will be important in the beginning of their journey to 2010 where they would hope to be contenders.
In the mens event Lambiel would head into the year as the odds on favorite one would think, but with his chronic knee problems, and his recent back problems, and triple axel woes(particularly if his competitors who have much more solid triple axels add quads) he is far from a sure thing at this point. Joubert rediscovered his old form at Worlds last year, skating the most error-free short and long programs of any skaters. Lysacek has been consistent and determined in competiton the last couple years. The consistently underachieving Johnny Weir has been less so but claims to be more focused this year. Nobinaru Oda is young with massive potential, and might be ready for a big move this year. Another huge underachiever Daisuke Takahashi now must feel he has to make a Worlds podium soon or be passed by for good by Oda as the guy Japan will pin their highest priority and hopes on in the future. Jeff Buttle managed World and Olympic medals in the last few years with very susceptable jumping consistency, but after a disaesterous Worlds in Canada, major changes might be needed to remain near the top for him. Emmanuel Sandhu continues on, while he probably will yet again fall short of the hyped hopes of Canadians for a World medal, he might make things interesting somewhere in the season, if only at some in the GP circuit. There are some talented juniors who might make a mark somehwere along this year as well.