The CD will be the Paso Doble. Here's a reference file on the dance that includes step charts and videos of famous ice dancers of the past performing the dance:
IMO, the two top teams at Merano are:
Ekaterina RIAZANOVA / Jonathan GUERREIRO RUS
They were 6th at last year's Jr. Worlds. Their best ever total score was 153.72 . They were 2nd at Chemnitz & Harghit and qualified for the JGPF, where they finished 8th (last)
FD from Jr. Worlds (Perfidia):
OD From Jr Worlds (sadly another Russian Gypsy):
CD from Jr. Worlds (Cha Cha Congelado)
Madison CHOCK / Greg ZUERLEIN USA
Chock & Zuerlein were not sent to Jr. Worlds by the US (they finished 3rd in Jrs at Nationals) but did qualify for the JGPF by finishing 1st at Tailinn and third at Chemnitz. They finished 5th in the JGPF. Their best total score is 152.68
Their US nationals performance can be viewed on icenetwork.com
Here's a photo from their Lake Placid OD
They finished 2nd in the OD, just behind the Shibutanis who won at Courchevel, with a score of 47.97.
They won their section of the FD with 70.89.
Alas, I have no vid of them skating together (other than that you can see that at the US championships on icenetwork, and somewhere there is a home video of them at Tallinn last year, which I have yet to find a current copy of.
However, here's Madison skating with her previous partner, Kurt Lingenfelter, back in 2005:
This is an Italian event, and I would be surprised if Lorenza ALESSANDRINI / Simone VATURI ITA did not do well. Vaturi and Alessandrini were 6th at both Zagreb and Chemnitz events last year.
Here's a vid of their 2008 OD from the Italian Championships:
I really didn't expect Isabella CANNUSCIO / Ian LORELLO USA to contend for the medals, but also I don't know a lot about the teams here at Merano. They were 9th at US juniors, 4th at Harghita and 8th at Sofia. They did compete at Lake Placid this year. Their CD's are improved at bit from Nationals, but are still their weakness. Here's 2 photos from their Paso Doble at Lake Placid. They finished 4th behind Wolf & Ainsworth.
However, the reviewer from ice-dance.com thought their OD had great energy and that they really 'got' the rhythm this year. ( They are doing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy) More importantly, they finished 4th in their section of the OD, a mere fraction of a point behind Ralph & Hill, who got the silver at Courchevel, so they might sneak in for the bronze here. They scored 41.52.
A shot from their OD
And then they finished second to Chock and Zuerlein in their FD with a 65.28 (in the same section, Ralph & Hill finished 4th). The more I think about it, the more possible it seems C&L might pull off a surprise bronze medal. But it would still be a surprise.
Here's their FD from JGP Bulgaria last year
Other entrants of note:
Sophie KNIPPEL & Andrew BRITTEN CAN were 3rd in Canadian Juniors last year.
Here's a photo from their Paso Doble CD:
And from their OD:
And their FD-they finished 8th at Lake Placid with 59.54.
Tarrah HARVEY / Keith GAGNON CAN were 4th in Canadian Juniors last year. There is an article about them at ice-dance.com.
A photo from their Lake Placid Paso Doble:
And their Lake Placid OD
They finished 5th with a 40.55 in the OD at Lake Placid. They also finished 5th in the FD with 60.5
Emese Laszlo & Mate Fejes(HUN) and were 20th at Jr. Worlds
Kiudmaa & Trohlev (EST) were 29th at Jr. Worlds.
Finally, there are a number of teams listed as substitutes. These include some teams that did well in Courchevel, including Mysliveckova & Novak (3rd at Courchevel) and Findlay & Benoit (4th at Courchevel). I don't know under what conditions these teams would substitute.. If either were enrolled, I would expect them to do well.
I think this event is Michal BREZINA's CZE to lose, particularly after his very impressive 184.40 total point win in Courchevel.
Michal Brezina LP
Michal Brezina SP
However, there are some interesting skaters who will be fighting for the other 2 medals:
Of course, Florent AMODIO FRA, third at Courchevel with 171.69 points will be right there. EXCEPT THAT HE WITHDREW :(
Florent Amodio LP
Florent Amodio SP
Florent Amodio Gala
Ivan BARIEV RUS has had a total point score as high as 175.06 when he finished 7th at the World Jr. Championships last year. edited to add, sadly he withdrew :(
I think those were originally the most likely medallists. Another contender for the top 4:
Curran OI USA, was 5th at the JGPF last year. His highest total score is 159.86. However, he now has a triple axel. He skated at Liberty and did very well:
Here's his SP to Phantom of the Opera where he finished 4th in Seniors with 59.70:
And his LP to On the Waterfront soundtrack, where he finished 2nd to Patrick Chan of Canada in Seniors with a score of 119.70
If you added those, his total would be 179.40
That could well put him into the bronze medal.
Daniel O'SHEA USA was the US Novice Men's champion. I don't expect him to medal here, but one never knows. That's the fun of skating.
His most recent novice win can be seen on icenetwork, US Championships. However, here's a video of him as a little tyke back in 2005:
Yuzuru Hanyu JPN
Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan is just up from Novices - Here he is last year at age 12 at the Japanese National Championships.
There are a number of ladies who have had impressive performances in the past, but no one who stands out as a slam dunk to me. Here's my guess at the top 5 in no particular order--and I may definitely have missed a standout or two, so I hope you'll chime in yourselves.
Sarah HECKEN GER
Sarah won the gold medal at Chemnitz last year with a total score of 134.05. I'm hoping she's back in great shape here.
Here's her SP from Jr. Worlds
Svetlana ISSAKOVA EST was 7th in the JGPF last year. she was 2nd in Sheffield and 3rd in Tailinn. Her top total score is 131.50.
Svetlana's SP from Jr. Worlds
Brittney RIZO USA
You may not have heard of Britney. She was 3rd in US Juniors last year. However, I saw her perform at Liberty this summer. She was 3rd in Seniors in both the SP and LP. In the SP, she was ahead of Becky Bereswill who won the silver at Courchevel.
Here's a vid of Brittney's SP at Liberty:
You can't go from national level scores to international, but if you added her SP to her LP, it would be 132.76--however that's in seniors, so it's even less comparable to juniors.
And an exhibition from her performance at the 2008 Aegon Cup
Rumi SUIZU JPN struggled last year, but she won the Japanese Junior nationals. And she was 5th at Worlds in 2007. I hope she has returned to 2007 form! Her top total score is 134.85. I'm probably favoring her for the gold or silver.
Here LP from last year's Japanese Nationals
Her SP from Jr. Worlds where she did not do as well as I expected
Joshi HELGESSON SWE was 7th at Jr. Worlds last year. I expect her to do quite well here. Her highest total score was 130.40
You should be able to find her Jr. World vid on the isu website or on icenetwork.com.
Others to watch:
Melissa BULANHAGUI USA
Melissa has been skating in US Seniors and finished 8th in 2008. Here's her SP from 2007
and she skated her SP at Liberty this summer (she withdrew from the LP)
She made the JGPF and finished 4th there. Her top total score is 126.87.
Alisa MIKONSAARI FIN was the top junior girl at Finnish nationals last year. I don't have any international scores from her, but the Finnish ladies are always impressive. She could do well.
Satsuki MURAMOTO JPN top total score was 126.16. She could surprise. The Japanese girls are always impressive at first view.
An exhibition of hers (the first half of the clip is Rumi Suizu's exhibition. The last half is Satsuki Muramoto's)
And Victoria Grenier was 2nd at Canadian Junior Nationals.
I don't have any clip of hers, though.