Oh Life684, I totally agree. No cake walk for sure. Russians have a very strong and deep team in every discipline this year, and no question the dance teams will make for a very competitive and exciting event at the final. I especially like the top two Russian junior teams from what I have seen. They are impressive and skate with confidence. Their coach Zhulin is teaching them well.
I just find the Shibutanis have something unique about them. Something special that has not been seen before. I agree with people who compare their strong technique to their teammates. They are like a next generation of Davis and White, Virtue and Moir combining strong technique with good sense for music. It is hard to put your finger on what their quality is. Maybe it is that they are just wonderful story tellers. When I watch them skate I lose any sense for time. When their programs are done I think, what? already over? Program ends and it is like waking from a beautiful dream and feeling sad that the program is over. I want to make myself go back to sleep to slip back into the story of the dream. I want them to skate another program right away. Which is why I want someone to please post programs from this year to youtube! Icenetwork is so clumsy!
I think it will not matter if they win at final. Their positive impact will be no different. Last year when they did not skate well at final when Maia was hurt, they still captured so many hearts all over the world. My skating crazy cousin in China is even thinking of seeing if she can combine a business trip to Tokyo to see them. I am so jealous. If they can keep doing what I think they already do, they will have already won something more important that cannot be worn on a ribbon. And it will mean so much more for years to come.