At NHK, janetfan complained that ice dance didn’t have the sense of surprise that the other disciplines had. Knowing who was likely to win didn’t make it much of a contest. Looking back, we’ve had a couple upsets (C/P and B/S defeating the Kerrs and F/S respectively) and a lot of interesting stories emerging (especially from Russia, where the menagerie of talent means that anyone could emerge as the top contenders for the National title). The big story, of course, has been the rise of P/B and the difficulties D/W have had. Realistically, I think expecting people like Meryl and Charlie to just let this one go is somewhat misguided. They’ve always been driven people and insanely hard workers. Remember, they went from the closest medal loss in COP history to five straight victories. Yes, maybe they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater here – these two programs have room to grow, and give them credit for exploring other arenas besides pure dynamic power (but I don’t think they’re getting rid of that for a second). For P/B fans, these past two seasons have been rather agonizing. Narrowly missing out on the Euros podium (2009 and 2010), then seeing their early season scores diminish with the return of Delobel/Schoenfelder, and then winning the FD at worlds but being too far behind to medal. You’ve gotta look at this season as a benediction for them. The other two top European teams struggling with content and injury, posting scores that yes – can challenge D/W for those titles. Credit to their hard work as well– they went to those early competitions and got the feedback they needed, and regardless of my feelings, they have two largely acclaimed programs. So clearly, these are the top two
Then you’ve got the next two. Two tales here. C/P went from Olympics to Worlds with one goal and that was to improve massively over their skaters in Vancouver. They succeeded. B/S, on the other hand, didn’t improve nearly to the same degree from those two competitions, seeing a smaller rise. C/P knew they were the second Canadian team heading into this season, regardless of whether V/M competed (aka, their number one position has to be in asterixed). B/S have no idea how the politicking will play out. But both have come first and second in their two events. Both defeated top teams to do so. And both have posted scores that come perilously close to the podium, and to each other. I thought we’d have another USA vs Canada battle with C/P and Samuelson/Bates, but with Worlds and the subsequent injury, I think S/B have been displaced by B/S. C/P’s situation reminds me of Khoklova/Novitski in 2008 – they were able to take advantage of retirements, injuries, mistakes and a local vacuum to sneak through to bronze at worlds. I’d hesitate in drawing major conclusions (after all, F/S could come back strong), but it’s worth noting.
If one of the above err, I think these next two could come through. Weaver/Poje need to give a performance that definitively states that they shouldn’t be shunted aside. Time and time again in the past, they’ve just barely hung on (SC 2009) or just barely missed (Nationals 2010). They have a raggedness that makes it difficult for judges to give them the PCS or GOEs many want to see. Hoffman/Zavosin are definitely right-place/right-time, like C/P last season. Anything higher than sixth place would be a huge thing for them, and put in play the idea that top five at Euros is a plausible goal.
1. Davis/White (will win SD on the strength of PCS and good GOES; will win F/D in both)
2. Pechalat/Bourzat (Win TES in the SD, second on everything else)
3. Crone/Poirier (Good GOES will give them the bronze, base value and PCS will be too close for comfort)
5. Weaver/Poje (cannot make any errors or the judges will hammer them for it)
6. Hoffman/Zavosin (they just want two good dances to reaffirm their place as a top ten team)
(writing up the rest now)