Last edited by ljaeren; 03-06-2011 at 10:11 PM.
Actually, none of the teams listed are new!
All of them impress me in different ways. The two teams that come closest to 'new' would be Paul/Islam and Pushkash/Guerreiro, both of whom have been together for only 2 seasons. And of those two really new teams, Paul/Islam is the more impressive, having earned a fourth place at Skate Canada, and a third place at Canadian Nationals. Pushkash/Guerreiro have also done well, earning second place at Russian Nationals in Juniors, and just placing second at Junior Worlds. Since they have been coached by Linichuk & Karponosov, I have seen a big improvement in their basic skating skills.
Chock/Zuerlein were Jr. World Champions in 2008/2009, and last year was their first senior season. However, this year they have definitely made a big jump, scoring 2 bronze medals in the Grand Prix & a bronze medal at US Nationals, and earning their first berth to Senior Worlds. They seem to have definitely discovered their strong suit this year in creating characters and stories on ice. They are the most improved team, in my opinion, this season, of the group you have listed.
Shibutani/Shibutani in what is their first year on the senior circuit earned 2 bronze medals on the Grand Prix, earned the silver medal at US Nationals, and are heading to Worlds with a surprising silver medal at 4CCs over GPF bronze medallists Crone & Poirier. Furthermore, this year they had to deal with Maia's huge growth spurt. Of course, this growth gave the adult look they had lacked last season, but it cannot have been easy to adjust to all the changes that must be done to accomodate a change in height-and they achieved all this while learning the Golden Waltz, a dance they had never competed with before. Of course I am impressed with them! Of the teams you have listed, they are the ones most skilled right now, IMO.
Last year, the most impressive new team was Ilinykh & Katsalapov, in their first season winning Junior Worlds. And this year, they started slowly, finishing behind the Shibutanis at NHK, and winning bronze at CoR in an extraordinarily depleted field, behind Hoffman & Zavozin who won silver, and then finishing behind Riazanova & Tkachenko (an equally new team) at Russian Senior Nationals. However, they rallied to finish fourth at Europeans. Of these two teams, I am slightly more impressed with R&T, who had one of my favorite Short Dances of the season, in a season where I liked very few of the short dances. However, their FD never really gelled all season, and I don't think it was a great concept for them to begin with. They did finish with a silver medal at TEB on the Grand Prix though. They were also beaten by the Shibutanis at Skate America. I&K have a great ability to command attention on ice, but so far, it is not matched by their technical ability. Their federation is strongly behind them, despite their finishing third at Russian Nationals, which is a big thing indeed.
The saddest story in this group is probably Paul & Islam. Canada has 3 very strong dance teams, the Olympic champions V&M and two teams that made the GPF, W&P and C&P. Until one of these teams retires, I do not see Paul & Islam competing at Senior Worlds, despite their being a very impressive team themselves, particularly for one that has only been together for 2 seasons. Their unison for a team that is so new, is particularly impressive. And they did finish 4th at Skate Canada, behind Chock & Zuerlein. Since P&I did not win Junior Worlds last year (they were second), and were, I think(?) still eligible for juniors, it might have been better for them to stay juniors another year, but they made the choice to go to seniors instead.
Monko & Khaliavin were world Jr. Bronze medallists last year, and made the opposite choice from P/I. They chose to stay in juniors and completely dominated the junior field all season, winning everything they entered. However, I don't think they showed the growth this year that the other teams showed. They have senior level speed and look already, but Russia has three strong teams ahead of them: Bobrova & Soloviev, Ilinykh & Katsalapov, and Riazanova & Tkachenko. Furthermore they are starting the next season in seniors with Pushkash & Guerreiro, who have been rapidly improving. Russian Nationals will be very exciting in the next several years.
On balance, the team that impresses me most of all at this point in time are Shibutanis.
Yeah sorry! I guess the name should actually be what young team has been most impressive this season. Ill change that.Actually, none of the teams listed are new!