PAIRS: 145.3 - the top 23 on the SB list (Marley/Brubaker just miss it)
Okay, so the changes wreck destruction. Things to wonder
a) A host nation doesn’t have to pick three spots, of course. France didn’t have any pairs (and would’ve only sent one if the final groupings are to be believed) and only two dance teams at TEB 2010. China only had two ladies. I think we might see hosts using this as a bargaining tool, shunting aside their lesser talents in order to get a bigger name, or use as a promise (aka, one more open slot means that YOUR teams could make the list).
b) Indeed, the shift towards the ISU here is a clear attempt to limit some politicking. All that means is that what politicking can be done will be more cuthroat
c) I’m operating on the assumption that after the World ranking top 24, with retirements etc, we’ll jump straight to the use of the Season best list
d) 48 slots (6 GPS, 8 teams per). 24 slots taken by the top 12 at worlds (presumably the shift upwards will remain the same due to splits and/or retirements), so 24 remain.
e) There are 23 skaters on the SB that qualify. Of those, four teams have split/retired (Denney/Barrett, Y/C, Della Monica/Kocon and Brodeur/Mattatall). So only 20 teams are eligible for 48 slots. So everyone in the twenty should get two spots. And then there are eight spots left. Assuming the top six does a third competition, you still have two empty slots. ISU... not made of geniuses.
Skate America: Evora/Ladwig, Marley/Brubaker, Donlan/Speroff
Skate Canada: Duhamel/Radford, Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, Lawrence/Swiegers
Cup of China: Pang/Tong, Dong/Wu, Sui/Han
Cup of Russia: Volosozhar/Trankov, Barazova/Larionov, Stolbova/Klimov
TEB and NHK won’t have much in the way of notable pairs, so they become key dealmakers (I definitely see T/T going to Skate America). SC will want another showcase for their top pairs. BUT only three Canadian pairs make the seasons best top 23. Two of those pairs are guaranteed two slots regardless of what happens (both made the top 12 at Worlds). So, if I’m Skate Canada, do I want my three top pairs at SC or do I want to split them and guarantee a fourth (fifth?) pair some more international experience? SC did send D/R to Nebelhorn last season and it was a good start for them. Instead of giving “them” (which could be Hole/Johnson, Jones/Gaskell, or most intriguingly, Dube/Wolfe) a GP slot, why not send them to Nebelhorn to get some more international experience, and maybe get themselves on the list? Truly, if Dube/Wolfe look good (in monitoring), I’d send them to Nebelhorn and hope for that. My hope is that SC doesn’t include Mt/M and chooses a new and/or up-and-coming pair for the third spot, but their status as the reigning National champions
The only one that really needs explaining is Cup of Russia. Two slots go to seeds, so we’ll talk about that later. It’s the third spot that’s trickiest. They’ve got another three teams that are on the SB list: Iliuschekina/Maisuradze, Stolbova/Klimov, and Gerboldt/Enbert. G/E are coached by Moskovina, so that alone could sway the Russian Federation to invite them again. But I’m thinking that Stolbova/Klimov get it: potential for Sochi (though everyone is potential at this point, the depth is sick). Skilled enough to get people excited. I quite like them, so I hope they get it. I/M in particular don’t seem to have a lot of sway with the federation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get only one slot next season. Ideally, you’d be able to give someone not eligible via SB to get a chance (a la Donlan/Speroff) but that’s challenging because a team you expect to get two/one spot(s) may end up with one or none.
Skate America: Volosozhar/Trankov, Kavaguti/Smirnov
Skate Canada: Savchenko/Szolkowy, Duhamel/Radford
Cup of China: Pang/Tong, Bazarova/Larionov
NHK: Pang/Tong, Kavaguti/Smirnov
TEB: Savchenko/Szolkowy, Duhamel/Radford
Cup of Russia: Volosozhar/Trankov, Bazarova/Larionov
Man, to be in Cup of Russia’s shoes. V/T are no brainers: do we take the exciting, new prospects that look to gather unstoppable momentum as they head into Sochi as perhaps the finest Russian pairs team since M/D? I wonder The second spot, on the other hand, is more difficult to assign. Essentially, either team in the 4-6 group would be guaranteed silver. But who, should V/T be unable to show up, would you want to give Gold to. Giving it to either team is a vote of confidence in the future. The other option, of course, is have all three compete, and use the new rule. A preview of Russian Nationals? I’m gonna predict B/L because they are still the third Russian team (Euros, Nationals and Worlds) AND when you have a possibility of 1-2-3, you go w/ 1-3 and send the two elsewhere (see how China did the pairs during the Olympic season; Canada’s dance teams)
So, where do the two selected Russian teams go for their second spot. Either Skate America or Skate Canada. TEB is not only too close, S/S are gonna want it. China’s out. Between SA and SC, SA makes more sense: less homegrown competition, and by getting out there first, they really are capable of setting the tone of the season(a chance S/S botched in the Olympic season with their TEB LP). P/T doing CoC and NHK back to back does suck for them a little bit, but minimal travel time should help. S/S get SC and TEB, which works solidly for their schedule.
As for the second group of seeds (assuming D/R gets bumped up thanks to C/Y retiring), Kavaguti/Smirnov really get the short end of the stick. When you’re fourth, ideally, you compete against the third place team. For K/S, that means P/T. That means lots of travelling, two competitions back-to-back far from their training base. If they avoid P/T, they confront the two titans. So, split the difference. Confront V/T early in the season. Then fire a salvo at P/T (they are capable of beating the latter at their best). They might be able to take advantage of a more tired P/T. B/L get CoC just to avoid two comps back-to-back, and SC is out.
You’ve gotta think that SC and the Russian federation are hoping P/T sit next season out, though.
7 Through 12 (including Zhang/Wang, who ranked 13th, get bumped to 12th)
Skate America: Evora/Ladwig, Takahashi/Tran
Skate Canada: Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, Zhang/Wang
Cup of China: Hausch/Wende, Berton/Hotarek
NHK: Takahashi/Tran, Zhang/Wang
TEB: Zhang/Wang, Moore-Towers/Moscovitch
Cup of Russia: Hausch/Wende, Berton/Hotarek
The logic here is intriguing. Essentially, for any powerhouse country (Russia, China), you don’t care. Your top teams are pretty much untouchable by anyone 7th and below (24 points separate Mt/M from B/L). For the less powerful, you get antsy. The only federation here that’ll be thinking along these lines is going to be Skate Canada. You’d prefer to go as low as possible on the totem pole when getting teams to compete against them. Of the 12 spots available (six skaters, two spots), three are already taken from host picks. So let assume Canada gets what it wants and goes with Zhang/Wang to compete there.
For the rest, it’s a crapshoot. Assume the Europeans will both target either TEB or CoR. Now, ideally, Skate Canada would send Mt/M elsewhere to garner more experience in front of less friendly judges/ice (their best results came in Canada and the USA), but they won’t.
Will any pairs take a third spot?
..... I think Duhamel/Radford should. Teams 4, 5 and 6/7 (aka, Duhamel/Radford were seventh, but they get sixth/seeded status with the retirement of Y/C) all actually have something to prove: D/R need to demonstrate to SC that they should be the number one Canadian team (two victories over the Canadian National champisons at 4CC and Worlds might not have done it) and B/L and K/S both need to let the Russian Federation that they shouldn’t just crown V/T yet. I said earlier that V/T might, but now I take that back.
World Ranking top 24 - of those not already selected, at least one per host/discipline
Okay, so the following teams are ranked in the top 24 and don’t have a spot yet (and are still competing) OR after purging will likely make the top 24: Zhang/Zhang (competing?), Kemp//King, Iliushechkina/Maisuradze, Castelli/Shnapir, Kadlecova/Bidar, Gerboldt/Enbert
So, first thing to notice: three of the competitors don’t have scores that qualify them otherwise. So, does the ISU continue to use this method? If not, they go directly to SB list and appoint teams. If so, than doesn’t the method of using the season best cut off a little meaningless? But let us assume they disagree and use this method.
Skate America: Kemp/King
Skate Canada: Castelli/Shnapir (part of a deal to be discussed in the dance portion)
Cup of China: Gerboldt/Enbert
Cup of Russia: Zhang/Zhang (big iff)
Only one team, Simpson/Miller, doesn’t have a spot via season best. So they get NHK (currently has the least number of entrants). EVERY TEAM THAT MEDALLED AT JW OR JGPF HAS A SPOT (except the bronze medal at JGPF, assumption that they won’t graduate to seniors). Twelve already have two slots. So here’s the tally so far.
Skate America: 7
Skate Canada: 7
Cup of China: 7
Cup of Russia: 6
So there are nine slots available. There are seven teams with only one slot on the GP series. So, continuing the assumption parade, ISU gives them all a second slot (I fully expect none of the seeded pairs to take on a third competition)
Those seven teams: Sui/Han, Iliushechkina/Maisuradze, Lawrence/Sweigers, Gerboldt/Enbert, Castelli/Shanpir, Stolbova/Klimov, Simpson/Miller.
Skate America: Lawrence/Sweiger
Skate Canada: Simpson/Miller
Cup of China: Stolbova/Klimov
NHK: Sui/Han, Iliushechkina/Maisuradze
Cup of Russia: Castelli/Shnapir
So only TEB and CoR have empty slots – one each (CoR might get two). If the ISU is respectful of the skaters in general, the way they direct that assignment of teams will privilege the earlier events, such that in the event that a team does get a season best score and becomes eligible for a slot (as everyone eligible gets two spots now) so they have as much time as possible to get everything in order so they can in fact attend the GP they’ve been assigned to. It would also behove the ISU to actually label competitions as ones that scores would count for this assignment. It seems to me that the SB scores are only for ISU competitions (GP, JGP, 4CC, Euros and Worlds) as well as the Olympics. If that’s true (none of the SB have Finlandia/Nebelhorn etc scores in them), that essentially means ONLY the host nations (ie, the nations that are capable of selecting a team regardless of scores) will be able to earn a slot this way.