On the substance of the skate, I tend to agree that B/S's SD in Shanghai left me lukewarm regarding their composition, interpretation and the precision of their technique. What should also be considered in Ice Dance is an analysis of the "off ice push". The United States traditionally spend very little of its political capital in support of its ice dance teams. Whatever political clout the USFS has, it is spent to on ladies and ladies alone. USFS only cares about finding and building the next Michelle Kwan because then, all their financial woes will magically disappear. Some could argue Alissa's win at Skate America was an evidence of that. The USFS will obviously support and continue to support D/W but it is going to be hard for them to push both teams at the same time because there are other countries like France, Russia and Italy who are simply more hungry about Ice Dance than the U.S. will ever be.I would like to clarify that I don't blindly think the Shibs is a secure No. 3. But I see their true competition being C/L, P/B and W/P, ultimately. I think B/S and I/K can also fall in this group -- if they are not so sloppy. I have been less than impressed by their technique thus far (i.e. watching Russian previews and this competition).
On paper, B/S have been somewhat flat in the last two years. Their 2010 OD remained my favorite program from them - but being the top team from Russia is and always will be a tremendous advantage. Russia is throwing all their resources for Sochi 2014 and don't think for a second they are satisfied with just a Bronze medal in Sochi. Without a doubt, they are aiming for Gold. So the way I look at these marks based on the actual skate put out there, I don't question them finishing 1st here in the SD - what I find curious is that it seems the foundation is being set to push B/S further up. Therefore, you ought to include B/S in that group fighting for Bronze at Worlds this year. To do any otherwise is to ignore the reality of Ice Dance world.
In an ideal world, that's true. Being the #1 Russian team however changes the formula quite a bit however.ETA: I know B/S is in first and heck may win this -- but if they don't improve the sloppiness, I'm not sure if their scores will improve much further.