I do think #1 and #2 in Canada are set at Senior. But where do we go from there?
- G/P have a lot of Skate Canada push behind them, he's former Canadian champion, and he is very talented. As a team, they still are very much in the "trying to gel" stage. Great personality, great energy, different programs, but missing the details together as a team. There is a real difference between these 2 yet technically. Let's also keep in mind that, in ice dance terms, this team is also very young. There's tons of time to develop. It will be interesting to watch for changes over the course of the season.
- P/I seem to have their MoJo back from a couple of years ago. In my mind, they are the opposite of G/P....incredible matching talent - edges, lines, smoothness, just gorgeous ice dance. They are often missing speed and power, and don't have the "in your face" energy of G/P. What they do is understated elegance. And they have struggled with consistency. We'll see how they develop over the season. Not sure if they are in Barrie, but that would take care of October. There's sectionals in November, and Challenge in December. We will have a chance to see how this team grows over the season.
- R/H made huge strides forward last year. They had a great start internationally. They broke out of their stereotypes, and did something interesting and different, and did it well. For me, they can be fantastic, and they can be not very good at all. They did finish behind P/I in Nebelhorn, but the season is still young. There is lots of time to move around positions.
- O/W are interesting in the mix. I haven't seen their FD yet. I like their SD, and I think it is about a perfect a match to their personalities and skating styles as any can find. The issue I've always had with this team is that there is such a difference between her skills and his skills. He just does not move like a dancer. He doesn't finish his lines, he isn't musical, and it's like the the frantic choreography manages to hide all this because they can skate fast. I don't generally find their choreo particularly complex or interesting. I'm looking for more from them, to see some real development, more skating maturity before I can think of them worthy of top 5. I expect their results will be more or less like H/G last year on the GP circuit. There are a lot of great teams internationally out there.
- P/O should also be mentioned here. Here are 2 people who really can skate, and are both great dancers. They are entertaining, and can show many different styles and genres. I wouldn't count them out by Nationals to have some surprises. Are they going to finish top 5? Highly doubtful. But they have shown at Junior that they are very capable competitors. I haven't seen them yet this year, but I really liked them the last couple of seasons.
- P/S....what do we do with them? They have shown real improvement over the last season. Their skating is looking much more mature this year. But what do they do for a polka? It's not the easiest dance to learn, and it means they have to have 2 SD this season, due to the challenge of trying to skate Junior internationally and Senior domestically. I don't envy them this situation. They won't have the same miles on their polka as their blues, and they will have to add time to the FD. Last year the 2 SD rhythms were closer in genres. This year they are apples and oranges.
The Junior ranks are also very deep. In my opinion, likely Bent/McKeen will win, but there are any number of others that can factor into the top 5 based on mature skating, quality technical marks, great lines, international experience, etc. And it will really depend on who delivers on the day (at least I hope it depends on who actually delivers on the day). Thinking West to East: