Pairs Preview and Contenders
In Nice 2000 Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze were heading to World's as favourite's for the title but elena took a banned substance for a common cold and withdrew from the event. The event was now wide open. We saw the emergence of Sale/Pelletier here, but they fell short here, Shen & Zhao were the favourites but the pressure got to them, we saw the emotional win of the bronze medal of Abitbol/Bernadis on home turf to routine called "Angel & Demon" but it was the surprise of Petrova/Tikhonov who took the Gold technically with their routine to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons"
This year has seen the dominance of two familiar names who have joined as one Volosozhar/Trankov they have Sochi in their sights and this has been their start to leap ahead of the rest and set themselves as favourite's for OG?. They start as favourites here, they are a good partnership - work together very well and both are good technically to make this one of the best pairs of all time - ok too early to say that!!
It has to be said Savchenko/Szolkowy will not let them get ahead of them and they will need to win here to keep their OG dreams alive and to give them confidence going in to 2013. Savchenko did have an injury which forced them to withdraw from European's, as I don't know there situation regarding their fitness I see them as 2nd favourite's behind V/T.
the best of the rest:
Kavaguti/Smirnov[/B] Again a team absent from European's. A typical Moskvina team full of tricks, I do feel that K/S have the best LP out there to "Clare de Lune" but I feel they might struggle to keep up with the two teams mentioned above but I feel confident that they should make the podium at Nice.
Denney/Coughlin a new US partnership (the US has suffered with a lot of pair break ups recently) but a very good one. I was shocked to hear that Coughlin had split from Caitlin as they did so well last year BUT he certainly has made up for it teaming with Denney, they synchronise very well and love their LP to Nessun Dorma this year.
Bazarova/Larionov A very balletic couple Vera does remind me of a lot of Gordeeva - I feel this year they have not gone to another level - sort of sameness about them, wish they would come up with something original for their Long program - seem to suffer with their solo jumps, we shall see.
Takahashi/Tran A lovely couple, and program wise this couple does it for me. LOVE both programs this year particularly their SP to piano version of "Imagine" just their jumps let them down which is a pity the rest it Beautiful.
Berton/Hotarek Again I adore this couple they have the "WOW" factor about them. Such a joy to watch they ooze class, elegant and artistic, again the jumps let this couple down but two solid programs should have them top 8 finish, we shall see.
[B]Duhamel/Radford Solid season for them, again have gone from strength to strength, love their LP to instrumental version of Coldplay music, they do have the technical ability to surprise.
The chinese teams:
I left these till last because I got a feeling they will surprise us all:
Sui/Han Wow!! what a young team and evidence of their 4CC LP we are in for a surprise, they work so well together, the technical elements are second to none as you would expect from the Chinese, I adore both programs - the crowd pleasing country and western SP and the passionate LP to "soul of Flamenco" they are my Dark Horses of the event.
Pang/Tong Adorable couple on and off the ice, they decided to sit out the GP so on that evidence we don't know how they would go here but I suppose on reputation you cannot rule them out and i should imagine are well trained to compete - a former technical couple - more artistic now and a joy to watch. Another Dark Horse couple I might expect could surprise for a medal or a top 5 finish.