I've loved the discussion/chatter over on the Canadian thread, so I thought I start one for U.S. Ice Dance!
To start out the discussion, let's layout some storylines
Davis/White fight for No. 1 (in the world) — It is unlikely that any of their competitors will unseat this team before Sochi. This pair's biggest competition will likely come from outside the U.S. But this is a team that will not give anything up easily and you can bet they are hungry to get another world championship under their belts. That said, how will D/W develop this season? In 2010-2011, we saw them do an extremely challenging program to respond to its more challenging areas and in 2011-2012 we saw that work all come together in Die Fledermaus. Where do they go from here? How do they get their world title back?
Shibutanis tries to rebound from a sophomore slump — After surprising everyone in 2010-2011 with a bronze at the World Championships, this team was clearly hungry to prove they could compete with the best in the world. In some ways they succeeded with their first GP gold medal (NHK) and a berth at the Grand Prix Final. But the pair faced some key challenges in 4CC and Worlds that led to a meltdown in their FD during Worlds that dropped them to 8th place, getting beat by several teams they beat just a year ago — C/L, W/P, B/S, I/K, P/B. Their performance has some people wondering if Hubbell and Donahue could pass these two in 2012-2013. But one can't underestimate that they have the basics down -- great speed, edging, posture etc. Many noted that the Yankee Polka will give them some relief after their struggles with the Latin SD all season long. But it's clear the judges are expecting more mature programs -- how will they respond to the call? What will they need to do to maintain their U.S. No. 2 berth and a final group standing at worlds next year?
Fighting for No. 3 — Hubbell and Donahue were victorious in 2012, but there are several teams hungry for that spot including Chock/Bates, Gilles/ Samuelson and the veterans Kriengkrairut/Giulietti-Schmitt. Given Hubbell and Donahue's impressive top 10 finish, the other pairs will likely have to work harder to take that No. 3 spot away.
New seniors — Aldridge and Eaton are coming off a great season that included the 2012 U.S. Junior title and bronze at junior worlds. They are part of what is becoming a powerhouse Ice Dance school at DSC. How will they rank against the seniors?
The musical chairs continue — In just a few weeks we've already heard about the end of several couples including Lichtman/Copley; Bonacorsi/Mager; Cannuscio /Lorello; Cowan/Olson. Olson has teamed up with Keiffer Hubbell. Where will the chips fall for the other skaters? Will one of the guys end up with Vanessa Crone?