Wow. Can't believe the current thought process about the top dance teams here. Barring injury or some other such disaster, there is not a single team current or on the horizon that is even in the same league as V/M or D/W. Those 2 teams are going to finish 1 and 2 in some order. My personal opinion, that happens to be shared by many other experts including fellow competitors and other coaches, is that V/M are special. While Carmen may not have been appreciated by some spectators and judges, it is a masterpiece that breaks new boundaries in IJS, a true marriage of art and dance, and extreme sport. What V/M do is more difficult than anyone else, at a level of quality far above anything else. The IJS does not properly distinguish innovation, quality, variety of holds and positions, matching leg lines, matching pointed toes, depth of edge, adherence to dance, etc in GOE or PCS. The current trend is to love speed and tricks at the expense of all that. But I think there has been a lot of conversation around what V/M have done, and a ringing endorsement and respect and praise for what V/M do across the coaching community, including in Russia, and among their fellow competitors. I hope that this will be remembered by the judges when they judge competitions this coming Olympic season. If V/M skate clean, I expect they will prevail. If they aren't clean, I expect they will be 2nd. Both V/M and D/W are well loved in Russia. I think both teams will be fine.
The big question will be about the 3rd spot on the podium. There is a line-up crowding in for that spot: P/B, W/P, B/S, C/L would be my top picks. P/B may or may not benefit from this move. I think they've benefited from skating with W/P in the same way V/M and D/W push each other along. I think some further technical grounding where they are the #1 team for sure may help them. I think that W/P had an off year with injury and lousy programs. I think they will be ready to soar, and no one can question their work ethic and determination. With B/S, they made huge progress last season, have a great coaching situation, and I expect they will be inspired with Olympics at home. And don't count out C/L, who languished for a few years, but have since been making steady, real progress, and could be a spoiler for 3rd if others don't rise to the occasion and they do.