I don't think any pretending is necessary. The idea that V/M have not improved or stagnated is simply ludicrous. Let's look at this:
- lifts: V/M have made ever more complicated, innovative lifts every year. They are all new every year. They have the most incredible positions, and paint shape pictures with their bodies. Tessa is stronger now physically (arms, core, etc.), and they are capable of much more now than they were in Vancouver.
- twizzles: Again, V/M create new variations every year. The way they enter, exit and play with the music is DIFFICULT, and they have improved their overall stability, speed and ice coverage over the last 4 years. They used to be much less stable, and prone to more errors.
- spins: V/M have improved the speed of their spins, all the while incorporating them even more into the music.
- step sequences: This has always been a huge strength of V/M. No one matches lines, holds, edges like V/M. Over the last 4 years they have improved the overall speed of these, while demonstrating more complexity and difficulty and even more musicality. They did this so well in their program 2 seasons ago that it looked effortless and the ice dancers who were commentators made a special point of showing exactly how difficult and incredible what they were doing really was. It only looked easy. And last year was a whole new level.
- with regard to PCS, they have demonstrated increasing maturity, more complex choreography, a full range of emotions from the drama of last year to the characters of 2 years ago, to the latin expression before. This is a much more mature and seasoned V/M than the sweet kids who won Vancouver. They have taken excellence and built colour, depth, and just more of quality and speed and difficulty and musicality.
I also think it is time we gave the "poor injured, fragile Tessa" idea a rest. I know it feeds nicely into the narrative that somehow V/M are weaker and struggling, and by extension therefore not as good as their rivals. It's just not true. She had some serious issues. She dealt with them. She changed her whole skating technique in the last 4 years, as well as her off ice and on-ice routine. (That in itself is simply incredible!) She is strong and healthy, and they've never looked so happy and relaxed. When I look back to pictures of Vancouver, she looks really thin (too thin), and they both look really young. They now both look like gorgeous, healthy, vibrant all-grown-up young adults.
Or something to the effect that "Meryl and Charlie's improvements and progress is a result of being healthy. If Tessa was also healthy, their improvements would be exponentially higher." Or "Meryl and Charlie were able to play catch up because of Tessa's injury."
So I've seen the injury issue work both ways, honestly.
Personally I admire all of them for rising above their personal injuries and struggles to get to the top. I think it's great, as you pointed out Northern Dancers, that Tessa has learned to work and thrive despite her injury rather than be defeated by it.
Ultimately, I think everyone has their own reasons for preferring one team over another, and that's fine. But as far as competition goes, they are neck and neck and as many other mentioned, that who gets OGM in Sochi really comes down to who performs the very best that day.
V/M's twizzles have always been the standard for me, and still is. The way their twizzles are aligned so perfectly centered and controlled (without any shifting of the upper body/shoulders), not to mention superior ice coverage they have on this element puts them ahead of any other team currently. For those who want to see V/M do the 2-set twizzles rather than the 3-set, they already have mastered this back in the last quadrennial where they were the first team to achieve the maximum score on this element (Olympic FD). They've now moved on to try newer twizzles, namely the 3-set kind where they, again, create slight variations each year.
D/W are still stuck on the 2-set kind that they have been doing for the past several years: there is speed there, but lacking the control and ice coverage aspect. Sometimes it looks like they are doing the twizzles "on the spot". In general, though, D/W have been more consistent on this element than V/M in the past 2 years.
I will hazard a guess that D/W have not been doing the 3-set twizzles because they would fall right off on the third set.
Just my 2 cents.
To be honest this D/W and V/M argument is really tiresome old news. Honestly they give me goose bumps in fits and bursts only over the last couple of years. I hope either a rising time or a new team or a greatly improved one, any one can shake things up a bit. For me ice dance is synonymous with fashion, after a while a certain style gets stale. To me they're both sort of recycling "classic" old programs for their Olympic campaign and so I'm a bit bored with both of them. But who knows I'm open to a nice surprise now and then. Have at it I say
That was kind of my point. I was disputing the idea that V/M have stagnated since Vancouver. I'm not buying it in any way. And you validated my point. Twizzles were a little more "hit or miss" for them in the distant past. They've become much more solid, stable and difficult over the last few years in my opinion. I don't think there is a team in the world who is 100% on twizzles all the time, every time.