It's puzzling why the Russian Federation would dismantle the team that is their 3 time Russian National Champions, defending European champion, World medalist, and only team that has won a Grand Prix event (2) during the past four years, for a team that has proven immensely talented but repeated inconsistent during that same period of time. Regardless of ones' preference in terms of programs this season, that would seem to be a hugely risky strategy for them heading into the Olympics. It seems to me that international judges put TREMENDOUS weight in dance especially on the ranking or pecking order of teams as established by National championships, and to 'dethrone' B/S would essentially give the rest of the judges reason to completely dump them, only to put all of Russia's hopes in I/K's unproven basket.
Every year Russian journalists and Russian Figure Skating Federations starts season with the same…,,Who is number 1 in Ice Dance?“ Every season Bobrova & Soloviev must prove to everybody that they are still number 1.
This year as well as all years Bobrova has more difficult programs with more difficult between elements parts, more closed and more dance holdings. While Lena and Nikita spends almost one minute even not holding each other in free skate (like pair couple). Lena took classical music and skates classical story. Bobrova took classical music and skates unusual story (I don’t remember another team in top couples trying to portray birds and I even don’t know if anyone would be able to portray it). Maybe this is dangerous to try something so extraordinary for Olympic season, maybe it will not pay off, but Zhulin was always known as somebody who doesn’t like ordinary things and always pushes to something special. (I remember cricital words about Don Quijote and Schindler List for Lena and Nikita at the beginning of season 2009/10 and 2010/11, finally it paid off and fans loves these programs, last year free program for Bobrova – they were many critics too and finally it paid off).
Head to head Lena and Bobrova met many times (only once Lena won – at Worlds 2012 while Bobrova fell in short dance, all others competitions won Bobrova)
Cup of Russia 2010: B&S 1. place, I&K 3. place
Russian Nats 2010: B&S 1. place, I&K 3. place
Euros 2011: B&S 2. place, I&K 4. place
Worlds 2011: B&S 6. place, I&K 7. place
Russian Nats 2011: B&S 1. place, I&K 2. place
Euros 2012: B&S 2. place, I&K 3. place
Worlds 2012: I&K 5. place, B&S 7. place
GPF 2012: B&S 5. place, I&K 6. place
Russian Nats 2012: B&S 1. place, I&K 2. place
Euros 2013: B&S 1. place, I&K 2. place
Worlds 2013: B&S 3. place, I&K 9. place
.... I can't think that all judges and technical panels were always pushed to support Bobrova more than Lena...(after 3 season it would be almost every judge and technical specialist working in ISU...simply too many people)
Bobrova competed in GP Final 3 times, Lena once.
Supporting skaters when competition is in their home country is such a normal thing…Lena and Nikita won bronze medal at Cup of Russia 2010 (Nikita fell in short dance, they didn’t execute a lift in short dance at all and still get 49 points, their skating was shacky in free dance and they got 85 points), at Russian Nats 2011 Lena fell in short dance and they still held second position in front of other teams including Riazanova with clean skate, and Cup od Russia 2012 where Lena fell in free dance and they got 92 points and second place).
It will be interesting to see how will next time meeting look like…