With grace and elegance, Ice Dancing can be the most gratifying competitions of these Olympics. 24 teams will be contending for medals tomorrow. The top five teams will be skating in the same (5th) warm-up group, with the current World Champions finishing the Short Program.
Analysis: The Ice Dance division has consisted of three teams, Americans Meryl Davis & Charlie White, Canadians Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir and Ekaterina Bobrova & Dimitri Soloviev of Russia. All three teams have been solid in their Grand Prix competitions this season.
Of the three teams, Davis & White have been the most consistent, increasing their point totals in their competitions, including a personal best 191.35 at the Grand Prix Final in Japan. Virtue & Moir have seemed to lose a step since their World Championship title in 2012, losing to Davis & White six times head-to-head. That leaves a window of opportunity for Bobrova & Soloviev, who have continued to improve since their 2013 European Championship, but had a setback when they withdrew due to illness from the 2014 Europeans. That left their teammates, Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov with also a chance to place. They’ve finished 2nd at Russian Nationals 4 times and at Europeans twice.
Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte of Italy were able to capitalize on Bobrova & Soloviev withdrawl and with their first European championship. They will look to continue their good fortune and make the podium this week. Another contender is Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje of Canada, who have also given Davis & White a run for their money, finishing 2nd at Nationals three out of four years and have had a successful Grand Prix season. France’s Nathalie Pachalat & Fabian Bourzat will also contend for the podium despite an injury prone two years.
Teams to Watch: Japan’s brother and sister combination of Cathy & Chris Reed have struggled to get back to top form due to a foot injury to Cathy in 2013, but will try to get in a solid short program to try and contend. The Americans have two strong teams that may give the judges extra looks. Madison Chock & Evan Bates proved their 2013 season wasn’t a fluke, placing 2nd in Boston last month over Maia & Alex Shibutani, who have missed a step with a second straight 3rd place finish in Nationals. Other teams include Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina & Ruslan Zhiganshin, Great Britain’s Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland and Germany’s Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi.
Prediction: A report from a Canadian news website published that American and Russian judges have conspired to rig the competition in order for Virtue & Moir not to win Gold. As believable as that might seem, Davis & White is not going to need any help from the judges in winning this competition. They’ve been in the zone for the last 4 years since Vancouver, blazing through all their competitions with the exception of 2012 2nd place finish. Barring a monumental collapse, Davis & White is the team to beat. The only question now will be, “how much of cushion between 1st & 2nd will there be?”
Smooth’s Pick –
Gold – Davis & White (USA)
Silver – Virtue & Moir (CAN)
Bronze – Bobrova & Soloviev (RUS)
Next Up: the Ladies!!