Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sochi Olympic Sojourns VII: Ice Dance Preview/Predictions


There are 24 couples from 15 different countries scheduled to take the ice in Sochi for the short dance. I’m not sure if any will be cut by the free dance round; in Vancouver, only 23 couples competed and all of them competed all three rounds.

No more Compulsory Dance: Speaking of three rounds... that doesn’t happen any more. Starting with the 2010-11 season, compulsory dances (the ones where all the skaters skated the same dance over and over with the exact same music) were eliminated, and the Original Dance (the middle round; the one where dancers fell all over the place back in the 2006 Games) was replaced with a compulsory/OD hybrid known as the Short Dance. The Free Dance (final round) remains essentially the same, however.

The Favorites: Whether you’ve heard it for just the past 7 days or the past 7 months, you’ve heard it for a reason: Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the USA won the World title 11 months ago, and won every event in which they’ve entered even further back than that.

The Top Challengers: Reigning OGM’s (and training mates) Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada are pretty much Davis/White’s only challengers, but they do it extremely well, keeping it close... and as recently as this week I was reading reports of little tweaks they were making to their FD in an effort to boost their technical score. One thing is for sure: Virtue/Moir are not okay with taking turns on this OGM thing.

The Battle for Bronze: This might be the most interesting part of this event, with (by my count) as many as five different couples in contention for this final spot on the podium:
+      Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN), 5th in 2013 Worlds
+      Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA), 6th in 2013 Worlds but World Bronze Medalists in 2012
+      Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA), 4th in 2013 Worlds
+      Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS), reigning World Bronze Medalists
+      Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS), 9th in 2013 Worlds but 2nd at Europeans just a month ago

The USA: Ice Dance remains one area in which the US thrives, with enough success on the international front to send three couples to Sochi. Davis/White are the ones everyone talks about, but Madison Chock/Evan Bates and Maia/Alex Shibutani, aka the “Shib Sibs”, are both likely to finish in the top 10. It is the Olympic debut for the Shib Sibs and Chock; Bates, however, competed in the 2010 Games with former partner Emily Samuelson.

My Predictions:
GOLD: Davis/White (USA)
SILVER: Virtue/Moir (CAN)
BRONZE: Bobrova/Soloviev (RUS)

BECAUSE: See my previous comments for an explanation, if necessary, about choosing D/W. As for bronze... this is one time where the Team Event is playing into my guess. Let me be clear in saying that who I’d really like to see in that bronze spot is France’s Pechalat/Bourzat. They may have lost their podium spot last year due to a collection of minor-ish mistakes in the FD (it was a tight race for bronze back then too), but this year’s FD known as “Le Petit Prince et sa Rose” is as fresh and enchanting program as you’ll see among the contenders this week.

They also won bronze with this program at the Grand Prix Final back in December, against several of these same teams.

However... Bobrova/Soloviev have been nipping at their heels and/or overtaking Pech/Bour at various turns all season, at least in the judges’ eyes. And in the Team Event SD last week, Bob/Solo defeated the French Team handily. While I doubt the judging panel for Sunday’s SD will be exactly the same, I tend to think the message has already been sent for these Games. If so, the good news out of this is that Bob/Solo have reportedly bailed on this year’s FD in favor of last year’s “Man with a Harmonica”... which I thought was a much better program.

Remember, the Short Dance starts today, 2/16, at 10AM on NBC SN (Sports Network), with highlights coming in prime time Sunday night!

I will be live-tweeting as much as I can... follow me on Twitter @KLBSt8ofSk8.

And I’m aware I have not yet done an every-four-years fan update on either dance OR the ladies... I hope to get that completed later today. 


sara.raju said...

If it's true, then thank god Bobo/Solov bailed on that Four Seasons FD. If there was a more eye-rolling choice of FD music for an Olympic year, I can't think of it.

Kelli Lawrence said...

Absolutely! But after the SD today I think I chose the wrong Russian team to medal... :-P

Anonymous said...

Wow, the results just like what was told to L'Equipe. I'm shocked.