Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shanghai Shake-Up: 2015 Worlds Pairs & Ice Dance Predictions

Here we are at Worlds 2015 in Shanghai already! Two titles will attempt to be defended... the other two are (at least in theory) wide open! Do you have your spring rolls ready? How about some hot’n’sour soup? Jiaozi (pot-stickers)? Anything??

While you’re on the phone ordering take-out, why not get started on these predictions for the first two disciplines to take the ice this week:

GOLD: Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford  (CAN)
SILVER: Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHI)
BRONZE: Peng Cheng/Zhang Hao (CHI)

DARK HORSE: Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS)

With Stolbova/Klimov out of this year’s championships, this title is Duhamel/Radford’s to lose. The bigger challenge for me was deciding which Chinese team for silver and which for bronze... Sui/Han and Peng/Zhang have chased each other all season, with the former getting the upper hand at the GP Final and the latter faring better at 4CC. (And both apparently received a “bye” from Chinese Nationals, so there went that tiebreaker.) I’m picking Sui/Han because they have tougher content, and I happen to like their FS better on the whole... but if they falter on any of that content, Uncle Hao and his delightful niece (as I like to think of them) should be ready to make their move.

Kava/Smir are the ultimate Dark Horse—they’re high-quality, they’re committed to the drama of this year’s FS, and like Duh/Rad, they have a throw quad salchow. What they don’t have is consistency on their jumping passes. I’m looking at Yuko when I say that, but of course that means it’ll be Alexander that falters this time...

And while I don’t think they’ll medal this time, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out wish for Pang/Tong to skate as Lights Out as they can in front of the home crowd. Please, Shanghai, give P/T the sendoff they deserve so they can finally retire and go raise some little Pongs and Tangs already!

(And as an aside... I think Scimeca/Knierim’s best-case scenario is 6th place. Not as sure about Denney/Frazier, but I’d like to think Top 10. Might have to settle for Top 12, though.)

GOLD: Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN)
SILVER: Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
BRONZE: Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA)

DARK HORSE: Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA)

It’s weird when you’re looking at ice dance—once known for its glacier-esque pace of change—and you’ve not only put the reigning champs as a Dark Horse, but have a team in the silver slot that didn’t even crack the Top 10 last year. That’s the kind of year it’s been though. Buckle up! This podium “prediction” is about as tenuous as it gets; it could go 17 different ways. And it should be a lot of fun to watch.

Stay tuned—singles predictions will be up soon!

And if you’re on Twitter, the hashtag for Worlds this year is #WCShanghai. And don't forget to look for me... live-tweeting as much as I can (@KLBSt8ofSk8).