More quads? Bring ’em on! After the throw quad salchow from Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov and the quad twist from Cheng Peng/Hao Zhang last week at Skate America, we are in store for more this week! That and some new pairs out of the pairs roulette that’s been happening this past off-season – it’s gonna be a fun one.
Previews: MEN | LADIES
Related: Skate Canada entrants
GOLD Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford CAN – It’s a testament to the soundness of their technique that they were able to land a throw quad salchow the first time they tried it in competition. And that happened just a couple of weeks ago at Autumn Classic, their warmup for the Grand Prix. And so with the throw quad, throw triple lutz, and side-by-side triple lutz, there is now no denying that Duhamel/Radford have the most technically difficult programs in the world.
SILVER Wenjing Sui/Cong Han CHN – A few years ago, it looked like Sui/Han would be the chosen ones, the ones who would finally be able to take the reins from the Chinese pairs who revolutionized pairs skating in the 2000s. Injuries, burnout (they competed in 17 competitions over two seasons where most pairs average around 10-12), lack of training – they were not only unable to keep up the consistency but they were also unable to grow as a pair. Now with Pang/Tong being the last of that first generation to retire, it looks to be Sui/Han’s time to prove themselves. Like Peng/Zhang last week, they also have a quad twist in their free skate.
BRONZE Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov RUS – Your first question is either “Who?” or “Aren’t they rival coaches?” Nope, that would be Tatiana Tarasova and Nikolai Morozov (the joke never gets old). The World junior silver medalists made a very successful debut this season at Nebelhorn Trophy, where they were second behind Kavaguti/Smirnov. They grew quite a bit since the start of last season and have inherited the classic Russian style that have made them the new senior pair to watch. Their programs this season, interestingly enough, were choreographed by Olympic champ Maxim Trankov. These two are a pair to keep an eye on.
4. Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres FRA – Their debut at Nebelhorn, where they took fourth, was not quite what they were looking for. While it seemed like they were making their way into the top tier of pairs, they have yet to be able to break through with their components. This could be a make or break kind of season for the French champs.
5. Madeline Aaron/Max Settlage USA – Fifth at Skate America last week, Aaron/Settlage showed some solid skating and turned some heads. With the youth of the field this week, they could once again stand out and grab a top five finish.
6. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro CAN – I am assigning a question-mark-wildcard status to Moore-Towers/Marinaro, who are making their competition debut this week. Moore-Towers, of course, was half of one of the top Canadian pairs of the past Olympic cycle. But she and Dylan Moscovitch split during the off-season and she and Marinaro, a World junior silver medalist in his own right, paired up. There’s a lot of great pairs potential there, but where are they right now in their preparation?
7. Mari Vartmann/Aaron Van Cleave GER – The four-time German medalists are making their Grand Prix debut this week. After missing both the Olympics and Worlds last season, they will be looking for a little redemption.
8. Brittany Jones/Joshua Reagan CAN – Fourth at US Classic, Jones/Reagan are making their Grand Prix debut. They were seventh at Canadians last season.