Duhamel/Radford picked up their second win of the season at NHK, to the surprise of no one. If anything was shocking, it was the lift issue they had at the end of their free skate, but their little mistakes didn't matter much in this field. They will want to be at their best at the Final if Savchenko/Massot are healthy enough to compete and challenge them. I am still not a fan of their program choices this year, but they will be favored to win at the Final.
I was happy to see Peng/Jin make the Final. Their short program is a really great choice for them and after all the switcheroo drama, I am just glad they look happy and are skating well. Peng's side by side jump inconsistencies showed up again at this event, but they did have to skate back-to-back. They will face their former partners and a tough field at the Final. They'll need cleaner programs to make an impact on the podium there, but the international experience should be a boost to their first season together.
I like Wang/Wang's short program and this bronze medal is a huge step forward for them. In deeper fields, they wouldn't be medal contenders, but they took advantage of a medal opportunity here. Good for them!
It was nice to see Kayne/O'Shea with a technically solid free skate here. Consistency has always been a strength of their skating and I hope that skate brings them some confidence as they rest and reset to defend their national title in January. Even without Scimeca/Knierim, they'll face a challenge with the consistency of Denney/Frazier.
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