PAIRS:We have quite the mixed bag of competitors here. Starting with the host entries...Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnoff are coming off a great win at the Cup of China (216.00) and Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov had a rough start to their season, landing off the podium at Skate America (189.06).
Kavaguti/Smirnoff looked good at Cup of China and showed that they can still compete technically at this point in their career. Their short program is not my favorite, but I think they will be hungry to have a good showing at home and make it to the Final. Stolbova/Klimov have not looked the same since that fluke fall in their Europeans long program last season. It’s nice to see them back competing after skipping Worlds, but they are struggling with their elements and they have no connection whatsoever. They have big scoring potential if clean, and perhaps they will also benefit from some home PCS.
Coming in as a complete question mark are the Chinese pair team of Peng/Zheng. We saw them for the first time this season last week at Trophee Bompard. Of course, they did not get to skate a long program at that event, so I haven’t seen what they can bring to the table in a full competition. We saw video of her taking a hard fall during practice and hitting her head before the short program in France, where she fell on their side by side jumps (score 64.10). Here’s hoping she is healthy and feeling well; they could potentially benefit from whatever ISU will decide regarding TEB if they place well here.
Competing for the top six this week will be Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro, who got off to a great start at their home event, taking third (174.85). They look much improved this season and I like their short program. Their long at Skate Canada exposed some weaknesses, though. I am interested to see how Valentina Marchaei/Andrej Hotarek are skating this week- they had to withdraw from Skate Canada after his concussion and that is a difficult injury to come back from. The third Russian team of Zabljko/Enbert got a huge score (especially for a new team) of 192.22 at Mordovian Ornament this season and though I do not expect them to repeat the number they got at that grossly overscored competition, some hometown crowd support could keep them up there in the standings.
About the Blog:
Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.