With the major championships starting to approach, I’ve been rewatching some of the pairs events from this season and speculating what the next few months hold in store.
This year, there are at least 6 teams who I think have a legitimate shot at a European/World medal or title. It’s been a long time since there was so much competition at the very top in pairs.
Who are the 6 teams? They sit atop the ISU season’s-best total score list:
It’s hard to guess which of these pairs will win medals this winter/spring. Some of them haven’t competed against each other yet. And the results data that’s available is from a mix of Grand Prix/Challenger Series/Nationals events, which can be difficult to compare.
To get a sense of how the top 6 stack up, here’s an idea: Watch the Top 6 Pairs Marathon! 🙂 I’ve put together 2 lists below (links included) of the best short programs and long programs from each pair throughout the season. If you have a spare hour, watch the whole marathon! Not only is there a lot of great skating to see and enjoy again, I also think watching the pairs back-to-back gives you a good sense of how they compare with each other.
Top 6 Pairs Marathon
Here we go! 🙂 I mostly chose each pair’s top-scoring international programs of the season. However, I did deviate in a few cases. For Duhamel/Radford, I went with their Skate Canada programs instead of GP Final, because D/R’s Skate Canada programs had fewer errors (although the GPF programs scored slightly higher). And for Savchenko/Massot and Volosozhar/Trankov, I selected their Nationals SPs, because those SPs had the fewest mistakes.
Duhamel/Radford, Skate Canada SP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkURtnsXpvo
Kavaguti/Smirnov, GP Final SP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y52Q6x5egP8
Savchenko/Massot, German Nationals SP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC8QGDYiX5Y
Stolbova/Klimov, GP Final SP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2UWsuOGfLc
Sui/Han, Cup of China SP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDaKxZ6e_mM
Volosozhar/Trankov, Russian Nationals SP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20aK_FhSH1E
Duhamel/Radford, Skate Canada LP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLul5Z6G6Xw
Kavaguti/Smirnov, Cup of China LP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdzRVniJc3Q
Savchenko/Massot, Tallinn Trophy LP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU9RVPCigfc
Stolbova/Klimov, GP Final LP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3VlHxNZKRo
Sui/Han, Cup of China LP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BS8mOEneiw
Volosozhar/Trankov, Nebelhorn LP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQL-3fdzp20
Thoughts After Watching the Marathon
I had so many thoughts after watching the Top 6 Pairs Marathon that I can’t resist offering up some predictions (which will probably turn out to be wrong!).
1. If they skate clean, I think Volosozhar/Trankov will probably win the short program at both Europeans/Worlds. However, I don’t think they will win the long program or either title. They’re just not in good enough shape yet to pull out the LPs they’d need to win the major events. Next year, though …
2. If Stolbova/Klimov skate anything like they did at the GP Final, they will win Europeans/Worlds. But can they show that kind of consistency? Their brilliant GP Final LP is statistically an outlier—the score was 15 points higher than their next-best LP (and 10 points higher than anyone else’s). How likely is it they’ll skate to that level again?
3. Savchenko/Massot could be there, if Stolbova/Klimov falter. I know–it’s only their first year, and many people don’t even see them in the medal race. But they do have the highest SP score of the season, and the 4th-highest LP score. Their triple twist is amazing; their lifts are among the best in the field (if not the best); their SBS jumps have been fairly consistent. Throws are often 2-footed, but big. Bottom line: I think they have the elements to contend. And the X-factor.
4. I think it’s unlikely Duhamel/Radford will repeat as world champions. They’ve just been a little off their game all season. Their base value will keep them in it, and they could win 4CCs, and may still win a medal at Worlds. But I don’t know if they can win the World title. (Just watch Meagan put in that throw quad Lutz and prove me wrong! :-))
5. A lot of people thought it might be Sui/Han’s year, but I don’t know if it’s going to happen. Too much time lost to injury; possibly too much energy put into the quad, instead of the whole package. Watching the programs back-to-back, they still lack a little in basic skills. (Although, Sui is becoming possibly the most magnetic performer of all the top pairs ladies.)
6. Kavaguti/Smirnov may contend for a medal at Europeans or Worlds, but they’ll need to be at their absolute best to do so. (Which they were not at Russian Nationals.) Although they’re defending European champions, I don’t see them winning either Euros or Worlds this year.
So, just some early thoughts on the rest of the season. I’d love to hear everyone else’s predictions! Feel free to comment, either here or on Facebook! And enjoy the Top 6 Pairs Marathon. 🙂