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A Grand Prix-View 2: ice dancing

And now, a look at the contenders in the ice dancing competition coming up in the Grand Prix starting tomorrow (or today, depending where you live and when you're reading this).

Ice Dancing:

Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto (USA): <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><span class="mceItemObject" classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></span>

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</style><![endif]--> A lot of people are counting this pair out; they came in second to Delobel and Schoenfelder at Skate America and then to Domnina and Shabalin at Cup of China - but they almost caught the Russians at Cup of China and the lack of compulsories here means less of a hole to climb out of. If they've been working on their programs since China, I think they could be contenders. I'm not ready to write them off just yet. But they have to pick things up; they don't want the judges to think they peaked a few years ago and are on their way down a year before the Olympics.

Charlie White and Meryl Davis (USA): <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><span class="mceItemObject" classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></span>

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</style><![endif]--> They were quite impressive in their Skate Canada win, although none of the other eventual Grand Prix finalists were competing there. White then had a terrible Cup of Russia, falling twice and all the pair could muster was bronze. I was happy with their showing at Skate Canada, but the field in Korea is quite deep. Scores could be close though, so who knows...<!--[if gte mso 10]>

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Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski (Russia): <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]>

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</style><![endif]-->They pulled off the upset at Cup of Russia, beating Domnina and Shabalin. If they skate like they did in the free dance there, they could definitely make a difference. But again, this field is STACKED. They'll have to be clean.

Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali (Italy): I feel that their win at NHK Trophy was slightly easier than some other Grand Prix wins due to a lack of competition. And they were only slightly ahead of France's Pechalat and Bourzat, who didn't even qualify for the final. However, this team is obviously on the rise they did pull out a win in the Original Dance at Trophee Eric Bompard, edgint out Domnina and Shabalin (granted, those two were downgraded), so anything's possible.

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin (Russia): <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> You've got to think the 2008 European Champs are hurt by the fact that there is no compulsory dance in the final; that's where they built a lead in Cup of Russia before losing to country mates Khokhlova and Novitski after a middling free dance. I wonder what they've been doing in the past few weeks to make sure there isn't a repeat of that situation...

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder (France): <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]>

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</style><![endif]-->Another team that could miss the compulsories – they built quite a lead in the compulsories at Trophee Eric Bompard. While they’re the only pair who’ve won both the Grand Prix events they were in this season, they only won Skate America by a small margin and they had a lot of errors and deductions at Trophee Eric Bompard (but still beat Faiella and Scali). As the 2008 world champions, I think they’ll try to regain any momentum they may have lost in disappointing skates at TEB with a solid effort here.

Prediction:
1) Belbin and Agosto

2) Delobel and Schoenfelder

3) Domnina and Shabalin.

Yes, I did it. I predicted Belbin and Agosto to win. Call me crazy now, or wait til my predictions get blown out of the water. Either way...I'm pretty sure I'm crazy.