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Worlds Ice Dance Preview

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Wow. This category is ridiculous. Nearly all of the couples I think of as gold medal contenders have missed part of the season due to injury. And the only couple to win all of their competitions this season, reigning World Champs Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France, withdrew from the competition due to....injury. It's the third consecutive competition they've pulled out of. Of the rest of the top contenders, each team has been beaten by another of the top teams at least once. Let's take a look at the teams I think have a chance to win:

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada): They missed most of this season due to Virtue's shin surgery. They're back and they won the Canadian nationals and garnered the silver at the recent Four Continents Championship in Vancouver. They looked sloppy at Four Continents, though they nearly won. They've had more than a month to clean things up though, and the international judges like them. They're also extremely young but can be breathtaking.

Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto (USA): Belbin and Agosto have had a rocky couple of years. A bad showing at last year's worlds (4th), followed by a coaching switch and a second place finish in their two Grand Prix events, in which something (almost intangible?) felt to be lacking in their programs. Not to mention Agosto's recent back injury, which forced a withdrawal from the Grand Prix Final and the U.S. Nationals. Although they were recently judged fit for competition by USFSA, there was pretty much no fanfare accompanying the decision, which raises a bit of concern for me over how good they actually looked.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA): Davis and White have had a very good year, although they haven't been dominant. They started off with a great win at Skate Canada, but had a mistake-riddled original dance at Cup of Russia where they battled to come in third. They then came in third at the GPF. A month later, they won their first national championship, and kept the momentum going at Four Continents. While they can be captivating, have they been consistent enough to contend for the title?

Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski (Russia): They beat countrymates Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin at Cup of Russia, but had lost to that team earlier at Cup of China. They withdrew from the GPF but won all three skates at the injury-depleted European Championships. Their win at the Europeans should prove that they are on a streak, but would they be considered contenders if some of the other teams were healthier? Probably not.

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin (Russia): 2007 world champions Um, not sure what I was thinking. This pair has never won worlds, won the Euros and GPF last year and were expected to contend for the big prize and then had to withdraw last year (should have remembered the 2007 champs, Bulgarians Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski, as he has been in quite some trouble for drunk driving and causing someone's death since then.) Der, my apologies. They've had a shaky season, winning Cup of China, losing Cup of Russia, and losing the GPF by a bit more than three points. They didn't compete in the Russian nationals and withdrew from Europeans due to his knee injury. They didn't look always look extremely sharp.

Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali (Italy): I am not the biggest fan of this team but I decided to add them in because they have been in the mix this year, notably with their win at the NHK Trophy. Still, they came in last at the GPF and were a distant 2nd to Khokhlova and Novitski at the Europeans, so I don't know if they have what it takes to win this year.

As you may have gathered from the above, I have absolutely no idea who is going to win or even medal in this competition. There have just been too many injuries and too much inconsistency all around for me to say who stands out right now. I didn't like the way Virtue and Moir looked at Four Continents but otherwise I would likely have chosen them to win. If Belbin and Agosto had seemed at all confident this season, they would definitely have gotten a medal prediction as well. But I really can't say. I wrote about six different predictions for this, and then I realized that I couldn't do it. I'm sorry for the cop-out!