The 2009 world championships pairs short program takes place tomorrow in Los Angeles. Here is a look at some of the top couples that will likely be contending for medals this week. I'm not going to hit all the couples, just the ones I think have the best chance at being on the podium. There's been a lot of exciting pairs skating, but also a lot of inconsistency and wins coming despite flawed programs.
China's Pang Qing and Tong Jian: 2006 world champs, they have had a great year, with the exception of a third place finish at the Cup of China. They've beaten the other major contenders in the field, including reigning world champs Savchenko and Szolkowy at the Grand Prix Final.
Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy: They are the reigning world champions and they were almost unbeatable this season, but a sloppy Grand Prix Final meant they had to settle for third in that competition. They were strong most recently though in winning the European championships.
China's Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao: These two started out the season very impressively, winning their first two Grand Prix events. But things haven't gone quite as well since; they placed 2nd to their countrymates at the Grand Prix Final and most recently were third at Four Continents. They seem to have fallen into the shadows of Pang and Tong.
Canada's Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison: This pair has been on and off for me all season. They didn't even make the Grand Prix Final but then finished ahead of Zhang and Zhang at the Four Continents. They may be able to sneak back in for another medal this year.
Americans Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker: The hometown team is exciting and has the ability to energize the crowd, but hasn't skated too many clean performances this season. They were only fifth at Four Continents and I think it would take amazing performances by them coupled with various mistakes by the other major pairs in order to get them onto the podium.
Other possible spoilers: Russia's Kawaguchi and Smirnov and Mukhortova and Trankov (although they would have to put together a great long program, which is unlikely based on their track record).
I am going to go ahead and make a prediction for this one:
1) Pang and Tong
2) Savchenko and Szolkowy
3) Zhang and Zhang
I think that Pang and Tong and Savchenko and Szolkowy both have a lot of momentum on their sides but I am picking Pang and Tong to pull through and win back their world title.