Well, the pairs who were expected to contend for the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics did not disappoint tonight in the short program. Fewer than three points separate the top three pairs, which means that every single movement matters tomorrow night in the free skate. China's Shen and Zhao were the absolute best tonight and set an International Skating Union scoring record with their 76.66. They are followed by Germany's Savchenko and Szolkowy and Russia's Kavaguti and Smirnov.
The American teams had fairly solid programs but did not score very high. Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig were clean and are in tenth place, while American National champs Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett had a doubled side-by-side jump, which cost them a lot, they are down in 14th spot.
It wouldn't be an Olympic pairs competition without questionable judging, and tonight the judges did not disappoint. Canada's Dube and Davison had a fall on side-by-side jumps and did not perform the program as well as they can, but still managed to stay in the top six pairs. Russia's Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov had a fall as well and appeared to be overmarked, but I honestly would have placed them ahead of Dube and Davison, so at this point none of those scores make sense. Luckily, the Vancouver Olympic website provides the judging breakdowns, so I'll take a look.
(UPDATE: A quick look at the scores shows that Dube and Davison scored a lot higher in program components than they have in other international events this season. It's hard to compare different events because there are different judges, but even in this competition, I find it surprising that the judges found them only about four points behind Shen and Zhao and three points behind Savchenko and Szolkowy and Kavaguti and Smirnov as far as components. The team also received some...robust grade of execution points. At first I thought Mukhortova and Trankov were scored high, but the Dube and Davison score threw me off. I would have placed M&T ahead of Dube and Davison).
||Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao||China||76.66|
|2||Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy||Germany||75.96|
|3||Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnova||Russia||74.16|
|4||Qing Pang and Jian Tong||China||71.50|
|5||Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang||China||71.28|
|6||Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison||Canada||65.36|
|7||Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay||Canada||64.20|
|8||Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov||Russia||63.44|
|9||Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov||Ukraine||62.14|
|10||Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig||USA||57.86|
|11||Nicole Della Monica and Yannick Kocon||Italy||56.82|
|12||Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov||Russia||56.54|
|13||Anais Morand and Antoine Doraz||Switzerland||55.34|
|14||Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett||USA||53.26|
|15||Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur||France||51.16|
|16||Stacey Kemp and David King||Great Britain||48.28|
|17||Maylin Hausch and Daniel Wende||Germany||45.46|
|18||Maria Sergejeva and Ilja Glebov||Estonia||42.18|
|19||Ekaterina Kostenko and Roman Talan||Ukraine||39.54|
|20||Joanna Sulej and Mateusz Chruscinski||Poland||39.30|