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2010 World Championships Preview: Pairs

The pairs short program is today at the 2010 world figure skating championships in Torino, Italy. Our Olympic gold medalists, Shen and Zhao of China, are not competing.  But silver medalists Pang and Tong of China and bronze medalists and reigning world champions Savchenko and Szolkowy will be there.  I truly believe this event is wide open. 

The Contenders

Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov (Russia):  I really see this as an opportunity for redemption for this Russian pair, who have everything needed to win except the ability to skate clean! Augh!  Since Shen and Zhao are out, they're the next in line for a medal, but I assume they are hoping the color is finally gold.  They also have the threat of the throw quadruple salchow, but for some reason I doubt they'll be trying it here.  I don't know if they would even need it.

Qing Pang and Jian Tong (China):  If Pang and Tong skate here the way they did at the Olympics, I truly hope they win.  They showed such joy and some great skating.  They won't beat Savchenko and Szolkowy when the German pair is clean, but they can capitalize on the errors of other competitors. 

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy (Germany):  I wonder about the mental states of these two.  A completely disappointing season culminated in a dream dying when they were only able to hold on for the bronze at the Olympics, and were essentially an afterthought that could not compare to either of the Chinese pairs in the gold and silver positions.  And now they have to gear up for yet another worlds, which they've already won twice...it would be great to see them skate their programs the way they have the potential to.  Especially their Out of Africa free skate.  It's such a beautiful program - I'm so sad they were not able to have their Olympic moment with it...but perhaps a worlds moment would feel sweet as well.

The Dark Horses

Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison (Canada):  This pair is soft and sweet.  They are error-prone, but the judges seem to really like what they do out there.  So, perhaps they can capitalize on the errors of others like they did a few years ago, and bring home another medal.

Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov (Russia):  This pair had a thoroughly disappointing Olympics, but that wasn't too surprising.  I'm wondering if they'll be able to finally get it together this time.  I will go in with low expectations, but I'd really love to see them skate well.  I think they've got two beautiful programs and they can do nice work together.  This is likely their last season as one of the top two Russian pairs before being completely overshadowed by the younger team of Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larianov.

Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang (China):  They medalled last season, and they have to be looking for a way to salvage the season after missing out on repeating as Olympic medalists.  They have been skating better in the back half of the season, but I'm not sure if they'll stand out enough to snag a medal here.  However, they have all the big tricks...just not the artistry and connection of some of the other pairs.