Pang and Tong of China are back for two nights only this season. The world championships are their solo international competitive appearance. The 2010 world champs looked uninspired last year en route to a world bronze medal, and I have no idea if their heads and bodies are in the game this season. They can be a beautiful pair with great technical elements, but we have nothing to go off of this year.
Germany's Savchenko and Szolkowy were completely dominant last year and have to be considered a gold-medal contender in any competition they're in. They are pretty much the most powerful pair in the world and they will wow with their tricks. Their taste has always been a little suspect although they went more conservative this season. But they will be head to head with Volosozhar and Trankov and if either teams makes too many mistakes, the others will skate right through that door.
Volosozhar and Trankov of Russia won the silver last season and have seemed poised to make the jump to gold all year. But they lost the Grand Prix Final to the Germans (by a very small margin), who did not compete at Europeans. I have no idea who is going to come out on top (if any of these teams) but I have a feeling we will have a great competition on our hands.
The Dark Horses
Kavaguti and Smirnov of Russia must be annoyed that they have lost their slot as the number one Russian team to countrymates Volosozhar and Trankov. But this team can be very exciting and they have some nice programs this season. When they are clean, they have every chance to be on the podium.
Others to Watch
I have no idea this season. It seems like there aren't as many true medal contenders. Russia's Bazarova and Larionov have not really stepped it up this season. Japan's Takahashi and Tran are not yet on equal footing with the top teams China's Sui and Han will try to ride their recent Four Continents and Junior Worlds victories to a surprise medal here. America's Caydee Denney and John Coughlin will look to match or improve on Coughlin's sixth place finish last season with Caitlin Yankowskas. And Canada's Duhamel and Radford recently finished fourth in Four Continents and have been impressing this season, so they'll likely be hopeful for a top six finish as well.