This week's Rostelecom Cup has an intriguing set of pairs, particularly with the top two teams who are competing. In a lot of ways, both Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot and Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau are fresh pairs on the world scene. And though Savchenko has been around for a long time in skating, her pairing with Massot is definitely a new look, and one that sets this pair apart from her previous pairing with Robin Szolkowy. Seguin/Bilodeau, on the other hand, burst onto the senior ranks with an eighth-place finish at the 2015 World Championships, which was also their very first senior international competition. This battle will be fun to watch.
Rostelecom Cup Preview
Unofficial hashtag: #CoR16
GOLD Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot GER - The last time we saw the World bronze medalists, they unleashed a throw triple axel at Nebelhorn Trophy - a nod to their desire to be on a technically-level playing field with Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford. Though Duhamel/Radford aren't here this week, they will have to contend with another strong Canadian pair in Seguin/Bilodeau. Still, Savchenko/Massot are in Moscow as the heavy favorites, and it will take a lot of mistakes for them to not take gold this week.
SILVER Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau CAN - Seguin/Bilodeau had a solid showing in their first Grand Prix at Skate America. But even though they won the competition, a mistake in their new element, a side-by-side triple loop, in the short program left them playing catch-up there. And it was thanks to a strong free skate and mistakes from other pairs that they moved up to the top of the podium. If they are to contend against Savchenko/Massot this week, they will likely need to be perfect.
BRONZE Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert RUS - After a bunch of different pairs partners, Zabiiako has finally found the right one in Enbert. They are a beautifully-matched pair who is looking to insert themselves into the conversation among the Russian pairs this season. And they get a perfect opportunity to do it at home, with a medal very much within reach.
4. Valentina Marchei/Ondrej Hotarek ITA - On one hand, there was the last place finish that Marchei/Hotarek had at Skate America; on the other, there was also the fact that they were just five points away from fourth place there. So while their placement was a disappointment, it was all relative. What hurt them there was their side-by-sides, which are usually their strength and some of the most difficult in the world. And if they clean those up this week, they will most certainly be podium contenders.
5. Kristina Astakhova/Alexei Rogonov RUS - Astakhova/Rogonov is another pair with upgraded difficulty, also with side-by-side loops. But their inconsistency has held them back the past few seasons. They started their Grand Prix off with a fifth-place finish at Skate America.
6. Camille Ruest/Andrew Wolfe CAN - Ruest/Wolfe are fresh faces in the deep field of Canadian pairs, and they make their Grand Prix debut this week after a solid early season, where they were fourth at Autumn Classic.
7. Alisa Efimova/Alexander Korovin RUS - Ninth at last year's Russian Nationals, Efimova/Korovin make their Grand Prix debut this week at home.
8. Goda Butkute/Nikita Ermolaev LTU - The Lithuanian champs started off their season with two fifth-place finishes at Challengers and will make their Grand Prix debut.