Olympic champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir have made it a habit to train alongside their chief rivals. They did it years ago with Meryl Davis/Charlie White, and now they are doing it again with two-time and reigning World champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron. And Virtue/Moir will be battling Papadakis/Cizeron again this week, just two weeks after defeating them at NHK Trophy. Who wins? Let's have a look.
2016 Grand Prix Final Predictions
Unofficial hashtag: #GPFinal
GOLD Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir CAN - I'm seeing potentially another world record or two going down this week - with this field, with the scoring potential (especially in the short dance), and with Virtue/Moir coming back with a vengeance. Virtue/Moir's Prince short dance is absolutely brilliant, and arguably the best of the season. It showcases their well-known precision and movement, and it also showcases their often-underappreciated range through their comfort with modern pop/rock music selections. I do expect this week to be a lot closer than it was at NHK Trophy though, especially if Papadakis/Cizeron avoid the mistakes that they had there. And believe it or not, they are looking for their FIRST Grand Prix Final title this week.
SILVER Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron FRA - Lest we forget, though, the world record holders for the free dance are Papadakis/Cizeron, and they are capable of producing captivating magic on the ice. Levels in their short dance and errors in their free dance at NHK kept them from keeping it as close as they could have to Virtue/Moir. And if they are able to grab the technical mark from Virtue/Moir this week, it may be enough to offset the ever-so-slight disadvantage they have in components.
BRONZE Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani USA - Fourth Grand Prix Final for the Shibs, and this will be their best chance ever at standing on the podium for the first time. Their short dance is more true to the hip hop theme than all the other hip hop short dances out there, and for me, that aspect of their choreography has been underrated (and perhaps under-understood?) by the judging panels. But they also have a brilliant free dance that has taken them to yet another level. Bronze is very much there within their reach.
4. Madison Chock/Evan Bates USA - But also with a transformational free dance are Chock/Bates. But it's their short dance this season that has gotten the biggest scores - their Skate Canada SD, in fact, is the third-highest SD of the season behind Virtue/Moir and Papadakis/Cizeron. The domestic competition between them and the Shibutanis have certainly heated up in the past couple of seasons and pushed both teams to be the best they've ever been. GPF will be their first meeting of the season, and it'll be interesting to see who prevails here a month prior to US Nationals.
5. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue USA - The third team of the US trifecta, Hubbell/Donohue, are also riding on improvements this season. Their free dance has been generally more well-received than their short dance, and it's likely why they have made some tweaks to that SD coming into this week.
6. Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev RUS - Bobrova/Soloviev have had a fantastic season so far, three wins out of four competitions, including gold at Rostelecom Cup to set them up for the Grand Prix Final. Like the other teams here, we've seen visible improvements from them this season. And in some ways, they are a bit of the dark horse for the podium. I can see them finishing anywhere from third to sixth here, and it'll be a levels game for sure.