In this tune-up for the Olympics, there is one very big name missing from the pairs at the 2018 European Figure Skating Championships. Grand Prix Final champs Aljona Savchenko/Bruno Massot decided to skip Euros to have more time to prepare for PyeongChang. But fear not, the pairs competition will still be a nail biter - lots of great skating to be had. And yeah, I'm going a bit wild and crazy with my predictions, so prepare yourselves.
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GOLD Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres FRA - This is arguably where it all turned for them last season. Sure, they had that great free skate at Trophee de France, but it was 2017 Europeans where they blew away their personal best scores. Might this competition once again be where they breakthrough, and just in time for the Olympics?
SILVER Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov RUS - They are so close to a breakthrough. Stolbova/Klimov have been on the edge of greatness this season, but they pushed it to the limit just a bit too much a few times. Earlier in the season, they were laughing it off, but at Russian Nationals, Stolbova, especially, was visibly upset at her mistakes. That may just be the fire that she needs to rediscover their consistency this week at home in Moscow.
BRONZE Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov RUS - After a very strong fall, Tarasova/Morozov were looking at potentially challenging for the gold in PyeongChang. But their last two competitions, especially the Grand Prix Final, were off-kilter and set them back. Europeans is a chance for them to right the ship going into the Olympics.
4. Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert RUS - A convincing bronze at Russian Nationals essentially locked up that third Olympic spot for them, and having that past them should allow them to feel less pressure this week in their second Europeans.
5. Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise ITA - It's been a very good season for Della Monica/Guarise with their first Grand Prix medal and second Italian title. They have an outside shot at the top four.
6. Valentina Marchei Ondrej Hotarek ITA - They had a strange blip at their national championships last month. After a strong short program, they skated a surprisingly messy free skate to take themselves out of contention for the title. They will be looking to redeem themselves here and reset their confidence. Two clean programs, with their performance quality, can give them a shot at the top four.
7. Miriam Ziegler/Severin Kiefer AUT - They've had career-best scores this season, right in time for their second appearance at the Olympics. They were ninth here last season, but look poised to move up a couple spots this year.
8. Paige Conners/Evgeni Krasnopolski ISR - New pair this season, Conners/Krasnopolski wasted no time and qualified a spot for the Olympics at Nebelhorn earlier this season.