There is no discipline at this week's World Championships with as big of a favorite as ice dance does. Olympic silver medalists Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron are very much favored to win their third World title. And without Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir or Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani in Milano, the podium is very much open and likely a four-way race for those other two medals.
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GOLD Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron FRA - I mean, is there anything more I need to say about this? If Papadakis/Cizeron don't win their third World title this week, it would be a gigantic surprise.
SILVER Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue USA - Just like last year at Worlds, Hubbell/Donohue took third at the Olympics in the short dance and then made mistakes in the free and finished off the podium. The difference this week from usual is that the competition is less intense than it's been for the past couple of seasons, so that may help them break through to earn their first World medal this week.
BRONZE Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte ITA - In what is likely their final competition, Cappellini/Lanotte will end their decorated career, which includes the 2014 World title and five European medals. If they are to get back on the podium again after a four-year absence, they will need to rely on the crowd to really pull the best out of them. And I get the feeling that they will be able to do just that.
4. Madison Chock/Evan Bates USA - Two-time World medalists, Chock/Bates know exactly how to get on the podium. You wonder how much their free dance mistake from PyeongChang is going to weigh on their minds here. But they are seasoned veterans, and they know how to come back from disappointing skates. Their short dance, though, will make the case for their medal chances this week. If they can get through it and stay close to the top teams, their brilliant free dance can carry them to the podium.
5. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje CAN - The last time we had a Worlds after the Olympics and Weaver/Poje finished seventh at the Olympics, they almost won Worlds. They come into Milano once again with a seventh-place finish at the Olympics, and they will be among the teams with a strong shot at either the silver or bronze here. The twizzles, as always, will be crucial for their success this week.
6. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin RUS - Everyone is still scratching their heads about Bukin's non-invite to the Olympics. But in the midst of all of that, we know that Stepanova/Bukin have had a breakthrough season, including a silver at Europeans. It will be exciting, and potentially redemptive, for them here this week. They've got an outside shot at a medal.
7. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier CAN - It was a revelation at the Olympics in the free dance - Gilles/Poirier put down their strongest skate of the season - and even their career - and finished eighth. If they can repeat that here and skate a strong short, they really have a chance to break the top five or six.
8. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker USA - In their debut Worlds, Hawayek/Baker really have a shot at a great placement. They have proven themselves to be a team who is absolutely among the top dance teams in the world. They just won Four Continents two months ago and will be challenging for top 8 this week, especially on the strength of their free dance.
9. Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri ITA - Should Cappellini/Lanotte retire after this Worlds, Guignard/Fabbri are poised to be the next Italian dance team to try for the top of the standings. They've been steadily improving season by season, and the home crowd could be a boon to them this week.
10. Tiffani Zagorski/Jonathan Guerreiro RUS - With a solid 13th at the Olympics, Zagorski/Guerreiro were the replacements for Stepanova/Bukin. And here, they replaced Bobrova/Soloviev, who opted out of Worlds after the Olympics. They have a strong shot at a top ten finish.