2015 Skate Canada preview (pairs): Will we see a quad lutz this week?

The World champs are starting their Grand Prix Series at home this week at Skate Canada International. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford, never ones to rest on their laurels, are back with a new trick, the throw quad lutz. Will we see the first ever throw quad lutz in competition? We'll see this week! But outside the favorites, there's a clear frontrunner for silver, and then four other pairs capable of standing on the podium. Fun group.

Rocker predictions: 2015 Skate Canada

GOLD Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford CAN - I'll continue with the quad lutz talk. Duhamel/Radford first landed it in practice a few months back, and it wasn't long before they decided that it was a must in their free skate. With that element, their throw quad salchow, and side-by-side triple lutz, they now boast three of the hardest tricks in pairs skating. They had hoped to debut it a few weeks ago at Autumn Classic, but turned it into a single. We'll see what happens this week. But either way, they come in as the heavy, heavy favorite simply as a result of their difficulty and consistency.

SILVER Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov RUS - Sixth at Worlds, Tarasova/Morozov were a breakout pair last season in their freshman season on the senior ranks. They started off a bit shaky at Ondrej Nepela, where their side-by-side jumps were just not working. But looking at the field this week, they really are the only team with a reasonable shot at contending for gold with Duhamel/Radford. No quads, which will be an obstacle (yup, this is a brand new era in pairs skating).

BRONZE Valentina Marchei/Ondrej Hotarek ITA - Second season together, Marchei/Hotarek skate on the Grand Prix for the first time together (of course, they each have plenty of GP experience prior to their pairing). Let's also not forget that this is Marchei's 13th season on the senior circuit (11 of them were in singles), and she's arguably even more fiery than ever with the complement that is Hotarek. That said, they are maybe slight favorites for bronze, but there are three other teams whom they are keeping their eyes out for.

4. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro CAN - Fourth at Canadians last season in their first together, Moore-Towers/Marinaro have proven to be a solid pair already, but just lacking the PCS respect from the international panel so far. They look stronger this season already, and if they can put two clean programs together, it could mark a turning point for them on the international scene.

5. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran USA - The still-new pair of Castelli/Tran have podium written all over them. They still haven't quite mastered the throw triple lutz yet (at least not by the looks of the intended doubles we've seen from them pre-GP this season), which is a 3-4 point hindrance for them. But the biggest liability right now may be Tran's solo jumps, which aren't as solid as Castelli's are. A strong short program would do them a lot of good.

6. Vera Bazarova/Andrei Deputat RUS - Yet another new pair as of last season, Bazarova/Deputat can also get some medals around their necks. They were fourth at their two Grand Prix events last season, but Bazarova's lack of solidity on landings has kept them lower than they would like to be.

7. Vanessa Grenier/Maxime Deschamps CAN - The former Canadian junior champions were fourth at U.S. Classic recently.

8. Miriam Ziegler/Severin Kiefer AUT - Top 10 at Europeans last year, Ziegler/Kiefer come in hoping to not finish last again at a Grand Prix. They are 2 for 2 so far, and it's just tough with a field like this for them to move up.