Seven pairs in the field, and it's really going to be a close one between a good number of them. I wouldn't be surprised if four or more pairs are are separated by only five or six points. For many, it will be the first time they are seeing Wenjing Sui/Cong Han in competition this season - though they have already shown off their programs domestically (see above). How will the pairs do at Cup of China this week? Let's take a look.
Cup of China predictions
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GOLD Wenjing Sui/Cong Han CHN - The World champions are the heavy favorites here this week, but it will be important for them to get through at least two of their side-by-sides to guarantee themselves their second Grand Prix title. They make their season debut here, with their sights set on Olympic gold in three months.
SILVER Xiaoyu Yu/Hao Zhang CHN - With a win at Cup of Nice under their belt, Yu/Zhang are looking to build on their fourth-place finish at Worlds earlier this year. Their component marks at Cup of Nice were lower than what we had seen from them last season, so that will be a point of interest as we try to sort out which of these teams will grab that silver medal behind Sui/Han.
BRONZE Valentina Marchei/Ondrej Hotarek ITA - Fourth at Rostelecom Cup, Marchei/Hotarek were just a few points off the podium there. They know that the bronze would have been theirs had it not been for the mistakes, and so they will come into this competition with hopes to skate two better programs to get themselves that elusive Grand Prix medal. No Italian pair has medaled on the Grand Prix since Hotarek did it in 2013 with former partner Stefania Berton.
4. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro CAN - Gold at U.S. Classic to start their season, Moore-Towers/Marinaro have to be looking at this competition as the first chance for them to make their case for the Olympic team, especially after two of the Canadian pairs who they are battling for one of the Olympic spots started their Grand Prix series without spectacular skates. A medal here would really give their confidence (and their potential at an Olympic berth) a big boost.
5. Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise ITA - Fifth here last season, the two-time Italian champions continue to improve season after season. They are solid skaters but have a tendency to make uncharacteristic errors in competition that you wouldn't necessarily see them make in practice. They have a shot at the podium if they are clean.
6. Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc USA - The U.S. bronze medalists are making their Grand Prix debut. The last time Cain was at Cup of China was as a singles skaters in 2014. So far this season, they have had trouble putting consistent programs down, but they absolutely have the potential to dazzle if they are on. In a field like this, two solid programs will be crucial for them to have any shot at being in the top five.
7. Mingyang Zhang/Bowen Song CHN - They are an internationally unknown pair, with Cup of China this week being their debut in international competition. They were fourth at last season's Chinese Championships.