Looking at the pairs field this week at 2018 Skate America, the expectations for one team are pretty clear - World silver medalists Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov will be looking for their fourth career Grand Prix title here in a field in which they are the heavy favorites. But the battle for the other podium spots will be intriguing - two American pairs with very different off-seasons, a German pair who made a splash last season, another Russian pair who is under the radar even in their own country, and a Canadian pair emerging from the junior level.
Skate America predictions
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GOLD Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov RUS - Being off the podium at the Olympics was a disappoint for Tarasova/Morozov, now squarely the number one Russian pair. But they had some strong skates last season, and are looking to have a stronger showing than they did at Finlandia Trophy to start. But even with mistakes, they would still be considered the favorites in Everett this week.
SILVER Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc USA - With two wins in two Challenger Series events already this season, Cain/LeDuc are eager to prove themselves as the top American pair this season. Their programs show greater maturity than before, and they are flying high with confidence coming in on the heels of those two wins. A first Grand Prix medal is in sight.
BRONZE Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim USA - It was an off-season of big changes for the Knierims, and this week will be more of the same for them. They started the season at Nebelhorn showing the most solid skating of their career, yet their jumps were still inconsistent. If they can minimize mistakes this week, their new look should carry them to at least the silver. But how ready are they at this point in the season?
4. Alisa Efimova/Alexander Korovin RUS - With a win over the Knierims at Nebelhorn Trophy to start their season, Efimova/Korovin want to prove that Russia should be taking their international standings seriously.
5. Annika Hocke/Ruben Blommaert GER - They are the only pair in this field we haven’t seen compete this season, so they are a bit of a wild card. But if their consistency is anything like what we saw last season, they should have a good shot at the top half and perhaps even a medal.
6. Evelyn Walsh/Trennt Michaud CAN - Walsh/Michaud are last minute replacements here, and they will have back-to-back Grand Prix events this week and next. They showed some solid promise last season, especially at Canadian Nationals, and they will be looking to gain valuable senior experience here.
7. Minerva Fabienne Hase/Nolan Seegert GER - Fourth at Nebelhorn, Hase/Seegert are now the number two pair in Germany. They are making their senior Grand Prix debut this week.
8. Nica Digerness/Danny Neudecker USA - The 2017 US junior champs jump onto the senior international field this season. They were fourth at Lombardia Trophy last month.