It’s really a three-way race this week at 2018 Skate Canada International in the pairs event. All three are taking on somewhat new roles this season - Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres are World medalists for the first time, and Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro and Cheng Peng/Yang Jin are their respective countries’ top pairs for the first time (at least in the Grand Prix). All three are capable of some great skating - this should be a great event to watch.
2018 Skate Canada International preview
Official hashtag: #SCI18
GOLD Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres FRA - It’s a season to rise for James/Cipres, who come in as the World bronze medalists. Their transformation over the past few years has been very apparent, and they certainly bring a flavor of skating to the ice that is truly their own. Without the pressure of the quad salchow this season, they can focus on skating clean programs and pushing up their components - all in hopes of winning the World title. Skate Canada will be good testing grounds this week.
SILVER Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro CAN - With Moore-Towers still recovering from the ankle injury that bothered her at the end of last season, they are still not 100% in their first season as the top Canadian pair. That said, they have still delivered a few strong skates in the Challenger events last month, with silver medals at both. They certainly have a chance at the title, but they will have to be clean.
BRONZE Cheng Peng/Yang Jin CHN - After a disappointing Olympics last season, Peng/Jin recovered with a solid top 10 finish at their first World Championships. And without their more renowned teammates on the Grand Prix this season, they are carrying the torch for Chinese pair skating right now. They have an outside shot for gold, but they will have to get past their temperamental side-by-sides to get that done.
4. Aleksandra Boikova/Dmitrii Kozlovskii RUS - Somewhat the dark horses here, the 2017 World junior silver medalists are making their Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada. They were on the podium at their first two events of the season and showed a lot of promise.
5. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier USA - The former US champs started off their season with a bronze at Autumn Classic, and though their short program was solid, they had a lot to work on in the free skate there. They are back with their former coaches, and like Ashley Cain/Timothy Le Duc last week, Denney/Frazier are hoping that they can make some noise for American pairs on the Grand Prix.
6. Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya/Harley Windsor AUS - Bronze at US Classic and sixth at Finlandia Trophy, Alexandrovskaya/Windsor haven’t had a great start to their season. They make their Grand Prix debut this week.
7. Camille Ruest/Andrew Wolfe CAN - First time back on the Grand Prix since 2016, Ruest/Wolfe finished fifth at US Classic to start their season.
8. Evelyn Walsh/Trennt Michaud CAN - It was a rough start to their Grand Prix series last week for Walsh/Michaud, who struggled to eighth in Everett. It’s a short turnaround to Skate Canada, but can they rebound?