Three Russian pairs compete at home at Rostelecom Cup this week, and one of them come in as the odds-on favorite are Russian champions Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov. But the rest of the field will be incredibly competitive, with six of the pairs having season bests that are within just ten points of each other. Outside of Tarasova/Morozov, the podium could really be anyone’s game.
Rostelecom Cup preview
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GOLD Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov RUS - Undefeated this season so far, Tarasova/Morozov haven’t actually skated their best yet by a long shot. The promising thing about their season is the all-around quality of the programs they are putting out, but now to combine that with clean skating. They know they are trending as one of the favorites for the World title - but they also know that Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres are doing the same.
SILVER Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise ITA - Silver in Finland two weeks ago, Della Monica/Guarise really want to step it up this week with a Grand Prix Final spot on the line and a stronger field to contend with. They were fifth last year at Worlds and are looking for more this season - two clean skates here will go a long way to getting them up with the top pairs in the world.
BRONZE Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin RUS - The World junior champions really have a good shot at the podium this week, which would make it two medals in two Grand Prix events after their bronze in Finland two weeks ago. They aren’t quite polished yet, but their elements and consistency will make them stand out if others make mistakes.
4. Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc USA - After Alexa Knierim/Chris Knierim put down the highest US pairs scores of the season last week, Cain/LeDuc are hoping to provide a rebuttal here in Moscow. it will very much be a testing ground for them as they look ahead to a showdown with the Knierims and Stellato/Bartholomay in Zagreb early December, and then again at the all-important US Championships in January.
5. Miriam Ziegler/Severin Kiefer AUT - An errant final lift a couple weeks ago in Helsinki kept them from getting their first Grand Prix medal. Nevertheless, for a pair who has never been higher than sixth at a GP, their fourth-place finish there was very promising. They face stiffer competition here this week in Moscow, but very much within earshot of a medal.
6. Deanna Stellato/Nathan Bartholomay USA - Their sixth-place finish at Grand Prix of Helsinki was a disappointment, especially given how solid they looked earlier in the season at the Challenger events. It’s a short turnaround for the US bronze medalists, but they are looking to build on that experience and skate cleaner here this week.
7. Alisa Efimova/Alexander Korovin RUS - Silver at Skate America, Efimova/Korovin are trying to make a bid for the Russian team this season at Europeans and Worlds. There is a lot of competition in Moscow, and they can certainly get themselves on the podium again.
8. Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya/Harley Windsor AUS - Perhaps the team with the least consistent season coming into Helsinki, the Australian champions have a lot going for them in their tricks and basics. But can they figure a way out of their inconsistency?