2018 Worlds preview (pairs): On the verge of a record

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Unless something crazy happens this week at the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships, we will have a historic record set by Aljona Savchenko. She comes into Worlds with 10 medals, tied with Irina Rodnina for the most ever by a pair skater. She and Massot are favored for gold after their Olympic win. And with Wenjing Sui/Cong Han and Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford out, this will mean a first World medal for at least one of these pair teams. Who will it be?

Worlds predictions
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GOLD Aljona Savchenko/Bruno Massot GER - It will be a very tall task for them to repeat the performance that they had at the Olympics in their free skate. That said, they don't need it to win this week. They do, however, want to do better in the short program than they did in PyeongChang, and you'd imagine that with the Olympic gold in their pockets, it will be a lot less of a mindgame for them to conquer here in Milano. A gold here will complete their collection as a pair - they have a silver last season and a bronze two seasons ago; it would be Savchenko's sixth World title and Massot's first.

SILVER Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov RUS - It was a disappointing Olympics for Tarasova/Morozov - second after the short and with a medal in sight, they fell apart in the free skate. But if there's anyone pair this week who can really give Savchenko/Massot a run for the title, it's them. The side-by-sides seem to be the mental hurdle for them this season, 

BRONZE Valentina Marchei/Ondrej Hotarek ITA - The fight for bronze is a tough one. Between Marchei/Hotarek and James/Cipres, they are equally strong but in different ways. But what the Italians have this week is the home crowd (plus the massive momentum they bring in from the Olympics. Two more clean programs from them this week and they will become the first Italian pair to ever medal at a World Championships. More history to be made.

4. Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres FRA - For James/Cipres, they have been on the verge of a breakthrough this season, but they just haven't been able to put down the kinds of clean programs that they have needed. But the podium is very much within reach for them, especially if they can stand up that throw quad salchow in the free.

5. Xiaoyu Yu/Hao Zhang CHN - Eighth at the Olympics, Yu/Zhang were off their game in PyeongChang and couldn't hold it together in the free. They also have a potential shot at the podium, but they won't have the crowd appeal of either the Italians or the French here in Milano, so they will need to rely on strong, clean skating to get themselves on the podium. Zhang is the only other skater outside of Savchenko/Massot and Tarasova/Morozov who has a World medal (four, in fact).

6. Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert RUS - The European bronze medalists have been steady this season, finishing seventh at the Olympics in addition to grabbing a Team silver. They won't blow your socks off like the other top teams do, but they are solid, elegant skaters who can sneak in if others make mistakes.

7. Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau CAN - Seguin/Bilodeau have been improving with each competition this season, and look to be peaking late season as they had done in the past. They were eighth three years ago at Worlds and can better that result this week.

8. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro CAN - After a poor short at the Olympics, they rallied to finish 11th with a strong free. They have the potential to get into the top six in Milano, but will need to be squeaky clean to get there.

9. Kristina Astakhova/Alexei Rogonov RUS - It's been three years since Astakhova/Rogonov have been to a World Championships, and they come in with the potential for another top 10 finish. Their inconsistency has been their biggest issue this season.

10. Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim USA - Their highlight at the Olympics was their great short in the Team Event, but their individual event programs didn't live up to their standards. At their best, they are good enough to be one of the top tier teams, but consistency is always a big if.