There are six teams in this field capable of getting on the ice dance podium at the US Championships this week. It just speaks to the depth of US ice dance, and basically that if you put any of these six teams at a World Championships, they would be in the top 15. It’s such a stacked field - it’s an embarrassment of riches.
GEICO US Championships predictions
Official hashtag: #USChamps19
GOLD Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue - The defending champions come in as the favorites, but knowing that they can’t afford mistakes if they are to fend off their training mates. As always, Hubbell/Donohue have been making adjustments to their programs to refine and fine-tune for the rest of the season. For them, skating with abandon sometimes means mistakes that mar their otherwise powerful and edge-of-your seat skating. They will want to find a good balance this week to grab their second national title.
SILVER Madison Chock/Evan Bates - They’re back!! Chock/Bates missed the fall season while Chock was still recovering from surgery over the summer. It took longer than they expected, but they were finally able to return to competition earlier this month, when they debuted their programs and won a small event in Poland. Having that one event under their belt and some mileage on these programs will help them as they return to the US Championships to win their first US title in four years.
BRONZE Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker - After a top-ten debut at Worlds last year, Hawayek/Baker made a coaching change, like Chock/Bates, to Montreal. And their change in environment has given them a refreshed outlook on their skating and on where they belong in the crowded field of US ice dance. Their win at NHK Trophy and qualification to Grand Prix Final surely gave them a great bit of experience that will help them on their quest to head back to Worlds and move up.
4. Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter - Of the three younger teams in this field, McNamara/Carpenter likely are the most comfortable in their skating right now. And it’s such a difference for them after a couple of seasons where they seemed to have lost their way a bit. They bring a quirkiness in their style that is very refreshing.
5. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko - With a bronze from the Grand Prix this season, last year’s junior champions make their debut in the senior event with a great shot at upsetting the balance a bit in that top tier of teams. They are also coming off a win at Tallinn Trophy, which is sure to push up their confidence.
6. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons - Fifth at Nationals last year, the Parsons have had brilliant moments this season, but they’ve also had trouble getting fully comfortable with their programs, especially the free dance. They come into Detroit with a new free dance, a risky but perhaps necessary step for them to jumpstart their season.
7. Karina Manta/Joseph Johnson - If you didn’t read about Manta/Johnson and why they are unique in the world of ice dance (and figure skating), do it now! They were ninth at the US Championships last year. Watch for their free dance, it’s one of the most avant garde programs of the season.
8. Elicia Reynolds/Stephen Reynolds - Reynolds/Reynolds were 11th at US Championships last season and in their fifth appearance at Nationals on the senior level.