It’s Canada vs. China vs. the US in pairs this week at the Four Continents Championships. Even with eight pairs in the field after a few withdrawals, this competition won’t be devoid of exciting skating, especially with the return of Olympic silver medalists Wenjing Sui/Cong Han. Their biggest competition will likely come from their teammates. But they are about to throw this whole season of pairs into overdrive in their first competition since the Olympics.
Four Continents predictions
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GOLD Wenjing Sui/Cong Han CHN - It’s kind of a thing for them, isn’t it? Sui/Han look to be casually strolling into their first competition of the season at Four Continents and ready to win it - much like they did two years ago. Of course, if they had been able to compete earlier, they most certainly would have. After the Olympics, Sui was once again sidelined by injury and surgery, and they are now back in their first competition on their road to the Beijing Olympics. Even with that time out of competition, they are the class of the field.
SILVER Cheng Peng/Yang Jin CHN - For the first time in their careers, Peng/Jin aren’t the third Chinese pair anymore. Due to Sui/Han being injured and Yu/Zhang not skating in the fall, Peng/Jin were the sole representatives for Chinese pairs, and they took great advantage of it. The international panels have opened their eyes to the strength of their skating and have rewarded them accordingly, most recently with a silver at the Grand Prix Final. If there’s anyone who can pull off the upset, it is them.
BRONZE Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro CAN - The new Canadian champs have had an up and down season so far, one that started off very promisingly but took a dip mid-season. They seem to be back with the confidence and the consistency that brought them to the top six at Worlds last year, and they are looking to this event as a stepping stone to the World Championships in March.
4. Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc USA - If Cain/LeDuc skated the way they did at the US Championships, where they won their first title two weeks ago, they could very well see themselves on the podium. They have improved greatly this season, and their recovery from the scary fall and concussion in early December has been incredible and inspiring. They are sure to be taking a lot of motivation from that free skate in Detroit, and a strong showing here could be key to them getting that magic number top 10 finish at Worlds to get that second pairs spot back for the Americans.
5. Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea USA - The defending champions, much like Cain/LeDuc, have that podium dark horse potential. They have been skating very strongly since their silver medal on the Grand Prix, with the one exception of the free skate at Nationals, where they dropped from first to fourth. There’s something to be said about them having this chance to redeem themselves, and they will use every opportunity to end their season on a high note.
6. Evelyn Walsh/Trennt Michaud CAN - After a disastrous Grand Prix start at Skate America, Walsh/Michaud have turned their season around, most recently with two standout skates at Canadians, where they took silver. They have a chance at challenging for top five here.
7. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier USA - The 2017 US champs come into this competition still with some question marks around how they will fare in international competition. Of the teams here, they are the ones with the most inconsistent side-by-sides, and so that will be key for them this week. At their best, they are very much a top four or five pair here.
8. Camille Ruest/Andrew Wolfe CAN - The Canadian bronze medalists have not had the season that they have hoped for, with issues in competition being consistent, even with lifts. They are an elegant team who can score well if they can put solid programs together.