Ice dance this week is going to be intense. Six of the very top teams in the world are in Anaheim, and unfortunately, only three of them will get on the podium. Complicated by that is the fact that three of these teams have not really been on the international scene for most of the season - so you wonder how much shakeup there will be. There were surprises in ice dance at Europeans; might there be more surprises here as we enter the final stretch of the 2018-19 season?
Four Continents predictions
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GOLD Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue USA - The Grand Prix Final champions have been undefeated this season and have played their World silver medalist role very well. Their programs have changed a lot this season, but they are finally in a place where they feel strong about where they are and are working to combine the power and abandon with the precision that will bring them the levels and execution. They are slight favorites, for sure, but can’t afford mistakes if they are to win their second Four Continents title (Their first? Five years ago).
SILVER Madison Chock/Evan Bates USA - Wow, back with a vengeance. Chock/Bates missed the entire fall while Chock was recovering from surgery in the off-season that took longer than expected to return from. But the US Championships saw a completely refreshed and renewed look for them - they are motivated, improved, and ready to return to the spotlight. If the US Championships was any indication, they have a real shot at winning this thing altogether.
BRONZE Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje CAN - Like Chock/Bates, Weaver/Poje return to competition ice after a bit of a hiatus - they were on the Thank You Canada Tour for most of the fall, with the exception of one Challengers event very early on. They made their return to competition at Canadians, where they won their third title, but the big question this week will be whether or not their levels will hold up for an international panel - they are the ones who have had the least amount of recent international panel feedback this season.
4. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier CAN - With perhaps the most stunning free dance of their career, Gilles/Poirier are the ones here poised for an upset and breakthrough. Finally top six at Worlds last season, they have been steadily inching their way up internationally. Their issues this season have been getting their levels right internationally, and if they put two clean programs together, watch out.
5. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker USA - The defending champions will be facing a lot more depth in competition than they did last year. But they have also improved relative to where they were last year, which makes their appearance here of much interest. Hawayek/Baker’s general power and flow have gotten stronger since their move to Montreal. They will need to stay close after the rhythm dance in order to have a shot, albeit a very outside shot, at the podium.
6. Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen CAN - The disappointment of not being able to represent Denmark last year due to Fournier Beaudry’s citizenship pushed them to make the move to Canada. And in some ways, they’ve had to start all over again, pushing their way up domestically and to a bronze at Canadians. This is their first go at it internationally, so they are a bit of an unknown quantity at this point.
7. Shiyue Wang/Xinyu Liu CHN - They were fifth here last season - the three-time Chinese champions have shown improvements this year all around and their scores have reflected that. And though they won’t be able to touch the top six here, a seventh-place finish with two strong programs would be a big plus for them going into Worlds.
8. Misato Komatsubara/Tim Koleto JPN - The new Japanese champions have been banking more international experience this season. They were eighth at both of their Grand Prix events in the fall and look to solidify a top eight finish in their second Four Continents appearance.
9. Hong Chen/Zhuoming Sun CHN - Chen/Sun were recently second at the Chinese Championships, adn they will be making their first appearance at Four Continents together - both have competed here before with different partners.
10. Chantelle Kerry/Andrew Dodds AUS - As usual, Dodds is pulling double duty at Four Continents in ice dance and men. They were 13th last year and look to have a solid shot at top 10 this year.