Ice dance might be the only discipline of the three with a really clear favorite for gold, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the podium won’t be a nail-biter of an event. With the rest of the medals completely wide open for something like seven other teams to grab, it really will be a matter of levels and execution that will make the difference between podium and not.
World Championships predictions
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GOLD Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron FRA - It’s no secret that Papadakis/Cizeron are the heavy favorites here, looking for their fourth World title. It’s not a question of whether they will win but more how much they will win by. Have the other teams in the world closed the gap, if even by just a tad? The standings this week could be a signal as to how the next few years will play out in ice dance before the next Olympics.
SILVER Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue USA - You can say that Hubbell/Donohue’s season was pretty smooth-sailing up until Four Continents. They weren’t always perfect and clean, but they did what they needed to do and they did it well. Four Continents was a wake-up call for them (not just the lift issue in the free dance but also the messiness they felt in the rhythm dance), and it could potentially be the competition that really pushes them to combine their powerful skating with the precision that will get them a second World medal.
BRONZE Madison Chock/Evan Bates USA - The Four Continents champs have had an unorthodox season - they made a coaching change and relocated to Montreal, spent most of the fall on the sidelines while Chock recovered from surgery, and then came back to competition with improved skating and a relaxed attitude that have brought out the best skating of their careers. They spent the past two years off the podium at Worlds after two back-to-back medals. The time is as good as any for them to make it back up there.
4. Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov RUS - Riding the two highs of taking silver at the Grand Prix Final and then winning their first Russian title, Sinitsina/Katsalapov hit a road block in their short dance at Europeans and ended up off the podium. Their rhythm dance is one of the strongest in the event - their Tango Romantica patterns this season have been really precise, and a high placement in the RD will be key to them having a shot at the podium.
5. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier CAN - Might this be the event where Gilles/Poirier finally win a matchup against Weaver/Poje in international competition? They’ve closed the gap this season, bolstered by their incredible free dance. There’s something about their mindset - it’s a desire, a hunger, a real push that they are making to end on a real high this week in Saitama. It might be a fraction of a point that makes the difference.
6. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje CAN - The defending World bronze medalists are coming off silver at Four Continents a month ago. Their programs this season are two of the strongest that they have ever had - the months spent on tour performing those programs night in and night out really helped them connect with the music. The big question is whether or not they can get those levels.
7. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin RUS - There’s been a good bit of unpredictability with Stepanova/Bukin this season - and it’s expected because they do love to skate on the edge. After a strong Grand Prix series, they were disappointingly fourth and off the podium at the Grand Prix Final. But they came back strongly at Europeans to grab the silver ahead of Sinitsina/Katsalapov, who beat them at GPF and at Russian Nationals. Can they ride that momentum?
8. Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri ITA - The European bronze medalists have really had an incredible season. They have been on the senior ranks for almost a decade, but this season has been transformational for them. A first qualification to the Grand Prix Final (which came with a surprise bronze), a first podium trip at Europeans, and very much in the mix to be the surprise here this week.
9. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker USA - Tenth in their Worlds debut last season, Hawayek/Baker are looking at this event as a place where they could make a push to get closer to that upper echelon of dance teams going into next season. They won’t figure into the medals here, but what they put down this week and their marks from the judges could say a lot about their trajectory in the next couple of seasons.
10. Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson GBR - It’s been a somewhat surprising meteoric rise for Fear/Gibson. Just 24th at Worlds last season, they have brought their own style and identity to the table this year, particularly with a free dance that has won over many new fans this year. They could find themselves in the top 10 in the world for the first time in their careers.