Nationals, A Love Story (Pt 3)

So, after pushing back the post date for this post twice, I’m finally getting it done. Woot woot! *Raise the roof hands*

This is, as I stated in the first post, the senior ice dance preview for the U.S. Championships (which start on Saturday with the Juvenile pattern dance). This is the most competitive senior discipline-there are no less than five teams who could possibly/reasonably place in the top 10 at worlds and three of them made the GPF this year-so there are several ways this could go, but I am going to toss it up and do the order I prefer, rather than the one that will probably happen.

Again, I will not be doing report cards for dance because I have the technical knowledge of a fish.

1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani 

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Ages: 21/24

Skating Clubs: SC of New York/Arctic Edge FSC (in a moment of insanity I almost spelled that “artic”)

Accomplishments: 2011 World Bronze Medalists, Olympic Team Members (2014-9th), 11-time GP Medalists, two-time 4CC medalists (silver-2011 and bronze-2015), 5-time US Medalists (senior)

So, you may be scratching your head at this, because the Shibs-who are most definitely my  Ice Dance Preciouses-have repeatedly been dissed by the judges (case in point: GPF FD). But even the worst judging won’t ignore a flawless performance, which is what they’ve been delivering all season. With the exception of Ondrej Nepela Trophy, they’ve made themselves a reputation of being virtually guaranteed not to mess up their twizzles (which is far more than I can say for most any other teams, domestic or international), and their programs this year fit them to a T. Barring another unfortunately-timed illness, I fully expect lights-out performances at Nationals. But will the judges go for it? All I can say is, “I hope so.”

2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates

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Ages: 23/26

Skating Clubs: All Year FSC/Ann Arbor FSC

Accomplishments: 2015 World Silver Medalists, Olympic Team Members (2014-8th), 2014 and 2015 GPF Silver Medalists, 6-time GP medalists, 2015 US Champions

If we were going by the accomplishments list alone, I would definitely have put Chock & Bates in first, but they have been rather inconsistent this season. They’ve botched twizzles in both of their last competitions (Cup of China and the GPF), and while I don’t expect it to happen again, I can’t comfortably have them winning with that in mind. They are, however, the USFSA’s favorites, and they have good programs. So if they don’t have any major mistakes, they will almost certainly win.

3. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue

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Ages: 24/25

Skating Clubs: Lansing SC/Lansing SC

Accomplishments: 5-time GP Medalists, 2014 4CC Champions, 2012 and 2015 US Bronze Medalists

At the beginning of the season, I thought Hawayek/Baker would be comfortably occupying the bronze spot. But Hubbell & Donohue have really stepped it up, winning a GP and qualifying for the final. They seem to be benefitting from their coaching change, and their programs are excellent (well, their program-I really just mean the SD). However, they’re not consistent either, so I don’t really know. However, this seems like the most likely placement.

4. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker

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Ages: 19/22

Skating Clubs: Detroit SC/Seattle SC

Accomplishments: 2014 Junior World Champions, 2014 NHK Trophy Bronze Medalists, 2015 US Pewter Medalists

Last season, I thought Hawayek & Baker would be next year’s bronze medalists. It seemed that the trajectory of US ice dance was going that way. However, Hubbell & Donohue threw a wrench in my plans. While they did pretty well at both of their GPs (they withdrew after the SD from their second one), it was not enough to reasonably be called the bronze-medal favorites. I like their programs, but they don’t seem as strong technically as some of the other teams (this coming from someone who loves them). I hope I’m wrong, though!

5. Anastasia Cannuscio/Colin McManus 

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Ages: 23/25

Skating Clubs: University of Delaware FSC/SC of Boston

Accomplishments: 2015 Nebelhorn Trophy Bronze Medalists

Cannuscio/McManus were one of the biggest surprises of this season for me. While I liked them last year, this was the season I became an actual fan of theirs. Both of their programs are among my favorites in any discipline this season (particularly the SD), and while their scores haven’t been high enough to compete with the top teams, they’re improving. If one of the other teams makes mistakes, they could end up the pewter medalists. (Personally, I would like a Shibs-H/B-C/McM-C/B podium, in that order, so I kinda hope that happens. Hehe. ;))

So…are y’all, my fives of readers, excited for Nationals yet? Who do you hope to see on the podium? Leave me a comment if you care to chat *fan obsessively* about it! 

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