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    Pj Kwong

    About Pj Kwong

    With more than 25 years of coaching experience, Pj Kwong is one of Canada's best known figure skating experts. She has worked with CBC Sports as a commentator and analyst since 2007.

Figure Skating

Pj Kwong - Saturday Feb. 15, 2014 20:28

Virtue and Moir, Davis and White begin ice dance showdown

Pj Kwong picks her ice dance podium

virtue-moir-getty-ice-dance
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir face their club mates and biggest rivals, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, in the Olympic ice dance competition starting Sunday at Sochi. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
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The ice dance competition that begins on Sunday here in Sochi presents a conundrum for me.

It is likely the most contentious battle among the skaters and the fans who watch them. As such, skating cognoscenti are very vocal about their preferences and frankly, the noise can be deafening.

Over the course of the last two seasons, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White have been able to consistently stay ahead of rivals and defending Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

This includes most recently in the short and free dance segments of the Olympic Team event in which both couples competed.

We all want to be right about our ice dance views and the truth is, as Carol Lane said to me during the coverage of one event or another: “Both teams are great. You wouldn’t be wrong by choosing either one.”

I have a friend who is too shy to be named here and who seriously understands music and we were talking via email about the ice dance event and the rivalry between the two top teams. I loved his way of putting the differences between them into a context that I found easy to understand.

“The clearest allusion I can think of is comparing Mozart (understated elegance with the Canadians) and Beethoven (fast and bold approach with the Americans). Serious musicians know that to perform Mozart well is the most difficult of any composers.

“I personally believe that the edges of the Canadian team are deeper and they skate with a tighter, magical sense of unison. The American team do skate faster, less precise but in a bold and sensational acting approach as individuals.”

The race will be close and I have always been clear that for my money I prefer the art of the Canadians over the skating of the Americans. That said, I think that the historical results of the last two seasons are a strong indicator of what will likely happen in Sochi if both teams skate error-free.

The race for third is just as strong with four outstanding teams vying for the honour:
Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, Italy: My vote for most improved over the last couple of seasons. They emerged as 2014 European champions.

Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, France: Always innovative they took the bronze medal at the recent Grand Prix Final ahead of their closest Olympic rivals.

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, Russia: I like this team’s speed although the concept of their free dance this season doesn’t do their strength justice.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, Canada: On a personal note, these two skate my two favourite programs of the season: 42nd Street for the short and a Tango for the free dance. Both are favourite genres in my real life away from the rink.

Regardless, Weaver and Poje are as strong as any of the other medal contending teams and it will be a great battle decided on the ice.

All in all my predictions come down to history being the best predictor of the future rather than reflecting my personal preferences.

PJ’s Podium picks:

Gold: Meryl Davis and Charlie White USA
Silver: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir CAN
Bronze: Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev RUS

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