Ice Network

Who will be ice dance's breakout stars in 2016-17?

Icenetwork predicts which teams will come into their own this season
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Two-time U.S. junior bronze medalists Elliana Pogrebinsky and Alex Benoit will look to make a splash at the senior level this season. -Getty Images

Icenetwork asked its contributors which ice dance teams they thought would take the next step forward in the 2016-17 season.

Lynn Rutherford

U.S.

Elliana Pogrebinsky and Alex Benoit have power and charisma, two qualities needed to stand out in the crowded U.S. ice dance field. They stepped up to the senior level with a win at the 2016 Lake Placid Ice Dance International in July and will gain Grand Prix experience before the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. If they skate big and bold, they can make their mark and gain a step up on other young couples who elected to continue in the junior ranks this season.

International

After leaping to 11th in the world in 2015, Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen's placements stagnated last season. Judging by their performance at the 2016 Quebec Summer Championships earlier this month, the Danish team will rebound strongly in 2016-17. With some of the top teams at their Montreal training site vacationing or touring early in the summer, the duo took full advantage of the relative lull in coaching duo Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon's schedules and opened the season with polished, intricate programs. If they continue this trend, they could crack the top five at Europeans.

Vladislav Luchianov

U.S.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue

International

Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland

Yes, my ice dance forecast is the same as last season...but why not? Both Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, and the United Kingdom's Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland made big strides last season. For this season, I will make some even bolder predictions: The Americans have everything it takes to win their first U.S. title, and the Brits have a chance to finish on the world podium.

Jean-Christophe Berlot

U.S.

The momentum that Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus gained in 2014-15 carried over into last season. Even in a crowded U.S. ice dance field, they are ones to watch.

Overall

Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain have endured several injuries the past few seasons. Last year, they looked to be at their best again. The energy they display and their mastery of edges could make them a sensation in the season to come. 

Nick McCarvel

U.S.

Can Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker get to the level of the ShibSibs (Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani), or Madison Chock and Evan Bates? Not yet. But two Grand Prix assignments will add valuable experience to the 2014 world junior champions, and they're the lone U.S. team in a loaded dance field at the NHK Trophy.

International

Remember Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov's stirring Swan Lake free dance that secured the duo the bronze medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi? Well, their partnership ended in shambles a few months later, but Ilinykh quickly linked up with Ruslan Zhiganshin in April 2014, and the duo has been steady on the international stage. This is the year I expect them to reinsert Russia into the top five in the world.

Wei Xiong

U.S.

If I were Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, I would withdraw from the Junior Grand Prix circuit this season and make my case for the TBD spot at 2016 Skate America. After an unbeatable year on the junior circuit and clearing 160 points last season, the Maryland-based couple can start to test the waters at the senior level and demonstrate their competitiveness, if they want to go that route.

International

Russia used to be the the ice dance superpower, but the country has struggled in the discipline during recent seasons. While I don't think Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin can challenge the top North American and French teams right now, I do think they have the consistency and connection to aim for the top spot in Russia, and hence make it to the top 10 at the 2017 World Championships, despite a very competitive field.

Sarah S. Brannen

U.S.

The young Caroline Green and Gordon Green siblings are making the jump from novice and will probably do well on the junior circuit, but they are so young -- turning 13 and 15 -- that this may not yet be their year. I'll be surprised if there are any other significant moves on the U.S. dance scene in the junior or senior ranks.

International

I wish I had a divination wand to reach into the future and predict the sort of rise from obscurity that France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron stunned us with two years ago. Breakouts in ice dance are rare birds indeed. The junior teams that I think will do well as seniors are staying on the junior circuit this season. The one thing I hesitantly predict is a move upward from Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier. Their revamped short dance made a big impression at the 2016 World Championships in Boston.

FINAL TALLY

U.S.

Pogrebinsky/Benoit - 1
Hubbell/Donohue - 1
Cannuscio/McManus - 1
Hawayek/Baker - 1
McNamara/Carpenter - 1
Green/Green - 1

International

Coomes/Buckland - 2*
Beaudry/Sørensen - 1
Ilinykh/Zhiganshin - 1
Stepanova/Bukin - 1
Gilles/Poirer - 1

*Predictions were submitted prior to Penny Coomes' injury.