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Who will be the pairs breakout stars in 2016-17?

Icenetwork predicts which teams will come into their own this season
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Multiple experts picked Canada's Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau to take their skating to the next level in 2016-17. -Getty Images

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

Lynn Rutherford

U.S.

The new pairing of Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc is too intriguing to resist. With well-matched lines, good jumping ability and strong individual skating skills, they have the potential to combine elegance and athleticism in their programs and bring something truly different to the U.S. pairs field.

International

I look for Canadians Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau to challenge for a spot on the podium at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships. The Canadian silver medalists have all the tools: consistent elements, unique performance quality and good competitive nerves.

Vladislav Luchianov

United States

Reigning U.S. champions Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea will continue to progress at the national level, and the team will significantly improve its international results in the coming season.

International

It's time for two-time Olympic bronze medalist Aliona Savchenko to regain her place atop the world pairs heirarchy. She will do it this season with Bruno Massot, with whom she already took the silver at the 2016 European Championships and bronze at the 2016 World Championships.

Jean-Christophe Berlot

United States

Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran have kept improving this season and worked hard on not only their elements but also their unison. They could well be the breakout team in their country and become the new U.S. champions. 

International

France's Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès have never medaled at the European championships. They could finally land on the European podium in Ostrava. 

Nick McCarvel

United States

I'm interested to see how Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran continue to develop as a pair. They were third at the U.S. championships in 2016 and have a solid training base in Montreal. Will Castelli find another national title alongside a different partner? I think so.

International

I think this is the year when one of the two prominent Italian teams makes a push for the top. Nicole della Monica and Matteo Guarise have been steady but unmoved the last few years, so I will predict that Valentina Marchei and Ondřej Hotárek will finally get their ducks in a row and win a European medal and, perhaps, knock on the door of the top five at worlds. 

Sarah Brannen

United States

The brand-new team of Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc looks good on paper; she's an elite singles skater with pairs experience, and he finished seventh at the 2014 U.S. Championships (with DeeDee Leng). Based on their first competition this summer at the Cranberry Open, they look good on the ice, with long elegant lines and strong jumps. They could have a very strong debut season.

International

The international pairs scene is so deep right now that it's hard to imagine anyone breaking into the top tier this season. There are a few up-and-coming teams to keep your eye on, however, particularly the Czech duo of Anna Duskova and Martin Bidar, who earned positive Grades of Execution (GOEs) on their throw triple lutz en route to winning the 2016 world junior title.

Wei Xiong

U.S.

Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier were a nice surprise two years back, and they may be able to surprise us again this season after her full recovery. The pairs field got much more crowded last season, but Denney and Frazier are young enough to catch up and fight back to the podium at both domestic and international events. 

International

For Canada's Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau, last season's fourth-place finish at the Grand Prix Final was remarkable. It was unfortunate that the team was unable to compete at the 2016 Four Continents Championships and the 2016 World Championships after she was injured, but as long as they consistently deliver good performances, the Canadian youngsters can seize the opportunity and establish their status as one of the top pairs in the world.

FINAL TALLY

U.S.
Cain/LeDuc - 2
Castelli/Tran - 2
Kayne/O'Shea - 1
Denney/Frazier - 1

International
Séguin/Bilodeau - 2
Savchenko/Massot - 1
Morgan/Ciprès - 1
Marchei/Hotárek - 1
Duskova/Bidar - 1