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Maggie Hendricks

Judges' scores, crazy costumes, and beautiful music: what to watch for in tonight's pairs contest

Fourth-Place Medal

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One of the storylines that came out of Sunday night's pairs short program was that bad judging had returned even though changes had been made to improve the judging system. Canadian pair Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison took sixth despite a fall, while their compatriots Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay took seventh despite a clean routine.

Here we go again, right?

No. Based on the new scoring system, the two Canadian pairs are exactly where they belong. Dube and Davison did have a fall and were docked for it, but they also had more difficult elements throughout their routine than Langlois and Hay did. Under this system, clean doesn't automatically mean a medal, if the clean program was too easy.

Other things to look for tonight:

Can Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao finish their comeback? The Chinese married pair is missing nothing but a gold medal, and the two are doing the best skating of their lives. Look for difficult lifts, particularly in the second half of the program, when they are worth more.

Will a 12-Olympics-long streak be broken? The Russians have won gold in every pairs event since 1964. To give you some perspective on that, the last time a non-Russian pair won, John F. Kennedy was running for president. The Russians have a third-place pair with Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, who have a difficulty-packed routine, but Shen and Zhao are going to be tough to beat.

Who will have the nuttiest costume? Sunday night, we were treated to Team That's-A-Lot-of-Blue from Ukraine, and the German clown team – Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy – is in second place heading into Monday night's free skate. True, we have a long way to go before arriving at ice-dancing-caliber costumes, but the pairs still have the ability to bring the crazy.

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