Olympic figure skating preview: 6 ice dance teams to watch

Lawrence Yee

For years, the ice dancing medals were the easiest to predict. The battle for gold will be between two teams: Americans Meryl Davis & Charlie White and Canadians Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir. These rivals -- and training partners -- are in a class of their own.

The battle for bronze will be far more exciting, with at least four couples in the mix. Under the current International Judging System, teams are pushing the envelope when it comes to dance lifts and footwork sequences. Higher difficulty equates to higher risk, as audiences saw with the numerous (and uncharacterstic) falls in Torino. Yahoo Sports breaks down the contenders:

1. Meryl Davis & Charlie White (USA)

View photos

Davis & White are looking to win the United States' first gold medal in ice dance. They have been undefeated for two seasons and are riding a wave of confidence. Keep an eye on their precise and fast footwork and spectacular dance lifts.

2. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (CAN)

View photos

The reigning Olympic gold medalists want nothing more than to defend their title. Their classical free dance is elegant yet exciting. It'll be a close battle between them and their rivals Davis & White; even the slightest slip will have dire consequences.

3. Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat (FRA)

View photos

French skaters have always been known for their avant garde programs, and this charming couple is no different. They made the decision to switch to coach Igor Shpilband this season (who coached both Davis & White and Virtue & Moir to medals in Vancouver). Their decision -- coupled with their hard work -- could earn France its first ice dance medal in 12 years.

4. Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (RUS)

View photos

A Russian or Soviet team has medaled at every single Olympics since ice dance was introduced in 1976. Bobrova & Soloviev are facing an uphill battle. Their bird-themed free dance has gotten mixed reviews and they've had falls in two previous outings. They'll need to skate cleanly on home ice for a chance at the bronze.

5. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (CAN)

View photos

Weaver and Poje could give Canada a second ice dance medal in Sochi. Their heights (5'6" and 6'4", respectively) make them striking to watch. Their tango free dance is sexy and stylish, and suits them very well.

6. Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (ITA)

View photos

This charming couple from Italy have the most traditional routines, but they're delightful to watch. Their "Barber of Seville" free dance is full of humorous moments. They don't possess the speed and power of the top teams, but could capitalize if the others make mistakes.

Who do you think will medal? Share your predictions in the comments below.