Random Thoughts on the Pairs Free Skate

  • I have developed a theory that language could be real barrier to Alexandrovskaya/ Windsor developing their PCs and that they won’t improve until they are better able to communicate with one another. I feel like there might be something in this and that it is not just a ridiculous theory. But really, they’re just still very young and very new and they need time. But, I hope they really make their PCs a priority. I heard somewhere that they are working on a quad twist, which is great, but I hope they look at the full package. For example, at no point this season did I understand her free program dress. It’s still as baffling to me now as it was at the start.
  • It was so fun to watch Ziegler/Kiefer (finally) get to skate in the free at Worlds. They looked great (I think this was Miriam’s best hair – she heard me!) and were really enjoying themselves. It struck me while I was watching that they must really like covers of pop songs because that’s all they seem to skate to. It also struck me that their three jump combo was the best I’ve seen from any pair. They actually had flow through and out of each jump and didn’t come to a stand still like pretty much every other pair team I’ve seen. I love that these guys keep getting better. I would like to suggest, however, that they change their pair spin position where she’s holding her leg sort of up and sort of in front of her body. It just looks awkward.
  •  Really, Hocke/Blommaert have had a great first season and not just in terms of results. They have some really nice elements: their throws seem really stable and reliable and they have some nice spin and lift positions. They’ve really come together well as a team but when I see the contrast in performance between the two, I just really want Reuben to engage. Your partner is really out-shining you here! Do not get left behind! Can I also add that I quite liked both Annika’s dresses this season.

  • I am really impressed with Duskova/Bidar‘s twist. I’m really with impressed with the height they get and really, just what they do in general. It made me think that in other countries these two maybe wouldn’t have been paired together but without probably a lot options in the Czech Republic, they were and they are making it work and work really well. And that’s really what it is about, making a partnership work. You don’t necessarily have to be the best skaters if your partnership can work to its full potential. I was interested too that they changed their outfits. They didn’t seem to fit the music terribly well but they were objectively more attractive. I’m really excited to see what direction these guys go for next season.
  • You might expect that the North Koreans would be the least expressive and instead, they are the most. Ryom/Kim always seem to be a treat to watch. I hope they can continue to keep pace and improve. I would love to see them move up the rankings.
  • After watching Simeca/Knierim, what I really want to know is why Alexa changed her dress? I loved the grey dress. It worked for Ghost and it was so sophisticated. The pink and white was just a little too … bridal? It was not a move in the right direction anyway, and it did not seem like a good sign. I interpreted it as a desperate move to try to obliterated bad program memories. However, neither was her look as they took to the ice a good sign; so nervous, almost desperate, it made me wonder if something was up, other than normal nerves? But they had the pressure to qualify two teams last year and she didn’t react this way. I suppose it could be wanting it so much? Total lack of confidence? Whatever it was, she was concentrating so hard she totally lost the performance, even before the falls, and you can usually at least count on her for that.
  • I quite like  Yu/Zhang‘s Star Wars free program and at Skate America I really started to think it was coming together, but it hasn’t fared so well in the latter half of the season. This was a MUCH better performance than the Olympics, however. Still, I felt like they were fighting to keep in sync and get their timing. But she got her throws here, and the throw sal especially was so impressive. I think my jaw dropped a bit. I think they are developing more chemistry on the ice too. This is a team that I really want to see move up the rankings, so I hope so!
  • Moore-Towers/Marinaro had a great free skate. Kirsten clearly had some sort of foot or ankle issue but it didn’t stop them. They were 4th in the free. I think it is really a testament to their consistency this season. They continually gone out and skated well in competition. And the program really held up during the season too. It has continued to pack some emotion and power with each skate. Kirsten changed it up a bit here with her hair down, of which I approve.
  • Astakhova/Rogonov had a pretty good free skate, with the exception of the side by side triple sal, which is too bad because that can be a great jump for them. However, it was a much better skate than at the Olympics. That seemed to be a real theme here – teams who had poor showings in the short or free at the Olympics, on the whole, did much better at Worlds. I am looking forward to the new season for them and a new program. They never looked totally into La La Land but it did strike me, this time around, how well the lifts are timed to the music. I just wish he covered more ice. I hope next season they do something that captures their imagination and enthusiasm. I think if they are wholeheartedly into their programs, we will see a difference.
  • I decided that at the beginning of Marchei/Hotarek’s free program that she is looking at a train timetable. (What else would be up in the air like that?) And clearly she is upset because they’ve missed their train and now what are they going to do? And they have travel all over the countryside walking, hitch hiking, what have you, to get to their destination. I don’t know if they ever end up at their destination, but their adventure turns into a delightful romantic comedy along the way and they fall in love. There! That helped me make sense of what was going on. I should have made up my own story a long time ago. They didn’t quite rival their Olympic performances here but they did have great throws, and maybe the best twist I’ve seen from them. I think it was maybe Valentina’s best hair too.
  • Peng/Jin had a great short and I was really sad couldn’t quite keep up the same level throughout the free, with some mistakes on the side by side combo and the throw sal, and so fell a few spots. (Peng also doubled the side by side sal as did Yu. They both looked like planned doubles to me. I think the Chinese were going for clean and decided they preferred a double to a fall at Worlds.) Nonetheless, none of these mistakes detracted from the beauty of this program for me. I was so happy to see the Butterfly again. There is just so much beauty in Peng’s skating and the chemistry for this pair is not just a one program wonder. Despite the mistakes, I felt that they gave a good performance. I particularly liked the ease of the twist and the exit from the final lift, and so many other lovely moments in between. Unfortunately for China, they did have the best Worlds in pairs. Although the teams placed 7th and 9th (not bad), it’s not enough to keep three spots. I don’t think they are in danger of being torn asunder as in 2016 because both pairs finished in the top 10, however, I am worried we may not see Peng/Jin at a major international competition for awhile. But China had to know that losing three spots was a possibility with Sui/Han out and based on the seasons results so far. Both teams skated fairly well, really. Peng/Jin actually improved in their showing here, compared to the rest of the season. If there is any take away, I think it should be that Peng/Jin, with the right material placed higher than Yu/Zhang, meaning, they are both highly viable teams. I do want Jin to clean up his footwork in the lifts though.
  • Watching Della Monica/Guarise, I felt this was the first time this season the free had the energy all the way through and worked. I really enjoyed it! They had an excellent Worlds with two strong skates. They rocketed up the standings to have their first ever top ten finish with a 5th! Pyeongchang was Nicole’s third Olympics, so I would understand if she’s done, but I hope these two keep skating. They are still improving and I think they still have a lot more to offer. Their side by side spins were a real moment.
  • It’s a really fine line with Zabaijako/Enbert: sometimes their skating is lovely and sometimes it just seems sleepy. They really need to make their movement more dynamic at times. I felt like their marks were a wee bit generous. I like their free (minus the costume and orchestra change – I still wish the whole thing was piano accompaniment) but there is not a lot of projection of their performance. I want more guys! More!
  • For James/Cipres, this was another story of improved performance from the Olympics. Their free no longer felt rusty and worked so much better this time. I  particularly enjoyed the lifts. But, I still feel a bit impatient with them. The dance lift which they keep using seems totally unsuited to them; I still feel like Vanessa’s can seem sloppy; and, can they just figure out this throw sal already? I know, they won the bronze, they did well. I guess I am just not cut out to be a huge J/C fan.
  • Watching Savchenko/Massot felt like watching a master class. Everything was there. And to add to their achievement, I think they skated better than at the Olympics. I’m so happy for Bruno in particular. He now has a World gold medal and the work he has done over the past four years to achieve such a high level of skating is amazing!
  • I’m glad for Tarasova/Morozov‘s sake that they had a better free skate than at the Olympics. However, it seems a lot of the same trend from these guys: a strong short program then a free riddled with small mistakes and lacking in expression and performance. It is a little frustrating that Evgenia seems to two-foot her throws without anyone on the judging panel noticing, and that regardless of the performance, all their PCs remains high. I hope there are some changes in store for these guys and enjoyable, clean free stakes waiting for them in the future. It would make saying goodbye to Candy Man so much nicer, if I wasn’t afraid they will choose an even worse free program next season. (It really has been in general a downhill trend.) However, I felt that by Evgenia keeping her hair in a bun for the free, and not going with a ponytail, she was saying, “I know I’m really not a ponytail girl at heart and I won’t try to be one in the future. I accept that I am a bun-head.” Please!
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