Pairs Round Up – US Classic, Lombardia and Junior Grand Prix

SO MUCH SKATING THIS WEEKEND! I could hardly keep up but I wanted to watch it all. Here are my thoughts on the pairs.

Junior Grand Prix – Canada

I’m just gonna comment on a few teams here:

  • Mishina/Galliamov – Well, I think this team is going to reign supreme on the Junior Grand Prix this year and probably at Junior Worlds too. (I think they’ve got Kostiukovich/Ialin who will probably be their nearest competitors.) Ted is so right! We should all listen to him. Alexei’s footwork in the lifts is fantastic. And not only are they very good, they seem to be extremely consistent as well. I still get a bit of tense, forced-facial-expression vibe from Anastasia and it undercuts my confidence in them a bit. I want her to look out in the lifts too, not down at the ice. I know she has a lot to do out there and judging by the Kiss and Cry, they mean business, but I just want her to relax. (The short is a bit more relaxed than the free, I think, but it is from last season. I like the red dress she has for it this season.)
  • Panfilova/Rylov Beautiful lifts. Just beautiful. His footwork is terrific too. And throws! And twist! She just floats. I want to enjoy them as long as possible but when it comes to the jumps, I fear the writing is maybe on the wall.  It makes me wish there were element awards, like Lift and Highest Twist. I would give them to Apollinariia to cheer her up. But! They still have many more years on Junior eligibility. So maybe there is hope for the jumps or if no, they can just continue to skate Junior for as long as possible and I will enjoy it. I’m sure we will see them in the Grand Prix Final.
  • Kvartalova/Sviatchenko – A bit of a mini-disaster. They managed to place third overall but the free program was not good. Here, watch the short instead. (It feels a bit mean to say, “Here. Watch this trainwreck.”) I assume that on a good day the elements are there but I’m not seeing much else. She does not seem like a happy skater.
  • Tang/Yang – I really like these guys. There fist time out and they have some good elements and they both seem engaged with the program and music, him especially. I think there could be good things here. Pretty dress too.
  • Wang/Huang – First time competing for this team too. I really like her. She has such a naturally expressive face; she’s very pleasant to watch. I appreciated the different music that this team had too (was given, I’m sure but still) since everything else was music that’s been done before and almost everyone else had warhorses. I like her pink dress too. I’m excited to see these new Chinese teams develop! And I just want to say that it’s so satisfying to see the teams so pleased with what they have done. Junior Kiss and Cries are (generally) great for that.

US International Classic

  • Cain/Leduc – I’m forced to admit that my not favourite pair is actually skating more like a pair and their jumps are looking more stable on top of it all. I still don’t love their lifts or that spin but I enjoy their new programs, more than last season, especially the free. Although, the short program seems a bit like a repeat of their Gatsby program. (Why does anyone use “The Great Gatsby”? I don’t think it has worked well for a skating program once.)
  • Alexandrovskaya/Windsor – I thought they looked good in the short program. I like the Ekaterina’s catsuit. The tango free program did seem awkward, aside from the technical/altitude issues. It’s gonna need some intense effort to really have it look unforced. In general, they need to work on their musical interpretation and basic dance ability. Now that they are in Montreal, maybe Meagan could take Katia to that class Dave always mentions on TSL? It starts with an “e”…
  • Lu/Mitrofanov – No sign of growth here, I mean, no growth in terms of height. Audrey did not grow over the summer and so my watch continues. I don’t trust that she isn’t going shoot up at some point. In any case, I think they need to work on her air positions. I like him a lot. I think he’s got the goods. I just wish they didn’t choose a tango and Tango Roxanne at that.
  • Why all these tangos!? I don’t think tangos are a great choice for most pairs. They always involve some attempts at partnering that generally are a bit awkward and staged and will always pale in comparison to ice dancers. AND this is the year of the tango, Tango Romantica! Everyone is guaranteed to see better tangos in the dance. I would have steered clear.
  • Deardorff/Settlage – This partnership is still a work in progress. I definitely see some gains. I liked the lift with the carry a lot. She has quite nice carriage and lines, doesn’t she? But really, I was expecting more. They won’t be in the mix this year.
  • Ruest/Wolfe – Their free program just seemed like bad luck from the very beginning. I think that is one you just right off and not worry about. They didn’t seem to get rattled despite the problems. I think they are becoming better competitors, more relaxed. I definitely thought that watching her in the short program. There is a lot of good skating with this pair. I like watching them, I like the new programs fairly well and the twist is coming! Drew really needs to cut his hair though. I think it was interfering with his vision.
  • Why is this competition always somewhere in the mountains? Altitude is always seems to be an issues here. It has a real effect on the the competition and it was very evident this year. The pairs free program was particularly rough. Why  USFS, why? Unless, it’s being used as a secret weapon to favour all those American skaters training in Colorado… conspiracy theory! This is my sister’s theory: “maybe it’s intentional to make the really bad teams feel not so bad.” An early season method to level the playing field? But next year, please, can it be in Florida?

Lombardia

  • Boikova/Kozlovskii – See! I said it. They’re gonna take over the world. They won the free skate. Now, they aren’t skating a new program like other teams which maybe is a bit of an advantage but they are trained. I think the people in charge here know that as a new team, they have to come out and turn heads. I can’t believe they’ve been in competition and their short is still a mystery to me. When am I going to get to see it?
  • Della Monica/Guarise – I think they are in a good place for this point in the season. I like the free. I’m not so sure the short is the best fit but I’ll give it time.  I think more balletic or classical suits her better anyway but I’m not adverse to a team having fun. (And Nicole needs to wear at least one catsuit each season.) It really struck me that they look happy and confident and I think that speaks volumes for their mindset.
  • Ghilardri/Ambrosini – This is the new-ish, up and coming Italian pair. We didn’t see much of them last season. I’m glad they are still around. I enjoyed their free. I liked her dress a lot. Apparently Bonnie and Clyde have their own musical? I think I need to go and find out more.
  • Barquero/Maestu – I like what I see. She has a lot of maturity and sophistication; they have some very nice elements – twist, throws, lifts, spins. I think they have pretty good programs too. The short is cute, needs work but cute! And a bit of a new style for them – fun and flirty. (Maybe inspired by Marchei/Hotarek?)
  • Digerness/Neudecker – This was a pretty good outing for these guys and a good warm up. We are going to see them at Skate America. (They got the spot. I guess USFS isn’t waiting for the Challenger results.) Overall, I think they have strong elements and made some good choices program-wise but their lifts aren’t the prettiest. She’s a real pairs girl – a girl’s girl, a music box dancer – right down to the jumps… oops.
  • Petranovic/Souza-Kodeiru – Again, I want to see the short program. The free was not good. That’s all that can be said. Wonder what’s going on here? Is it just one of those days or is there something more? Early in the season or for newer teams, completing short is whole different beast than completing the long. (One is domestic and tame, then other wild and unpredictable and you are happy to survive.)
  • Zabaijako/Enbert – I saved these guys for last because I just have so many thoughts. My main thought is: how did this short program happen? It is flat out the funniest program I have ever seen. (I keep giggling just thinking about it.) I have so many questions. Why does one knight get to wear pants and the other has to fight in shorts and a mail skirt? Where do the mime axes come from? (They just start swinging them! At each other!) Is this program somehow behind the short hair? Possibly to make the battle more realistic? What are the images on her mail? (How does one make images on mail?) Why can’t they just skate to music? Why does there have to be miming involved? I even started wondering if Natalia is the villain in black and Alexander is some sort of Robin Hood? His costume looks a little peasant-like? Does Natalia lose at the end? But the real point is that I don’t have actually any idea of what is going on except that they are fighting. And battle is a hard scenario to sell in pairs skating when you have to do so many things in co-operation, while holding one another. This was my sister’s reaction:z-e axesNote how she is lost for words. It continues:z-e axesz-e axes 1That is certainly a good question. The program is certainly… a choice, and since they went there, it is one that I am going to enjoy all season long.  I’m all right with their free program but I think my worries about the music possibly overpowering them are legitimate. But I guess the most puzzling aspect to me is that they seem to be going for a whole image makeover this season and I’m not sure why. They did very well last year – 4th in the world. And they are actually balletic – the style looks good of them. So, a weird and unnecessary tone change, that’s what I think. Now they are going to have to sprint all season to stay ahead of Boikova/Kozlovskii and in they aren’t going to be able to stay ahead. That’s my prediction. They could be doing their own Nutcracker right now and holding their ground (they maybe don’t have the same charisma but they are more precise and refined), but instead they’ve gone to a strange place and it’s not going to help them.
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