Oh, such an interesting pairs competition in Finland this past weekend. The results were not unpredictable but they got there in a bit of an unpredictable way.
Tarasova/Morozov – This was not the easy-breezy win that it should have been. Really, they are the world class team of the field right now but they didn’t win handily, and I have so many thoughts. (1) The short program – I think this short is a better fit than what we saw at the Russian test skates. I don’t have any real problems with it but I don’t think it’s going to really take them anywhere. It’s not particularly memorable. It doesn’t put them in any kind of a new light. We’ve just sort of looped back to the same track. (2) I think they must just really love retro rock and roll music. I feel like it appeals to them somehow, perhaps provides a certain comfort level for them. I do think she is a happy skater for sure and needs upbeat music to put her in a good skating mood. (3) Perversely, I sort of love their outfits. I can go to a fifties bowling alley if you want me too. (They actually wore these before, briefly, I think back when they did their “Glam” program and I’m happy to see them back.) (4) They have to figure out these throws. She should be able to land cleanly at this point, and a clean landing is not negotiable. Do the throws and do them correctly. (5) What is with the dots on the back of their free program outfits? Are they suppose to be a ying and yang? (6) I liked the final lift in the free. (7) I feel like they like this free program and are more invested in it than anything else they have skated because Evgenia is selling it to me more than I have seen before. (8) I just hope somehow someone can bring more out of them! (9) It is imperative that this team skate cleanly from now on. (Have they ever done a clean free?) No more fooling around. If they wanted to make their move this season, they needed up come out better prepared than this. THEY LOST THE FREE PROGRAM.
Moore-Towers/Marinaro – And these guys won it! Well done! I really like the free program for them and it worked well for them her. I think it is coming along really well and I trust that they are working hard. I am enjoying their lifts so much more. The short on the other hand… Frankly, I think it’s a dud. I don’t think it’s worth trying to do anything more with it. The music goes nowhere – you feel like you begin and end in exactly the same place and really can’t remember what happened in between (except I like the lift exit). I just feel like it really doesn’t do them any justice and I’m not looking forward to watching it again. So, really, I seriously suggest a change but they can keep the outfits if they want. I like that dress.
Boikova/Kozlovskii – I’m in a good mood about this team because I finally got to see their short program! Yay! And Dmitrii got a better jacket for the free! Double yay! I feel like he heard me. It’s longer and it’s much better, I think. But going back to the short… I quite enjoyed it. I think it’s fun and with some creative touches. They skated it well – way to go on those spins – and I really like her dress. Such a study in contrasts among the Russians. These guys use their faces all the time, perform without ceasing. You feel like they are trained in their program and they care about it. And they were second after the short. I think they continue to show that they are Senior-competitive. I was hoping for the free to be improved over their last outing but I think it took a step back execution-wise. It felt a bit raggedy to me. Partly, this is due to the beginning of the program. I can’t help always wishing that they didn’t stand still so long as the music starts (this is a real program pet peeve of mine). I also don’t think their final lift is getting all the way around, in terms of her position. She isn’t positioned squarely to the front, over him and it’s bugging me. I want them to fix that. Really, overall, I think their lifts need the most work of their elements. They didn’t look entirely happy at the end but I think they will want to nail the free the next time around, which in turns makes me really excited for their Grand Prix debut.
Ziegler/Kiefer – A good season debut for Miriam and Severin! I just feel like everything is improving, their lifts, their confidence, their consistency. I really enjoy watching them now (which wasn’t always the case.) Their free program is, I think, my favourite of theirs so far. I really liked her dress; her hair is the best I’ve ever seen in it (in both programs); the lift with the carry was beautiful. The music change bugged me a bit, but I got over it. It was quite funny at the end with the lift fail. I feel like you could tell he just said to her, right before, “This is going really well!” And then the lift didn’t go up and his face totally said, “I can’t believe I just jinxed it!” He should have known better – you can’t say anything until the end! I just want Severin to wear just not so flappy shirts. Is is wrong to want something a little more form fitting?
Pavliuchenko/Khodykin – My other Russian babies! (I have two Russian baby pair teams.) I just realized they are the same age as (or born in the same years as) Boikova/Kozlovskii, but they just seem a lot younger. Daria looks so much younger and Denis too, but there is not a lot you can do about that (Denis did a hair cut I think though! Looking good!) Their free program definitely seems younger too but I don’t know if their is a lot they can do about that either. Of course, they could change it and do something completely different, but it sort of suits them for where they are at maturity and personality-wise. (I do not see them doing Tchaikovsky, maybe ever.) I think they should just enjoy being the cute young’uns they are, use their young-ness to their advantage. (“That’s a crazy program.” “It’s okay. They’re so young.”) And they skated quite well. The jumps are working, triple flip and all, and I don’t have much to nitpick about their elements but the final lift in the free did look a bit iffy. Mostly though, their marks are saying, yep, you can do it technically, you just need to work on the PCs, which I am sure they will do; it’s just going to take a bit. Daria does need to work on her facial expression. Mostly, she looks like she is giving a very tense smile, like she might bite someone. I just want her to relax a bit, if that is possible, so her facial expression doesn’t look so forced. (I really hope that’s her skating smile and not her natural smile or I will feel badly.) I could see that there have been a few adjustments to the free program since the last time they were out. He didn’t try to pick up the phone as much, I think? And they ended more in the center, so the placement of the final spin must have changed too. My favourite part is still where Daria skates up to Denis after his big solo and wiggles her fingers at him. I love it. Glad they didn’t change that.
Alexandrovskaya/Windsor – I feel mostly positive, like good things are happening here. Obviously, this was a much better outing than the International Classic but I feel like they are becoming more of a pair all the time. The short looks pretty much under control; the free is looking less new… but more run throughs and more run throughs! The throw flip wasn’t working here. Hopefully that’s just a blip. There is still room to grow and improve of course. For one, I want to see them look at each other more and two, continue to improve their unison, but in general I think they look relaxed and happy, which makes me happy and confident in them. I just want to add that Harley’s hair is looking good.
Kayne/O’Shea – (1) I love these programs. I think the short is really fresh and different and I think the free is a great vehicle. (They seem to have reorganized the lifts though – can anyone explain why?) I think their programs are a great selling point for this team and they have their look together. In the short, Tarah’s hair and makeup were terrific. (2) That being said, we are a long way from a polished, finished product. I know there could be a lot of reasons – injury, new coaching situation, new technique, etc. – but I really expected more. I thought/hoped they would be one of the teams that came out this season and showed from the start that they were ready to make their move. But they aren’t. They still are not impressing the international judges. Their marks were around the same as a couple of years ago in the fall. Obviously, they need to skate clean but the judges clearly want more from them. I just really want them to pull this all together!
Barquero/Maestu – I continue to be impressed by this team. I feel like they become more stable and confident with each outing. Actually, she oozes confidence to me, so I don’t think that is an issue. I feel like they are on an upward trajectory. I would like to see them skate closer together and with more flow in and out of elements. It’s sometimes a bit choppy. I’m still waiting for that Grand Prix assignment to come through. Do you think I will ever get it?
Pfund/Santillan – Here is a team that I want to like but things just aren’t working out for them. I think of the “Never Tear Us Apart” short programs – plural?! really!! – we got at this competition, theirs did not work as well. It was too bad someone else had the same music and we had that comparison. The triple twist is much better than what it was – not quite there but better. It was the jumps that really let them down, and throws too. I know she had surgery at some point… is she still recovering? I guessing yes, since they just went for the double toe – double toe in the free. I think “Interstellar” is an interesting choice for music. It doesn’t seem to go anywhere really and then ends, just when it’s getting interesting. But they aren’t the only skaters using it these days and I think it is a decent program – better than other stuff we’ve seen from them. I liked it much better than the short. She has a great look. I just wish she would stretch her legs more! And there was definitely a bird on the ice during the free. It landed on the ice. I was surprised their skate wasn’t paused but I guess no one got injured, bird included.
Suzaki/Kihara – I really like this team. I really enjoyed both of their programs, especially the short. I was particularly impressed with how well he expressed the flamenco music and really got into the performance. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting that. Overall, I think they’ve made some significant improvements. They’re going for synchronized triple flips (as opposed to un-synchronized lutzes) and the triple twist is there. I hope their skating and scores continue to improve. Maybe as the season goes on they will be able to add more complexity and transitions. I really like their greeny-blue outfits in the free, so I don’t mind that they are wearing them again. And I want to point out that although they are using one piece of music for the free, it has some variation and it’s not all just one level. THANK YOU. There is good work going on here.