I’m not going to write an in depth pairs post for this competition as I usual do. That boat has sailed. I’m just going to stick with my impressions from the watching the competition live.
- Guignard/Fabbri are so small. I just kept saying things like: “They’re so cute,” “They’re so tiny,” “Look at how small they are.” Charlene and Marco really are the cutest little couple ever. They’re just so tiny!
- I am not against Hubbell/Donohue‘s free dance like so many people seem to be. Maybe I’ve been seduced by their beautiful costumes but I quite like it and I’m not apologizing. I do absolutely agree that they seem to be going for their own Moulin Rogue moment, right down to the a girl dying at the end though. Does anyone remember that Romeo dies too? I thought they looked quite commanding, powerful and confident, especially in the rhythm dance.
- Viktoria and Nikita have a great tango. I really enjoy it. I still have problems with her dress. Their free is really not very memorable for me but I like it, I enjoy it, and then they lean into that classical/rock thing there at the end, and it really turns me off. They just turn the switch the wrong way. Why does it need to switch at all?
- There was only one team here who did a sliding feature here and I really missed not seeing it in other programs too! It’s my new favourite thing! But at least the sliding feature I got to see is maybe the best of the season. Good work, Hawayek/Baker. I really enjoyed their free dance.
- It must have been very nerve wracking when Jonathan’s skates did not arrive with everything else, but Tiffany really skated that tango in practice, even if it was solo. She was terrific. I have a whole new respect for her as a person. Blues for Klook is a pretty fabulous program too. I know they haven’t really nailed it yet this season but the opening is everything. I feel like it gets a bit indistinct in the middle but the beginning is so strong. I love it. (Now that Russian nationals is past and we have a better idea of the second half of the season… maybe we will get to see it next season. Please say yes.)
- Stepanova/Bukin… I like both programs. I like that they are going for a strong impression with strong music but it all just feels a bit put on. Is there not something a bit more organic for them? I suppose with legs like that there might not be. Drama-rama might be your only choice.
- My sister and I invented a new game called “Marry, Pair, Pet.” In it you have to say who out of three skaters (men in our case) you would marry, who you would skate with as a team – you can choose if it’s ice dance or pair – and who you would keep as a pet. Marco Fabbri and Jean-Luc Baker both have a definite pet advantage (disadvantage) in any group they are competing, but it can be hard. Would you want to pair with Nikita? I think that could be difficult. Some people it’s maybe safer to marry. The one clear answer in all of this is that you always marry Zach Donohue.
- The warm-ups for the ladies were again redonkulous. It was very intense with no quarter given. (I sort of wondered if Alina was trying to get into people’s heads.) Also, these ladies are tiny. I expected the pairs girls to be the smallest but they were not. If any of these girls get tired of single, I think they could try pairs instead. They just have to find a partner… That could be a fun game.
- Seeing Satoko was such a treat. It wasn’t her best competition but she was lovely, making perfect pictures on the ice. I really enjoyed the ending of her tango especially. I did not enjoy the one arm however. I feel like Satoko is usually so set in her look form the beginning of the season and all the changes this season just seem to underline a bit of uncertainty and doubt. If she really wants one sleeve, she should go back to the first dress, otherwise, she should just stick with what she was doing. Although, she might want to try my suggestion of changing the colour of the underskirt each competition.
- Sofia really had small ice coverage compared to the other skaters. It really started to bother me and started to be the only thing I could see. It wasn’t something I had noticed before watching on a screen but it was the same in both programs. She only used 2/3 of the ice and spent most of her time skating in the center. I like Sofia’s style in the short program best for her but she needs to skate bigger!
- Liza‘s free program is crazy. I prefer her short program but I like her dress for the free much better. All these things I have probably said before but remain true. It was good to see her though. Having Liza at a competition just adds to the energy. How can you not cheer for her?
- Zagitova just did not win me over. Her skating seemed very clunk and hunched. She seemed quite nervous and nothing felt easy. It was all worked so hard. She’s really missing the “effortless” bullet. For two seasons now, I’ve enjoyed her in her exhibition programs more than anything. They definitely seem more her. She’s never been a ballet girl. I think the girl needs to be skating in a catsuit. The Grand Prix Final also just established for me how crazy and awkward her programs are. Poor girl. I really feel for her. Does she know she is not getting the treatment she deserves?
- Rika was so good to watch. It was very exciting to see her put it all together. I think the free program is a really good fit for her. I love the ending of the program – it’s my favourite part.
- The ladies competition was very well skated but the highlight for me was Kaori‘s free skate. She just swept me up. The skating was so smooth and effortless but at the same time powerful and full. She filled the ice. I sort of wish she hadn’t gone for that double toe on the end of the combination. You could tell she wasn’t going to make it before she went into it. If she had just stopped herself and left it off, maybe she would be on the podium? But you’ve got to love a skater whose first reaction when she makes a mistake is to laugh at herself. Also, that final loop is timed so well with the music and so well executed, it’s brilliant.
- Love Nathan‘s short program but the free felt so empty. I really hope he can show more as the season goes on. Although the marks were decisive, giving him the win, it did not look decisive on the ice or feel decisive. There was a definite buzz of “He won?” going through the audience at the end of the competition.
- I don’t know what was going on with Keegan. He basically took on the role of pogosplat here. He must have been really nervous and fair enough. It was a pretty big deal for him to be at the Final! I am going to go on the record and say I really like his short program. I’m not totally on board with his Charlie Chaplin but I think “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” really suits him.
- I was loving Jun. I like his short program but Juniet just seems to make him so cool. Other people skating to Romeo and Juliet are not cool but somehow he is. How does that happen? Is it just innate, like everything he does will be inherently cool? He clearly had a lot of fans in the audience. He is sort of reminiscent of Hanyu to me too. He is a bit noodlely.
- Voronov just doesn’t have the same kind of chops in this group. I don’t enjoy the program or the skating, really. He is sort of like a Liza for me. The skating isn’t very attractive and I just want him to stretch, but with not as much personality or fun.
- Mikhail also sort of lost me. The air guitar was fun and all but he does seem quite hunched. However, my sister and I had a very interesting argument and we need someone to settle the dispute. I maintain that Mikhail is not good looking and my sister was shocked, saying that she thought it was a universally acknowledge thing that he was. Is he or isn’t he? I’m not saying he’s ugly but he’s not my kind of handsome.
- To be honest, the men’s competition was sort of flat. With the higher number of mistakes, it didn’t have the same excitement as the other disciplines. I hope the ISU figures out these free programs for the men because it hasn’t been a great season so far.
- Shoma was definitely the artist in this group. He had the performance and fire and attention to detail. I love him but I’m even finding Shoma’s skating a bit wearing this season, with all the mistakes and scrappy landings. I sort of can’t take it.
- I don’t know how much I can watch the men anymore this season, even the little bit that I do watch. (Kolyada all over the place, same with Shoma, Nathan doing a jump drill and Hanyu injured, really, I might only do it for Jun).
- Try the game (Marry, Pair, Pet) with the men. Talk about a challenge. Jun, Nathan, Sergei, go!
- Oh, my babies. This was the marquee event for me! I was so excited to see the pairs live and I was thrilled with the competition. There were some great skates!
- My Russian Babies, Daria and Denis, did pretty well for their first time at a Grand Prix Final. You could tell they were nervous in the short and it didn’t go so well but they pulled it together in the free and delivered a very good program. As encouragement, and because I thought they may get overlooked, I bought a swan stuffie for Daria and threw it on the ice. (I really got into the spirit of things.) She did a good job. She deserved it. I do have to say that while most Russian pairs have fabulous twists, I am usually am a bit gobsmacked by theirs. Denis just seems to leisurely bring his arms down and up again compared with some guys; no whipped arm swing here. He’s getting better at the lifts in the free program too. But my big take away here was that I want Daria to wear the braid hair-do she had last season rather than the hair rolls she’s been doing this season. I think the braids suit her more and her age. I thought it was interesting that Denis got a new costume. It just makes me wonder what prompted it? Sort of like Satoko’s one arm…
- I wasn’t so into the other Russian pairs here. Although I got to see the axe fight live! It’s just as weird as ever, although it was brought to my attention that she looks like she could maybe be in the cast of Spamelot… which makes it even sillier. Zabaijako/ Enbert skated pretty well but they really had the weirdest lift mistake I have seen in a long time.
- Tarasova/Morozov also just didn’t really deliver but that’s not a new story. They’ve never really have delivered in competition, despite all their ability. However, I think the free was also the best performance I have seen from them and I will say that the second throw in the free (the salchow) was maybe the best throw I’ve seen from them all season and maybe longer than that. Also, important question – I’m not entirely sure what to do about Vlad. Do you marry, pair or pet? The lift positions are quite impressive but he doesn’t have the speed or ice coverage of other guys, like Matteo and Morgan, so I’m not sure if I want to pair but I think I’m starting to get that he’s a bit of a Mr. Grouchy Pants and maybe too cranky to be a nice pet. I guess you have to marry him.
- Vanessa and Morgan, although their short program continues to be wonky (I blame her costume; I think she should change it), really came through in the free program. It was definitely one of the best things we saw all weekend. Everyone just jumped to their feet at the end (or that’s how it felt). It is clearly so in their comfort zone while also being really interesting and effective – it’s a great combination, that elusive program that just really works on all the levels. I wonder if them skating earlier in the competition than you might expect, and skating so well, sort of threw some of the other teams off their game? The program was entirely impressive, especially the lifts. I don’t think it would matter who Morgan was up against in a round of “Marry, Pair, Pet,” he would always win pair!
- One thing we can say for Senior Pairs – they are a whole lot better at pairs spins than Juniors.
- Although Della Monica/Guarise did not skate their best, it was their first Grand Prix, so that maybe excuses them a bit. I was a bit sad for them that it didn’t go as well as they obviously had hoped. (But they are one of the must mutually supportive teams I have seen. I really like it.) One thought I did have while I was watching, though, was that I think next year they should try another choreographer. I feel like they could maybe do with a shot of creativity, expand their repertoire; things are starting to look a bit the same to me. I have to mention their exhibition. As silly as it is, and let’s acknowledge that it’s VERY silly, it is very entertaining.
- I think my favourite moment of the competition was Peng and Jin‘s short program. They sparkled! And then the free was equally as good. They really performed it, from start to finish. And her throws! Which do you like better, the loop or the salchow? It’s so hard to pick. But I do love how she just zooms past the judges on the exit of the loop. I think his lifts have improved as well… Maybe best of all, the audience just loved them, really, really loved them, really, really embraced them. Overall, the first half of this season has been really valuable for them, showing what they can do when they get some attention and bringing them together as a team too, I think. I really hope their excellent Grand Prix season stands them in good stead in China with Sui/Han and Yu/Zhang coming back from injury. They entirely deserve to go to Worlds! I was encouraged to hear (from an interview they had with Meagan Duhamel) that they were going to do the triple salchows but she had a bit of an injury, so they didn’t. I don’t know if that’s just a line or not but I believe they really will go for it, soon, maybe. Regardless, I hope this is a partnership we get to see for years and years and years!!