by Alexandra Stevenson
On the second day of practice in the World Championships this morning, the Czech couple, Lucie Mysliveckova & Neil Brown, who was born to British parents in France and formerly represented that country, crashed into one of the leading couples, Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, while the Italians were executing their routine and had right of way.
Cappellini, who with Lanotte recently won the bronze medals in the European Ice Dance championship, hit her forehead on Brown's back. She left the ice and placed an ice pack on the swelling bruise before returning to finish practice.
When Last is an Achievement in its Own Right
Skating in borrowed skates, loaned by a volunteer and by a member of the Scott Moir family, with him on figure and not dance blades, Viktoria Kavaliova, 18, & Yurii Bieliaiev, 20, from Belarus, made a courageous showing on Wednesday, dreaming of ice dance success just like the other 28 couples smiling through their Short Dances on Thursday.
They could hardly believe they were actually taking part in the World Championships. Everything has been stacked against them and their marks reflected their emerging skills. They finished last, 11.38 points lower than the couple representing Turkey, who were 28th. Only the top 20 are permitted into Saturday afternoon’s Free Dance.
But, when they left the ice at the Budweiser Arena on Thursday night, instead of a flood of tears greeting their low marks, they wore smiles, happy just to be here and ready to cheer for the defending champions who had been so supportive.
Kavaliova explained, “We thought we skated as well as we could under the circumstances. At first we didn’t get our visa in time. We only got it Monday at the last minute and flew Tuesday from Minsk to Frankfurt. But, there, a lot of flights were cancelled because of snowfall. We were rebooked on a different airline. We just made the plane last minute but our luggage didn’t get here. We arrived Wednesday morning in London, but had no luggage. We are very grateful to the organizers to have helped us so much.”
Their luggage was traced in time for them to perform in their own costumes, but their skates were not found. Kavaliova added, “One of the volunteers (Adam Jones, a former Canadian pair skater) gave Yurii his skates and I got the skates of the daughter from another volunteer (Paul Moir, who is Scott’s uncle and who rustled up a pair of his daughter’s, Sheri, who used to ice dance). We were glad that we were able to skate at all. It would have been a shame to come here and not skate at all.” A Canadian flag was clearly visible on one of her heels.
Bieliaev added, “I skated on single skating blades (which have a large toe pick to aid on jumping which is not needed in dance, and also have a short length in the back, so that the partners are less likely to step on the other’s skate, which can happen when they are in close holds.).
“I didn’t have enough time to adapt. I was five or six years old the last time I skated in this kind of skates. But we were so happy.” It was a problem to find boots and skates to fit Bieliaiev because he’s big – 6’4” with feet to match his size.
(15 March 2013) Merly Davis & Charlie White soundly defeated Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir in the Short Dance as the American couple began their attempt to regain the World title.
1. 77.12 (38.29+38.83) Meryl Davis, 26, & Charlie White, 25, U.S.A., drew to perform their wonderful Short Dance, set to music from the ballet, Giselle, 20th of the 29 couples, advancing the competitive level to such heights, it made some of the performances of the remaining nine couples left to skate a tad anticlimactic.
Dressed in outfits that could have graced a top company’s standard production of this beloved classic, with White in a rustic brown top (he’s a Prince but he trying to pass as a commoner) and she in a classic blue and white peasant outfit spruced up for their May Day Celebration. Of course, in the ballet she dies at the end of Act 1 of a broken heart because of his betrayal, but that’s later and there was nothing but joy in both their chosen music and their routine’s execution which was presented flawlessly, all lightness and musicality.
Only when they got to the Kiss ’n Cry area, did they let their facades down and revealed how much energy they used. For a short time they looked completely exhausted. Obviously, they had given their all, and gained the maximum Level 4 for all but the first sequence of the Yankee Polka which was Level 3.
The judges were obviously ecstatic about Davis & White’s performance. For their Grade of Execution for the five elements, the nine judges rewarded them with 20 of the maximum +3s with the other 25 votes +2s. The component marks were also mind-boggling. They received nine of the maximum mark of 10 and 18 of the next highest possibility, 9.75. Their lowest mark was a solitary 9.0 from one judge, whose high was 9.50. His/her other marks were three 9.25.
Davis & White’s total score was their Season’s Best. White agreed with that judgment, declaring, “It was a very special performance for us. We have talked a few times now just about the feeling we had coming off the ice and just to be able to recognize how much fun it was out there and to have performed the way we did.
“We put so much effort in throughout the year and to really perform it like that at Worlds it means a lot and we are thrilled with our Seasons Best score. But, we are also thrilled with that inner feeling when coming off the ice. We are really proud of how we skated today. We had a really good run of training this season. Obviously the program itself, and the way it is constructed, really helps and we have our coaches to thank for that.
“At the beginning of the season it is always a challenge to figure out what’s going to be special so we turned to Marina (Zoueva) and really looked for that light bulb to click over our head and we lucked out with this one.”
2. 73.87 (35.57+38.30) Tessa Virtue, 23, & Scott Moir, 25, Canada, skated 24th, performing to Anthony Hopkins’ “The Waltz Goes On”, a very complex piece of music with strains of sadness and a sense of how complicated a romance and life are. The Canadian and reigning world and Olympic champions chose to execute the two halves of the Yankee Polka right away, Moir said, “to get them over with.”
He is not a fan of the Polka and has stated that he holds this opinion because, with its many toe steps, it is not “real ballroom dance”. However, his dislike did not translate into poor performance of these items, which were both awarded the maximum Level 4. He explains, the Yankee Polka shows off the happy part of the routine, which they perform for the minimum time allowed, before getting into more complex feelings.
That is where they ran into trouble. At the change-over part of their twizzles, they lost synchronization which led to the element being awarded only Level 3. Virtue was dressed in an unusual outfit, a dress which had a split down the front revealing layers of white, almost knee-length underskirts. The duo got slightly out of synch, and they received only Level 3 for this element, as well as for the subsequent mid-line non-touching steps. It is possible that the weight of the swirling material of her skirt, even if it was only a few ounces could have resulted in extra momentum pulling her around slightly faster and fighting the changeover to the other foot and direction.
They recovered well. Their Non-touching Steps, though also only Level 3, received two votes of the maximum +3 Grade of Execution and their lift in which she does a variation of an Axel jumping into his arms and wrapping herself around his neck while he starts spinning like a Turkish whirling dervish was sensational. That move not only earned them Level 4, six of the judges awarded them the +3. For their components, they received two 10s, from one judge.
Moir refused to be negative. He said, “Tessa and I are really pleased with the way we skated today. We felt like we did exactly what we wanted to do by going out there and getting the connection together and enjoying the hometown crowd. It was a very special performance for us and tonight will be a night we definitely won’t forget.
“Our focus this week is just on our job. I don’t think we can be disappointed with the way we have been supported this week. We put the same pressure on ourselves whether the Worlds are in London or Tokyo or in France. We like to come out stronger, so where we are sitting right now could be a little disappointing, but we are looking ahead and we are excited for Saturday.
Virtue talked about her new costume. “It is a dress we started designing at the beginning of the season and it is just fun to come out with something different. The programs are so well trained everything is second nature and so it helps to freshen it up a little bit.”
3. 70.05 (34.71+35.34) Ekaterina Bobrova, 22, & Dmitri Soloviev, 23, were fresh from their win in the European Championships in Zagreb in January in the absence due to his injury of Pechalat & Bourzat, who had claimed the title for the previous two years, when these Russians finished second. Skating last, presenting a Polka to “Put in a Good Word for the Poor Hussar” and a Waltz to music from the soundtrack of “The Crew”, they gave a very competent, well-rehearsed, flowing showing with no major errors. Their opening move, the first sequence of the Yankee Polka, and their closing presentation, the Non-Touching steps, received Level 3, but with good GoEs. The steps earned eight +2s and one +3. The other three elements received the maximum Level 4. Their top components were eight 9.25 down to nine 8.50s. One judge gave them a +3.
Afterwards, Soloviev declared, “We gave our best performance as the marks prove. We are very pleased to be in top shape for the most important competition of the season. We’ll train calmly tomorrow, then go with a refreshed mind into the free dance. We have to come down from our emotions a little, sometimes after a good skate your emotions run high and you can’t go to sleep. We came here in top shape and we are very pleased with our training, with our condition and the way we skated. We really enjoyed the whole atmosphere, everything around here and the Canadian audience. There are a lot of Russian fans and all this creates a very festive atmosphere.
“We did not have such a good experience at the Olympic Games (in Vancouver) when we came ten days prior to the competition and we went through the jetlag (and finished only 15th). But then it really hit us the day of the performance. We’re not for the first time on this continent and came two days before the competition, and we are feeling really great.
“It is not really that we made changes to our program (from after the European championship). It was more that we polished all our elements in our program in a way that we were able to show our very best technically and emotionally at this competition.”
Bobrova added, “Today we really performed the whole story we thought of with our coaches and we really lived the story and our roles and truly felt like we were at a ball. I really enjoyed performing today, I felt my partner, we really connected. I was living the whole story we had thought of.”
4. 69.65 (34.57+35.08) Skating right after Virtue & Moir and their roof-raising applause, Nathalie Pechalat, 29, & Fabian Bourzat, 32, France, presented a flamboyant, enjoyable, very French showing, complete with a Can Can showing off her garter and sexy panties, set to Offenbach’s “Gaiety Parisienne”. They also received three Level 4s and two Level 3s and lie a minuscule 0.40 behind the Russians.
Pechalat said, “We are happy with our performance today, given the (interrupted) preparation that we had. It was really good. We picked up our Season’s Best. I felt pretty shaky in the warm-up, but once the music starts, it starts. We were a bit anxious going into the program, we’re just happy we skated well.”
Bourzat added, “It has been two months since our last competition and we picked up high levels and got really good points. We have to see what our 69.65 points mean. For me, the warm-up is a bit difficult at this moment. Given our preparation, it was very good. We have been skating for so long, we have a lot of experience, so we roll with the punches.”
5. 67.93 (34.28+33.65) Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte , who earned bronze in the recent European championships, skated a very upbeat performance to music from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, the “Barn Dance”, “Bless Your Beautiful Hide”and “Wonderful, Wonderful Day.”
Cappellini said, “I am very happy with our performance this evening. We feel it was solid. Before tonight I was uncomfortable on the ice because I fell and hit my head a couple days ago and lost a lot of confidence. However we felt psychologically ready for tonight. Canada always has such a supportive audience. After doing so well at Europeans, we feel our goal of this season was achieved. We are having a great season and we are on the right track!”
Lanotte added, “We had a strong plan going on the ice and tried to sell it 120%. The Canadian audience is always so comforting and welcoming. It feels like they are included in our dance, they are great!”
6. 67.54 (34.22+33.32) Kaitlyn Weaver, 23, & Andrew Poje, 26, who are also returning from an enforced period off the ice due to her broken fibia injury, were given a huge standing ovation. As they came off the ice, she couldn’t help the tears of joy flowing as their coaches, Angelika Krylova and Pasquale Camerlengo hugged them. Their routine, set to music from “The Sound of Music” delighted the capacity audience.
7. 66.74 (34.78+31.96) Madison Chock, 20, & Evan Bates, 24, U.S.A., who won the bronze in the recent Four Continents Championships, wore very colorful outfits. They have an amusing start. She is walking on a tightrope, but is rather wobbly and falls into his arms. They are trained by Igor Shpilband in Novi, Michigan. Three of their five required elements received the maximum Level 4. Their twizzles and the first section of their Yankee Polka were Level 3.
Chock said, “It felt good out there. The program has grown and we are more together. We’ve had lots of focus on gelling more. Now, we want to have a similar performance in the Free, and earn a Season’s Best. Every time we do our programs, we get more comfortable.”
Bates added “It was a great time out there. I am really proud of Madison. We had more speed, more power. We have done so many run-throughs of our short. It´s old hat, we don´t have to think. We felt really comfortable. We are looking beyond Sochi.”
8. 66.14 (34.14+32.00) Maia Shibutani, 18, & Alex Shibutani, 21, who skated 27th, are still fighting to get back to that glorious moment when they won bronze in this event in Moscow in 2011. They did excel in their twizzles, which were rewarded with four of the maximum +3 Grades of Execution. (They also got one more of these rare awards for their concluding rotational life.)
Maia said, “We are really happy with our short dance. The audience was so great. Definitely, doing our best performance is our main goal. We have been showing improvement. We want to show our free program at its best. I think we can touch some hearts.”
Her older brother added, “The program has evolved over the season. We are happy to put out a great effort, in front of a great audience. We put out a strong performance, and we are looking forward to our free dance. We´ve had ups and downs in past seasons. Our goal is to feel good about our practices and performances. Our free dance is our strength. We have made some changes since Four Continents adding more speed and it´s stronger.”
9. 66.07 (31.28+34.79) Elena Ilinykh, 18, & Nikita Katsalapov, 21, Russia, who skated immediately prior to their teammates, Bobrova & Soloviev, were obviously extremely upset at their placing and would not comment on their performance in which they started like bats out of a hell hole but then the high speed caused them to make small mistakes. In fact they less than two points behind fifth place and so there could be radical changes after the Free in this range.
10. 63.66 (33.43+30.23) Penny Coomes, 23, & Nick Buckland, 23, Britons who train in the United States with Evgeni Platov, had to follow Davis & White, but their light-hearted Polka to Scalliwag by Gaelic Storm and Rhythms of the Fall, and their Waltz to Stolen Kiss by Niamh Fahy, enjoyably lighthearted. Three of their elements were Level 4. The second half of their Yankee Polka and their non-touching steps were Level 3.
12. 60.58 (31.86+28.72) Pernelle Carron, 26, & Lloyd Jones, 24, France, who are now trained by Marika Humphreys-Baranova, had four Level 4s but their final move, the non-touching steps were only Level 2. They used Cotton-Eyed Joe and The Tenessee Waltz. They were second in the past French championship. Jones said, “I felt like we skated good. We didn’t know what to expect based on what happened last year (in 2012 they didn’t do well in the short dance). We couldn’t have done more. I am very pleased. It is a relief to have our seasons best and we are ready for the free dance.”
13. 59.52 Russia (28.86+30.66) Ekaterina Riazanova, 21, & Ilia Tkachenko, 26, received only two Level 4s, for their first part of their Yankee Polka and for their concluding rotational lift. Their first part of the Yankee Polka was only Level 1. Since they were fourth in the European championships, this was a disappointing showing. Tkachenko: Our goal here was just to do our best at Worlds and we skated very well, both our coach and us are very happy about our performance. We’ll move to Detroit just after Worlds, and we’re going to stay there for a long time, we have a lot of fun up there with Igor (Shpilband). It’s not far from here, it was just a few hours’ drive.”
15. 58.61 (31.00+27.61) Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, Canada, who are both 21, skated to the Waltz from the overture from the “Mary Poppins” soundtrack by Robert Sherman and A Step in Time. Gilles said, “The crowd was so amazing. It’s our first Worlds and words can hardly describe it. I think for the last short dance of the season, it was pretty good. We really pushed on the Yankees. We got most of the levels we have been pushing for.”
Poirier said concerning their expectations for the Free Dance, “A lot will depend on our results and what group we will skate in. We want to top our free program from Four Continents. The crowd was so great, it will give us extra energy and support. We really want to bust out in the long.”
18. 57.39 (31.13+26.26) Isabelle Tobias, 21, & Deividas Stagniunas, 27, Lithuania, are trained by Igor Shpilband. Skating to music from the famed musical, Oklahoma, they gave a spirited performance gaining Level 4 for their opening twizzles, the first part of their Yankee Polka and their closing rotational lift. The Non-touching steps and the second sequence of the Yankee Polka gained Level 3.
Tobias said, “This skate was really fun. The crowd is great and it really helped with our performance. I am American and currently working on getting my Lithuanian citizenship. We are all working hard to get my Lithuanian citizenship so I can compete at the Olympics next year if we qualify. Stagniunas and I train in Michigan and it is a great environment.”
Stagniunas said, “This is our third Worlds together. Our personalities fit and we look great together. I have no issues with my back (recently recovered from a back injury).
Five-time U.S. Ice Dance Champion Judy Blumberg, winner of bronze in this event 1983-5, who is known for her very high standards in awarding Levels, was the Assistant Technical Specialist. The American judge was Shawn Rettstatt. No Canadian judge was drawn.
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