by Alexandra Stevenson
(14 March 2013) The Pairs Short Program opened the event at the unusually early time of 11:30 am on Wednesday morning. It was a situation the Canadian top pair, who train in Montreal in the same time zone, were very pleased about. While other in the competition are more used to performing in the evening, Meaghan Duhamel & Eric Radford, who train with Richard Gautier in Monteal, said they were delighted. Duhamel declared, “This is exactly the time we train so, for once, the timing couldn’t be better for us!” she declared.
Maxim Trankov looked in her direction, in the Press conference in a tent at the side of the arena, after the Short Program, and said, “For us, in our jetlagged condition (Moscow is ten hours later), it is already the middle of the night. What we found particularly trying was that the practice this morning only gave us two hours to rest before competition.”
Briton Karen Archer was the Technical Controller; Troy Goldstein of the U.S. was the Technical Controller and Jamie McGrigor, his Assistant. Samuel Auxier was the American judge.
1. 75.84 (39.70+36.14) Skating last of the 18 pairs from 10 countries, Tatiana Volosozhar, 26, & Maxim Trankov, 29, from Moscow performed perfectly to the evocative “Love Theme” from “The Godfather” movie. They have been silver medalists in this event for the past two years. But recently, in the European championship, they beat their German rivals by a considerable margin, and are looking to repeat that coup.
Today, they were in smoking hot form. Trankov pumped his right arm in the air three times at the end. Neither partner put a foot wrong in their seven required elements, although there was a split second when she came down from her triple toe loop solo jump, when things could have gone very wrong. Amazingly she was instantly able to make a very small adjustment on the landing and glide away with a smile as if the split-second imperfection had not existed.
Volosozhar was harder on herself than were the judges. “We had some mistakes today. In my solo jump, I put down my foot. But it was a good start,” she admitted. Their opening move, the triple twist was the maximum Level 4, as were their lift which was rewarded with one +3 and eight +2s), the steps (which received four +3s and the rest +2s) and their spin. Their back outside death spiral was Level 3. All their Grades of Execution were positive except for the side-by-side triple Salchows, which had -0.40 removed from the base value of 4.20.
They were dressed in casual elegance, he with a moustache, perfectly conveying their characters. Their opening triple twist was so sensational, he even had time to put both arms straight down touching his legs before returning them to the catch position, and all nine judges punched in their top Grade of Execution, +3. They also received unanimous +3s for their flawless throw triple loop in which she flew through the air, so high and for such length, that it seemed impossible could land as if she was a mere feather, and had no weight at all. Their components included eight 9.50s and a low of one 8.00 with the second lowest being 8.50.
2. 73.61 (41.10+32.51) Current Four Continents and twice Canadian champions, Meagan Duhamel, 27, & Eric Radford, 27, gave the crowd exactly what they wanted. Not more than 14 minutes prior to the top ranked Russian pair’s sophisticated, well-conceived routine concluded, the roof of the Budweister Arena was nearly swept away, not by the high winds outside, but by the huge explosion of applause as the pair took their career to a higher level with their best ever showing.
It was one of those moments that many present will always remember. As the last notes of their music from the opera “La Boheme” died away, Duhamel was so excited by their unflawed performance, she could not resist jumping up and down with sheer joy. They even received four +3s and the rest +2s for their steps and one other +3 for their spin.
She said, later, “Eric and I were so nervous. We put so much pressure on ourselves. We can’t miss a beat. Today went even better than we’d hoped. It felt awesome. Right from the beginning, when we stepped on the ice for warm up, we felt special. We were excited and feeding off the energy from the crowd. We have to carry that forward for our long program on Friday. And we are ready to skate our best again.”
He added, “It feels like we started the year slow and as it progressed we got better. It’s a new year, and so far, the best in our career. Our confidence is so strong. We knew we could do it and we did.” They have been seventh and fifth in the past two World championships, years. This season, they made it clear, they wanted to get on the podium. That does look possible.
3. 73.47 (39.27+34.20) The four times winners of this title in the past five years (the exception was 2010), the defending champions, and Olympic bronze and 2010 world silver medalists, Aliona Savchenko, 29, & Robin Szolkowy, 33, from Chemnitz, the former Karl Marx Stadt, did not have a good draw.
They performed to “Kismet” by Bond, 12th of the 18 pairs which was second in the pen-ultimate group of four couples, before the second ice resurfacing. They received eight +3s sprinkled over four of their elements.
They have been trained by Ingo Steuer, who won Worlds in 1997 and the Olympic silver the following year with Mandy Wotzel, for their entire career which started in 2005. They have been winning medals in this event since gaining bronze in 2007. They lie just 0.14 of a mark behind the Canadians.
They took the ice in bright blue matching tops with red sparkles and black trousers for him and in an unusual choice for figure skating, shorts for her. Her hair was in a different pulled-back style which made her look a little younger. Afterwards, Savchenko appeared to give a sigh of relief.
Candidly, she said, “It was the last short program of the season, thank God! On paper, the marks given made it a Season’s Best, but it wasn’t a Season’s Best from a performance point of view. We know how we can skate in practice. It felt a little hard to skate, like driving with the handbrake was pulled.”
Szolkowy added, “We never play it safe. It was a weird feeling. We felt like we weren’t moving while in fact we were ahead of our music after the third element. We hope things will be better (on Thursday afternoon, in the free.”
4. 69.98 (37.09+32.89) Yuko Kavaguti, 31, & Alexander Smirnov, 28, from St; Petersburg, appeared with her all in white and silver sparkles, with a longer than normal skirt. He wore an appropriate black tuxedo. They skated this program better than they have in a long time, interpreting Strauss’ lilting “Blue Danube Waltz” very well. But although they did not make any obvious mistakes, their back outside death spiral was, surprisingly, only Level 1. They are taught by Tamara Moskvina.
Smirnov, said, “We felt great today. It felt so good to come out and put out this kind of program today. We not only executed all our elements very well and got a level four for most of them, but we also were able to skate with a lot of emotions today. Yuko lit up the arena today. We only arrived on Tuesday at 1a.m. I felt ok this morning in practice, but now I would like to go to bed.” (This was spoken just after they had skated at 2pm in the afternoon!) After winning bronze in this event in 2009 & 2010, they were only 4th in 2011 and a disastrous 7th last year, mainly due to injuries and illness.
5. 69.25 (37.94+31.31) Skating 11th, first on in their group, Kirsten Moore-Towers, 20, & Dylan Moscovitch, 28, who train in Waterloo, gave an exciting showing with lots of feeling and audience connection. They opened with a Level 3 triple twist. Their side-by-side triple loops earned an extra +1.20 as did their Level 3 back outside death spiral. Their throw triple loop was rewarded with an extra +1.40 and their lift, the steps and their spin were all good Level 4s.
Moore-Towers said, “Today went and felt awesome, right from the beginning when we stepped on the ice for the warm up. We were excited and feeding off the energy from the crowd. We are excited for our long program on Friday, and we are ready to skate our best again. He said, “It feels like we started the year slow and as it progressed we got better. It’s a new year and we are bringing more to the scene.”
6. 63.95 (32.39+31.56) Qing Pang & Jian Tong, China, who are both 33, have competed in this event since 1999, when they finished 14th. They were third in 2011 and fourth last year. They won this title in 2006 and 2010. In London, they gave an enjoyable showing to “Scott & Fran’s Paso Doble”, he in an elaborate Toreador’s outfit, she in red and black. He said, “The skate today was so-so, not bad! Because of my knee injury, it is harder for us to compete. After the Grand Prix Final (in December), we took a month off. I’m still in pain today, but we are trying to get more points.”
7. 61.91 (32.01+29.90) Vera Bazarova, 20, & Yuri Larionov, 26, Russia, skated next to last, right after the Duhamel & Radford’s sensational performance which nearly brought the roof down. They were 8th, 5th & 6th in the past three world championships and were expected to do well but Bazarova had a shocking start when she completely missed their first element. She didn’t even do the preparation to get airborne.
She said, “I am devastated about our performance. I don’t know what happened. I went for the jump and nothing happened. I never do that. I might fall but I always go for it. I don’t want to justify myself. Our preparation was good. We will pull ourselves together for the free.” He added, “Practice went well. We were in a good mood. Maybe it affected us that we missed some competitions. Honestly, I don’t know what to say.”
8. 60.98 (32.89+28.09) Vanessa James, 25, & Morgan Cipres, 21, France, performed to Rhumba D’Amour by Safri Duo. Their last three moves earned Level 4, but their high triple twist was only Level 1 and was caught a little awkwardly. Their back outside death spiral was also Level 1, but it’s still a great achievement because, when they teamed up, he had no experience of pair skating at all. They also presented side-by-side triple toe loops.
James explained, “We were pleased with our skate. We lost some points on our death spiral. We have been practicing and preparing hard for this competition. The audience was great. It is good to be back skating in London. (James and her twin sister were born in Canada.) We hope the audience will come back on Friday to support us.”
9. 59.07 (31.56+28.51 -1) Stephania Berton, 29, & Ondrej Hotarek, 29, from Italy performed to the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” dressed in black, complete to her black tights which looked a little strange pulled over half of her white boots. The pair, who have been training at the Detroit Skating Club with Jason Dungjen skated right after the defending champions and paled somewhat by comparison. She fell on their opening move, the side-by-side triple toe loops.
He said, shaking his head, “One mistake counts, particularly when everyone skates well. One mistake is one too many. We skated the routine like we’re used to doing, so after the fall, we carried on. It is a great crowd. It has been a long season. We’ll make it work in the long.”
They were fresh and psyched up from winning bronze in the recent European championship. Berton shook her head, saying, “It’s my best jump. It was there so I am a little upset.”
10. 58.52 (32.77+25.75) The fifth couple to skate were the new partnership of Chen Peng, 15, & Hao Zhang 28, who immediately followed Castelli & Shnapir. In their first element, their triple twist, he caught her several feet from the ice, indicating they could have done a quad, easily.
Cheng admitted, “I felt a little nervous, but overall the performance was quite good. I just feel the last two elements could have been better. We are looking forward to the free skating and hope to skate even better.”
Zhang said, “We showed what we can do today. Our score was fine.” Asked about missing practice early this morning, he added, “I have had many injuries and I am not in the best shape. I needed to rest. I need to be careful with my health so I can make it to the Olympic Games.”
11. 57.65 (31.67+26.98 -1) Performing second, Wenjing Sui, 17, & Cong Han, 20, are the Chinese 2012 Four Continents champions and three-time World Junior champions, but they are competing for the first time this season due to her epiphysitis, a bone joint problem. Performing to, “Historia de un Amor” and “Ballard pour Adeline”, they earned high levels with their steps receiving the maximum Level 4 and their other three Level moves earned 3. However, she fell badly forward on their side-by-side triple toe loops which received a double arrow for a downgrade to double.
Sui admitted, “It is too bad that I missed the jump. I have been walking and skating only for two months (from a previous injury) and so we didn’t have much time to prepare and practice. I am very happy just to be here. We’ll have the free skating the day after tomorrow and we hope to skate well.”
Han added, “We pretty much showed the level we have right now after such a short time of training. We lost a jump, (she fell badly on her triple toe loop) so my partner thinks the skate is not so good today. I think the skate was very good and she did her best. This is only our first competition this season. She (Sui) hurt her right foot. It´s getting better every day. She was nervous, this competition was a challenge.< >Her injury; takes a long time to recover.”
12. 55.73 (30.36+25.37) Alexa Scimeca, 21, & Chris Knierim, 25, made an excellent debut in this event. Skating first after the initial ice resurface, to Beethoven’s soothing “Moonlight Sonata”, with Scimenca all in white, they opened with a great triple twist although she had to make a rocking move to hold the landing of their throw triple loop
Scimeca said, “We are very pleased. Our coach (Dalilah Sappenfield) told us, ‘to skate free!’ I’ve just finished four spinning lessons with Janet Champion. Our spins and transitions are weak, we know but we’re already working on improving ready for next year. At lessons, we try to match each other.”<
The pair was originally first alternates for this event, but the Caydee Denny & John Coughlin were not able to compete due to his injury not healing as hoped. “We trained like we were going to Worlds. We have been training smart (because she has a foot which is injured).”
Kniermin said, “Our coach told us to have fun, and to focus on each other. We took a week off after the Four Continents and here we are.”
13. 55.68 (29.62+27.06) Skating fourth, first of the second group of three pairs, were Marissa Castelli, 22, & Simon Shnapir, 25, who performed an entertaining number to “Stray Cat Strut” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and music from the movie, “The Pink Panther”, dressed in black outfits with purple sequins, she with no sleeves and a cutout back, he in short sleeves. He skided off his landing edge and fell on their side-by-side triple Salchows and their side-by-side spins lost unison at the end. However, their throw triple Salchow was great as was their level.
Castelli said, “We had a lot of fun. It was a blast out there. Today was good, but not our best. We are out there for the experience, our first time, getting used to the big crowd. The short program is always the nervous program. But we are ready for Friday.”
Shnapir added, “I fell on our triple Salchow. That was definitely not what we have been training for, but, overall, it felt good. We are happy with our results. We rebounded nicely from the fall and kept going and felt like we did a good job bringing our program back after our error. We are ready to bring our best on Friday.”
14. 48.60 (27.29+21.31) Stacey Kemp, 24, and David King, 28, who have won the British title for a record number of times, gave their best showing for some time, she in a sleeveless lilac dress and he in a light grey waist coat and trousers over a short sleeved shirt matchng her dress. They could hardly stop smiling in the Kiss & Cry area. Their step sequence, the flying change foot combination spin and their press lift, were awarded the maximum Level 4. However, their triple twist and the back outside death spiral were only Level 1. Their throw triple flip was successfully landed.
15. 47.82 (25.73+22.09) Taking the ice sixth on were the Italians, Nicole Della Monica, 23, & Matteo Guarise, 24, who are trained by Oleg Vasiliev, who teamed up in 2011. They were 15th in their first Worlds last year and so are pleased with their standing, although they did make mistakes. Dressed in black and grey, they interpreted “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. They received only Level 1 for their triple twist which had a dicey landing and their triple Salchows were not completely synchronized, but their lift, step sequence and change foot combination spin gained the maximum Level 4 and their coach was smiling as he greeted them in the Kiss ’n Cry Area. Their back outside death spiral received Level 2.
16. 47.36 (25.97+23.39 -2) Mari Vartman & Aaron van Cleave, Germany, had an unfortunate time. He fell and pulled her down with him. She was not satisfied with the result, saying, “I don’t really understand why the score is so low. The program went well until the fall and we enjoyed it. The points are disappointing. It is the first time for us to fall that way in competition.” He added, “I caught my toe pick coming around the end of the ice and took my partner down as well. We did two competitions this month in preparation for worlds due to time off because of my injury (broken orbital bone under his left eye). This is the time I have ever fallen during competition by catching a toe pick. I would like to be able to take that moment back.”
Only the top 16 pairs qualified for the Free Skate.
17. 36.48 (18.77+17.71) Elizaveta Makarova, 18, & Leri Kenchadze, 26, Bulgaria.
18. 35.44 (18.59+16.85) The honor of opening the entire event was given to the first pair to execute their SP, Poland’s Magdalena Klatka, 15, & Radoslaw Chruscinski, 21, Poland. They earned their season’s best, but that was only good enough for last place, but it was a start and they were only last by just over a point.
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