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2017 World Championships: Pairs Short Program

by Klaus Reinhold Kany

(31 March 2017)  The short program of the 28 pairs at the World Championships in Helsinki had a good level but also some strange falls. Eleven pairs had more than 70 points which had never happened before. In order to reach the final of the 16 best pairs you needed 62 points, last year it was only 52 points, but the pairs had to do the same elements. This number shows better than anything else how much this discipline has improved.

Winner of this exciting short program are Wenjing Sui & Cong Han from China with 81.23 points. Six of their seven elements were excellent and had at least one GOE of +3, the throw triple flip even had +3 from all nine judges. The skaters interpreted "Blues for Klook“ by Eddy Louis with a lot of intricate steps and movements and had components of around 9.2. Sui commented: "I felt we worked very well, we still have something to improve, I hope tomorrow we will do well. We came back from injuries (she had surgery on both feet) because we know we love skating. I had some surgeries and it was such a hard time. I still fight every day and after the injury I had to learn walking like a baby, it was funny. I know I love skating, I can't bear it if my life does not include skating. I will practice hard, I love skating, I want to enjoy it.”

Han added: “After we came back practicing after a very long period, we had to start from the scratch - Sui had to re-learn how to walk and jump and then we could be back on the ice. 120% of power and we tried our best. During Sui's time in the hospital I had no holiday, I practiced alone every day. Sometimes I worked with little girls from other pairs, I borrowed them to do the lifts, but they are heavier than Sui. It's a good practice.”

Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot from Germany are second, winning 79.84 points. Skating to a lively and entertaining Lindy Hop dance called “That Man” by Caro Emerald, they skated almost like ice dancers and with many small tricks which the new ISU interviewer and Olympic dance champion Charlie White mentioned later. Their triple twist had GOEs of +3 from all nine judges. They were the only couple to try a throw triple axel, but she stepped out and also touched down her hand on the side by side triple Salchow. Three other elements received at least one GOE of +3. The components were around 9.2 with one perfect 10.0 for interpretation of the music as highest one.

"I am not too satisfied. I made mistakes on both the solo jump and the throw,“ Savchenko later commented. "But after a difficult season with a list of breaks due to different injuries we didn't have a perfect preparation. I also felt tired today with this quite early practice and late competition. If you love what you do you come from the injury with stones in front of you and you have to get them out of the way, that's the sport.”&

Massot added: "We will only keep the positive things in mind from today's short program. It was quite difficult for us - we didn't have a good preparation, it was a long and hard season, we had a big injury in the Grand Prix, a long break. Before Worlds we had another problem - my back, so again, it was a hard preparation. I think tonight except for those two mistakes we are quite happy.”

Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov from Russia sit on third place with 79.37 points. During the morning practice, Morozov had hit Tarasova’s leg with his skates under the knee on a fall during the step sequence. She got ten stiches and they decided only after the warm-up that they would compete. Six elements were excellent, only the throw triple loop not a hundred per cent clean. They skated to the “Glam Electro Swing Remix” and had components with an average of 9.0.

Tarasova said: "I got injured in today's morning practice, a cut on my leg. Our doctors did everything possible for me to feel comfortable. We were thinking about withdrawing because after this incident we left the ice immediately, there was a long break off the ice, we didn't know how I would feel in skates. But when I was asked:"Will you skate?", I said "I will!" And I wasn't thinking about the pain during our performance.“ Morozov added: "It was hard for me, of course I was worrying about my partner, maybe even more than she was. I tried to support her and to do everything that depended on me. It was totally her decision to skate. She is a hero for all our country and for me.“

The second Chinese pair Xiaoyu Yu & Hao Zhang, who have skated together only for ten months, finished fourth, earning 75.23 points. All their elements were very good and powerful, the triple twist and the throw triple loop even got some GOEs of +3. But their components were a bit lower.

Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert from Russia sit on fifth position with 74.26 points. Their program to Sviridov’s classical Russian music "The Snowstorm“ was clean and the majority of the GOEs were +2. Liubov Iliushechkina & Dylan Moscovitvch were the best of the three Canadian teams and are currently sixth with 73.14 points. Six of their elements were very good, she only stumbled a bit on the triple toe loop. The 2016 world champions Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford had not been in top shape the whole season and are only seventh, earning 72.67 points. In Helsinki Radford had groin problems and therefore they replaced the triple Lutz by the triple toe loop. Duhamel touched her hand on the throw triple Lutz and their style was not excellent.

Alexa Scimeca-Knierim & Chris Knierim are currently eighth, winning 72.17 points. Their triple twist was outstanding, but he stumbled on the triple Salchow. Scimeca-Knierim had arrived in Finland with a kind of food poisening and could not train on the first day. But thanks to treatment by the U.S team doctor she felt better on the morning of the short program and decided to compete  In order to avoid a conflict of interest the ISU decided to exchange the Austrialian-American Technical Specialist Peter Cain by the Russian Igor Bich in the last minute in case Scimeca/Knierim & Knierim would have withdrewn and the alternates Ashley Cain (the daughter of Peter Cain) & Timothy LeDuc would have competed. The U.S champions Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier had a bad day, maybe because the time change, and finished only 20th with 56.23 points and therefore did not reach the final. Denney fell on the throw triple loop and Frazier on the triple Salchow. The French pair Vanessa James & Morgan Ciprès missed the triple twist, James fell and they are currently 10th. The Russian Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov fell twice and are only 13th.