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2019 World Championships, Pairs Free Skate

by Klaus Reinhold Kany


(21 March 2019)  The level of the pairs free program at the World Championships was high. The 18,000 spectators in the Super Arena saw at least six excellent programs. Nobody tried any quad elements because since last summer, a shaky quad element brings less points than a very good triple one. New World Champions with 234.84 points are Wenjing Sui & Cong Han from China, silver medalists at the Olympic Games of 2018. They skated much better than at the Four Continents Championships in February and had a really outstanding program, composed by Lori Nichol and celebrated with a standing ovation. They made no mistake at all. The triple twist was their first highlight and had five GOEs of +5. The combination of triple toe loop, double toe loop and another double toe loop was good, the triple throw Salchow spectacular, the lifts outstanding. Eight of the 11 elements had at least one +5. The components had an average of 9.6, with ten perfect 10.0 of all 45 components.

Sui said, “We won the competition because of the great support from the audience. We are very happy to have shown our best performance. We had a tough time this season. We could not prepare so well and did not have much time to practice. I do not like this music so much, but we will probably keep the music for another season.“

Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov won the silver medal with 228.47 points. Their stellar triple twist had seven GOEs of +5, most other elements were excellent as well, only the individual jumps not really clean. Their presentation is good but especially Morozov lacks a bit of emotions. Tarasova commented, “There were some minor mistakes in our free program. It was difficult to skate today, I had to fight with myself. After all I managed to perform all the elements and I was happy for that.“

The second Russian pair of Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert won a surprising bronze medal with 217.98 points. Ten of the 11 elements were very good, only a side by side triple Salchow was a bit out of sync. Their entertainment level is a bit lower, and the components were around 8.6. They were not at Europeans this year because he had to undergo some medical examination which he did not want to specify. Zabiiako said, “Missing the European Championships made us a little angry and motivated us.“ Enbert added, “We are in great condition, both mentally and physically. Everything went well.“ The second Chinese pair of Cheng Peng & Yang Jin finished on fourth position, earning 217.98 points. Technically they are an excellent pair and therefore almost all elements had mainly GOEs of +4.

The most disappointed pair of the competition certainly are Vanessa James & Morgan Ciprès from France who are only fifth with 215.84 points, in spite of being one of two favorites. They had components of around 9.3, skated very stylish, but it was not enough to move up to a medal position after having 13 points less in the short program than Tarasova and Morozov. James doubled the first toe loop of their combination, all other elements were excellent.

James explained, “Although we had a hard time yesterday, I’m proud of myself and of my team overcoming this combat. I think this crash yesterday was a big test for us. I feel like every year we have one accident but when we come back we are stronger. Worlds hasn’t been our best friend.“ Cipres added, “We really wanted to reach the medal but I already knew during the short program that getting a medal was almost impossible. But I think we did our job today. We won’t give up until we get the world title.“

Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitrii Kozkovskii from Russia are only 17 and 19 years old, but an extremely promising pair of the next generation. They finished on sixth place winning 210.30 points. All 11 elements were at least good, the throws even outstanding. Kozlovskii commented, “It’s the magic of figure skating. We will keep these emotions in our hearts for a long time. We are just starting our career. Our coach, Tamara Moskvina, is a distinguished person both as a coach and as an athlete. She makes us full of motivation.“

Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro from Canada were very lucky to take the seventh position with 200.02 points in spite of making several mistakes in their free program. Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise from Italy sit eighth, earning 195.74 points after also making several mistakes. Guarise said, “I talked with Vanessa (James), and we are both lucky to skate here today together and have fun because yesterday was a big crash. At first I did not feel so much pain, but as soon as I got to the hotel, my ribs, hips and knees were in pain. I went to my doctor and today I was able to come here. Maybe a little bit unstable on the jumps, but it is okay.“

Ashley Cain & Timothy LeDuc of Texas easily reached their main goal, a placement in the Top Ten. Skating to the soundtrack of „W.E.“, they finished on ninth position with 193.81 points and would have merited to finish seventh. After a very good triple twist, they were the only pair to risk a more difficult triple jump, which was the triple loop. They are the first U.S. in years who is strong on individual jumps. She landed safely and he a bit shaky, but they got only small deductions. The three lifts were excellent, the triple throw Lutz good, she only fell on the triple throw Salchow. In their jump combination he did a good triple Salchow, double toe loop and double loop, she was a bit unclean, but did all three jumps as well. Their components are around 8.1.

Cain said, “We have accomplished all our goals for this season. It was to win the national championships and to get two spots for team USA at Worlds. We had mistakes, but it was such a relief because that was what we built up this whole season for and we did it. This being our first World Championships, we didn’t really know what to expect. We took it as a responsibility to get this job done and we accomplished it.“