by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(21 March 2019) The short program of the 19 pairs on Wednesday noon was the first competition of the 2019 World Championships in the “Super Arena“ in Saitama, a suburb of Tokyo with about 1.3 million people. In the last couple of years there had always been more than 16 really good pairs. Therefore the ISU changed the rules in 2018 and now 20 instead of 16 pairs reach the final in five instead of four groups of four pairs. But in the post-olympic year, only 19 pairs qualified for Worlds, whereas some others finished their career or are injured like the Australians Alexandrovskaya and Windsor. Therefore all 19 pairs will skate the free program.
Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov from Russia took the lead with 81.21 points after an excellent and smooth performance to Rakhmaninov’s Piano Concerto Number 2. They started their short program with a stellar and very elegantly landed triple twist (four GOEs of +5), followed by a very good triple toe loop. The triple throw loop even got eight GOEs of +5 and the components were around 9.3.
Morozov commented: “We did it in the way we were skating during the training sessions. Now we are working in the same group as Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert, and it it is more motivating for us.“ Tarasova added: “During the European Championships we had the same mistake both in short and free programs. Therefore, now we trained harder not to allow this to happen anymore.“
Wenjing Sui & Cong Han from China, Olympic silver medalists in 2018, are on second position with 79.24 points. After this Olympic medal, Sui had several injuries, among them a stress fracture in the foot which did not heal normally. Therefore they did not compete for a whole year until February 2019 when they won Four Continents in Anaheim, CA. Here in Saitama, their triple twist, triple throw flip, lift and step sequence were excellent and had several GOEs of +5. The other three elements were very good as well. Their components had an average of 9.1.
Sui said: “We had several mistakes at the beginning, otherwise the score would be above 80 points. We still performed at our best. We are very delighted to skate in front of such a cheerful audience, and that made me happy. For last few days, we spent a lot of hours on the road to come here, which had some impact to my injury. But I tried to make sure to relax before the competition.“
Cheng Peng & Yang Jin from China are currently third, earning 75.51 points. All their elements were excellent, but their components were not as high. Peng explained: “We skated with joy. This is a very rare thing for us. The coach also told us to enjoy every moment of being on the ice, and we accomplished that.“
Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert from Russia are on fourth place with 73.96 points. Six of their elements were very good, only the spin a bit wobbly. Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro of Montreal are on fifth position with 73.08 points. Their triple toe loop was landed in deep position, the other elements, however, good. The young Russian team of Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitrii Kozlovskii is sixth with 69.99 points after an innovative and stylish performance to a vocal version of the Russian folk music “Dark Eyes“. All elements were very good.