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2005 Junior Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada

Original Dance

by Alexandra Stevenson


Competitors seem to enjoy this seasonís original, a Latin American combo, in which they are allowed to use at least two but no more than three rhythms from the list specified by the ISU: Cha Cha, Rhumba or Samba, or only one of Mambo, Meringue and Salsa.

Because there were only 10 couples, an open draw was made for this portion. Virtue, dressed in deep pink, & Moir, in black, skated sixth right after the second warm-up. They began their slinky rhumba slowly, building up tension. "Itís dancing for each other," said Virtue. "Itís intimate. I love that."

To get them in the right mood for the rhumba when they were first devising this routine, their coach, Igor Shpilband, made them watch a video of Jayne Torvill & Christopher Deanís original for their "comeback" in the 1994 Olympic Games.

The Britons won gold in the í84 Olympics but had to settle for bronze ten years later. However, their í94 rhumba was given first place in this section and 6.0s. The ISU has tried for some years now to translate that Rhumba into a compulsory.

"We did play around with the idea of doing three rhythms," said Moir, "But decided on two so we could really interpret them." Virtue & Moirís first element, a combination spin, was given the maximum, Level 4, by the Technical Specialist. Two of the nine judges thought it was worth a +2 GOE. All the others gave +1 except one judge who punched in an out-of-line -1 on his/her touch screen.

As the intensity grew, the Canadian duo did their first lift, which was also awarded a Level 4. But this time only one judge gave a +2, five a +1 and three thought the move should receive only the base value.

As the music changed to the fiery beat of the mambo, their pace escalated speeding them into then non-touching midline step sequence, Level 3, which went smoothly into the forward starting Level 4 Twizzles. That element is known in the new judging system as NtMiSt+FsTw. Moir had a very slight problem at the end of this element. "I lost a little flow on a counter."

For this writer their highlight was their diagonal Level 4 step sequence in which they continually change direction and their hand holds Ė very intricate and ballroom-y. The judges agreed. Seven of the judges gave +2 with the other two punching a miserly +1.

Moir said they work with a ballroom instructor and had gone to a ballroom competition for inspiration. (He and Virtue avidly watched the popular television series Dance With the Stars but disagreed strongly, as did many, with that showís outcome.)

Their final element was a rotational lift Level 4 for which they received one +2 and the rest +1. For the original, they received 10.89 marks ahead of the second placed, Bobrova & Soloviev, and went into the Sundayís free dance in the lead by a huge 14.54.

Moir said, "Itís nice but we donít think about the point spread. We were together a bit more than in Andorra. We fixed a few things and made things more precise. We were pretty pleased with the way we showed the elements. We want to keep building up our score, building up to the world juniors. Thatís our main goal."

Only the first of Bobrova & Solovievís five elements, a curve lift, was Level 4. Both parts of their NtMiSt+FsTTw were 3 and the other elements only Level 2. She put her foot down on a twizzle and her position in the rotational lift was not a full split. The Russians, skating last of first five competitors, used a rhumba and a Chicka-Chicka Samba.

Skating last, Kolbe & Boll executed a Cha Cha to Sway by Michael Bublť, a Rhumba to Bella Maria by Michael Bublť and then returned to a Cha Cha, this one to Happy Brazil by James Last. They held onto third place but were fourth in the original.

Lamoureux & Mee, who again had to skate immediately after their teammates, Virtue & Moir, took third place in this section but by only 0.15. The Germans would have beaten the Canadians had Kolbe not fallen. She recovered quickly. Her error was not on an element, but it incurred a 1.0 deduction. "It was just a slip," Kolbe said. "I donít know what happened. I was very nervous."

Then, as they took their bow, Kolbe slipped again on her curtsy although this was greeted by them and the very sparse audience with laughter.

Lamoureux & Meeís performance of samba and mambo narrowed the gap between them and Lauten & Hill to only four one hundreds of a point but did not take them out of sixth place going into the free. They would have got an extra half point had their Straight Line Lift been a Level 4 instead of a 3. "We didnít hold it long enough," explained Lamoureux, who looked very glamorous and Navka-like performing in a backless and sideless shocking pink outfit. They also lost marks because she had a bad trip and would have fallen had Mee not grasped her.

Buoyed up by their fourth place in the compulsory, Miosi & Ponomarev, who had drawn to skate third, gave an enthusiastic, energetic, enjoyable performance in black whistling through a samba and mambo with the red headed Ponomarev gyrating his hips in a manner which would have done Elvis proud.

However, there were a significant number of errors. The worst was on their combination spin which was awarded only Level 1 and got a mean GOE of minus 0.64. Though they stayed fourth, they are only 0.18 ahead of Lauten & Hill. "Itís only our first international competition and we havenít been together long enough to get our moves perfect," said Miosi.

Lauten & Hill, who drew to skate second, began with Mambo Jambo which segued into a rhumba, Beautiful Maria of My Soul, and finished with a Samba to Copacabana. "It felt good Ė better than yesterday (the Paso Doble compulsory)," said Lauten, who appeared in a flamboyant lime green, yellow and orange outfit. "We just have to work harder." Their curve lift was a Level 4 as was the second part of their NtMiSt+FsTTw but everything else was Level 2.

Rouzet & Rumi, who skated fourth, had a wonderful start straight off a ballroom floor to the Rapunzle Merengue. However, their NtMiSt+FsTTw was messy with six judges giving them a -2 GOE. Their middle section was a Rhumba to Caminemos and they returned to Rapunzle at the end. They remained seventh and now lie more than 4 points behind Lamoureux & Mee.

Skating fifth, Graham, wearing a bright orange outfit with an interestingly shaped skirt & Poje, in black, performed a rhumba to Dance With Me and a meringue. They again took eighth place and are 2 points behind the French duo. Poje in orange with an unusually shaped skirt, he in black,

For the second part of their routine, Vyhodtseva & Shumski, used the same Chicka-Chicka Samba as the Russians but less successfully. They skated ninth and they stayed ninth.

Lalatka & Balint, who drew to skate eighth, presented a samba, rhumba and a Cha Cha but remained firmly in last place. They suffered a nasty fall on their final element. He lost an edge during their rotational lift and, with both his hands holding her was unable to do anything to help her and she fell heavily on her back. Her head hit the ice. She kept rubbing her head as she got up and, although they finished the routine and bowed to the audience, as she left the ice, you could tell she was stunned.