by Alexandra Stevenson
1. Overall 167.87; 1.FD 100.64 (45.23+56.41 -1) Skating last, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir presented a classical number to music by Glazunov, “Petit Adagio” and “Waltz in Concerto No.2” along with Sciabin’s “Allegro Moderato”. This writer hasn’t come across Sciabin being used before in a top level skating competition. Their coach, Marina Zoueva said she’s been keeping it in mind for a long time. In its mood, the routine is similar to that ethereal masterpiece, which they produced to deservedly win in Vancouver. There are sublime moments when they are completely a part of the music. They don’t so much skate, as flow over the surface, giving them a calm appearance even when they are going top speed. It’s a unique talent and makes them unmatchable in that aspect. Earlier practice had made them look a little unfinished. But in performance, it was dazzling.
What is it about Virtue & Moir that allows them to rise to the occasion? They didn’t reveal any secrets, except, “hard work”. But it’s definitely something to do with their unbroken “lines” together, almost certainly fostered from their many years association together, and their long, slogging hours doing compulsories early in their career. Their style is different from their training mates, Meryl Davis & Charlie White. Absent some sort of catastrophy, both are unbeatable. The judges are going to have an interesting, extremely difficult task in Sochi.
Virtue wore a beautiful, long, soft, light blue dress which accentuated their “lines”. He was in a long sleeved, rich cream shirt (which, close up, seemed a little torn up with the physical rigors of their complex lifts, possibly from her blades). It is brilliant, simply brilliant, and this writer can’t wait to see it in competition again. However, at this stage in the season, it wasn’t absolutely perfect. They got a point deduction for a lift going overtime. Zoueva explained that she has worked with for many years, doing their choreography in Canada well before they moved to Canton. That extent has fine-tuned her sensitivity to what should be done to put them to best advantage.
They began with a Level 4 Straight line lift for which they earned two of the maximum +3 Grades of Execution, along with five +2s and a +1 from the eight judges on the panel. Their circular steps were Level 3 with three +3s and the rest +2. Their Level 4 Curve lift also received three +3s (from two different judges), four +2s and a +1 from the one judge who was the only official not to give them at least one +3 for any of their elements.
Their Twizzles, which they had messed up in practice earlier in the day, were excellent and received Level 3 with two +3s, a +1 and the rest +2. Although their combination spin was only Level 2, five judges gave +3 with the other three awarding +2. The Level 4 rotational lift got five +3s and three +2s. But their next lift, also rotational, was only Level 1 with only one +3 but the rest +2. Moir slapped his head when talking about that move later. He moaned, “The Levels are so important! You just can’t afford that sort of fault.”
Their diagonal steps were level 2 with one +3 with five +2s and two +1s. Their short ending choreographed lift, received two +3s and the rest +2s. Their components included two 10s from the same judge for Performance & Execution, and Composition & Choreography. Three judges each gave one low of 9.00 and one judge gave four 9.0s and a 9.25 for Skating Skills.
Moir admitted, “Skating last is always demanding because you tend to warm down because of the wait after the warm-up. It was a pretty good skate. It’s a tough program to put out there getting ready for the Grand Prix. But it’s a real joy to be here in Finland. We feel we have a connection with the people. They all seem to have skated at one point or another, and everyone seems to follow what’s happening in the skating world.
“It’s very important to take part in events like the Finlandia Trophy, because it gives feedback. You learn so much when you are under competitive conditions, that you can’t when you are in a straight-forward training situation, no matter how hard you work.”
They were asked whether they would be back next year. After looking at each other with a smile, Virtue said, “We’re many seasons from when we were in Helsinki (when they won at the 2005 Junior Grand Prix Final). That’s a long time to be under this sort of scrutiny and pressure. But we just don’t know what will happen.” The rest of world believes they will take advantage of the publicity during the Games, and then go on to the next stage of their life.
Asked about how they would deal with the jetlag going to Sochi, Moir explained they would be getting their early because of the (new) Team competition. “We start the day before the Opening Ceremony. We won’t be able to march in that because of practice requirements. We walked in the Opening Ceremony for Vancouver. There’s a lot of walking and standing around. I think it was a total of seven hours! (Obviously that includes rehearsal time.) It probably just won’t be practical this time. But there’s one thing – by going so early, we should definitely be over jetlag by the time the regular competition comes around. Jetlag is something you just have to get used to. There are ways to get over it.”
Their coach, Marina Zoueva, said they had worked really hard on the Free. “We kept doing different music cuts. We must have had at least 22 of them, and we may have more. It had to be an absolutely right balance between the music sections. I’ve been keeping the Sciabin for just such an important time. I have not heard it used in this way before. But, you know, we constantly work to make the best. I give them decisions, but we are always still changing things even at the last minute.”
2. Overall143.06; 2.FD 89.72 (42.16+47.56); Madison Chock & Evan Bates performed a gutsy, difficult routine at the speed of sound which looked strained at times and kind of messy, not from their skating abilities but from the period costume flapping around to music from “Les Miserables”. The Americans drew to skate first in the top group of five.
They open with a spectacular “long” lift. Dancers have the choice of doing either four short lifts, or doing two short ones and combining two into one “long” lift. There has been quite a lot of controversy about this. Four short lifts are, in a way, less difficult. It is accepted that it is more difficult to earn the illusive maximum +3 Grade of Execution for both sections of a long lift, but the effect is certainly amazing! They earned Level 4 for both parts with six +2s and two +1s, but the judges held off giving any +3s.
TTheir twizzles were Level 4 with an extra +0.50, and their Level 4 combination spin received +0.83. However, their Curve Lift and Circular Steps were “only” Level 2, as were their later Diagonal Steps. Their Rotation “short” lift was Level 3. They finished with the choreographed lift which has only one Level, 1, and that earned six +1s and two +2s. Their components ranged from three 8.50s down to one 6.50.
3. Overall 131.71; 4 FD 80.46 (41.36+39.10) Justyna Plutowska & Peter Gerber, who represent Poland but train in Novi, Michigan, with Igor Shpilband alongside Chock & Bates, lay third after the first round and held onto that place, although they were elipsed in the Free by a Finnish couple. Gerber is Canadian. They used very Waltz-y music from the soundtrack of “The Artist”. She was in a red dress, he in a tux with a bow tie. They speeded up at the end with a jazzy drum portion.
They also began with a long lift which earned Level 4 for both portions. They also were awarded Level 4 for their other two lifts and for their spin. Their twizzles were Level 3 but both footwork sequences were Level 2. He said, “It’s hard to get the Levels for your later moves, because your legs get very tired by then.”
4. Overall 130.33; 3 FD 81.44 (40.92+41.52 -1) Isabella Tobias & eividas Stagniunas, who were fifth in the Short Dance, climbed a place with an extremely enjoyable to watch Free, which they performed eighth of the ten couples, to music from the famous James Bond series of movies. They opened their routine with Level 4 Twizzles. Their first two lifts were Level 4, but their long lift received Level 2 for the initial part and Level 3 for the closing rotational section. Their spin was also Level 4. However, their diagonal and circular steps were only Level 2. They placed third in this section. Had they not gone overtime on one lift, and earned 0.39 points more, they would have taken the bronze medal.
He was in a dark grey suit. She was in deep royal blue. When they teamed up in 2010, they had hoped to represent Lithuania in the Sochi Olympics but that path was stymied by the country’s President, who turned down her application in January. Ruta Svetikaite, who is the head of Legal Department of the Lithuanian President’s Administration, explained, “Citizenship is, essentially, proof of a legal relationship with the State. It’s not some kind of act based on which person would have fewer problems coming to the country and benefiting from it. Citizenship is not a gift. It is not a governmental award.” Meanwhile several other countries have supplied Americans with the necessary documents.
They train alongside Chock & Bates in Novi with Shpilband.
55. Overall 124.33; 5 FD 74.87 (37.90+36.97) Henna Lindholm & Ossi Kanervo were delighted to lie fourth after the Short Dance and though they were fifth in the Free and Overall, a very significant six points behind, they felt they had made significant progress. They earned Level 4 for all four lifts and for their opening spin. Their two spins and the twizzles were Level 2. They performed to “Cinema Paradiso”, “Runway Search and Return”, “Toto and Alfredo” and Ennio Morricone’s “Love Theme” with him in a sweater, and her in a dress which matched the turquois sweater.
66. Overall 119.65; 6.FD 71.19 (36.48+34.71) Irina Stork & aavi Rand, from Tallinn, drew to perform their Free, first up. It was a lovely routine to Michel Legrand’s poignant, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” sung in French. She wore white with small blue designs and he was in a royal blue shirt. The story tells of a broken love story, and they both skated with a lot of emotion. All four lifts received Level 4. Both steps and the Twizzles were Level 2, and the spin Level 3. They maintained their Short Dance placing.
77. Overall 113 72; 7.FD 68.74 (34.19+34.55) Shari Koch & Christian Nuchtern from Dortmund skated to music from the soundtrack of “Batman Forever”. He wore a fun green open jacket with large question marks in silver and a purple tie. She was in black including long sleeves and gloves. They pulled up a place from 8th.
88. Overall 109.17; 8.FD 63.06 (31.65+32.41 -1) Ramona Elsener & Florian Roost, who represent Switzerland but train at the Detroit SC, presented a dramatic Tango routine starting with “El Tango de Roxanne” by Sting & Marianito Mores, and then going into the famous “Oblivion” by Astor Piazzola played by a Piano Trio. Tango is always very intense. It’s not pretty and Elsener was just trying too hard to project despair. She fell, which pretty much ruins a dance routine, and they dropped behind the Germans.
99. Overall 101.20; FD 62.68 (31.82+30.86) Olesia Karmi & Max Lindholm from Helsinki, presented their Free to music by Sibelius, the well-known inlandia, which was perhaps a bit too powerful for their skill level. There was a rather harsh break into the lovely Valse Triste and then Allegro Moderato from Symphony No.2. She wore a blue skirt and white top. He had a white shirt and black trousers.
110. 98.85; FD 61.04 (30.84+30.20) Though they finished tenth in both sections, Cecilia Torn & Jussiville Partanen ggained praise. The 19-year-old Torn only started ice dance in April of this year. They performed to had Exogenesis Symphony Part 3 and Part 2 by Muse, dressed in purple with silver. One Finnish official said, “We rarely have more than one international ice dance couple. But the current situation looks as if we will have some happy development in that area in the future.”