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2021 NHK Trophy Pairs

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany



(17 November 2021)  The pair skating competition had a good level.

Reigning World Champions Anastasia Mishina & Alexander Galliamov from St. Petersburg in Russia won the pairs event with 227.28 points. The students of Artur Minchuk and Tamara Moskvina skated their short program with better confidence than last season to a new version of the Ballet “Esmeralda“ by Cesare Pugni. Their first element was an excellent triple twist which was rewarded with six GOEs of +3 and three GOEs of +4. The triple throw flip was outstanding and had eight GOEs of +4, the side-by-side triple Salchow and three other elements as well. The components had an average of 8.9. Mishina commented, “This was probably the best short program of the season so far because the short didn’t go so well yet in the season, This year we have got two Grand Prix that are towards the end, so it would have been too early for us to be in top shape from the very beginning.“ Galliamov added, “We now got into the competition rhythm because at the beginning of the season we had a long break from our last competition, almost half a year. So we forgot these feelings a bit.”

Their free program was very good and stable as well. Skating to “Snow Storm“ by Georgi Sviridov and to “Time Forward“ by the same Russian composer, they opened with a good side-by-side sequence of triple Salchow, Euler and another triple Salchow, followed by an excellent triple twist. Their triple throw flip was outstanding, the three lifts very good, the other elements as well. Their only small mistake came when Mishina touched down her hand on the triple throw loop. Galliamov said, “We are satisfied with our performance today, but it is not the maximum yet, there is room to grow. We really enjoyed the atmosphere in Japan, we felt the support of the public and these are incredible emotions.”

Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov, also from Russia, won the silver medal with 213.27 points. Both programs were choreogaphically very interesting but several mistakes prevented them from winning. In their short program they said they tell the story of Galatea and Pygmalion – a sculptor falls in love with the statue he created and she wakes up for a short moment. For this story they skate to “Metamorphosis 2“ by Philip Glass and to “Experience“ by Ludovico Einaudi.

Tarasova fell on the side-by-side triple toe loop, but the six other elements were excellent, especially the triple twist, the triple throw loop and the lift. Morozov said, “We do not have the best impression about our performance as we made a big mistake. We did not show our best and we are bit upset. But what is done is done and we will focus on the free skating.” Tarasoca added, “Except for one, all elements were good and received plusses. It was nice to skate in front of so many fans, we were missing that.” In their free program to “Lighthouse” by Patrick Watson, they interpreted the story of two mirror pictures who find the each other. Their first two elements were an excellent side-by-side triple Salchow and an absolutely outstanding triple twist. But then Morozov doubled the first toe loop of their jump combination which she tripled. Later she stepped out of both throw jumps. The three lifts and the other elements were very good again and their components around 8.9.

The rise of the Japanese team of Riku Miura & Ryuichi Kihara continued with their bronze medal, winning 209.42 points. They were becoming favorites of the Japanese crowd and skated with visible joy. Their short program to “Hallelujah“ was almost flawless, only her side-by-side triple toe loop was near an under-rotation. But her triple throw Lutz was good. Miura said, “Our twist lift was high and the level was very good. At Skate America, we were not in our best condition, so we could focus on this competition here and I think that it was a good thing.” In their free program to “Woman“ by Shawn Phillips most elements were very good. They had some problems with the individual jumps, but their three lifts were excellent. In one of them, he puts one knee on the ice, lifts his partner, goes up with her over his head and down again on his knee for the end of the of the lift. “Compared to Skate America we had a higher score,” Kihara commented. “The score we were able to get was close to Skate America, and I really feel that we've grown.”

Ashley Cain-Gribble & Timothy LeDuc of Euless, Texas, finished on fourth place, earning 202.79 points. In their short program to the soundtrack of “The White Crow“, the step sequence was outstanding, the side-by-side combination spin excellent and four other elements very good. The risky side-by-side triple loop was not perfect, but both landed it on one foot. In their free program to the soundtrack of “W.E.“ by Abel Korzeniowski, most elements were good or solid (like a side-by-side triple loop again). One lift and the choreoghaphic steps were excellent, but Cain-Gribble fell on the triple throw Salchow. The components of the students of Peter and Darlene Cain, the parents of Ashley, were around 8.4.

Audrey Liu & Misha Mitrofanov from Norwood, Massachusetts. came fifth with 190.03 points. The short program to “Toxic, a Survivor Remix“ by 2Wei of the students of Alexei Letov was faultless, all elements were solid, including a triple throw Lutz and a side-by-side triple Salchow. In their free program to “Dreaming with a Broken Heart“ by John Mayer, no mistake was visible either. They performed a side-by-side triple toe loop and a very good side-by-side triple Salchow in combination with an Euler and a double Salchow. The triple throw Lutz and the triple throw loop were very good, but their components relatively low. Evelyn Walsh & Trennt Michaud from Canada are sixth with 167.98 points. In the short program he almost dropped her on the landing of the triple twist and she doubled the side-by-side triple toe loop which he tripled. In the free, they had problems with the individual jumps again and the twist was not clean again.

Minerva Hase & Nolan Seegert from Germany ended up seventh with 161,89 points. They train in Sochi since September under Dmitri Savin. After a good competition at Skate Canada they stayed in Vancouver for a week with their Canadian choreographer Mark Pillay. In the short program in Tokyo, their twist was wobbly and only double and he landed a double instead of a triple toe loop. Their triple throw Salchow, however, was very good. In the free program, they made several smaller mistakes, including a fall of her during the choreographic sequence. Because of the time difference, they did not like to get up at 4 o’clock for the early morning practice. The Austrian pair of Miriam Ziegler & Severin Kiefer had withdrawn some weeks before the NHK Trophy because Kiefer suffered from a muscle injury in his hip. Due to the complicated immigration rules for Japan the ISU could not invite an alternate pair and therefore only seven pairs competed.