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2018 Rostelecom Cup Pairs

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany



(21 November 2018)  The pairs competition at the Rostelecom Cup 2018 had a relatively good level. Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov won the expected gold medal with 220.25 points. They had taken the lead in the short program (78.47 points) to “I Feel Good“ by James Brown, beginning with a huge and elegantly landed triple twist, which has always been their best element. Six of the nine judges awarded it with GOEs of +5. Their side by side triple toe loop was good, the triple throw loop outstanding (one +5 and seven +4) and the other four elements excellent. Their components had an average of 8.8. Morozov commented, “We did a good job tonight, all our elements had a good level. Even though it wasn’t our maximum yet, we’re on the right path.”

During the practice the next morning, Tarasova fell hard into the boards and injured her chin. She had to go to hospital and needed five stitches. But later she insisted to compete. Their triple twist at the beginning of their free program to "The Winter“ by the Texan instrumental ensemble of Balmorhea was as stellar as almost always and got seven GOEs of +5. Then Tarasova nearly fell on a downgraded triple Salchow, but the combination of triple toe loop, double toe loop and another double toe loop was clean again. The throws, lifts, death spiral, spin and choreo sequence were excellent and their components were around 8.9. Tarasova later commented, “It was a difficult day today. I lost a lot of time when I went to the hospital. So we couldn’t prepare for the free skating as usual. Considering that, we skated quite well, I just made one major error.”

Nicole della Monica & Matteo Guarise from Milan, Italy won the silver medal with 203.83 overall points. Their first element in the short program was a good side by side triple Salchow, followed by a very good twist and an excellent triple throw loop. They performed other four elements very well and had a new personal best of 72.32 points for a short program. Della Monica said, “We are very happy, we skated clean. We missed some levels here and there, but we’re working on them and hopefully in our next competition we’ll get all level four.”

Skating to Maxime Rodriguez’s Tristan and Isolde, the Italians opened their free program with a side by side triple Salchow, a triple twist and a triple throw loop, all of them in good quality. Della Monica only stumbled at the combination of a triple toe loop and a planned double toe loop and landed as third jump only a downgraded single toe loop. The other elements were excellent again and received many GOEs of +4 and +3. Guarise explained, “I want to thank Moscow for giving us great emotions. We felt almost like being at home. It was a good battle, the legs were shaking, but we have been training very hard mentally and physically.” Della Monica added, “It is the first time in the history of figure skating that an Italian pair skating team has qualified for the Grand Prix Final. It was a goal for us for the first part of the season and we achieved it.”

The 2018 Junior World Champions Daria Pavliuchenko & Denis Khodykin from Russia finished on third position with 190.01 points and won their second Grand Prix medal in their first senior season. They opened their short program to "When Winter Comes“ by Andre Rieu with an excellent triple twist (level 4) and a good side by side triple toe loop. Their triple throw flip was a bit shaky, but the other elements very good again. Their components were around 7.3. “We’re pleased with our performance today, but there is always something to improve. We’ll look at that later, now we’ll focus on the free skating,” Khodykin said.

They opened their routine to the soundtrack of "The Great Gatsby“ with a clean side by side triple flip which hardly any other pair has tried in competition. The U.S. team of Kristi Yamaguchi and Rudy Galindo had performed it about 30 years ago. The combination of triple-double-double toe loop was very good, the triple twist as well, but later Pavliuchenko fell on the throw triple flip and again on a connecting step. The other elements were at least good.

The Austrian pair of Miriam Ziegler & Severin Kiefer finished on fourth position, winning 187.01 points. Their twist at the beginning of the short program has become better, but still is not perfect. The side by side triple toe loop was excellent, but at the end of the death spiral Ziegler stumbled a bit, the triple throw flip, however, was good.

With the third best free program they moved up from fifth to fourth place. After a so-so triple twist and a combination of triple toe loop, double toe loop and another double toe loop (he singled the third jump) the other elements were at least good, The three lifts the two triple throws, the spin, the death spiral and the choreographic step sequence. Their main coach is Knut Schubert in Berlin, but they also work with Olympic Champion Bruno Massot who joined them in Moscow as well. Massot has become father in early October and works now as an assistant coach of his former longtime coach Jean-Francois Ballester in Switzerland.

The third Russian pair of Alisa Efimova & Alexander Korovin came fifth, collecting 181.62 points. They began their short program with a good triple twist, but their triple Salchow was a bit out of sync and the landing of their triple throw loop shaky. The other four elements were good and the components had an average of 7.4. They started their free program to waltzes by Johann Strauss with a good triple twist, but then she stumbled on the triple Salchow and fell on the triple toe loop. Most other elements were good.

Ashley Cain & Timothy LeDuc of Texas were only seventh in the short program, which they competed to the music “Bella Belle“ by “The Electric Swing Circus“. But they moved up to sixth place overall place, earning 170.29 total points. They opened their short program routine with a good triple twist and a clean side by side triple loop, which no other pair in the world can land at the moment. But then Cain stumbled a bit with her free foot before picking into the ice for the Lutz and did not jump when LeDuc wanted to throw her off for the triple throw Lutz. This cost them seven or eight points and three or four places in the short program and she seemed devastated in the kiss and cry corner. The other elements were good again.

The first element in their free program (to the soundtrack W.E. by Abel Korzeniowsky) was a triple twist which she landed on two feet. Next she almost fell on the side by side triple loop (which was under-rotated) and landed the triple throw flip very deep, but on one foot. Therefore this element got positive GOEs. But on the jump combination, she under-rotated the triple Salchow as well as the double toe loop. The rest of the program was faultless and their components around 7.1.

Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya & Harley Windsor from Australia train in Montreal with Richard Gauthier and Bruno Marcotte since this June. They ended up seventh, collecting only 144.00 points and started their short program with a good and technically demanding triple twist, followed by a clean side by side triple toe loop. Their spin only got a base level then and the triple throw flip was a bit shaky. They began their free program to the Tango “Scent of a Woman“ with a good triple twist but then the disaster began. Alexandrovskaya fell three times, First on the triple toe loop which was supposed to be a combination, then on the triple throw loop and it took her a long time to be in the music again. Both then doubled the Salchow and their pair spin was a bit wobbly. Near the end she also fell on the triple throw flip and they aborted their last lift because she could not jump off.

Deanna Stellato-Dudek & Nathan Bartholomay of Florida, students of Jim Petersen and Amanda Evora, did not finish the competition. After a triple twist in the short program which was not a hundred per cent cleanly landed in his arms, Stellato-Dudek nearly fell on an under-rotated triple toe loop and fell hard again on the triple throw loop. Skating to the Tango La Cumparsita, their death spiral had only level 1. The combination spin was a bit shaky the step sequence and the lift, however, good. They withdrew before the free program because Stellato-Dudek had been sick with a stomach flu even when they arrived in Russia and it did not get better.