by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
The pairs event had the permited 1.200 spectators who saw the competition live, while the livestream worked in almost the whole world. The level was high with world class performances of the best two teams. The five best Russian pairs are very young and promising for the future.
Aleksandra Boikova (18) & Dmitrii Kozlovskii (20) from the St. Petersburg school of young coach Artur Minchuk and very experienced star coach Tamara Moskvina won the gold medal with 232.56 points. They were European champions in January 2020 and had won their two Grand Prix in 2019. They opened their new short program to the soundtrack of “Star of Captivating Happiness“ by Isaac Schwartz with an outstanding side by side triple Salchow which was in perfect harmony and was awarded four (out of seven) GOEs of +5. The triple twist was outstanding as well, but then Boikova stepped out of the triple throw flip. The four other elements (all Level 4) were excellent again, and their lift had an innovative beginning. Their components had an average of 9.5, with several 9.75, but no perfect 10. With 78.29 points they were on a provisional second place.
Kozlovskii explained, “Skating again at such a big event with the top-rank athletes of our country felt great. We liked our performance tonight. Not everything was perfect, but in our opinion, the interpetation, the presentation of the program and most of the elements were done at a high level.“
In their free program, they use the title song “Writing’s on the Wall“ of the James Bond film “Spectre“ (Sofia Karlberg cover). The parallel triple Salchow was outstanding again, the combination of triple toe loop, double toe loop and another double toe loop as well. Throws, twist and lifts were spectacular or very good as well and they made no mistake at all. The average of their components were 9.6.
Kozlovskii mentioned, “We are happy about the result and happy to return to the competition atmosphere. We did not analyze a lot after the short program. We separate the short and the free program and after the short program we switched our mindset to the free skating.” Boikova added, “You can always add emotions, improve the quality of the elements. While this was not the absolute best we can do, it was certainly a very good performance today.”
Anastasia Mishina (19, she is not related to the single skaters coach) & Aleksandr Galliamov (21) from the same St. Petersberg school as the winners took the silver medal with 225.80 points after very strong performances. The Junior World Champions of 2019 had taken the lead in a flawless short program to the ballet music of “Esmeralda“ by Cesare Pugni with a huge triple twist, followed by a stellar triple throw Lutz (which had two GOEs of +5). In their triple Salchow, Mishina struggled a bit, but the four other elements were very good again and their components around 9.4. Mishina said, “We made some technical mistakes which we could have avoided. They're not even about technic but nervousness. Probably we haven't recovered after Kazan yet (the 4th stage of the internal Cup of Russia some days before). We're going to fix it tomorrow.“
Skating to the “Bohemian Rhapsody“ by Queen, they performed ten very good elements in the free program, in which GOEs of +3 dominated. Their only mistake came when Mishina singled the second Salchow in their sequence which was planned with two triple Salchows and an Euler. Their components were around 9.3. Mishina commented, “Even a bad experience is an experience, Maybe we wanted to skate clean too much – not for the result, but for ourselves and to be pleased with ourselves. We were confident in our abilities and were in a good shape, but something did not go right.”
Apollinariia Panfilova (17) & Dmitry Rylov (19) of Perm, Junior World Champions 2020, won a well-merited bronze medal with 210.07 points in their first international senior event. Their triple twist was extremely high and outstandingly landed. In both programs six of the seven judges awarded GOEs of +5. The triple throw flip in the short and the lift (three GOEs of +5) were excellent as well. But they are not very strong jumpers and therefore performed only a good double Axel, which is allowed but reduces the image of the pair. Their short program music mainly were the soundtracks from “Joker“ and from “Birds of Prey“ and the components around 8.5.
Panfilova said, ”We felt a bit nervous since it was our first competition of the season, and not just any competition but the Grand Prix. It’s like a mini version of Russian Nationals. For being the first one in this season, it went well, we’re happy with our performance. We missed a big part of the season, speaking of practices and competitions. Nikolai Morozov suggested this music from the movie “Joker”, and we collaborated the part for the step sequence. We've been practicing side-by-side triples these days, and tomorrow you'll see this element in our free skating. We can't guarantee it will be clean but at least we'll try.“
But in their free program to the soundtrack of “Third Person“, Panfilova fell on the triple Salchow which Rylov doubled. Lifts and throws were excellent, but the side by side elements only soso. This time Panfilova commented, “We are pleased with third place here and with the fact that we were able to pull ourselves together after the failed jump.”
Iasmina Kadyrova (15) & Ivan Balchenko (21), also from Perm, finished in fourth position with 204.67 points in their very first international event. Coaches Pavel Sliusarenko and Valentina Tiukova have created a real new pair skating school in the last couple of years in this city about 800 miles northeast of Moscow. Kadyrova & Balchenko had four very good elements in their short program to the music “Ninja“ by Maxime Rodriguez and a side by side triple flip which is very rare in pair skating and was not skated in perfect harmony. In their free program to “Angels and Devils“ by Maxime Rodriguez, most elements were at least good, including a better side by side triple flip than in the short program. but Kadyrova stepped out on the triple throw flip and landed the triple throw loop on two feet. Their components in the free program were around 8.1.
The third pair from Perm are Iuliia Artemeva (15) & Mikhail Nazarychev (19) on fifth place, winning 200.77 points. They had been third at Junior Worlds 2020 and debuted among the seniors. In their short program to “Senza Parole“ (Without Words) by the international male singer group of “Il Divo“ (Italian for The Star), their triple throw loop and the lift were impressive, the step sequence and the forward inward death spiral very good, the side by side triple toe loop and the triple twist clean. Their components had an average of 8.1 and they had 70.11 points although they were only fifth in the short. Most elements in the free program to “Bohemian Rhapsody“ by Queen were very good, especially the lifts. The backward outside death spiral was a bit shaky and their only real mistake was Nazarychev’s fall on the side by side triple Salchow which was the last part of a sequence with double Axel and Euler.
Kseniia Akhanteva (18) & Valerii Kolesov (19) from the St. Petersburg school of the Velikov family (Liudmila, her husband Nikolai and their grandson Vasili) were second at Junior Worlds 2020. They came sixth with 176.63 points. Their triple twist and their lift in the short program to “Mirko“ from the Cirque du Soleil were very good, but the other elements a bit imperfect, the side by side spin a bit shaky. In their tough free program to “Shine On, You Crazy Diamond“ by Pink Floyd the triple twist and two lifts were very good, the triple throw flip good. But Akhanteva fell on opening steps, on the side by side triple toe loop and on the triple throw loop. He he stepped out of the triple Salchow and she on the double Salchow at the end of this sequence.
Youlia Chtchetinina (25) & Mark Magyar (30), who skate for Hungary, ended up seventh and last with 163.77 points. Chtchetinina is Russian, competed for Switzerland with two different partners for several years until the fall of 2018 and received Hungarian citizenships lately. Magyar was born in Budapest but has lived in the USA for many years and had two Hungarian pair skating partners before. Their general standard is lower than the one of the Russian pairs, but they hope to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2022. In the short program to the soundtrack of “Medici: Masters of Florence“, six elements were relatively clean, but Magyar stepped out of the triple toe loop. In the free, GOEs of 0 and +1 dominated, but Chtchetinina fell on the triple toe loop. Alina Pepeleva and Roman Pleshkov from Moscow withdrew in the last minute because Pepeleva had a cold (no Covid 19), therefore there were only seven pairs to compete.