by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(10 December 2018) The Senior Pairs Short Program at the 2018 Grand Prix Final in Vancouver did not have a very good level. Four of the six pairs, including the two favorites, made serious mistakes on required elements.
An exception were the Chinese Cheng Peng & Yang Jin who skated a clean short program to "Ophelia“ by the American folk rock band The Lumineers and therefore took a surprising, but well-merited lead with 75.69 points. Their side by side triple toe loop was excellent, the triple twist as well. The triple throw loop was outstanding and the four other elements, all with level 4, very impressive. Their components were around 8.3. Jin commented,“ The first time we went to the Final, we didn’t do very well since we made some mistakes. This time, we made sure that we could do our best. This year there were many problems in China. Some of our teammates had problems. We just made sure that we were more focused in training to do our best.”
Russia’s number 2, Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert sit second with 75.18 points. The triple twist and the triple toe loop were very good. The triple throw loop was very high and outstandingly safely landed, therefore they had four GOEs of +5. The three next elements were very good, but the required side by side spin was a bit out of sync. They skated to the dramatic music “Alexander Nevski” by Sergei Prokofiev and had components around 8.9.
“We are truly satisfied, and we did our best today”, Enbert said. “I think it worked out well, it was emotional and with that focus which this program requires. It is great that we are here, and we are competing for the top spots. In general, we are satisfied. Two years ago we came as substitutes. It is an amazing feeling, half of the season is done, the programs are ready, elements are ready, and you feel like you can fight with all your power. This is the type of competition where I think you have to show your best.” Zabiiako added, “There is some type of battle in the program, and we fight from the beginning till the end. First, we prepare for the battle and it builds up, and then climaxes at the end.”
Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov from the school of Nina Mozer, fourth at the World Championships 2018 in Milan, are currently third, earning 74.04 points. Skating to “I Got You” by James Brown, they opened their program with a huge and elegantly landed triple twist which got seven GOEs of +5 and two of +4. But then Tarasova fell on the under-rotated side by side triple toe loop. The triple throw loop was excellent, the four other elements as well. They skated with more emotions than in previous years, but still a bit too introverted. Their components were around 8.9.
Morozov said, “Tonight’s skate was not the best. We made one major mistake in the jump, but after this mistake, we stayed in focus and kept the program going with the rest of the elements. “We got levels 4 and therefore we were able to stay in the top three. ”Tarasova added, “It was a big mistake and I am not satisfied. You need to skate clean in the short program. The mistake wasn’t event something technical and the training has been going very well. But what happened, happened. It just didn’t work out.”
World Bronze medalists Vanessa James & Morgan Ciprčs from France, favorites in this competition, finished their short program to “Uninvited” by Alanis Morisette only on fourth position with 71.51 points. Their triple twist at the beginning had a level 3 and was good, but then James landed the side by side triple toe loop deeply, shakily and under-rotated the jump. The spin, lift and death spiral were very good, but James touched down her hand on the triple throw flip. The step sequence was excellent again and their components around 8.7.
Cipres said, “The same mistakes have been happening in the short program before, I don’t understand (why this is happening), so we have to react.” James added, “The short program was not skated as well as we would have liked to. Every time it’s a little tight, we have to rework a few things - it’s been the same kind of barriers every time. We are not very pleased. We are just going to fight in the long program, as we always do. We just have to stay focused.”
Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise from Italy sit fifth with 69.77 points. During the six minutes warm-up Guarise had badly thrown Della Monica on a triple throw loop and she fell hard on her coccyx and had some pain. You could see that she shouted some bad words to him although he apologized right away. Their music “Never Tear us Apart” by Joe Cocker seemed a bit ironical and their mood was not good when they came back on the ice. No surprise that she stepped out of the triple throw loop in the competition because she did not want to fall again. The side by side triple Salchow was very good, the twist a bit shaky, but the other elements very good, the spin even outstanding and their components around 8.3.
Guarise explained, “Being in the Final has just opened a big door for our country and our discipline. Historically, Italy has been strong with ladies, ice dance and now we have pairs, too. That is a great achievement, I think.” Della Monica added, “We think it’s amazing. It was our goal this season to be qualified for the Final and we needed it. We are just trying to enjoy this competition now. It is very high level so it is already a result for us to be here. Today it was not so easy to skate.”
Daria Pavliuchenko & Denis Khodykin from Russia, the reigning World Junior Champions, ended up on sixth place with 61.24 points. Their triple twist had a level 4 and was excellent, but then Pavliuchenko stepped out of the triple toe loop and fell on the triple throw flip. The remaining four elements were good. Pavliuchenko mentioned, “I lost control on the throw for a little bit. I was not happy with my performance today, it was not a good skate.”