by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(11 December 2019) Three couples from Russia, one from Georgia who are also Russians, one from France and one from the USA qualified for the junior dance Final in Torino.
For the first time in history, skaters who are officially from Georgia qualified for a Final, and they even won the junior ice dance event with 174.90 points. Maria Kazakova (18) is Russian and Georgy Reviya (20) was also born near Moscow, but his father immigrated from Georgia to Russia before Georgy’s birth. Russia released Kazakova about three years ago, which the country will regret now because she and her partner beat all three Russian couples. They were sixth at last year’s Junior Final, fifth at last season’s Junior Worlds and second and first at their Junior Grand Prix in this season.
Kazakova & Reviya started their Rhythm Dance with a good twizzle sequence (which was rated too high) and a very good midline step sequence (level 3). Both Tea Time Foxtrot sequences had a level 3. The students of Denis Samokhin used the Quickstep “Take Good Care of My Baby“ from “Beautiful the Carole King“ by Jake Epstein and the Foxtrot „Dream a Little Dream of Me“. This part was different from their Junior Grand Prix because they will use parts of this new Rhythm Dance also for senior competitions. Their components were around 7.7.
Reviya commented: “It wasn’t easy today. We are very happy with our marks but not so happy with the skate. We had a few small issues with the twizzles which didn’t go quite as we needed them to, and on a few transitions we lost speed, but we got back into the program quite quickly. It’s hard, so hard to skate both in juniors and in seniors. We haven’t got a life off the ice. It is only ice, only training, it’s my life, it’s our life. But it is a nice life, I think it is better than sitting at home watching TV.“
For their free dance, they skated to “In the End“ by Tommee Profitt. The performance was powerful, sometimes spectacular and wild with a lot of expression. They had a short and parallel handstand with one hand on the ice, which would have been illegal until two years ago. They had a level 4 on the twizzles, the spin and both parts of the combination lift, a level 3 on the diagonal steps and a level 2 on the One Foot Step Sequence. They had mainly GOEs of +3 and for the two choreo elements (without level) mainly +4.
Reviya commented: “We came out knowing that there was nothing to lose, that we worked not to be afraid of something. We take everything from our coaches and we just like crazy unusual elements. It’s like Cirque du Soleil. The next competition is European Championship which will be tough because it’s seniors and after we’ll come back to create new elements.“ Kazakova added: “It’s unbelievable to feel this support from the audience, the arena is so big and it’s really motivated us to show our best.“
In a very close decision, the favorites and 2019 Junior World Champions Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik of Novi, Michigan, had .16 less points than the winners and took the silver medal with 174.74 points. In the Rhythm Dance to a Swing and a Foxtrot from the soundtrack of “Aladdin“, the students of Igor Shpilband had lower levels than the Georgians, but faster twizzles and higher components of around 8.0. Nguyen said: “It felt pretty good out there on the ice. The audience and the crowd really supported us. We hope the judges like what they see and we hope the people who see us feel something from our skating. We prefer the new Aladdin to the old one because it has energy. We draw on the vibrancy and energy of the Broadway show in our program.“
In their smooth and elegant free dance to the classical Piano Concerto No. 2 by Sergei Rakhmaninov, they had an excellent flow. The lifts were outstanding, all three even had some GOES of +5, but the step sequnces had only a level 2 and some observers missed more spectacular elements. Nguyen said: “We’re a little disappointed right now but we’ll continue to keep on working. All our competitors were really strong.“ Kolesnik added: “We did the best we can do. After I saw the crowd after the Georgians skated I had goose-bumps. It wasn’t nerves it was excitement. I wanted to do better than they did.“
Elizaveta Shanaeva & Devid Naryzhnyy from the Moscow school of Alexander Svinin won bronze with 164.22 points. In their first Tea Time Foxtrott sequence it looked as if they had a wobbly moment, but the rest of the Rhythm Dance to “Bonnie and Clyde“ was good. In their free dance to “River“ by Bishop Briggs, they had four levels 4 and two levels 2 and a spectacular element when they rolled on their back over the ice for a second. “We didn’t feel the Olympic atmosphere of the arena right away“, Shanaeva said, “but then you see the rings and our coach told us all about it and you start to feel it has its own atmosphere. It was really fun to skate for such a big audience.“
Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Andrey Filatov from Russia finished on fourth position, earning 163.04 points. All five elements in the Rhythm Dance to music from “La La Land“ were convincing and the components around 7.5. Their free dance to “Sign of the Times“ was faultless as well. Filatov explained: “It was a great experience to compete here, because just before this event I was so nervous to perform in front of such a big audience. But in fact, the audience support was amazing and motivated us a lot.“
Loicia Demougeot & Theo Le Mercier from France came fifth with 156.26 points. Their Foxtrot and Swing in the Rhythm Dance was fresh, and their Carmen free dance was characteristic with GOEs of mainly +2. Diana Davis (the daughter of Moscow single skating head coach Eteri Tutberidze) and Gleb Smolkin from Russia ended up sixth with 152.21 points. The students of Igor Shpilband skated well in the Rhythm Dance to “Aristocats“ with mainly GOEs of +1, but said they did not understand some low levels. In their free dance, GOEs of +2 dominated. Smolkin said: “We got used to America where we train for about one year. We are realizing our goals and this makes it easier.“