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Grand Prix Final Senior Pairs

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany


(11 December 2019)  Three Russian and two Chinese pairs plus one Canadian team qualified for the Grand Prix Final 2019 in Torino. The 2019 World silver medalists Tarasova & Morozov, however, were only alternates. The general level was relatively low because all teams made several mistakes.

The reigning World Champions Wenjing Sui & Cong Han from China won the Grand Prix Final with 211.69 points, It was their first victory because they had been injured during the Grand Prix in several years. In Torino, they opened their short program to „Blues Deluxe“ by Joe Bonamassa, which Lori Nichol had choreographed, with a very good side by side triple toe loop. Next came a triple throw flip, but Sui touched down her hand. The triple twist was sovereign, though not very high, the step sequence outstanding. They had problems with the spin and the Reverse Lasso Lift had only a level 2. They skated in a sultry and sexy style which is unusual for Asian skaters, but reflects this music and Sui’s extroverted character. Their components had an average of 9.2. Sui commented: “Today we aren’t really satisfied with the performance, we made mistakes and the skating was tight. We always miss the Grand Prix because of injury. We hope all people can enjoy our work and it's our goal.“

The music of their free program was “Rain, In Your Black Eyes“ by Ezio Bosso. After an excellent triple twist, their jump combination did not work as planned because after both performed a side by side triple toe loop, Han’s double toe loop was downgraded and therefore his third toe loop did not count. The triple throws (Salchow and flip) were outstanding, the lifts very good, but Han doubled and overturned the Salchow which was planned triple. They had only the second best free program and their components were around 8.9. Sui said: “This year we had three competitions very close, that really hurt us. Maybe next year we will choose Grand Prix much earlier, maybe Skate America or Russia, so we can rest earlier.“

Han said: “It’s the third competition for us. After NHK I was really tired. We had only four days to practice, then we needed to come here for practice and competition. On these days we spent a lot of energy and we feel that today, I can’t focus too much. My injury becomes better but my body needs to refamiliarize itself. We will make a new plan for next season, these competitions were too close. We wanted to keep last year‘s program because we only used it two times, we don’t want to lose this famous program. We really love it and want to really show the audience our emotion of how we love it. Lori (Nichol) is a really perfect choreographer for us and really a best friend to us, we really enjoy working with her.“

Their teammates Cheng Peng & Yang Jin took the silver medal, gaining 204.27 points. The two Chinese pairs had come five days earlier to overcome the time lag and to train in the mountains near Torino. But Peng & Jin could not train for five days because Jin’s suitcase with the skates got lost on the flight and arrived only in the morning of the first official practice. He had bought new skates but did not use them. Therefore they were not in very good shape. In the short program to “Alegria“ from the Cirque du Soleil, Jin’s triple toe loop was a bit shaky. The triple twist was very good, but Peng landed the triple throw loop on two feet. The other four elements were convincing and their components around 8.3.

Peng explained: “We are not satisfied with our performance today. The skating was tight and we weren’t really clean in lots of elements, which results in us losing some points in the technical part. Jin’s luggage was lost and they just found it yesterday, so we weren’t able to practice. So I think it indeed impacted our training.“ Jin added: “I lost my luggage, I think it travelled round the world without me, leaving me alone. As for Peng’s (ankle) injury, it’s quite stubborn and not becoming better. But as long as we’re still training, it cannot be cured entirely.“

Their free program to the soundtrack of “Cloud Atlas“ was better because they could train at least one more day. After a side by side double Salchow of both skaters, the combination of triple toe loop and double toe loop was good, the triple twist as well. The throws and lifts were excellent and their components had an average of 8.5. Jin explained: “Today I’m really happy we won a silver medal. For the short program we didn’t do that well but we were able to adjust ourselves mentally and were able to skate a clean free skate smoothly today. On short program day my feet weren’t used to the ice, but I adjusted well today.“ Peng added: “We decided to do the double Salchow partly because we want to skate a clean program and also that we weren’t able to practice for many days. Peng’s foot also has injury, so she’s been mostly doing protective recovery.“

The 2019 Junior World Champions Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov from the school of the Velikovs in St. Petersburg won the bronze medal with 203.13 points. Skating to “Je suis malade“ (I am lovesick) by Lara Fabian, they opened their short program with a very good triple twist, an excellent triple throw flip and an impressive side by side triple Salchow. The spin was a bit short, but the other elements good and they had components of around 7.9, looking a bit junior-like. Galliamov said: “In general the performance was quite good. We feel absolutely comfortable in seniors, it’s not the first or second competition for us this season. Here are a lot of skaters of our age, I even met some of them when I was skating in singles.“ Mishina added: “We were not nervous and were skating quite easily. We made a mistake in the spin but haven’t figured out yet what happened. It is very cosy atmosphere here.“

In their free program to the music of “The Master and Margarita“, which every Russian school child knows, the twist and throw flip were excellent again, but Mishina’s second triple Salchow in their jump sequence was downgraded. All other elements were at least good. Mishina mentioned: “Today we skated not bad but it was not perfect. There is not really a big difference between seniors and juniors. After our program I didn’t watch the rest of the competition because I was not really happy about my jumps and also I had doping control.“ Galliamov added: “It was harder this year than last in juniors because the level is different and we needed to add things, not only technically, but also choreographically.“

Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitrii Kozkovskii, who are coached by Artur Minchuk and sometimes by Tamara Moskvina and were excellent at their two Grand Prix, finished only fourth with 201.84 points. Their short program to an instrumental version of Frank Sinitra‘s “My Way“ by André Rieu had a high level with seven very good elements, a convincing interpretation and components of around 8.5. Boikova commented: “Today we were both a little bit nervous and I think we can show more emotion, and more confidence in our skating.“ Kozlovskii added: “This is a great arena, an Olympic arena. In this arena Russian skaters won three gold medals and so this means a lot to us.“ In their free program, they dropped from second to fourth place after making mistakes on the toe loop combination, the triple throw loop and the second lift. Some other elements were not as clean as usual either.

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro from Canada came fifth with 197.99 points. In their short program, Moore-Towers fell on the triple throw loop and Marinaro stepped out of the triple toe loop. The other elements were clean. Moore-Towers said: “We made a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes, making it really hard for us to come back. We tried to keep performing in the program but it’s difficult when we don’t practise like this. We’ve been trying this season to work more on our artistry and our components and we feel that’s actually made our technical aspect a lot better and it’s improved our scores.“ Ten elements of their free program were good, but during the triple throw Salchow, Marinaro fell flat on his belly after throwing Moore-Towers away. He explained the fall: “I put my hand on her back and it went right through her zipper which has totally broken and then I went down.“

Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin from Russia performed a faultless short program and were third. In the free program, Pavliuchenko was very nervous and went down before the first element. The side by side triple flip and a combination of triple-double-double toe loops worked, but later they made more mistakes. Therefore they ended up on sixth place with overall 194.75 points.