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Grand Prix Final Senior Pairs Short Program

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany


(10 December 2022) The first senior event of the Grand Prix Final 2022 in the Olympic rink (Palavela) in Torino, Italy, was the short program of the six pairs.

 Riku Miura & Ryuichi Kihara from Japan, seventh at the Olympic Games 2022 and second at the World Championships this year in Montpellier, France, took the lead with 78.08 points. Their music was “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Elvis Presley in a version of Hammerstein & Rodgers and “Sweet Hope Walk” by Karl Hugo.

All their seven elements were excellent, GOEs of +3 and +4 dominated. The triple toe loop was very well synchronized, the Axel Lasso lift (Level 4) with variations in the air, the triple throw Lutz elegantly landed and the step sequence (also level 4) had difficult variations. Their components were around 8.8.

Miura said, “I was very nervous before we started, but I feel very good that we were able to finish with no mistakes.” Kihara added, “What we really love about skating is just being able to skate, we always are able to have a great time together which means we can enjoy the skating and having that enjoyment makes it wonderful being able to skate. We went through some tough times together and we were able to share these feeling and we can now enjoy every competition and it’s wonderful. I had injuries and was lacking confidence in the skating skills for seven to eight years. I really couldn’t see the future and I thought I was not going to make it in figure skating so that for me was the most difficult time.”

Reigning World champions Alexa Knierim & Brandon Frazier of Irvine, California, came second with 77.65 points, skating to the music “Separate Ways” from Worlds Apart by U.S. composer Journey & Steve Perry. Several elements were a bit more spectacular than those of the Japanese team, for example the triple throw flip, but Frazier touched down on the triple toe loop, which cost them at least 1.5 points. Four elements had a level 4 (the Japanese team had only two with a level 4), but the Americans’ components were a little bit lower, around 7.7.

Knierim explained, “We both skated from our hearts and we skated with passion and we are very proud and happy with how we skated today. We made a big improvement from the Grand Prix and we are relieved with the outcome. We’ve been working very hard. Today we took the ice and we took ownership of what we do and we’re very proud of how we skated today. We can improve definitely, but for now we’re very pleased.” Frazier added, “We just went home from our Grand Prix and took a lot of notes, and just basically did everything we could to make the improvements we needed to make.”

Deanna Stellato-Dudek (39 years old) & Maxime Deschamps of Montreal are currently third with 69.34 points. Their performance to the Tango “Oblivion” was almost flawless as well. His triple toe loop was a bit shaky, but otherwise everything was good with GOEs of mainly +1 and +2, the triple throw loop included. Their components were around 7.8 because they had less tricky steps between the elements than the winners. 

Stellato-Dudek said, “We are very excited to be here on our first Grand Prix Final. Actually my relatives live here in Italy - both of my parents come from here. So it was always a goal to come here and we are very excited to be here. I fell ill a couple of weeks ago, lost weight and muscles, we worked hard to come here and we are pleased with the fight we put in tonight. I had to come back and get all my jumps back, learn a new discipline, and skate with someone else and not just in a competition, but every day. But I love skating. it just really takes the desire and passion.” Deschamps added, ”It was a fight, Deanna has been sick lately so we couldn’t train our best but we went out there and we had fun and that is the main goal.”

Sara Conti & Niccolo Macii from Italy placed fourth with 67.30 points, skating to the Tango “Oblivion”. Six of their elements were good and had mainly GOEs of +1 and +2, but their triple Salchow was a bit out of sync, though both landed it correctly on one foot. Their components were around 7.4.  Conti explained, “It’s very emotional, we didn’t expect anything of this, but we tried to seize every opportunity. After 68 points in Sheffield, of course we always expect to improve the score, little by little, but we’re aware that we have lost some levels, in the twist, we think in the step, but for sure it’s not a bad score. I like a lot to skate in front of a home crowd. Hearing the crowd cheering, knowing they’re here especially for us Italians, it’s amazing.” Macii added, “We went from a season best of 59 last year to a 68 this year, and to increase by nine points in the short program in just one year is remarkable.”

The other Italian pair of Rebecca Ghilardi & Filippo Ambrosini finished on fifth place with 63.54 points. Ambrosini did not catch Ghilardi correctly on the triple twist and they had only a clean double Axel as side by side jump. The triple throw Lutz, however, was good, the lift even very good. Their components were around 7.5.

Ghilardi stated, “We weren’t familiar anymore in Italy with the presence of the audience, but today we had good feedback from them. We had the last competition two weeks ago for the Finland Grand Prix, where we qualified for the Final. Sometimes we just have to hurry, as we always say we haven’t finished yet to assimilate a competition and we already have another one to take part in.” Ambrosini added, “We were able to perform and have fun with ourselves and with the public. We made some little mistakes but despite that, we are satisfied because we enjoyed our program.”

The second U.S. team of Emily Chan & Spencer Howe trains in Norwood near Boston. Their twist and triple throw loop were very good, but Chan doubled and stepped out of the toe loop, which he tripled in good quality. Later he aborted the lift. Their components had an average of around 7.3. Howe commented, “I thought we had a pretty strong start, it's unfortunate about the lift going down because obviously that's is one of the more expensive elements in these programs. But it was just a little bit of timing issues and it's just about going back home and just training more and getting those lifts more and more confident. That Flamenco type number is a number that I really like to soak in, so regardless of the element like it's great to be here, and it was a fun skate. I have been slowly getting better and better from my injury, I suffered a shoulder injury in July, and so we've been from the start of the season until now we’ve been able to do a little bit more or less a little bit more lifts.”