Grand Prix Final

Pairs Event

By Sandra Stevenson

Place Team Country SP FS
1 Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao CHN 1 1
2 Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin RUS 2 2
3 Maria Petrova & Alexei Tikhonov RUS 3 4
4 Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto CAN 4 3
5 Qing Pang & Jian Tong CHN 6 5
6 Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang CHN 5 6


Short Program

Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto
  2. Qing Pang & Jian Tong
  3. Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang
  4. Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin
  5. Maria Petrova & Alexei Tikhonov
  6. Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao


Short Program Placements


Team Country
1 Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao CHN
2 Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin RUS
3 Maria Petrova & Alexei Tikhonov RUS
4 Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto CAN
5 Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang CHN
6 Qing Pang & Jian Tong CHN

Anabelle Langlois and Patrice Archetto of Canada skated first because they had the lowest point total (14) which they gained by placing fourth in Skate Canada and second in the NHK Trophy.

Performing to their Vanessa Mae "Leyenda" music, dressed in black and red, the 22 year old Langlois and her 31 year old partner, opened with a great throw triple Salchow (3sth) receiving a Grade of Excellence of plus 0.70 (GoE) which was added to this element’s base value of 4.5.

They got the base value (bv) with zero GoE for four of their elements – the double twist (bv 3.5), the Flying Change Foot Combination Spin which was a Level 2 (bv 3.0), the back outside death spiral Level 1 (bv 3.5) and the pair combination spin Level 2 (bv 4.0).

Their straight line step sequence (slst Level 1) was good and they gained a GoE of +0.50 but they were given minus GoEs for the two remaining elements, the triple toe loops (bv 4.5 GoE -1.0) and the Group 4 Lift Level 2 (bv 3.5 GoE -0.12).

"It was pretty good," said Archetto. "I was slightly forward on my triple toe but except for that we were very happy with the performance. It was a good start to the competition – just one wobbly moment."

That gave them a Total Element Score of 28.58. The judges also give marks out of ten for five "components" (Skating Skills, Transitions, Performance/Execution, Choreography, Interpretation). Langlois & Archetto were awarded 26.28 for their Total Program Component Score which gave them a Total Segment score of 54.86 which would put them in fourth place.

Skating next were Quig Pang and Jian Tong of China, who had qualified with 18 points by placing second in both Cup of China and Cup of Russia. (They had also won Skate America but that was their "non-scoring" event.)

Attired in blue and white, the 23 year old Pang and her 24 year old partner performed to the dulcet tones of violin music, Illumination by Rolf Lovland.

They began badly. He fell on their first move, the triple toe loops. He explained, "We felt tired out there, and we were nervous. Maybe we felt nervous because it’s our first participation in the Grand Prix Final. We already had some problems with our jumps in practice, but today we also made other mistakes. I think the other mistakes happened after we made the first mistake. It was like a chain reaction."

Their score of 52.10 put them in last place.

Their compatriots, Dan Zhang,18, and Hao Zhang,19, also had problems. They had qualified with 19 points by winning Trophée Lalique and taking a bronze in Skate America.

Dressed in black and silver and interpreting the sophisticated Blues number All Alone by Joe Santriani, they begin with an interesting lift and great triple toe loops. However their change foot combination spin was labored and very, very slow at the end.

Then she fell badly on their incredibly high throw triple loop. He helped her get up and then nearly fell. They got back on track with a superbly high double twist. Their score, 53.06, put them in fifth place.

The top three had all qualified with 21 points – with a win in one event and a second in another. This tie was broken in a complicated fashion and it meant that the Russians, Tatiana Totmianova and Maxim Marinin, had to skate first after the second six minute warm-up.

"I think it was our best performance of the year. We did everything well tonight," said Totmianova, who is 22. Her 26 year old partner said, "We were moving a little slower but we competed in Skate America for three years in Colorado Springs and so we are experienced in the altitude. We are just lucky that we don’t have to skate two free programs as last year."

Skating in red and black, they used Rachmaninov’s music, Variations on a Theme of Paganini and scored 62.96 to take second place.

Next up were their fellow Russians, Maria Petrova, 26, and Alexei Tikhonov, 32, who wore sophisticated light and midnight blue outfits. The 32 year old Tikhonov said, "It was terrible because we missed two elements. I did a double toe (instead of triple on the side by side jumps) and Maria missed the triple throw loop." She landed with a very bent knee and was forced to step out of the landing.

Their score, 56.32, was third best.

The event concluded with Xue Shen, 25, and Hongbo Zhao, 30 who used the music, Kismet by G.Y. Westerhoff.

She said, "The center of gravity wasn’t completely balanced on the exit of the lift. It was too much backwards. The rest of the performance was ok." He said, "It was very hard to skate, because of the altitude. When we finished, I just thought I need oxygen."

They opened with a marvelously high throw triple loop followed by well synchronized triple toe loop side by side jumps. Their score of 66.00 put them in the lead, over three points ahead of their nearest rivals.

No level is given for the side by side jumps, the throw jump and the twist lift. However, for the other five elements the Technical Specialist – in this case David Kirby - "calls" the level. Only three Level 3 moves were called in this section and none were for the Chinese who placed first. The Level 3’s were all for their pair combination spin and were awarded to the two Russians, Totmianina and Marinin, and Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov, and also for Pang and Tong. Level 3 for this move has a base value of 4.5 as opposed to 4.0 for a Level 2. A Level 1 base value is only 3.5 which is what Shen and Zhao received. Obviously a pair of this standard needs to work on this spin in which they are throwing away 1.0 (plus a GoE if they did it well!)


Free Skating

Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Qing Pang & Jian Tong
  2. Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang
  3. Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto
  4. Maria Petrova & Alexei Tikhonov
  5. Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin
  6. Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao


Free Skating Placements
Place Team Country
1 Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao CHN
2 Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin RUS
3 Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto CAN
4 Maria Petrova & Alexei Tikhonov RUS
5 Qing Pang & Jian Tong CHN
6 Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang CHN


The pairs began both evenings. It was a shame the event didn’t start earlier than 7pm because all four divisions in one day meant a long evening even for the most dedicated spectator.

But the fans certainly got their money’s worth, seeing the top six pairs in the world.

Because they were in sixth place, Pang & Tong took the ice first. In their fifth world championship in Washington DC they finished fourth. In tonight’s four and a half minute routine to Rachmaninov’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini they showed the quality that gained them that international standing.

Just for this pair, I have provided a full CoP analysis.

The Technical Controller, Alexander Lakernik; Technical Specialist, Michael Kirby; and the Assistant Technical Specialist Bruno Marcotte determined the elements the pairs made. All moves have been given a set base value (bv) and some moves (steps and spins) are also awarded one of three levels.

The panel of ten judges decide the Grade of Execution (GoE) which ranges from minus 3.0 for a fall through to plus 3.0 for absolute superbness. Zero GoE means that the move was done okay - not badly but not noticeably superior. (There will be more judges in a world championship.)

In addition the judges mark on a scale of 0-10 with 0.25 increments five component marks.

The computer picked only seven of the ten judges marks and the top and bottom marks are thrown out. The average of the remaining marks, the "trimmed mean", becomes the GoE.

Pang&Tong began with a triple toe loop to double Axel sequence which earned them a +0.60 GoE in addition to the bv of 7.8. That was quickly followed by a triple twist (+1.12 on a bv of 4.5). Then came a throw triple Salchow (+1.26 on 4.5). A Group 6 lift and Level 1 change foot combination spin earned, respectively, +0.80 on 6.5 and nothing extra added or subtracted on the base value of 3.0.

They had a deduction of -2.8 on their back outside death spiral. Their spiral sequence Level 1 got just the bv of 2.0 and their single Axel received a 0.8 bv and +0.10 GoE. A hand was put down on the throw triple loop so -0.84 was taken off the 5.0 bv.

Their Group 3 lift received +0.20 GoE on the 4.0 bv. Their forward inside death spiral received +0.42 on bv 3.0. The circular step sequence Level 1 was given a deduction of -0.06 on a bv of 2.0. Their Group 6 lift also had a deduction of -0.18 on a 6.5 base value. Their final move, a pair combination spin Level 3 received just the bv of 4.5.

That meant their total element score was 59.06. Their component score was 51.04. The score for the long program was the sum of these two marks -110.10. Added to their short program score of 52.10, Pang &Tong received 162.20 which allowed them to move up to fifth place overtaking their teammates, Zhang/Zhang.

Through an interpreter, Tong said, "We skated better than yesterday. We felt good on the ice during our performance but it was very hard at the end. We weren’t as nervous as yesterday."

Zhang&Zhang, who finished sixth in the 2003 world championships, skated to gypsy violin music, Grofin Mariza by Kalman. She said, "This performance was quite ok but we had a little problem on the throw triple Salchow. (She stepped out of the landing and incurred a minus 1.12 on the base value of 4.5.) We didn’t feel so good out there. We were rather slow and felt tired. It was difficult to breathe – the air is so dry." They dropped to sixth, 1.16 behind their Chinese teammates.

Langlois & Archetto, who finished fifth in their second Worlds last March, are from Montreal but moved to Edmonton to train with Jan Ullmark. Many feel their style is similar to Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.

They certainly have determination. At their first Canadians together, after teaming up in 1998, Langlois fractured her skull in a fall on a throw jump but this has not deterred her.

Their routine to Lawrence of Arabia began with a great throw triple Salchow which got 1.12 GoE added to the bv of 4.5. Their double Axel, bv 3.3 got 0.40 GoE added, but their triple twist had 0.70 subtracted form the bv of 4.5.

Then came what was planned to be a triple toe combo. Langlois explained, "The program felt great. Everything felt better than usual. Unfortunately I kind of snoozed going into my triple toe and I guess it woke me up when I fell so that was a bit upsetting. I’ve only missed one toe so far this season and I was kind of angry about that so I just sold the rest of the program even more after that."

That meant 3.0 was subtracted from the bv of 4.5. There was also a slight deduction, 0.70 from the bv of 4.5 for their ninth move, the throw triple toe.

They earned a total element score of 54.32 and total program component score (factorized) of 56.72 which gave 114.04 for a third place in the free and an overall score of 165.90 which was not good enough to move them up from fourth.

Next up were the Russian 2000 world champions, Petrova & Tikhonov who won the bronze medals in Washington worlds. Unlike many of their countrymen, they have stayed in St. Petersburg and train with Ludmila Velikova. Petrova is the former partner of Olympic champion Anton Sikharulidze with whom she was twice world junior champion.

Their long is to the music The Circus Princess by Emmerich Kalman. They began with a very difficult double Axel to triple toe loop sequence (bv 7.8) which incurred a 0.40 deduction. They also had a deduction of 0.56 on their triple twist (bv 4.5).

There were deductions on four other moves including a -0.42 for their back outside death spiral. (How come skaters from decades ago used to be great at this move yet some top Russians including 1994 Olympic champion, Natalia Mishkuteniok, have such problems with it?)

Tikhonov said, "Yesterday we skated terrible and the hope was to skate better tonight. The start was very good with the combination and the throw triple loop. Unfortunately at the end Maria missed the second triple throw (Salchow which received a -2.0). But overall we skated well."

They were fourth in this section but remained third overall with 166.76 only 0.86 ahead of Langlois & Archetto.

Totmianina & Marinin, twice world runners-up, who are also from St. Petersburg but train in Chicago with 1984 Olympic champion Oleg Vasiliev, performed their Cotton Club routine. She explained, "We skated this program for the last time. We will perform a new free for Russian nationals. We skated good, but it was hard because of the altitude."

Both had no pairs experience when they teamed up in 1996. Marinin turned to pairs when he realized his singles career was going no place. He hit this turning point when Evgeni Plushenko, who was five years younger, beat him.

They began with side by side triple Salchows. They sped through two throw triples – loop and Salchow but he singled the double toe in their combination of triple and double toe loops.

They stayed second 10.54 points ahead Petrova & Tikhonov but 18.78 points behind the twice world champion, Shen & Zhao.

The Chinese duo gave a sensational performance on a par with the unforgettable showing they gave when retaining their title in Washington D.C.

It seems strange that when they were runners-up for the world title in 1999 and 2000 they gave no hint of the artistry they would develop. Zhao said through an interpreter that they have been aided in that direction by several imported experts including Lea Ann Miller.

They use beautiful if somewhat hackneyed Tchaikovsky music from the perennial ballet favorite, The Nutcracker.

None of their fourteen elements had a minus GoE although their 13th move, a Grade 2 Level 2 lift was not awarded any points.

They began with a double axel sequence to triple toe, with second side by side triple toes a short time later. There were throw triples – Salchow and loop and their sensational triple twist.

The audience was on their feet before the routine finished just as they had been last March when Shen performed sensationally despite an ankle injury. Zhao said, "So far these two events are the most emotional experience for me in my skating life."

She said, "This was the best performance of the season so far. We felt really emotional during the program, especially towards the end. But when we finished, I just thought, ‘It’s finally over.’ We felt very confident going into the free skating as our practices at home in Beijing have been going very well. It was much better than before Skate Canada (their first Grand Prix event).

All three Chinese pairs are trained by Bin Yao who was on the first team to represent China in a world championship (Dortmund in 1980). He skated with Bo Luan and they finished in 15th and last place.

2003 Grand Prix Final Pairs Medalists


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