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2022 Skate Canada Pairs

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany



Short Program Pairs

The pairs short program at Skate Canada 2022 had a mixed level, better than at Skate America, but still not good. Riku Miura & Ryuichi Kihara from Japan took the lead with 73.39 points. They train in Oakville, Ontario, one hour southwest of Toronto, with Bruno Marcotte. Miura stepped out of the triple throw Lutz, but the other elements were at least good. The step sequence with Level 4 and the lift were excellent. They skated to Elvis Presley’s song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” The components had an average of 8.6. In the off-season they had some injury problems, but they are gone.

Miura explained, “It was our first time performing the new short program and our goal was to have fun. For tomorrow it is the same – we’re going to compete the program for the first time and we are not going to think about skating clean or mistakes, we just want to have fun.” Kihara added, “Last season we experienced the Olympic Games and Worlds and had great results. This gave us confidence before this season started and we felt we were there. In July with the [Miura’s shoulder] injury our confidence was gone, we hit rock bottom. We consider ourselves on the chasing side and forgot about the highs from last year. This is where we are now.”

Emily Chan & Spencer Howe of Norwood, site of Skate America, sit second with 67.39 points. They competed to the flamenco  “Nyah” by CH2. The triple twist of the students of Alexei Letov was good, but Chan landed the triple throw loop on two feet and her triple toe loop was not perfect. Their step sequence was very good and the components were around 7.6. Howe said, “We had some goals coming into this competition and one goal was to do what we were doing training-wise, to be able to come out and control the nerves. This was a first step for us. It is still early in the season, we want to keep the steam rolling after the short program and go relaxed into the free skating. It is a little more challenging, but we are up for it. Overall it’s awesome we could come to an event like this and score a personal best. It really shows that our hard work pays off. It was nice to feel the atmosphere at Skate America week as spectators. It was a bit challenging that we didn’t have as much ice time as usually.”

Sara Conti & Niccolo Macii from Italy are third with 66.66 points. Their twist was a bit wobbly, but all other elements were at least good, including the triple Salchow. The triple throw loop was even excellent. They skated to the Tango “Oblivion”, their coach is Barbara Luoni in Bergamo and their components had an average of 7.6. “We are happy about being invited to the senior Grand Prix for the first time,” Macii said. “We are happy with how we performed today. It’s our first Senior Grand Prix. We plan a partnership at least until the Olympic Games in Milan in 2026. This is our main goal.

Brooke McIntosh & Benjamin Mimar from Canada had come with Russian pair coach Dmitri Savin who is still allowed to travel worldwide. They are on fourth place with 60.82 points. Six of their elements were good, the triple throw loop even very good, but Mimar stepped out of the triple toe loop and touched his hand down. Mimar commented, “It wasn’t perfect but it was really fun skating here in front of our friends and family. We want to qualify for World Championships and are really excited for our very first trip to Japan.”

U.S. skaters Valentina Plazas & Maximiliano Fernandez are on fifth position with 55.70 points. They had competed at Skate America the week before. They came to Canada as alternates for their countrypeople Katie McBeath & Nathan Bartholomay who had withdrawn and indirectly said that they are not ready yet. The triple twist of Plazas & Fernandez was good, but Plazas fell on the triple twist and Fernandez doubled this jump. Four other elements were o.k., the spin, however, a bit wobbly. The Czech pair of Jelizaveta Zukova & Martin Bidar placed sixth with 52.84 points. Zukova doubled the toe loop which he tripled and she landed the triple throw Lutz on two feet.

Alisa Efimova & Ruben Blommaert from Germany gave a very good performance in their first international competition together, which was the Nebelhorn Trophy in September, and won silver there. They had been invited to Skate Canada because Canada did not have a third good senior pair. The Germans had high ambitions, but Efimova fell hard and against the barrier on the triple throw loop. Their death spiral which followed did not get any points. She went down again on the triple toe loop. Therefore they had only 51.49 points and are seventh. Kelly Ann Laurin & Loucas Ethier from Canada had won a bronze medal at Skate America the week before. But in Mississauga they made three mistakes in the short and ended up eighth with 50.84 points.

Pairs Free Skate

The big favorites Riku Miura & Ryuichi Kihara easily won the Skate Canada pair competition with 212.02 points. It is the first time a Japanese pair won a Grand Prix. It was even a run-away victory because the seventh of the Olympic Games were the only top pair. Russian pairs are banned and three good U.S. pairs and the three best Canadian pairs had finished their career. Miura & Kihara competed their free program to the music “Atlas, Two” by the U.S. musical project “Sleeping at Last”. Ten of their 11 elements were excellent and mainly had GOEs of +3, the triple throw Lutz was even outstanding and had two GOEs of +5. Their only mistake came when she touched down her hand on the triple toe loop and added two single toe loops whereas he added two double toe loops as planned. Their three components were around 8.8.

Kihara commented, “Us winning the gold medal today was a big step for Japanese pairs. I’m sure there are many skaters in Japan that are much more talented than I am. I think we showed to them that if they are able to challenge themselves, they can achieve what we achieved. I think that many people will follow in our footsteps.” Miura added, “In the short and free program we had a lot of levels that we didn’t achieve, lots of points left on the table. That will be a big takeaway for us for the next event.”

Emily Chan & Spencer Howe of Norwood, Massachusetts, won the silver medal earning 186.48 points. Skating to two versions of “Unchained Melody”, they opened their program with a good combination of double Salchow, double Axel and another double Axel. Then Chan fell on the triple toe loop and stepped out of the triple throw loop. They doubled their throw Salchow, the three lifts were good, the spin very good, but Chan stumbled on the death spiral. Their components had an average of 7.7. Howe explained, “We feel super happy with our first medal and that we managed to control our nerves. We want to especially improve on the throws. We had some setbacks with injuries this summer so we are happy to be where we are right now and just want to keep progressing and we will see where that leads us. We had a couple of bobbles and we want to get back home and continue to work. For us our biggest takeaway is that this was another competition to get our feet out on the ice and we want to carry that steam on to NHK Trophy.”

Sara Conti & Niccolo Macii from Italy took the bronze medal with 186.18 points with the second best free program, competing to the soundtrack of “Cinema Paradiso”. In their combination of triple Salchow, Euler and double Salchow he had tripled the second Salchow. Their triple toe loop was good. The landing of the triple twist was a bit shaky and she fell on the triple throw loop. The triple throw Salchow was excellent, the three lifts good and their components were around 7.8. Macii said, “It was a difficult program for us. It was our first Grand Prix and after yesterday we were third. We didn’t expect that and to keep it up was difficult. We were shaky. The medal is really unexpected we thought we could fight for the medal, but you never know what happens on the ice. It seems like a dream and we’ll try to enjoy this moment.”

Brooke McIntosh & Benjamin Mimar from Canada finished on fourth place with 175.49 points. After a good triple twist they continued with a soso combination of triple toe loop and double toop. He doubled the Salchow which she tripled. The lifts and the triple throw flip were good, but she went down on the triple throw loop. Their components were around 7.3. Valentina Plazas & Maximiliano of Canton, Michigan placed fifth with 164.14 points. Skating to two soundtracks of Alan Silvestri, the students of Jim Peterson had big problems with the individual jumps and their two triple throws, but their three lifts were good and their components around 6.8.

Jelizaveta Zukova & Martin Bidar from the Czech Republic are sixth with 153.50 points. Zukova fell on the triple toe loop and on the triple throw Lutz and doubled the thriple throw loop, but the other elements were rather clean. Kelly Ann Laurin & Loucas Ethier from Canada are seventh, earning 152.09 points. Laurin missed the triple loop and the triple throw loop, but the other elements were quite clean. The German pair of Alisa Efimova & Ruben Blommaert withdrew before the free program citing injury. In the morning they had still trained in spite of a bad fall of her in the short program on the throw. But later it turned out that her injury was worse than originally thought.