by Marcia Burchstead
The Colisee Pepsi is located on the outskirts of the city adjacent to a harness racing track where one could wager and get better odds than those the skaters are receiving from the new judging system in effect at this competition.
The favorites on paper, Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin skated to Edvard Griegs "Morning Suite" and "In the Hall of the Mountain King" but failed to make the most of these contrasting pieces of music. Marinin fell on the triple toe loop and his free leg on the camel spin wobbled. An ugly squat entry by Totmianina marred the death spiral. Their usual lack of expression and pedestrian choreography made it a forgettable performance. The range of marks for required elements was 5.1-5.4 with overly generous presentation scores of 5.5-5.8. These were enough to secure them first place.
The last minute entry of Kathryn Orscher and Garrett Lucash, fifth at 2002 U.S. Nationals, while beating out their second and third ranked compatriots could only manage a sixth place result. The throw triple Salchow covered a good distance but a unison error in the side-by-side spins spoiled that element. The pair spin was slow and their stroking and ice coverage is not up to the senior international level. Hopefully, working with Russian coach and former world champion Vadim Naumov will address and improve these shortcomings. Lucash admitted to the deficiencies stating, "We need to skate more aggressively and add more speed." He was one of the few skaters to directly address the scoring changes in effect at this competition. "Im not crazy about it," he said, "Id like to see who gave me what." "We have to focus on our own skating, its all we can control," he added.
Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China appeared washed out clad in white outfits, which did little to contrast with their pale complexions and painfully thin physiques. During the throw Tong's feet came completely off the ice and one leg was raised so high into the air it was a wonder he didnt lose his balance and fall. This flaw detracted from her strong execution of the throw triple Salchow. He traveled on the side-by-side spin and they were out of sync. The star lift with release was not as intricate as they could have demonstrated and her entry into the death spiral was weak. These errors were reflected in the scores for required elements, which ranged from 4.0-4.9 with presentation scores only slightly higher of 4.5-5.3. Still these were good enough to place them second in this portion of the event.
Overall the showing by the U.S. entries was abysmal which doesnt bode well for the future of this discipline. Given the recent four-year suspension handed down to Kyoko Ina, the U.S. is in a rebuilding mode and so far none of the pairs appear willing or able to step up to fill the void.
Tiffany Scott and Philip Dulebohn, heirs apparent to the crown being vacated by Ina and John Zimmerman, are certainly capable of better than they demonstrated. Dulebohn fell out of the landing of the triple toe loop and put his hands to the ice. The lift done directly in front of the judges didnt get over his shoulders and looked on the verge of complete collapse. Scott landed the throw triple Salchow but with a break at the waist and barely kept from touching her hands to the ice. On a more positive note their side-by-side spins were in unison with good speed and positioning, and her death spiral had nice stretch. However their errors left them in next to last place.
Stephanie Kalesavich and Aaron Parchem failed to take advantage of their draw, with a fall on the throw triple Salchow. Kalesavich was tilting badly in the air and it was apparent she wouldnt be able to hold the landing. They each marred the triple Salchow jump with a fall by Kalesavich and a fall out by Parchem. It was not unexpected, as they had difficulty with this element during the warm-up. The side by side spins were too far apart to be effective and the pair spin was quite slow. They did manage to end with two strong elements; the spiral sequence and a unique adaptation of positioning in the death spiral. Afterwards coach Mitch Moyer said the death spiral variation was put in to, "add variety and difficulty to the program." Kalesavich admitted to a case of nerves saying, "I tried a little too much out there tonight." Parchem added, "We need to get over it (the performance) and move on." Moyer summed it up by saying, "Today is the last day of October and tomorrow is the first of November." Hopefully by mentally wiping the slate clean the duo can concentrate on their free skate.
Overall the Canadian entries skated at a much higher level. Valerie Marcoux and Craig Buntin have made an impressive debut onto the international scene. The new pairing already captured their first title at the Nebelhorn Trophy last month in Oberstdorf, Germany. The star lift with change of hands into another star position with flip out exit was very effective. The throw triple loop was landed but without any flow out. The spiral sequence could use more difficulty and a unison problem on the side by side spins caused them to lose speed but the program ended with a solid death spiral demonstrating a good entry and nicely arched position.
The program of Jacinthe Lariviere and Lenny Faustino was well presented with comedic touches and good expression. A fall by Lariviere on the triple toe loop jump and a synchronization glitch on the side by side spins kept their marks for required elements down but ended up in fourth place. Afterwards Faustino said, "The program went great except for the mistake, our speed was up and we were even ahead of our music."
Coming off a strong second place showing last week at Skate America, Anabelle Langlois and Patrice Archetto carried the momentum into Quebec City and demonstrated a solid skate that should have earned them higher placements from the judging panel. Their music selection of Duke Ellingtons, "Harlem Nocturne" suited them and was well presented. Langloiss ankle injury did not appear to hamper them although Archetto later admitted to worrying about it but added, "I have to focus on my performance." Off ice Langlois keeps the foot taped to prevent any further damage to the injury but leaves it untapped when skating.
Unlike the U.S. entries the Canadians appear ready and eager to fill the void left by the retirement from eligible competition of Canadian National and Olympic Champions, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. Tomorrow we shall see if the U.S. competitors can regroup and compete with the rest of the field.
Two competitions in the space of two weeks added up to two victories for the Russian entry of Totmianina and Marinin. The schedule may have left them, "exhausted," but their commanding performance earned them the Skate Canada title outright. Pang and Tong and Langlois and Archetto switched podium finishes from the Skate America event with Langlois acknowledging that concern for her ankle injury, "made me too cautious."
Overall the pairs free skate turned into a splat fest which left the audience little to cheer about. Kalesavich of the U.S. started things off with a hard fall on the triple Salchow jump. The couple was able to regroup but later in the program she dislocated her right shoulder during a reverse spreadeagles move. This forced them to leave out their carry lift and it appeared they were on the verge off stopping when the shoulder popped back in and they resumed the program. They completed the footwork sequence, a double toe loop jump and final pair combination spin but the errors and interruption from the injury proved costly. They moved up a place mainly due to the technical deficiencies of the Ukrainian skaters, Tatiana Chuvaeva and Dmitri Palamarchuk. Kalesavich first experienced a problem with her shoulder three years ago at U.S. Junior Nationals. It popped out again last spring and she has been doing special exercises designed to strengthen the surrounding muscles. Hopefully this will not reoccur, as surgery required to correct the problem would sideline them for some time.
Scott and Dulebohn were able to rebound from their disastrous short program and redeem themselves to finish fourth in the free and fifth overall. He skidded on the landing of their opening element; the triple toe loop jump and they almost collided but they continued on completing a double Axel/double toe loop jump combination and throw triple Salchow and triple toe loops. The lifts were securely executed. "It was nice to finally do in competition what we have been doing in practice," Scott said. Dulebohn called his fall in the short program, "a departure from the norm." Scott said the couple is feeling no pressure to succeed Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman but added, "I want to live up to everyones expectations for us and mine." "We need to lead the way and be strong representatives for our country and do our country proud," he added. The couple plans to return to Newark, Delaware and add more speed and polish and up the overall standard of the program.
Fans may remember Palamarchuk as the unfortunate skater who collapsed to the ice at the 2000 world championships in Nice, France. It seemed like an interminable time before first aid, inept at best, was rendered and he was removed from the ice. Since then his former partner, Julia Obertas, with whom he won two worlds junior titles, left him to return to Russia and team up with another partner. Chuvaeva is tentative and expressionless and the partnership shows little promise.
Lariviere and Faustino dropped a place in the free but held onto fourth place overall because Scott and Dulebohn had too much of a deficit to overcome from the short program. Partnered since 1998 the couple made a big jump in the national standings last year, which earned them a berth on the Olympic, and world teams. She fell on both the triple toe loop and double Axel jumps and he fell while stroking between elements. These disruptions cost them on both sets of marks.
Lapses that could perhaps be attributed to a lack of focus caused Buntin to fall twice, once in the straight-line footwork sequence, during the free skate. He and Marcoux did execute their jumps and throws but the program to the soundtrack of Pearl Harbor requires more speed. Their lack of time together as a partnership was more apparent in this phase of the competition but additional training and competitive experience should reap them benefits later in the season.
Orscher and Lucash dropped to seventh overall due to his errors on jumps in the free skate. Their jump set up is unusual with the take off back and front rather than side-by-side. Whether that technique is sound remains open to questioning. Lack of speed and a labored quality detracted from the program skated to an old chestnut, Spartacus.
Langlois and Archettos program is front end loaded with technical difficulty but all went well with the throw triple Salchow, double Axel jumps and triple twist. She fell on the triple toe loop jump and popped the triple Salchow jump favoring her injured left ankle while he fell out on the Salchow landing. The lifts were steady and strong and the throw triple toe loop clean but the errors kept them in third. The duo purposely decided to compete back-to-back in Spokane and Quebec City so that they could get the competitions behind them and get back to full-time training.
Pang and Tong opened with triple toe loops and double Axels but ran into difficulties with the triple twist, which they execute as a lateral. As he caught her she came down between his legs and they collided but managed to keep from falling. They both traveled on the camel spin but somehow were able to stay in unison. She fell on the second double Axel and omitted the double toe loop but he completed the jump sequence. Her landings of the throws were sure and steady despite his overly aggressive launching of her. Their program to Piano Concerto #2 was otherwise nicely performed. They also elected to compete at Skate America and Skate Canada acknowledging the warm reception they have received from North American audiences.
Totmianina and Marinin skated to The Cotton Club soundtrack. A rough catch on the triple twist and weak position on the death spiral marred an otherwise strong technical performance. They lost some steam during the combination spin and ended after the music. She still needs to work on expression and get more into character to convey the playful and comedic nuances of the music. They said that the music was selected keeping in mind that the 2003 world championships will be held in Washington, D.C. and the program would be more appreciated by the predominantly American audience. Choreographer Giuseppe Arena also edited the music and designed their costumes. Their third competition and second scoring Grand Prix event is in several weeks at Trophee Lalique in Paris. Coach Vasiliev had this to say about his team, "First place is still first place, (but) the long program was skated better this week, this is still early in the season and it is important to get the experience." "You will see better skating at the Grand Prix Final and world championships," he promised.
Perhaps already counting on another victory here and looking to reward herself, Totmianina was spotted on Friday morning browsing in the fur boutique at the Hotel Chateau Frontenac.
Hopefully the couples competing at the four remaining Grand Prix events will add to the depth of entries seen in the first two competitions. Abitbol and Bernadiss readiness remains a mystery, as the extent to which she has recovered from her tendon injury, which necessitated surgery is unknown. Petrova and Tikhonov are looking to recapture the spark and consistency that earned them a world title in 2000.
Nancy Kerrigan, 1994 Olympic silver medallist, has been added to the ABC line-up of skating commentators and was observed back stage interviewing the skaters exiting the Kiss and Cry area.
2002 Skate Canada Pairs
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