Skate Canada

Pairs Event

by Lynn Rutherford

Place Team Country SP FS
1 Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin RUS 2 1
2 Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao CHN 1 2
3 Dorota Zagorska & Mariusz Siudek POL 4 3
4 Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto CAN 3 4
5 Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz CAN 6 5
6 Julia Obertas & Sergei Slavnov RUS 5 7
7 Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin CAN 9 6
8 Yang Ding & Zongfei Ren CHN 8 8
9 Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash USA 7 9
10 Larisa Spielberg & Craig Joeright USA 10 10


Short Program

Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Yang Ding & Zongfei Ren
  2. Julia Obertas & Sergei Slavnov
  3. Larisa Spielberg & Craig Joeright
  4. Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin
  5. Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz
  6. Dorota Zagorska & Mariusz Siudek
  7. Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao
  8. Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash
  9. Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin
  10. Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto


Short Program Placements


Team Country
1 Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao CHN
2 Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin RUS
3 Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto CAN
4 Dorota Zagorska & Mariusz Siudek POL
5 Julia Obertas & Sergei Slavnov RUS
6 Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz CAN
7 Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash USA
8 Yang Ding & Zongfei Ren CHN
9 Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin CAN
10 Larisa Spielberg & Craig Joeright USA

An intriguing mix of veteran and younger pairs treated the crowd at Hershey Centre to an unusually strong pairs' short program competition, with the top three teams entering tomorrow night's free program separated by less than five points.

Two-time World champions Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao of China, performing the "Kismet" short program they used with great success last season, opened with a huge throw triple loop, followed by triple toe loops that were landed cleanly but not in unison. While their press lift to a one-arm position was well done, their footwork sequences were a bit sloppy, and their side-by-side camel/sit-change-sit spins were, as usual, out of sync. In addition, Zhao came out of his spin at least two revolutions after Shen. 

Overall - for this pair, at least -- the program was a bit disappointing; nevertheless, the pair earned 68.76 total points, including 35.48 for technical elements and 33.28 for total program composition (skating skills, transitions, performance/execution, choreography and interpretation).

"It didn't feel easy tonight. The ice was so white it was blinding us. We didn't feel very confident," said Zhao through an interpreter.

Asked how long Shen spent recovering from her ankle injury suffered while practicing at the 2003 World championships in Washington D.C., coach Bin Yao replied that the couple was off ice for two months this spring and summer, which delayed their preparations for the 2003-2004 season.

2003 World silver medallists Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin of Russia finished second, just 1.52 points behind the Chinese team. Using a new short program, choreographed by S. Carol to "Variations on a Theme of Paganini," the couple skated a clean, if uninspiring, routine to earn 35.20 points for technical elements and 32.04 points for total program composition. Their most obvious flaw was a slow, slightly awkward press lift.

"We are still working on the lifts; we know that is where they need to improve," said the couple's coach, Oleg Vasiliev. "They also need to skate with more spark, more life."

"We did a good job, but we didn't skate the program 100%," said Totmianina. "Even so, we are satisfied. It is still the beginning of the season and the program is new to us."

Canadians Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto, who placed fifth at the 2003 World championships, had the program of the night - at least in the eyes of the (Canadian) audience. Skating to "Leyenda," with choreography by Nikolai Morozov, the couple hit a strong throw triple Salchow and side-by-side triple toe loops, followed immediately by side-by-side camel-sit-change-sit spins. (Note: Although Archetto traveled badly on his spin, the couple was still able to earn bonus "grade of execution" points, because the spins were completed immediately following another element - proving that coach Jan Ullmark has thoroughly reviewed the complicated new "Code of Points.") 

Their double twist was less impressive than usual, but the highlight of the program was an exciting, Spanish-themed straight-line footwork sequence more complicated than those usually seen from pair teams.

"The crowd seemed to love it, and we're very pleased. The footwork is definitely a new style for us," said Langlois. "The new judging system seems good. I think there's less room for corruption. The world champions are on top; the silver medallists are second; and we're only about four-and-a-half points behind." 

"We are in about 80% (competition) shape, but we are satisfied for the first time (performing this program) in the first competition of the season," added Lauzon. "We're especially pleased with the reaction of the public." 

Langlois & Archetto had a total segment score of 64.12, and enter the free program 4.64 points behind the leaders.

Veteran competitors Dorota Zagorska & Mariusz Siudek of Poland finished fourth, with a total segment score of 61.54. Since moving to Montreal in the spring to work with Richard Gauthier, the couple has worked to add polish and difficulty to their routines. This evening, they performed a clean, if unspectacular, throw triple loop; side-by-side triple toe loops in good unison; and a nice split double twist, which she landed with her hands over her head. The highlights of their program: their lift, with a flip-over entrance and several changes of position; and their back outside death spiral, which featured a change of hand position when he lifted his leg over her during the entrance. 

Following the leaders are several young pair teams with exceptional potential.

The new Russian team of Julia Obertas & Sergei Slavnov, teamed by famed coach Tamara Moskvina this spring, are in fifth place with 58.34 total points. Their Spanish-themed program featured crisp movements, strong side-by-side triple toe loops, and a big double twist. She put her foot down on the landing of their throw triple flip, and their footwork sequences appeared to be a bit simple and slow. 

Canadians Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz skated a clean program to finish sixth with 56.04 points. They opened with their double twist, which is very small compared to the top teams, followed by spread eagles into triple Salchows - a "wow!" moment of the night. Their side-by-side camel/sit spins were completed in unison, and her landing of the throw triple Salchow looked strong and confident. 

Americans Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash hit all of their major elements, including side-by-side triple toe loops (he had a two-foot landing) and a strong throw triple Salchow, but lacked polish and unison. They finished seventh with a total point score of 52.14. Like other Chinese teams, 2003 World junior silver medallists Yang Ding & Zongfei Ren had trouble with their spin elements, although they performed excellentside-by-side triple toe loops and a huge throw triple loop. They finished eighth with 51.16 points. Canadians Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin had several missteps on their side-by-side jumps, footwork and spins to finish ninth with 49.72 points. Americans Larisa Spielberg & Craig Joeright, the only team not to perform side-by-side triples (they opted for double Axels), had a poor landing on their throw triple loop, as well as trouble with their closing pair spin. They are in 10th place with 47.12 points.


Free Skating

Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Yang Ding & Zongfei Ren
  2. Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin
  3. Larisa Spielberg & Craig Joeright
  4. Julia Obertas & Sergei Slavnov
  5. Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz
  6. Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash
  7. Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto
  8. Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao
  9. Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin
  10. Dorota Zagorska & Mariusz Siudek


Free Skating Placements
Place Team Country
1 Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin RUS
2 Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao CHN
3 Dorota Zagorska & Mariusz Siudek POL
4 Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto CAN
5 Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz CAN
6 Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin CAN
7 Julia Obertas & Sergei Slavnov RUS
8 Yang Ding & Zongfei Ren CHN
9 Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash USA
10 Larisa Spielberg & Craig Joeright USA


Totmianina & Marinin

Russian champions Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin triumphed over two-time World champions Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao at Skate Canada's pairs' free program by executing more elements - including an additional lift and death spiral - than the Chinese pair.

Under the new "Code of Points" judging system, a quick review of the judges' details per skater shows that the Russians gained points with one additional lift, as well as both a back inside death spiral and forward inside death spiral. The extra 5.02 total element points made the difference in the competition and carried the team to victory. 

Skating to last year's "Cotton Club" program, Totmianina & Marinen hit all of their opening elements strongly, including their side-by-side triple Salchows, triple twist and throw triple loop. Marinen faltered slightly on their triple toe loop, double toe loop combination, causing the jumps to be landed out of sync, but the couple went on to land a solid throw triple Salchow. Their only other major problem occurred on the side-by-side combination spin, when their unison went off slightly. All of their other elements - including three lifts, two death spirals and a closing combination spin - received positive GOE points, and they finished the long program with 126.78 total points, 3.74 more than Shen & Zhao. Their overall point total was 194.02, just 2.22 points above that of their rivals.

"It was not perfect, of course, but it was a good program for us," said Marinen.

"We are working on a new long program, but it is very difficult, so we are not going to show it until the Russian nationals," added Totmianina. Coach Oleg Vasiliev confirmed that the couple is currently at work with Guisseppe Arena, the creator of their "Cotton Club" program, on a challenging new free.

Shen & Zhao debuted their "Nutcracker" free program here, opening with a double Axel, triple toe loop jump sequence that had a base value of 7.8 and received a GOE of 1.2. They followed with their usual huge throw triple Salchow, but on their next element - side-by-side triple toe loops - Zhao landed wildly, resulting in a GOE of -.40. The pair went on to land their trademark soaring triple twist (GOE of 1.12), but toward the end of their program, Zhao's blade appeared to hit Shen's, causing her to fall into the boards. The couple missed their final lift completely, costing them valuable "total element" points.

"It was not so good today. This rink where we train is wider, so we made a little mistake," said Zhao through an interpreter. "We also only began to train the program in August, because of SARS. We will work hard for our next competitions." (The epidemic stranded the couple in Harbin, delaying their travel to Beijing to train.) 

Veteran competitors Dorota Zagorska & Mariusz Siudek claimed third with a free program choreographed to "Warsaw Concerto." The couple opted to complete only side-by-side double toe loops, and she put her hands down on the landing of their throw triple Salchow. They ended with 171.95 total points, far behind the top two teams.

"We love living and training in Montreal," said Siudek. "Richard (Gauthier) is a great coach. We are improving our English, we hope, and soon will start learning French." (Zagorska & Siudek, who are married, moved to Canada this spring, seeking more ice time and better training methods.)

After placing third in the short, Canadians Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto made numerous errors in their new "Lawrence of Arabia" free, choreographed by Nikolai Morozov. Langlois put her hands down on their opening throw triple Salchow, turned out of her triple toe loop, double toe loop combination, put her hands down on the landing of their throw triple toe loop. (A hard fall in the warm-up may have affected her performance, since the couple skated first in the final group.) On the plus side, their straight-line footwork sequence is dramatic and difficult (Archetto stumbled once), as is their closing "drag" forward inside death spiral. They ended the competition in fourth place with 168.90 total points overall.

Langlois & Archetto were fortunate to finish ahead of countrymen Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz, who had an impressive outing with their "Variations on a Theme by Paganini" program. Skating with a light, lyrical touch and incorporating many unique choreographic details, the couple's most obvious mistake was a rough landing on their opening triple twist. They went on to hit all of their remaining elements, although their triple Salchow, double flip jump sequence had a sloppy landing on Putnam's part. They ended with 168.90 total points overall.

Another promising young pair, Julia Obertas & Sergei Slavnov of Russia - who are coached by Tamara Moskvina -- finished sixth with 155.84 total points overall. After opening with excellent side-by-side triple toe loop, double toe loop combination jumps, followed by a big triple twist with excellent split position from Obertas, they had difficulty with their double Axels (Slavnov landed wildly). Recouping quickly, they landed their throw triple flip (base value of 5.0, the same as a throw triple loop) and executed two lovely lifts.  Unfortunately, Obertas then suffered a spectacular fall on the landing of their throw triple loop. Although they went on to completely miss another lift, their elegance, fine basic skating skills and excellent positions (as well as her spectacular fall) are highly reminiscent of another of Tamara Moskvina's teams, Olympic champions Elena Berezhnaya & Anton Sikharulidze.

Obertas & Slavnov were actually defeated in the free program by another young Canadian pair, Marcoux & Buntin, but had built a point lead in short program, causing the Canadians to finish seventh overall. For their part, Marcoux & Buntin opened their program with a rough triple twist that Marcoux landed on two feet, followed by a strong throw triple loop, side-by-side triple toe loop, double toe loop combinations, a fine helicopter lift with a flip out exit, and a backward inside death spiral with difficult catch foot entrance. The second half of their program dropped off in quality after they fell on their second  triple toe loops, stumbled into each other during a step sequence and had an awkward exit from their final lift. Nevertheless, like the two young couples who finished just ahead of them, Marcoux & Buntin show great potential.

Yang Ding & Zongfei Rei, 2003 World junior silver medalists, finished eighth with 147.08 points overall. Two U.S. teams - Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash, and Larisa Spielberg & Craig Joeright - finished ninth and tenth respectively, although both improved over their error-plagued performances at Skate America last week. 

2003 Skate Canada Pairs Medalists


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