2009 Skate Canada
Virtue & Moir
1 40.69 (20.44 + 20.25) Tessa Virtue, in a passionate, flamboyant, swirling red dress, and Scott Moir, in a sensuous, velvety black outfit presented a mature Tango Romantica to take the lead. No one doubts that they will win this event. The other competitors seem to be pleased just to be in the presence of such "stars" and amazed at all the media attention they arouse.
The 20 and 22 (him) year old twice Canadian champions, who won silver at the 2008 worlds and came back from her horrific leg problems, which involved the whole length of her shins being cut open, to win World bronzes this past season, have always been great technicians.
In compulsories, all the skaters do identical steps to a few rotating tunes decided upon by the International Skating Unionís Ice Dance Committee. The Tango Romantica was devised by the first Olympic ice dance champions (1976), the late Ludmila Pakhomova and her husband Alexander Gorshkov. They created it as an Original Dance for their 74-75 season. There are 50 steps so deep edges are very necessary to fit them all in without losing speed. Gorshkov is now Chair of the ISU Ice Dance Committee.
After going completely around the rink, the dancers then repeat then steps. Each sequence is divided into three segments. Each 1/3 has its own base value. The first third has a base value of 2.9, the second third has a base value of 1.6 (which means thatís the easiest part) and the final third has a base value of 2.40. The skaters then go round the rink again. The values of each third for this second sequence are higher because by now the skaters are tired so each segment is more difficult to do. The second sequence first section now has a base value of 3.2; the middle section 2.30 and the final third, 3.10.
For the first third, V&M got six +2s, 2 +1s and a zero. A zero means they were OK but not superior. On the first third of the second sequence, V&M did those same steps slightly less well, receiving only four +2s, and 4 +1s while the zero guy stayed with zero.
2. Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat of France, 35.55 (17.56 + 17.99), who won the French national title and were 5th in the this yearís world championship, are the second ranked couple in Kitchener. Because the IOC were asked to make sure ice dance had only two sections by the time the next Olympic roll around in 2014, the ISU is frantically trying to decide how they will do that.
They were asked what they think of the situation of compulsories possibly being thrown out of competition. Pechalat, who will turn 26 on December 22, said, "On the one hand, they are not very exciting to watch but, on the other hand, they are a peculiarity of ice dance and without them, it would be a different sport." Bourzat, who will be 29 on December 19, said, "For me, this would be a good time to go to a two-event format of Original and Free. Compulsories are not very exciting because they are repetitive. Nothing is new. We are not very fond of them. But it is not our decision."
3. 32.18 (16.68 + 15.50) Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, are the third ranked Canadian couple, although she was initially from Dallas. Weaver, who is 20, and Poje, who is 22, believe in compulsories. He said, "Itís a good and bad thing. You have to respect the IOC. They want just two events. But weíve always loved compulsories. They have to keep them for the Juniors. They need them. When I was starting figures were just going out. I did them but not for long. I can always tell who has done figures. Their skating skills are so much better. I just wish I had kept on doing them."
4. 31.47 (16.12 +15.35) Emily Samuelson, 19, & Evan Bates, 20, were the runners-up for the US title last season (when Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto were side-lined). They took the bronze in the Four Continents Championship and were 11th in their first Worlds. Bates said, "This is our time weíve ever competed with the Tango Romantica. We had the other compulsory in Paris at our other Grand Prix, the Golden Waltz. Today was pretty good. We do feel every event should be pressure packed. That way you are ready for the Olympics, which Iím sure takes pressure packed to a new level."
Samuelson said, "Iím fine with compulsories. Weíve grown up with them. At this level, peopleís technique is pretty good so the difference is mainly on the expression and character and we are working on that." He added, "It would be nice to have only two events. By the time you get to seniors Iím not sure they are necessary."
5. 30.09 (15.32 + 14.77) Ekaterina Bobrova, 19, & Dmitri Soloviev, 20, are the fourth ranked Russians from Moscow, who were 13th in the 2008 world championships. She said, "TV doesnít like the compulsories and itís impossible to make them interesting. So I think they will be gone but they should never be taken out of Juniors.
6. 27.14 (13.72 + 13.42) Madison Hubbell, 18, and her brother, Keiffer, 20, who were fourth in the last US championships, said they were not looking for placement. Madison said, "This is a fresh dance for us so we werenít the strongest out there. I havenít really formed an opinion about whether the compulsories should go. The compulsories provide a good founding for technique."
7. 25.29 (12.94 +12.35) Carolina, 21, & her brother Daniel Hermann, 23, are the German national champions who were 17th in the last World Championships. "I think compulsories are necessary to separate the youngsters. You can see who has the basics of the sport. Otherwise, you will see the title changing every year with a new couple who has thought up something flashy."
8. 24.27 (12.44 + 11.83) Andrea Chong & Guillaume Gfeller, Canadians who train in Montreal, teamed up in 2007. They were 9th in the 2008 Canadian championships and 4th in 2009. He is of Swiss ancestry and holds both passports. They were part of the meeting in Milan earlier this year in which the ISU tried to figure out what to do about reducing the sections. Chong, 22, said, "We were part of those presenting the idea of going back to the Original Set Pattern Dance, where you do an Original Dance, but then you repeat it just as you would a compulsory dance."
Gfeller said, "For me, I donít think they should go out. I like the challenge. Even if they take them out of seniors, I think they must keep them for Juniors. Without the compulsories, it will just deteriorate into lifts and tricks."
Virtue and Moir increase their lead despite mistakes
The ice dance event is missing two of its entries: Federica Faiella & Massimo Scali of Italy, who were silver medalist in the European Championships, 8th in Worlds, and took bronze in the Cup of China; and Caitlin Mallory & Kristin Rand of Estonia. Faiella became very ill after the Cup of China, and lost weight because she was continuously throwing up. She went back to Italy from her training site in Detroit and has not yet recovered.
After winning the right to enter the Olympics to compete for Estonia through their placing in the Nebelhorn Trophy, Mallory & Rand were awaiting clearance from the President of that country for the issuance of her Estonian passport. That required the signature of the Estonia President. The request was turned down because she is an American and they train in the US. (The Olympics have far stricter restrictions on nationality than the ISU which looks favorably on pairs and ice dance couples with different nationalities because it helps with the growth of the sport in which the number of male partners is limited.) Mallory, devastated by this development, lost focus in practice and made an error which resulted in an injury.
1. Compulsory and OD 101.26; For the Original Dance 1. 60.57 (29.50 + 31.07) Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir presented a dramatic Flamenco but they were uncharacteristically far from perfect. She had two very rare losses of balance, which happened in the space of ten seconds. In both cases, Moir was able to save her from falling. "I wish I could blame it on my outfit," Virtue said in reply to a question about whether her very voluminous, red-lined black satin skirt got in her way. "But I train with a long skirt every day. I just couldnít star on top of my skates. The stumble came on one of our favorite moves. It was very disappointing. Fortunately, both mistakes were made on transitions. If they had happened on an element, that would have been much more serious because that would have affected the Levels." Virtueís costume was a little different from Paris. She now wears a beige bodice instead of being completely in black.
Moir said, "It was a little tough to take, but it was just one of those things. We were trying so hard but we had to slow it down a bit. Weíll be better tomorrow." The mistakes appeared to have no effect on their component marks. They got higher scores than they had in their other Grand Prix appearance, which was in Paris."
They began well with Level 3, +1.80 circular steps. Their sequential twizzles earned Level 4 but only +0.20 over the base. Their Curve lift was also the maximum Level 4 and an impressive +1.0 with six judges punching in +2 and two +1. One official was so impressed he/she punched in the maximum +3 Grade of Execution. The Mid-line non-touching steps, however, were only Level 2 although they were given +1.80. They finished with an optional lift which has no base value but helps improve (or not) the components marks.
2. 91.60; 2. 56.05 (27.90 + 28.15) Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat, who are taught by Alexander Zhulin, presented a very enjoyable cowboy routine. His outfit was authentic down to his spats. She wore an amusing Saloon Girl outfit with red boots and a short, puffy orange skirt. She said, "It was great to skate so well. We heard the tremendous applause from the audience for the Canadians (Weaver & Poje), who skated before us. That is natural. The Canadians love their skaters. But that made it difficult for us to skate. We also found the size of the ice small." (Most European rinks are Olympic size which is bigger than ice used for hockey.)
He said, "To compare this to our performance in the Paris Grand Prix, we only got one Level 4 here, we got more there. But, I think, our performance was better here, more joyful. But maybe we had less speed in the steps."
3. 83.36; 4. 51.18 (26.10 + 25.08) A close battle has developed between Weaver & Poje and Samuelson & Bates. The Canadians now lie only 0.40 above the Americans, who beat them by 0.31 in the OD. The Canadians had the superior component marks by 0.99, but the Americans had 1.30 more for their element score. Weaver & Poje were over the moon with their showing, which was a very authentic Flamenco and gained them their personal best "by over ten points". They spent 10 days in Madrid getting it choreographed and everything explained to them by experts. This was particularly evident in her movements with the fan.
Props are allowed for this yearís OD but they must be attached to the costuming. Since Weaver pulls out and stows the fan in her cleavage, it is not immediately evident how the fan is attached. However, the two are definitely joined and how this is accomplished is disguised with a wonderful piece of costuming. Weaver said, "I did have to practice dropping the fan and catching it very quickly, otherwise it would be swinging round me. But it could never hit the ice unless I went down, too." They received Level 4 for their straight line lift but only Level 2 for their twizzles.
4. 82.96; 3. 51.49 (27.40 +24.09) Samuelson & Bates performed to the Dixie Chicks in a very crowd-pleasing routine. He has a Stetson cowboy hat, which he takes off and yet it is also still attached by a long string. He explained, "Iíve worn a hat before (for a skating routine) when I was a sailor, but I didnít take it off then." He also wore spats. She has ditched the super-tight hot pants she wore in Paris for a red dress with a fringe. He said, "Thereís obviously a lot of room for improvement. We want more power and general ease." They gained Level 4 for their lift and twizzles, and Level 3 for their other two elements.
5. 76.01; 5. 45.92 (24.30 + 23.62 -2.0) Bobrova & Soloviev did a Russian sailor dance with both identically costumed. She fell and their lift got a 1.0 deduction for being over the time limit. The lift, a rotational, and their twizzles were Level 4. They looked very upset waiting for their marks, but their components held them in fifth place.
6. 71.63; 6. 44.49 (24.50 + 19.99) The Hubbells performed a Ukrainian dance. He explained, "We changed coaches three weeks ago (after taking 8th place in the Paris Grand Prix). It is a little bit awkward seeing our old coaches here but we hope as time goes on, it will get a little easier." They were trained by Juri Tchesnitchenko and Jaraslava Netchaeva, in Ann Arbor, and now train with former world champion Anjelika Krylova and Pasquale Camerlengo in Detroit. "Itís about 100 miles away, so weíve had to move. Our living arrangements are currently very in the temporary stage."
Their straight lines steps were Level 4 and the other three elements Level 3, but their Grade of Execution for their twizzles was -0.70. She explained, "I wasnít completely over my feet. It was a fluke."
7. 68.07; 7. 42.78 (22.30 + 20.48) The Hermanns presented a fun polka to a German song complete with yodeling with him in knee-length trousers and suspenders. She wore pigtails and a puff sleeved dress. He explained, "Two years ago we did a Greek number but this time we chose something closer to home. Unfortunately, I messed my twizzles." However, they did earn Level 4 for their curve lift. They had not realized Kitchener had a large German population, and were very pleased with the very favorable reaction they received from the audience. He said, "That was great. They told us about their October Fest. We are from Dortmund. Itís five hours drive from our home in Dortmund, so weíve never been there at that time of year! They seemed surprised by that. We donít have that much time to go out drinking. We are almost always in training."
8. 64.66; 8. 40.39 (22.10 + 18.29) Chong & Gfeller, who earned Level 4 for both their opening twizzles and rotational lift, got the event off to a very pleasant start with a French "Musette". Chong explained, "We wanted to do something different. Itís a beautiful Waltz and a lovely song. We have a great story line in which we meet and remember when we were poor, young and in love." Since he is Swiss, and they have so much competition in Canada, have they thought about skating for his country. She said, "No, at least not yet!"
We have a delightful enjoyable showing of a French old-fashioned peasant Waltz
Though the Canadian superstars were greeted
with tremendous cheers as they stepped on the ice, there was a palpable
note of apprehension in the arena. It seemed all of Canada was talking
about her errors the day before and the home country crowd was wondering
whether she would regain her normal brilliant form. Skating to Mahlerís
Symphony No. 5, believed never to have used by ice dancers in competition
before, they began with their spectacular long lift which received Level 4
for both parts and +1.10 GoE. Two judges gave the maximum +3, six +2s and
a sole exception punched in +1. The combination spin, which they performed
next, was also Level 4 with +0.80. On this score, two of the judges
punched in +3, two +2 and +1. Only the Level 3, +1.80 circular steps and
the sixth element, the Level 3, +1.60 diagonal steps failed to incite any
of the judges to give a +3. The Level 4, +1.0 twizzles received only one
+3. Their Level 4, +1.40 straight line lift got six +3s, two +2s and a +1.
Their final Level 4, +1.30 rotational lift, was given five +3s, three +2s
and a +1. Overall, all but one judge, had punched in a +3. The two most
generous judges punched in four +3s each. Three of those were for the same
elements but they differed on which element they gave their 5th
maximum +3 for. "That was a statement," said
Skate Canada high performance director Mike Slipchuk. "Their
chemistry and unison on the ice - I donít think anyone can match that.
They have come out with a free dance that shows what they are best
at." Asked to go through their routine, Moir said, "At the start
I look into Tessaís eyes and I get in the zone. The next thing I know,
weíre finishing." One of the most interesting lifts is their
straight line in which Virtue places a skate on Moirís back while he is
hunched over in a squat position in an outside spread and climbs on his
back. She poses like an eagle and then off rotating before landing. It is
Though the Canadian superstars were greeted with tremendous cheers as they stepped on the ice, there was a palpable note of apprehension in the arena. It seemed all of Canada was talking about her errors the day before and the home country crowd was wondering whether she would regain her normal brilliant form. Skating to Mahlerís Symphony No. 5, believed never to have used by ice dancers in competition before, they began with their spectacular long lift which received Level 4 for both parts and +1.10 GoE. Two judges gave the maximum +3, six +2s and a sole exception punched in +1. The combination spin, which they performed next, was also Level 4 with +0.80. On this score, two of the judges punched in +3, two +2 and +1.
Only the Level 3, +1.80 circular steps and the sixth element, the Level 3, +1.60 diagonal steps failed to incite any of the judges to give a +3. The Level 4, +1.0 twizzles received only one +3. Their Level 4, +1.40 straight line lift got six +3s, two +2s and a +1. Their final Level 4, +1.30 rotational lift, was given five +3s, three +2s and a +1. Overall, all but one judge, had punched in a +3. The two most generous judges punched in four +3s each. Three of those were for the same elements but they differed on which element they gave their 5th maximum +3 for.
"That was a statement," said Skate Canada high performance director Mike Slipchuk. "Their chemistry and unison on the ice - I donít think anyone can match that. They have come out with a free dance that shows what they are best at." Asked to go through their routine, Moir said, "At the start I look into Tessaís eyes and I get in the zone. The next thing I know, weíre finishing." One of the most interesting lifts is their straight line in which Virtue places a skate on Moirís back while he is hunched over in a squat position in an outside spread and climbs on his back. She poses like an eagle and then off rotating before landing. It is unique."
"We call it the goose," said Moir. "People were calling it the eagle. But weíre not American, so itís the goose to us." Virtue said, "It actually started as a joke. I did it with our coach, Marina Zueva. Now, I keep saying I want to do a double." That, of course, they will not do since any jump in ice dance can not be more than one rotation." Moir said, "Tessa and I really pride ourselves on doing different things, doing moves that are our own. We were pretty happy with the skate today. We felt like we were in the moment." Asked to go through the routine, Moir said, "We start off and try to stay as relaxed as possible. One moment Iím looking into Tessaís eyes and the next weíre done." Virtue said, "Being told weíd got a 10.0 was nice to know, and get that feedback. It gives us extra motivation." Moir added, "The Grand Prix Final is pretty close now (two weeks away). Itís not our way to compete with other couples but with ourselves. We have our nationals in London, not far from our homes. Itís a really nice feeling. We hope, in February, weíll be ready for the Olympics. We are gearing up our training (in Canton, Michigan). When we come home at weekends, the buzz is everywhere. Itís almost overwhelming. We need to do our job first."
2. 185.07; 2. 93.47 (47.50 + 45.9) Pechalat & Bourzatís routine was set to Requiem for a Dream which, he said was, "kind of like an Alice in Wonderful but seen through a rock starís eyes. At the end, Iím swinging her like a pendulum clock. Itís much darker than anything weíve done before. A complete contrast to last seasonís, which was the Circus." After the routine he asked for a doctor for his ankle and was not able to perform in the Exhibition program which followed a few hours after the ice dance free. Like Virtue & Moir, they received Level 4 for all but their circular and diagonal steps which were Level 3. All their GoEs were positive, ranging from a low of +0.50 for their straight line lift up to up +1.20 for the diagonal steps. He was a little upset, "because our levels were better in Cup of Russia. But we will learn from this and be better in the Final."
3. 165.64; 4. 82.28 (42.10 + 40.28) Weaver & Poje skated to Andrew Lloyd Webberís Phantasia, a working of his music for Phantom of the Opera. She was a vision in white, the effect completed with her grandmothersí pearls. He was a man of mystery obviously from another era in a black jacket lined with gold and a silver medallion. When they twizzled her skirt and his tails matched perfectly. With this competition, they made a great advance, beating two couples who previous ranked above them in international standings.
Weaver said, "As soon as we stepped on the ice, we realized this was a special moment. Everywhere we looked there were people we knew. It definitely put more pressure on. We did some little mistakes. This was the end of our season internationally. Weíre ready to go back and work for nationals. As of June, Iím now a Canadian citizen. I felt really great to be out there. It was a really nice moment. Now itís our goal to make the Olympic team." (She was born in the US.) All their elements were Level 4 except for the circular steps and twizzles which were Level 3 and their diagonal steps which were Level 2.
4. 161.68; 3. 85.67 (45.70 + 39.97) Bobrova & Soloviev skated to Tomaso Albinoniís well-known Adagio which has been used by many other ice dancers for good reason. She was dressed dramatically all in black and silver including leggings which continued over part of her boots. He was an outfit with lots of fluttering ribbons which accentuate the speed and changing directions of the skaters. That gave an added dimension to the speed and beautiful Line. "Today was much better than yesterday," she said. "Weíre so glad all went well." All their elements earned Level 4 except their mid-line steps , which were Level 3, and the combination spin which was Level 2.
5. 160.76; 5. 77.80 (77.80 + 39.90) Samuelson, wearing mauve, & Bates interpreted an Italian melody Canto Della Terra. But, although the routine appeared to go well, they were disappointed to be fifth in this section and drop a place overall. "We thought we skated a lot stronger than in Paris but I made a couple of mistakes. We skated right after the warm-up and I think that maybe didnít help. I think there were some edge problems. I still think it was a good performance." They earned Level 4 for both parts of their long lift, the twizzles, the straight line lift and the spin. But their initial curve lift and the midline steps were only Level 2. The circular steps were Level 3.
6. 141.63; 7. 70.00 (37.80 + 32.20) The Hubbells performed to a Lenny Kravitz medley with her in a very sexy two piece blue outfits and he in a casual shirt left outside the trousers. She said, "The music is more lyrical. Itís a change from the normal. Itís our understanding the ISU want something more audience friendly. We think the audience really enjoyed this." They received only two Level 4s, for their initial straight line lift and for the later serpentine lift. The third lift and their spin were only Level 2. The other elements gained Level 3.
7. 141.61; 6. 73.54 (39.20 + 34.34) The Hermanns skated to music from the movie The Mask, starting with Iím Just a Baby in the Business of Love. She was in gold, he in a black open jacket with elbow length sleeves trimmed with pink. There performance was lively and enjoyable but they received only two Level 4s, for their serpentine and rotational lifts, which included one position in was in a handstand with each hand on his thighs while he travelled in a bend leg spreadeagle. He said, "We got lower levels than in the Cup of Moscow." There were small mistakes.
8. 128.70; 8. 64.04 (35.00 + 29.04) Chong & Gfeller opened the Free Dance with a promising showing to music from the movie, Once Upon a Time in the West. Gfeller said, "It felt a little shaky. A couple of things were not very well executed. We know we can do better." Although two of their seven elements, their opening straight line lift and both parts of the long lift received Level 4s, their diagonal steps were only Level 1 and three of their elements got negative GoEs. Chong said, "We know what to work on now."
2009 Skate Canada Dance Medalists
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