2009 Skate Canada
Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy, the reigning World Champions, dominated the Short Program earning 74.16 points in a well skated performance to "Send in the Clowns." Skating in costumes and makeup that makes obvious why small children the world over are terrified by clowns, they gave a clean performance that fluidly expressed the music.
After opening with a huge throw triple flip which earned three GoEs of +3, they followed with secure triple toe loops and a nice triple twist, tough in the latter, two judges went negative, while the remainder scored it from 0 through +2. Also highly scored by the judges was their straight line step sequence which fit the music well and received one GoE of +3, and their Group 4 lift marked with 1s and 2s.
The teams Program Components were the best of the group, scored in mainly the eights, and with two judges going to 9.75 for Choreography and for Interpretation.
Placing a distant second, Maria Mukhortova & Maxim Trankov lie 8.36 points behind the leaders. Skating to "Appassionata" by Secret Garden, it was a pleasant performance, though lacking the power of the leaders, and even the third place team, Jessica Dube & Bryce Davison.
For the most part Mukhortova & Trankov displayed good technique, except for a poor landing and hand down on throw triple loop, which was scored at -2 by eight of the judges. On the plus side, their triple twist, triple toe loops and back outside death spiral where all well done.
Technically stronger that artistic, their Program Components trailed the leaders by more than a point each, with some marks going into the fives. Their average was a little over seven, though, and still good marks
Dube & Davison, the current Canadian Champions, gave a capable, if slightly flawed, performance to "Requiem for a Dream." Dube popped triple Salchow to a single, and their opening triple twist was also scored negative. The team was scored sixth in elements, but decent component marks, third best of the group, pulled them into third place.
Their component marks were mainly in the mid to upper sixes. One judge, the Canadian we presume, had them in the sevens and went to eight for Interpretation. (The same judge, it appears, also alone went to nines for Joannie Rochette in the Ladies event!) Well skated, with power, the tone of the music was far better expressed by Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte in their free dance at Skate America.
The best placement from the American skaters came from Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett. They opened with a big triple twist, but on triple toe loops Denney put a hand down. The team skated with decent speed and better than typical expression to "Firebird." Their closing pair combination spin was well executed and called level four, but was followed with a small loss of balance entering their closing pose, but avoiding a fall. The teams component marks averaged in the mid to upper fives, but were very inconsistent among the judges, with one judge going as low as 4.25 and others going 6.25 -- a shamefully large spread of marks!
The second American team, Caitlin Yankowskas & John Coughlin, followed their teammates in sixth place. Technically stronger than artistic, only one of their elements was scored negative, though three elements had levels called less than three.. Their performance to Mozart's Piano Sonato No. 16 has some nice romantic touches, but inconsistently, and not sustained through the routine, and the routine was a little thin on transitions. Their components were mainly in the mid fives, with transitions averaging 4.75, and two judges going into the threes.
Savchenko & Szolkowy Skate Out of Africa, Judges Scores Out of Sight
Other than a flip flop in sixth and seventh place, the Pairs event ended with no movement. Savchenko & Szolkowy dominated the competition, winning the event with a 21 point margin. The differences among the teams were so clear, even IJS could not screw this one up.
The German team skated a nearly clean program, with only two GoEs of -1 among all their elements. The only significant shortcoming in the program was both skaters singling intended double Axels. They opened by landing a triple toe - triple toe sequences, with Savchenko's landing edge on the first jump a little weak. There was also minor shoulder contact on the catch in their triple twist.
Skating to "Out of Africa" the program was well skated, and is well choreographed. The team were truly interpreting the music and maintained an engaging relationship. Their components were mainly in the mid eights with two judges going into the nines, and one awarding a 10 for Performance and Execution. After setting a record in the Short Program with the first 9.75s, the team, is the first to receive a perfect 10 under IJS. The program was also a record for total points surpassing the previous record which was held by Shen & Zhao.
Maria Mukhortova & Maxim Trankov held second place, skating to "Love Story." Where the love was not obvious, as the main strength of this team is their elements which were scored 3.44 points behind the Germans. They received only three GoEs of -1 among all their elements.
The team opened with a fine triple twist and clean double Axel, and then a trap came loose on Trankovs left pants leg. The program was interrupted to correct the problem and the team continued within the permitted three minutes, but received a two point deduction for the interruption.
The program as some nice aspect to it with strong elements, but the choreography is mundane and the interpretation lacking in emotion or a genuine relation between the characters. Not surprisingly the, their Skating Skills component was the highest, and Interpretation nearly the lowest (just 0.05 more than Transitions).
Jessica Dube & Bryce Davison held third place, skating to "The Way We Where." The program had a fine opening triple twist and several other strong elements (e.g., throw triple Lutz and their lifts), but also three that were scored negative. A double Axel - double Axel sequence was marked down for unequal rotations, and on triple Salchow Dube stepped out of the landing. She also put a hand down on the landing of throw triple loop. On there closing pair spin they nearly fell out of the spin during the change of foot and the element was called a simple pair spin, for no value (since a pair combination spin is required).
The team's component marks averaged near seven, with Interpretation scored highest. They managed to keep the story and relation going through the whole program, but some find the whole concept derivative of Sale & Pelletier's "Love Story" routine.
The performance of the two American teams were not much to write home about, since they were 50-60 points behind the leaders, but we will anyway.
Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett placed fifth, skating to "Scheherazade." The team attempted a program of reasonable difficulty - just 1.2 points lower in base value than the leaders. Three of their elements were scored slightly negative, and the remainder slightly positive, so in TES they were less than 10 points back -- a respectable accomplishment. Where the team was not competitive, however, was in the components where they were more than 20 points back, averaging in the mid to upper fives.
Caitlin Yankowskas & John Coughlin dropped to seventh in the Free Skate to finish seventh overall. The program had a few strong elements and the team skated with decent speed and power, but four elements were scored negative, and two significantly so; a throw triple loop with a step out of the landing, and a near fall on an intended double Axel sequence. Their program components averaged near five, with Transitions scored in the fours. However, most disconcerting from an artistic point of view was Coughlin's constant grinning during the program, completely out of place skating to "Pearl Harbor." There is little to smile about in that movie.
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