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2021 Internationaux de France: Pairs

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany



(26 November 2021)  The pairs competition at the French Grand Prix had a mixed level.

Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitrii Kozlovskii from St. Petersburg in Russia won in Grenoble with 216.96 points. The bronze medalists of the World Championships 2021 started their short program to the soundtrack of “Black Swan,“ which mostly is the classical version of “Swan Lake“, with a side-by-side triple Salchow which Boikova overturned. The other six elements were excellent and had mainly GOEs of +3 and +4, including a triple throw flip. The components had an average of 8.9. Kozlovskii commented, “There was not so much time in between our competitions, but we put in some good work and the program went well today. We are able to bring across the character of the Black Swan better with each competition and we are glad the judges appreciated it.”

In the free program, the students of Tamara Moskvina and Artur Minchuk interpreted “Malaguena“ by Ernesto Lecuona. So they have old-fashioned music pieces in both programs which have been used by hundreds of other skaters in the past. In their opening side-by-side triple Salchow, her landing was a bit shaky, but the judges gave them high GOEs nevertheless. For their jump combination, they planned one triple toe loop and two double toe loops, but Boikova singled the second toe loop. The twist and the three lifts were excellent, the Axel Lasso lift even got two GOEs of +5. The triple throw flip was very good as well, but she stepped out of the triple throw loop. Their components were around 9.0. “We fulfilled our minimum task which was to qualify for the Grand Prix Final,” Kozlovskii said and Boikova added, “It was much easier to skate today as this is our second competition. There is progress, which is the most important thing. There were some small errors, really stupid ones, but that’s what competitions are there for, to improve from one to the next.”

Iuliia Artemeva & Michail Nazarychev from Perm in Russia won the silver medal, earning 205.15 points. Their short program to the overture of the soundtrack of “The Artist“ and to “Bumble Boogie“ by Jools Holland was more or less faultless with a very good triple throw flip, a side-by-side triple toe loop and other good elements. Nazarychev said, “After finishing third in Italy we knew we have a chance to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, which would be great in our first senior season. After Italy we went back home and worked on the mistakes we needed to fix.“

Their music in the free program was “Fire On Fire” by English singer Sam Smith and “Chronos” by Kirill Richter. After a good jump sequence of double Axel, Euler and triple Salchow, Artemeva doubled a shaky side-by-side toe loop which he tripled. The other elements were at least good. Nazarychev said, “We are pleased for today. There was one mistake, a major one, but overall it was a good performance. We set goals for ourselves to do well on the Grand Prix and I think we fulfilled that.”

Alexa Knierim & Brandon Frazier won the bronze medal with 201.69 points. In their short program to the soundtrack of “House of the Rising Sun“, six elements were very good, the lift even outstanding, but Knierim stepped out of the triple throw flip. Their free program had the music “Fix You - Fearless Soul“ by Coldplay and “Redemption Through Love“ by Karl Hugo. Most elements were excellent, especially the lifts, and they had a good triple throw flip and a triple throw loop. Frazier’s fall on the triple toe loop was their only mistake. Therefore they moved up from fourth place. Knierim explained, “We are very happy to win our first Grand Prix medal. We left some points on the table today but we made a lot of great improvements from our last event.“

Vanessa James & Eric Radford, the new Canadian team which is coached by Julie Marcotte, are ranked fourth with 196.34 points. Six elements in their short program to “Shiny Happy People“ by the Canadian Indie Folk band Reuben and the Dark were very good, but her triple Salchow was a bit shaky. James commented, “We are proud of our performance today. It’s still not what we can do, in the practices it's a bit more consistent and stronger, but the competition is a different story for a new team.” In their free program to “Falling“ by Harry Styles and to “Maelstrom“ by Karl Hugo, the first six elements were excellent. The triple throw Salchow was outstanding and even got three GOEs of +5. But then Radford could not lift James correctly for the Axel Lasso lift and aborted it. No points for this element and no points for the spin (he put his second foot on the ice) cost them more than ten points and therefore they slipped from third to fourth place.

Rebecca Ghilardi & Filippo Ambrosini from Italy are in fifth position, earning 176.19 points. They were alternates for the Chinese team of Cheng Peng & Yang Jin who were not allowed by their country to come to Grenoble. They had to go into a quarantine of three weeks when they came back to China from a training camp in Italy in October. Ghilardi & Ambrosini had five good elements in their short program to “Mambo Italiano“ by Bette Midler, but the twist was a bit shaky and the throw triple flip deeply landed. In the free program to “Grande Amore“ by Il Volo and to “Abdication“ by Abel Korzeniowski, the individual jumps, the two throws and the twist again were not clean, the other elements good, however.

Ioulia Chtchetinina & Mark Maygar from Hungary placed sixth with 152.76 points. They were alternates for the second Chinese pair of Yuchen Wang & Yihang Huang who had to go into quaratine in China like their team mates. The Hungarians are qualified for the Olympic Games after placing 14th at Worlds and because Russian skater Chtchetinina got a Hungarian passport. Both fell on the triple toe loop in the short program in good synchronization. The other elements were so-so. In their free, they doubled the individual jumps which were planned triple. The other elements were mainly O.K.

Camille Kovalev & Pavel Kovalev, a brother-and-sister team from France, were alternates for the French pair of Cleo Hamon & Denys Strekalin who had finished their career in September because Hamon suffered from a burn-out syndrom. The Kovalevs are much better since they changed coaches in the summer and are trained now by renowned Laurent Depouilly. They are seventh with 151.98 points. Camille landed the triple throw Salchow in the short on two feet, the other elements were mainly clean. In the free, they doubled the side-by-side jumps. She touched down her hand on the throw triple flip, the rest was O.K.

Coline Keriven & Noel-Antoine Pierre, also from France ended up eighth and last with 149.48 points. Pierre sits in the council of the French federation as representative of the athletes. Keriven stepped out of the under-rotated triple toe loop in the short program, the other elements were clean. Keriven‘s toe loop in the free program was stepped out and downgraded and she went down on the triple throw loop. The lifts, however, were good, but they had only a double twist.