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2013 Skate America: Pairs Free Skate

by Alexandra Stevenson

Tatiana and Max Show Why they are Olympic Favorites

1. Overall 237.71; 1.FS 154.66 (77.35+77.31) Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov, Russia, he in orange pants (not the bright yellow pants of Oberstdorf) and she in an ethereal white almost sideless outfit, were sensational. Nothing seemed strained. Almost everything appeared to go smoothly throughout the four and a half minute routine, which was set to music from the Broadway show, “Jesus Christ Superstar”. They owned the ice – you could see that on their faces.

Trankov said modestly, “We increased our Personal Best Scores, in both sections, and that was our goal. Our sport is not measured with a stopwatch, so we don’t look for records. We look at how we did on a personal scale.We did a good job here in Detroit. We skated two clean programs and got our season best here. I think it’s a good beginning of the season. Now we need to keep working and see forward to our next competition.

“For us, it was a plan for the season, to start early. We must show what we have in our arsenal of elements. We need to skate very clean with good quality and have only plusses for elements. This season there are no new elements. We don’t learn some quads or (throw) triple Axel (which they did last season) or quads or quad lift. It was our plan for this season. I think we will keep working for this and I think it’s good.

“Our program is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar rock program. We picked this because it was my dream from long time from when I was young and I learned in school. I fell in love with this music and all my life I wanted to skate to this. Around the world it’s not a good situation with all these wars. I just want to show only love and peace and people must believe. With these feelings, we skate from the heart only dreaming about peace and love and understanding. It’s our passion for this season and for this program.”

Ten of their twelve elements received at least one +3 GoE. Their initial element, the Level 4 triple twist got unanimous +3s. All their Level moves got the maximum four except for a Level 1 for the back outside death spiral, into which they did an outside spread (and the choreographed section which only has Level 1). The death spiral had a wobble, which made her go up and down resulting in her head being for a split second, at his knee level which saddled them with a Level 1. Their Level 4 pair combination spin was the other move which did not get a +3, although it was given five +2s and four +1s.

One judge on the panel of nine gave three 10s out of a possible five for their components. Three other judges gave two +10s and one gave one ten. It really was a marvelous performance, if not absolutely perfect.

2. Overall 208.45; FS 136.94 (69.80+67.14) Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch, Canada, performed to a medley of music from the films of Fellini including La Strada, which is a very poignant music. She explained, “This free program is actually not our first free program that we choreographed this season. We had a different one first and after training it for about a month, we realized that, although the program was great, it wasn’t what we thought we could connect to best and skate to best this Olympic season. We flew out to Vancouver and started a new program with our choreographer and connected to it better right away. I think we both feel that this is the program that will take us where we want to go.”

He said, “I think the theme of this program suits our personalities and we connected to it very quickly. We knew right away when we choreographed it that it was right for us because it came together within a couple days. I think every time we skate our performance, we try to tell a story and I think it’s going to be a special Olympic program for us.”

In pairs, of course, the men are required to toss their partners around with ease. But few realize the women must have core strength to maintain their graceful positions while skimming, turning, and changing positions while eight feet in the air, and even fighting the torque when they land the throw jumps.

Moore-Towers explained, “Of course you have to be very strong. While Dylan and I both do our respective strength workouts, we work on what we need to do. Dylan needs to lift girls and I need to hold myself up, so I’m not going to be lifting the weights that he is and he’s not going to do the exercises that I am. But I do a quite a substantial amount of off ice training.”Their routine included a sequence of two triple toe loops but their following triple Salchows were flawed. One judge gave them five +3s, another gave two of these maximum awards, and two other judges gave one +3 each for the second of their three lifts. Their components ranged from a low of four 7.75s up to a high of one 9.0.

3. Overall 187.35; FS 122.55 (60.86+61.69) Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov, from Russia, skated to music from “The Addams Family” with him in an appropriately whacky black and white outfit with vertical stripes with black underneath with a little red to match her backless dress.

They performed only a double twist, as they did in the Short Program, and she had a flawed landing on the throw triple flip, although their second throw a triple Salchow was good. They got penalized with an arrow for slight under-rotation of their double Axels in the second half of their routine. But they had all Level 4s except for the Level 3 back outside death spiral.

Klimov said, “I think, in general, we skated okay, but I think we had some mistakes. We were a little tired in the end so we didn’t do the emotions and performance that we needed to do. I think we can skate better, but for today, it was okay. Our free program is an old program from last season. We didn’t have time this summer to do a new program. A lot of people said that this program is good and that they like it, so we decided to keep it This summer I was injured and I couldn’t walk, so Ksenia lifted me and moved me from place to place, so yes, she has strong arms.”

4. Overall 182.43; FS 182.43 (63.38+56.99) Caydee Denney, in a backless, white, lacey dress, & John Coughlin,in basic black with white cuffs, opened their routine set to “Phantom of the Opera” with a great triple twist followed by a good throw triple loop and triple toe loop solo jumps which earned the jumps base value. Their double Axel to two double toe loop jumps got out of sync but their flying change foot combination spin was Level 4 with +0.50.

Their Axel Lasso lift got Level 4 but she put a hand down on throw triple flip. After the choreographed section, they gained +0.70 on the back lasso lift, but their back outside death spiral was deemed only Level 1. They concluded with a great +0.93 Group 4 lift and a level 4 pair combination spin. Their components ranged from two 6.25 up to one 8.00.

Coughlin said, “We were really happy with taking that big step after having an imperfect short program, coming out and fighting; I think that was a big challenge for us. I think that everyone at the rink knew we were going to come in fighting and it was good to show off all the training that we do at home.

Denney was asked about the smile on her face after their last lift. “It was great,” she answered. “It was exciting after everything John and I have been through, to be able to go out and skate better than yesterday and to be able to go out there and try to do the best we could. We felt we gave all we had today.”

Coughlin added, “I think skating that lasso (lift) after skating a good program is good training for us emotionally because I wasn’t tired at all, but the adrenalin of wanting to finish on a bang when you are skating a good program and the crowd is starting to get loud is something that you have to simmer down from because the American fans are incredible and they’ll get your heart rate up so it was good to have that experience. Hopefully we’ll be feeling that way at nationals.

He was asked about the hip injury that lost them last season. “It means everything. One of the last things Caydee and I said to each other before getting on the ice is no matter what we are (placed), we’re just so grateful to be out there together, doing what we love to do, in front of an American crowd. No one guaranteed us that that would ever happen again, so it’s a blessing for both of us, and we are humbled by it.”

5. 180.27; FS 116.42 (57.62+58.80) Stefania Beton & Ondrej Hotarek, Italy, interpreted music from “Dracula”- she in a red dress with black, he in black with red lapel – began with a good three jump combo of triple toe loop to two double toe loops, but their triple twist was deemed only Level 1 and he did not catch her until she was about to land by herself. Then their planned triple Salchow was deemed only a single. Their spins were Level 4 as were two of their lifts.

6. Overall 177.11; FS 114.55 (57.46+57.09) Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir. She was in black in a backless number, and he wore a gun holster over his white shirt. They skated to music from the James Bond movie, “Skyfall”, beginning with a Level 3 triple twist but they messed up the following planned triple to double jump combo. They got credit for the full four rotations on the throw quad but with -1.86 removed from the base value of 8 points because she stepped out of the landing. The later throw triple Salchow also got full rotation credit but lost -1.30 because of the flawed landing. The three lifts and two spins were all Level 4s.

Castelli said, “I think we were just fighting through it. It’s a step above Salt Lake and this year is an important year for us. I think we’re just trying to figure out the right path to get there because everything means so much to us and I think we’re going to go home and train our long even more for NHK and put out more good stuff there.”

Shnapir added, “Technically we did a lot of great things. To get the score we did with what we didn’t put out there still feels really good. There are definitely some positives here. Our side-by-side spins were a big plus for us that we’re not getting negatives there.

“The strategy about the throw quad is to do it every single time. We do it every day in practice and we’re not going to tiptoe around it, we’re just going to do it. That’s the plan.”

7. Overall 168.42; FS 112.59 (60.63 +51.96) Felicia Zhang & Nathan Bartholomay, USA, gave a near flawless showing of their “Les Miserables” Free.. He was dressed in a white shirt, red around his waist, and blue trousers. She was in a red sleeveless short dress with some blue on the skirt.

She said, “It was great especially to be in a home audience. Just being able to do what we’ve been able to do in training last week, and what we weren’t able to show in Salt Lake, was great. Going through it was a special moment, I felt for both of us. To be here, to be home to have the crowd cheering for us, especially after that last throw, was special.

He said, “The difference was training and having a really strong focus on the music and on each other instead of on a specific element. We’re at the point right now with our skating where everyone can do all the elements, it takes a lot to do something special. We’ve realized everything is easy for us and we can just focus on the second mark. It was better here, but there’s a lot of work to do. We’re really happy with it and the audience was fantastic.”

8 .Overall 146.28; FS 96.02 (47.95+49.07 -1) Margaret Purdy & Michael Marinaro, skating in white in their first international at senior level, skated to Casablanca, and, Yes, they have consulted with Kurt Browning, who was known for his great performance to this music when he was at his competitive peak.

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