2011 Skate America

Pairs Event


Alexandra Stevenson


Place Team Country SP FS
5 Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy GER 5 1
1 Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang CHN 1 3
4 Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch CAN 4 2
2 Caydee Denney & John Coughlin USA 2 4
3 Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov RUS 3 5
7 Tiffany Vise & Don Baldwin USA 7 6
6 Mary Beth Marley & Rockne Brubaker USA 6 8
8 Maylin Hausch & Daniel Wende GER 8 7

Short Program

Planned Program Content


Starting Order - Short Program

Warmup Group 1

  1. Caydee Denney & John Coughlin, USA
  2. Tiffany Vise & Don Baldwin, USA
  3. Mary Beth Marley & Rockne Brubaker, USA
  4. Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang, CHN

Warmup Group 2

  1. Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch, CAN
  2. Maylin Hausch & Daniel Wende, GER
  3. Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov, RUS
  4. Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy, GER

Start Time: 19:00


Short Program Placements


Team Country
1 Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang CHN
2 Caydee Denney & John Coughlin USA
3 Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov RUS
4 Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch CAN
5 Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy GER
6 Mary Beth Marley & Rockne Brubaker USA
7 Tiffany Vise & Don Baldwin USA
8 Maylin Hausch & Daniel Wende GER





5. SP Score 59.45 (29.48+30.97 -1.0) Three-time world champions, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, from Germany, donít want to be bored. But their willingness to experiment backfired and they lie a shockingly low fifth in a field of eight pairs from five countries, at the conclusion of the Short Program of the pairs competition in Skate America on Saturday.

The pair had planned to retire after the Vancouver Olympic Games but they were disappointed to finish only third. "The Olympics are everything," Savchenko said, and her coach, Ingo Steuer, himself an Olympic bronze medalist, agreed. They made an immediate decision to stay on for four mores year and try for gold in Sochi in 2014. Steuer termed their willingness to try something new "essential" for the pairís development. He said, "To win in Sochi, you have to start trying new moves now." Savchenko, who is 27, also wanted to try something new to stay ahead of all the younger pairs who are pushing them.

Savchenko said she wasnít injured in her fall, although she was holding her arm and was obviously in pain. She added that it was good to see how it felt to try the move in competition.

Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, former US champions, are acknowledged as the first to complete a throw triple Axel in international competition, which they did when finishing seventh in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. However, only a very few others have attempted the move.

After being thrown extremely high by her partner, and turning the three-and-a half rotations, Savchenko landed heavily on both feet. That wasnít sufficient to save her from falling and hitting the ice very hard. She was not fully recovered by their next element, the triple twist, and her partner caught her very low, losing 1.0 from this elementís base value of five points. Then Szolkowy, 32, worried about his partner, messed up his triple toe loop, so that element had 0.70 removed from its base value.

The remaining four required elements were done well, and all received positive Grades of Execution with the lift and the straight line steps earning the maximum Level 4, the forward inside death spiral Level 3 and the pair combination spin Level 2.

They skated to the music from the soundtrack of Angels and Devils by Hans Zimmer, she in an ice blue, asymmetric outfit, he in something appropriate for a devil. A medal is certainly possible since they lie only 3.40 points behind the leaders, Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang of China, who are not related and have not competed since placing fifth in both the Vancouver Olympics and the following 2010 world championships in Turin.

1.SP score 62.85 (34.17+2.68) Dan Zhang, 26, and Hao Zhang, 27, presented a routine to John Morrisí A Transylvanian Lullaby, created by Lori Nichol. Their enforced layout from skating seems to have helped them develop a heightened choreographic awareness.

They opened with a +1.50 throw triple loop, followed by a +1.20 Level 2 triple Lutz twist and +0.40 side-by-side triple Salchows. Their pair combination spin was Level 4 but was a little strained and they received just the base value. Their lift and the forward inside death spiral were Level 4 with half a point and 0.80 added to their respective GoEs. Their Level 2 straight line steps got an extra +0.57.

Hao Zhang revealed, "We have only been back on the ice for three months." During that time they came to Canada to get the choreography. On Saturday, he said "I had a few injuries to my hand (a ligament tear), shoulder and knees and my health still isn't the best." Dan added, "There was one year that we couldnít compete, one year that we were off the competition. We used it to relax, to recover and to get new energy and strengths for the competition."

2.SP Score 59.62 (33.82+25.80) Caydee Denny, 18, and John Coughlin, 26, were delighted with their second place. In the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, they had executed a similar good performance of this routine, set to East of Eden, and also taken second place going into the Free, behind another top pair, Tatiana Voloszhar and Maxim Trankov.

Denny said, "Weíve been working really hard and training to get these programs as automatic as we can in the short amount of time that weíve been together. But we feel really comfortable out there together."

Denny was the US champion with Jeremy Barrett in 2010 and took part in the Olympics, while Coughlin is the current US champion with Caitlin Yankowskas, but their partnership dissolved immediately after they placed sixth in Worlds in Moscow.

Coughlin added, "I donít think anyone really loves the daily grind of practice, but weíre having fun coming in to the rink together every day and tackling new things after each competition. We re-did our footwork between this competition and Nebelhorn and we were excited to see that level four next to the straight line step sequence. So, little projects like that are paying off and weíre having the patience to do them.

"Caydee and I are close and we do have a good relationship. In this Short Program, we donít really have characters we play. We are just being us and how we are with each other. Itís easy in that sense because itís genuine for us. We didnít have a perfect warm up. We both made some mistakes. But weíre happy together and we love skating for an audience.

Coughlin revealed, "I know that everything being said on the internet about my breakup with Caitlin wasnít positive. But Caydee and I are very happy together and we love skating for an audience, although weíre kind of tuning out the world right now."

Denney said, "At first it was our short, but weíve been working on our programs after each competition and after Champs Camp and weíve been working on our long. I feel like now our programs are on an equal standing with each other and we are very comfortable with the short and the long." They received all positive GoEs, with the maximum Level 4 for their straight line steps, their lift and their closing pair combination spin. Their forward inside death spiral received Level 3 and their triple twist Level 2. Only three pairs received Level 2 for their twist. (The others were the Chinese and the Russians.)

3.SP score 59.62 (32.42+28.20 -1.0) Vera Bazarova, 18, and Yuri Larionov, 25, who are the European championship bronze medalists, presented a graceful routine set to music from Tosca that was marred by mistakes. He admitted, "Today, I am personally not very pleased with my performance because I made an unfortunate mistake by falling on the jump (their first element, the side by side triple toe loop jumps) and I also missed the end of the step sequence. The elements have been working in practice, so I donít know why I didnít pull myself together. We will continue to work to improve next time."

The pair has a somewhat checkered past. He was suspended for drug use and only a reduction in his banishment sentence enabled them to compete in the Olympics, where they finished 11th. In this yearís worlds they finished fifth.

4.SP score 59.60 (32.20+27.40) Kirsten Moore Towers, 19, and Dylan Moscovitch, 27, who are from Waterloo, Ontario, teamed up in the spring of 2009. They won the 2011 Canadian championship and placed eighth in their first world championship in April, skated a developing program to Boursalino by Claude Bolling. They received all positive GoEs except for a -0.80 off their Level 1 triple twist.

Asked to define their skating, they agree on "entertaining". He added, "We want to be seen as engaging each other on the ice. We donít want to simply skate. We want to show the emotion flowing between us. We want to engage the audience.

6.SP score 56.16 (29.68+26.48) Mary Beth Marley, 16, and Rockne Brubaker, 25, who teamed together in August of last year, and placed fourth at nationals, were delighted to be at the event. Although Brubaker is extremely experienced, Marley is new to pairs. She said, "It was a lot of fun. Everything I imagined. It was just what I thought [it would be] or better."

The routine, set to Singing in the Rain is very light hearted. Brubaker admitted, "We still have a lot to improve on throughout the entire season, but itís still fairly early, so we want to go back and really look at our levels and see how they are calling some of our elements and make adjustments. With a program like this, performance is key because, with this type of music, it can really bring the crowd in and we just have to keep working on that and making everything easier and have fun with it.

"Weíre growing every day we practice this stuff and keep doing what we are doing. Unfortunately, the one thing you canít learn in a season is experience. That takes time and developing, but weíre on the right track to doing that."

Brubaker, who won the US title twice with Keauna McLaughlin and was 11th in the 2009 world championship, admitted, "Iím a bit lighter now. I feel good at this weight. I think I trimmed a lot of muscles that I didnít really need and itís helped me. Iíve changed my off-ice training regimen and Iím strong in the right kind of ways now. Iíve lost about 10 to 12 [pounds] since about a year ago.

"We still have a lot to improve on throughout the entire season, but itís still fairly early, so we want to go back and really look at our levels and see how they are calling some of our elements and make adjustments."

They opened with +1.10 triple toes which earned +1.10 over the base value. Their Level 1 triple twist had -0.50 removed from the base value and the throw triple Lutz lost -0.80 for a less than perfect landing but everything else got positives including a Level 4 pair combination. Their lift and the forward inside death spiral were Level 3, but the straightline steps only Level 1.

7.SP score 51.55 (27.12+24.43) Tiffany Vise, 25, and Don Baldwin, who will turn 34 on November 15, train with Doug Ladret in Scottsdale. They performed to Pirates of the Caribbean, earning Level 4 for their lift and pair spin, and receiving an extra 0.40 on their triple toes. Their forward inside death spiral was Level 3. The straight line steps were Level 2. But their twist was only a double.

They were sixth in the past US championships and competed a few weeks ago in the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, finishing sixth.

Vise is in the history books. She landed the worldsí first throw quad Salchow in international competition in a Grand Prix in France in 2007 with former partner Derek Trent. About her SP performance, Vise said, "We felt really good. We had a good day today and we finally felt the ice a little more than we have the past couple of days. We were calm and having fun out there. Weíre taking things one thing at a time out there and skating how we do in practice. Weíve been doing some really good programs at home and we just need to focus on ourselves and not the outcome and trust our ability."

8.SP Score 48.94 (25.63+24.31 -1.0) Maylin Hausch, 23, and Daniel Wende, 27, Germans who placed 12th in the last world championships, had flaws on three elements, their Level 1 triple twist lost -1.10, they had a fall on their side-by-side triple toe loops and their Level 2 lift was flawed.


Free Skating

Planned Program Content

Starting Order - Free Skating

Warmup Group 1

  1. Maylin Hausch & Daniel Wende, GER
  2. Tiffany Vise & Don Baldwin, USA
  3. Mary Beth Marley & Rockne Brubaker, USA
  4. Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy, GER

Warmup Group 2

  1. Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch, CAN
  2. Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov, RUS
  3. Caydee Denney & John Coughlin, USA
  4. Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang, CHN

Start Time: 13:05


Free Skating Placements
Place Team Country
1 Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy GER
2 Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch CAN
3 Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang CHN
4 Caydee Denney & John Coughlin USA
5 Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov RUS
6 Tiffany Vise & Don Baldwin USA
7 Maylin Hausch & Daniel Wende GER
8 Mary Beth Marley & Rockne Brubaker USA





1.Overall Score 183.98; 1. FS 124.53 (60.41+64.12) Three-time world champions, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, from Germany, presented a unique concept, a tribute to the famous German Modern Dance choreographer Pina Bausch who died in 2009 aged 69. The novelty of many of the transition moves, some of which were not in the classical definition of beauty, made their presentation ground-breaking and it was not easy to take in all the nuances. The rest of the field stuck with the tried and true.

The Germansí novelty, and their skill in the actual required elements, gave them gold by a significant 5.32 points over the second place finishers, the Chinese who had led after the Short Program. Savchenko and Skolkowy could not remember when they had last been as low as fifth after the opening round, and had been relegated to present their Free in an earlier skating slot. The ouster to the also ran group, was caused by Savchenko falling on a throw triple Axel, with which they were experimenting in order to increase their technical marks, since it has a higher base value that the other throw triples. None of the rest of the field attempted such difficulty.

However, they recovered from that error today, Sunday. Even the Germansí opening asymmetric poses, were daring, and not to everyoneís taste. "I never met her," Szolkowy said about Pina Bausch, but we saw a movie made about her. Our coach (Ingo Steuer) wanted us to try something different and we did. We worked with a dancer to try and translate new moves onto the ice. It is VERY different and it has been very difficult." In comparison, last yearís routine was to the Pink Panther.

Even with all this new choreography, they still had to get all the standard tricks accomplished and they did, except for two very minor errors amongst the 12 elements. One was a doubled instead of triple in a sequence of what was meant as two triple jumps, and the other a very slight bobble on their last lift.

Szolkowy said, "Todayís performance was quite ok. We tried to skate like in practice. This is our first competition this year. Weíre not as far as other teams in competition, but we showed in the end that yesterday was a result of trying new things. We are still working. The difference was that we tried something new yesterday. It was our first try for the throw triple Axel in competition so there was a chance, maybe 50/50 or 60/40 that this [the program] could happen clean. Today we showed the elements we did last year so it was not that much new technically, but there were a lot of new artistry.

"Our coach came up with this idea in May. He tried to cut the music in a good way and we tried some things. When the movie came out in Germany, we watched. We tried to get some inspiration or feeling for the music and what kind of story we could tell. We worked together with the special ballet coach to show us some ways to move not like typical skaters, more like a dancer. Hopefully that worked. The first things the people said were really good. Hopefully we can improve our elements and our skating so we can show itís possible to create new programs for new kinds of music."

Savchenko said, "We want to try new and different things. Every year we want to develop. Weíve mastered all other triple throws and now we want to take another step and develop further. We want to show you are never too old to learn something new."

2.Overall Score 178.66; 3 FS 115.81 (56.96+58.85) Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang, who are not related, coming off a missed season when they didnít skate for a whole year due to his injuries, are trained by the legendary Bin Yao who jumpstarted Chinese pair skating in the early Ď80s. They interpreted the Lizstís Toten Tanz. He said, "I think todayís performance was quite good. We were pleased (even though they were only third in this portion). We had only a short time to prepare. Weíve only done three run throughs of the program. My endurance is still lacking so we can improve." So, is his partner worried about him dropping her? She said, ""Iím not afraid of doing any elements even if the practice time wasnít so long. Itís not a big problem. Itís up to us to work hard and to improve."

The world saw how tough Dan Zhang is, when they gained world fame after her cringe-making splatter at the 2006 Winter Games where she crashed to the ice in a spreadeagle position and slid at full speed into the barrier after an under-rotated throw quad jump which she had executed earlier in her career. The duo were allowed to get medical attention for her and she came back to skate the rest of the routine and win the silver medal. (Many regulations clarifying what was and was not allowed came into effect after that delay in proceedings.)

3.Overall Score 177.43; 2 FS 117.83 (61.65+56.18) Kirsten Moore Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, who are the reigning Canadian champions, won silver in last yearís Skate America. They have only skated together since the spring of 2009 and are trained by Kristy and Kris Wirz in Kitcher-Waterloo. They performed to the Henry V soundtrack by Patrick Doyle.

Moscovitch said, "Weíre very happy with the competition as a whole. We did a good job. We came in prepared and we skated how we have been practicing and how we aim to skate. We are happy with the outcome of the performances and the placement."

Moore-Towers said, "We are thrilled to be here, on the rostrum. I find that competing with such established teams pushes us and shows us what the future holds and how we can push. We are still building in our third year. Watching other better teams that have been more places helps me push even harder."

4.Overall Score 175.40; 4 FS 115.78 (59.36+56.42) Caydee Denny and John Coughlin, who train with Dalilah Sappenfield in Colorado Springs, performed to the Puciniís immortal Nessun Dorma. They had only one mistake, when she singled the second of a sequence of two double Axels. But they finished 2.03 off the podium. He explained, "It was exciting. It felt great to have the crowd behind us when we finished our program."

They received three Level 4s but their back outside death spiral was only Level 1. Denny said, "We looked at some of our levels on the lifts and spins and weíll just go back home and work on that before NHK (their second Grand Prix)." Coughlin said, "At home we talk about how key it is to make sure the carry lift goes up on the crescendo and I knew I cut the side by side spin a little short, but I thought it was worth it to make sure that carry was effective. I released late on the lasso and Iím kicking myself because it was a wonderful take off. I donít even know why that happened."

Denney said, "It was a little [frustrating]. You always want to skate your best and itís something that I havenít been training that much back at home, but Iíll just go back and work a little bit harder on that and pay attention to the levels so that each competition gets better and better."

Baldwin said, "We talk about dependable points with jumps and throws, things like that and I need to be smarter about the lifts and expect a level four out of myself every time."

5. Overall Score 173.94; 5 FS 114.32 (58.72+55.60) Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov are trained by Liudmila Kalinina in Perm. Appropriately, these Russians interpreted Laraís Theme from the soundtrack of the movie Dr. Zhivago. They got off to a bad start with her having a problem with their opening side-by-side triple toe loops and losing synchronization. However, they had some great moves including the lifts, where they take full advantage of their height difference.

6. Overall Score 155.42; 6.FS 103.87 (53.00+50.87) Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin interpreted two pieces of music, the first from the soundtrack of Legends of the Fall by James Horner; the second, a romantic piece, Time to Say Goodbye, to climb a place. They skated second of the eight pairs, and the music administrator just could not get their music to start properly. Baldwin said, "The music mishap at the beginning of the program - I want that to happen every time. It got us to relax and it almost felt like practice. It got the crowd behind us and by the time the music started I felt good.

"We can definitely express this music. Sometimes the faster music weíve skated to in the past, you donít quite get the connection between the both of us but this one we can really emote to each other. We can look into each otherís eyes, which some teams have trouble doing if they have a younger girl with an older guy, it may not look right, but it looks right with us."

Vise said, ""Itís nice to have a program that the crowd can feed off. Iíve always wanted to skate to both of these pieces of music. They are two completely different pieces mushed together, but we wanted to go towards that emotional factor, especially skating to music we love a lot."

They had negative GoEs on only three of their 12 elements. He admitted, "There were a couple little mistakes, but they are easy fixes. This is the type of performance that we have been doing in practice, so itís nice to go out in competition and compete how we know we can. "

Visa said, "We opted not to do sectionals, we decided to go home and just relax for a little while, but weíre doing a bunch of shows at Christmastime and that helps us get out there and that performance factor a little bit and weíll just keep making sure our levels are up to par."

They jump in opposite directions which is an unusual touch. She said, "Itís not a disadvantage or an advantage, itís something different and I think that the audience can appreciate seeing something different." They train in Scottsdale with Lara and Doug Ladret.

7. Overall Score 144.80 ; 8 FS 88.64 (44.28 +47.36 -3) Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker, who train with former US champions, Jenni Meno and Todd Sand at Aliso Viejo, which is about 50 miles from the Citizens Business Bank Arena here in Ontario, CA, performed to Rachmaninovís classic Piano Concerto in C Minor in what can best be described as a development outing. They dropped a place from sixth after the short with an outing in which she fell three times.

Brubaker confessed, "Some days are easier than others. We basically skated all week and this is the first time we actually missed any elements. It just goes that way sometimes. We have a senior B in France next week so we have another chance to work on and improve our programs. The mistakes we made today werenít because we werenít prepared.

"We had just a few minor mistakes, which comes with it being earlier in the season. We didnít execute some of the technical elements the way we wanted to. I think skating-wise, the transitions have improved a lot from a month ago at Champs Camp. Obviously we want to nail everything and get plus threes, but it doesnít go like that all the time and I think that in the midst of our mistakes we did some really nice things. This is one of those experiences we can really learn and grown from"

Marley said, "I didnít let the falls affect me."

8.Overall Score 141.54; 7 FS 92,60 (46.25+46.35) Maylin Hausch and Daniel Wende performed to the soundtrack from Steve Yablonskiís soundtrack of Your Highness. They are trained by Karel Fajfr in Oberstdorf but their choreography was done this summer by Pasquale Camerlengo in Detroit. But they did not have a good outing. Seven of their 12 elements were saddled with negative GoEs.

2011 Skate America Pairs Medalists


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