Maxim Trankov’s Commentary on the Pairs Event at Worlds 2015: Part 2

We continue with the second part of Max’s translated commentary from Worlds 2015.

2014 Olympic champion Maxim Trankov
2014 Olympic champion Maxim Trankov

On Kavaguti/Smirnov’s short program:

Trankov starts off talking about how this World Championship is going to be just a learning experience for the Russian skaters, and that the Russian team should not expect anything. After the “triumph of Sochi,” Trankov says the Russian team should just get experience and gather strength, and allow others to win competitions, because everyone is tired of seeing Russians win.

[on their SBS triple toe loop jumps] “They lost unison a little. But they executed the jump confidently.”

[on the twist] “Not bad. The twist was executed not bad at all.”

[on the throw triple loop] “Very well done. You can tell that these guys are in great shape. After the European Championships, they started believing in themselves, that they really have come back.”

[The other commentator says K/S mustn’t lose concentration, although they are very experienced.] “But look at the European Championships, where they botched the lift suddenly right at the end [of the LP]. It all goes [i.e., the elements], and you have to remember and rework them again. They can’t relax now, [they] need to hold on. But in that sense, Yuko & Sasha are okay. They have an established working relationship, so to speak. These guys have been skating together for so many years, working together for so many years. They sense each other. “

Kavaguti/Smirnov: “These guys have been skating together for so many years … They sense each other.”

[on their step sequence] “The step sequence is in hold, together. This is what is called ‘pairs skating.’ At least half the steps should be done in hold.”

[on the death spiral and that the entry was difficult] “Well, because of Yuko’s injured shoulder, these guys have to do the death spiral with the other arm, which is why it looks a little unusual, because she is holding on with the other arm. And of course, it’s much more difficult, but it appeared like today everything was… not bad.”

[when they finished] “There were tiny mistakes here and there, but they were such that, in the grand scheme of things, no one will notice. They should be the [current] leaders now.”

[The other commentator said he sighed in relief.] “Well, in actual fact, you could have sighed in relief after they executed the throw jump, because the guys managed very well with all their elements. They look happy. It was evident that they skated with pleasure; everything worked for them.”

[The other commentator says Smirnov has a lot of adrenaline in his blood.] “Maybe. Maybe. But he’s been shot before.” [This is a Russian saying, literally translated as a “shot sparrow,” meaning that Smirnov is very experienced.]

[on the repeat of the SBS jumps] “They jumped one after the other somewhat. Yuko landed first, then Sasha.”

[The other commentator says that they don’t have to jump in sync, as long as they land in sync.] “No. They have to do everything in sync. That’s in order to get +3. But they will get +2. It’s not a bad mark, either.” [Note: K/S got mostly +1s for the SBS jumps, with a few +2s.]

[on the repeat of the throw and choreographer Peter Tchernyshev’s reaction] “The throw was great. Peter Tchernyshev works with these guys.”

[The other commentator says that the camera didn’t show K/S’s coach Tamara Moskvina.] “They’re hiding her. Maybe she’s not watching, either, like me.” [He’s referring to himself not being able to watch T/M skate and laughs.]

Then Trankov talks about how happy he is that both the young and older Russian pairs got similar technical marks. He says the younger generation is pushing the older generation.

On Tarasova/Morozov’s free skate:

Trankov was so nervous for, and didn’t want to jinx, Tarasova/Morozov, his training mates, that he turned away and didn’t watch them skate. He could only comment once they had finished skating and he watched the slow-motion repeats.

Tarasova/Morozov:  Trankov's protegees
Tarasova/Morozov: Trankov’s protegees

[at the start] “Zhenya [Evgenia Tarasova] had a big problem with her landing leg. She got a bad pair of boots that were so tight, they injured the nerve of her foot, and at Europeans, she basically skated on one leg. After Europeans, they had to take a 20-day break, during which they didn’t skate at all, to allow her foot to heal. Thereafter, the top of her boot had to be completely restitched. Thus, I’m sure Zhenya had to fight for the landings in the throws. It’s difficult for me to comment, because I want them to do well so badly. We train at the same rink, and I think they are our future. This is a very good showing at their first very serious event, not just to be in the top 10, but [to finish 6th]… I would like repeat that at my first World Championship after moving up from juniors, I came in 12th.”

[about their reverse lift] “This is what is called a difficult variation. We trained this lift with the guys [T/M] for a very long time. I found the position for them, me and Tatiana.”

[about the throw where Tarasova had to fight for the landing]There was no touch down with the free leg.”

[about the throw triple Salchow] “Superb throw Salchow. There is still room for the guys to grow. They are planning to learn the throw flip and possibly the quad twist because their height [of the triple twist] and ability allows it.”

[after T/M’s marks came up] “They almost broke 200. I would like to remind everyone that, in order to make the elite top flight of pairs skating and to fight for top places, you need to be breaking 200. And these guys are very close.”

On Scimeca/Knierim’s short program:

[before the start] “They work with very good specialists. They have had less successful seasons before, but they skated stronger than in this season. This season, from what I could see at competitions, these guys are fighting with jumps. First one, then the other. Something stopped working.”

[on their twist] “The twist is great beyond words. However, it was done from a simple entrance, so they are not going to get high levels for this. They won’t get more than 6-7 points.” [Note: S/K got level 3 for the twist and scored 7.50.]

[about their SBS triple Salchow jumps] “They did it. This season, it’s probably the best they performed this element.”

[about the SBS spins] “They lost unison in the first half. The second half was not bad. It will be difficult for the judges to mark the spins positively because they didn’t exit in unison, either, and the first half was done completely wrong.”

[on their lift] “Very interesting lift. Very beautiful.”

Trankov explains where the other U.S. pairs currently train and used to train.

[on the throw triple flip] “Well done! They did very well with their short program, skating in such a strong group. They held their own. After Tarasova/Morozov, everyone started skating strong. In my estimation, they will be fighting for 5th-6th place among those who have already skated. There are still two teams to skate. They should get about 65 points, as all their elements are very good. Their only big problem are the jump elements, but today they did very well. Maybe the Chinese ice is very good. Those who don’t normally jump started jumping today.” [Note: Scimeca/Knierim earned 65.56 for their SP.]

Scimeca/Knierim: “They did very well with their short program.” (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)

[on the repeats] “Have a look at their twist! The difference between their twist and that of other teams is great–it has great height and amplitude. The only thing, the entrance into it is not the most difficult. Their jumps were done very much out of unison. They just did them for the sake of doing them. They didn’t even try to go for good quality.”

He laughs at the reaction of their coach, Dalilah Sappenfield, when they complete “the most important jump element” –the throw. Trankov says that in America, all coach-skater relationships are contractual, and it is common to switch coaches and even switch back by mutual agreement.

On Scimeca/Knierim’s free skate:

Trankov gushed over their incredible quad twist and complimented their interesting lifts, but criticized their jumps and many minor mistakes throughout the program.

[on their scores] “The judges are very loyal to this pair. They [Scimeca/Knierim] often make mistakes but still get higher technical scores than those who skate clean. For example, you can be sure that they will beat the French [James/Cipres] tonight, even though the French skated perfectly. They have been beating the French all season, regardless of their skates. They could fall twice and still beat the French. This shows that the judges and the audience like this pair and that they are U.S. pair no.1.” [He then accurately predicted that they would also beat the Canadians, Seguin/Bilodeau, because of their high-quality quad twist.]


On Seguin/Bilodeau’s free skate:

Trankov talks about the GP selection process for a country’s third-ranked pair team. He then repeats that in order to be considered a top team (not part of the elite, but still one of the top teams), you should make the top 12 at Worlds. Then you can fight for a top 10 place at Worlds, which is “very good by any athlete’s standard”. He repeats that he came in 12th at his first World Championships and says that it wasn’t so bad.

[on the SBS triple Salchow jumps–the other guy says that S/B are also probably fighting for the top 10 and Trankov says:] “Yes… well, for now the jump wasn’t bad. Triple Salchow.”

[on the triple twist] “The triple twist is probably going to be level 2, I think, because there was no catch. You could clearly see that the male partner’s hand slipped from the female partner’s waist and he caught her on his shoulder, so this is probably going to be level 2.” [Note: The twist got level 2.]

[on the lift and their skating] “You can tell that this is still juniorish skating. One of the simplest lifts [was done] in the first part of the program, so… But here we would also have to look at the mark sheets for Kristina and Lyosha [Astakhova//Rogonov] because we don’t know what levels those guys got for their elements.”

[on the SBS spins] “The side-by-side spins were executed very securely. Very much in unison.”

[afterward] “I just wanted to add–for those who are not in the know, those who don’t know… These guys [S/B] competed at Junior Worlds this year a few weeks ago and, in order to compete at the senior championship, they had to change the program. Pairs who compete in the seniors, we require 3 lifts, whereas juniors only have 2 [lifts], and the [senior] program is longer by 30 seconds. That’s why the guys are, in fact, still skating an initial version of the program. So it’s a little harder for them.”

[on their SBS jump combination] “Well, they managed well with their jumps, but A/R had a more difficult jump combination, because this was a double axel/double toe. A/R had a triple toe/double toe/double toe. So those guys [A/R] won the jump part [of the program].”

[on the throw triple Salchow–the other commentator talks about whether or not it is more valuable if jumps are done in the second part of the program, to which Trankov replies:] “And the throws that A/R did were also more difficult [than S/B’s throws]. They did a throw triple loop and a throw triple flip, whereas these guys did a throw triple Salchow–the throw with the least value. So it may be possible to compete on the technical side. And the rest will depend on the judges, on the PCS.”

[on the throw triple toe loop] “Ahhh, they did a throw Salchow and throw toe [loop] as well, so these are the two least valuable throws. Although they were executed well. On the [throw] flip, Kristina and Lyosha had difficulties, but still… Let’s just say the jump part, A&R did better.”

[The other guy says that S/B had a 5-point advantage over A/R after the short.] “Well, it’s going to be difficult [for A/R to overtake S/B] because the technical side was practically equal.” [The other guy suggests it might go in A/R’s favor.] “Well, over here, there is quite a loyal attitude towards Canadians, and… ”

[The other guy talks about PCS.] “The PCS also shouldn’t be [high] because the skating was quite juniorish, and the lifts were not the most difficult, and the throws were two of the simplest ones. The triple Salchow and triple toe throws are not the most difficult throws.”

[The other guy says S/B got 116 points for their free skate at Junior Worlds. Note: S/B scored 115.00 in their Junior Worlds LP.] “Well, it is difficult [to compare]. You can’t compare a junior mark to a senior mark–they don’t correspond with each other in any way.” [The other guy says S/B should get lower scores in seniors, but Trankov replies:] “Well, if there’s an additional element, the marks should be approximately in the same region.” [The other guy says: ‘the lift.’] “Yes. Plus the lift, plus PCS, because you are skating longer in any event, by 30 seconds. But the guys [S/B] did well, because in principle they skated everything clean, they did all the jumps. All the things they can do–they showed. It’s not going to go unnoticed by the judges. And they skated two programs clean, which will also be a serious, let’s say, underlay for their marks.”

Seguin/Bilodeau: “In principle, they skated everything clean, they did all the jumps.” (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)

[Trankov watches a replay of their twist.] “Look at this. First of all, their twist was underrotated, and secondly, there was no catch. In actual fact, the technical specialist should lower this score, because the twist was underrotated. It’s very clear to see even without the replay.”

[They discuss who S/B’s coach is. Note: It is Josee Picard.] “With these guys, the question will be to the technical specialist–to what extent he is going to punish them, to what extent he liked them, because there were mistakes. You could see in the slow-motion replays. And the female partner’s variation in the lift wasn’t very difficult; [also] the twist was underrotated.”

[The other guy says they won over A/R.]
“But they still lost in the free skate.”


On James/Cipres’ short program:

[in the beginning]
“Well, this is, in fact, technically one of the strongest pairs. They trained all summer with us, with Stanislav [Stas] Morozov. Last year, or in general in the previous seasons, their biggest obstacle was the twist element, and Stas fixed it, and afterward they became very competitive. The guys [J/C] jump very well and have very big throws. And they are in general very striking, thanks to the female partner. The male partner is strong and attractive, and the female partner [has an] exotic look.”

[on the triple twist] “You see, they started doing the twist. They became absolutely competitive. But because they either lack experience or a certain discipline. Well, for the French generally, it’s… let’s say…”

[on the SBS triple toe loops, which Vanessa doubled] “Well, you see here again, a [mistake] on the jump. These are simply stupid mistakes that the guys make here, and they are lacking in something. I don’t know what. Because they can skate in a way that they should be feared by the Canadians and the Russians and the Chinese, but the guys make a few little mistakes competition after competition, and sometimes big mistakes, so that …” [He is interrupted by the other commentator.]  “As an example, I can give the European Championships, when the guys were skating their free skate. They weren’t skating bad, and suddenly at some point, Vanessa instead of doing a lift from the free skate, she started doing a lift from the short [program], and the guys were left without a lift. So… this says a lot about… I mean, how can you forget an element that you are doing at a competition? And the guys just gave away a bronze [medal at Europeans]. Of course, these things hurt them a lot. However, I’d like to repeat that the guys could be such a competition [for the top teams] that they better watch out! [He uses a Russian expression. Literally translated, it is: ‘Mum, don’t be sad,’ meaning that it can set great fear in someone.]

James/Cipres: “They can skate in a way that should be feared . . . But the guys make a few little mistakes competition after competition.” (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)

[on the step sequence]
“Well, it’s difficult for me to talk about the step sequences because this season, I don’t really understand them, so to speak, because me and Tanya missed a season. I am used to seeing pairs skating, where the people skate as a pair, whereas this season somehow pairs skating turned out not to be really necessary. People skate parallel to each other quite a lot. All the step sequences are [skated in] parallel.”

[on the death spiral–the other commentator asks if they managed to hold on to complete the rotation and Trankov says:] “I didn’t quite see because the picture was from the top [angle], but I don’t think it will help them much even if they held on, because with a double toe loop…” [The other commentator talks about base value.] “The other thing is that you are not really allowed to jump a double toe loop, so the mistake is made worse by the fact that the requirements state that the jump should either be a triple or a double Axel. Double jumps are generally…” [The other guy says that they will still count.] “Well, they will count, but with a very big deduction. It’s like an illegal element.” [Trankov actually says ‘illegal element’ in English and struggles to translate it. The other guy says ‘wrong element’, and Trankov replies:] “Yes, wrong. So it’s severely punished.” [The other guy asks why it counts at all and Trankov says:] “Well, you can’t really disregard it completely. It was still executed. 50% of it was executed. The male partner showed what they were doing. If they had just gone on and done a perfect double toe, then maybe they would have somehow got less [marks]. So it’s punished like an underrotation.” [Trankov clarifies that Cipres jumped a triple and James did a double.]

[during the replays] “But generally, it’s difficult for these guys to work. They don’t have a pairs skating coach. They are coached by Morgan’s coach, who coached him when he was still skating as a singles skater in juniors. It’s his coach, and now he is training them in pairs skating, and they are also assisted by Fabien Bourzat–a European champion in ice dancing–so of course…”

[The other guy asks why they didn’t stay with Stanislav Morozov.] “Well, the French federation decided… They didn’t perform very well at the GP events and, in any event, it was difficult for them in Moscow and expensive and at one point the relationship became very strained, so to speak, between our [Russian] federation and the European Union. At some point, they were just taken back, simply taken, and they were told that… I know Vanessa was very upset about it. She cried over it, but the French federation told them to go back home, so they went back home.”


On Astakhova/Rogonov’s free skate:

[on their opening SBS jump combination] “Great start! The combination of a triple and two double toe loops is a very valuable combination. It’s one of the most valuable in pairs skating. Only a triple/triple or a loop as the second jump is more valuable.”

[on the triple twist–the other commentator asks whether it was level 3] “I doubt it. These guys are still learning the twist. It’s a level 1, level 2 element.” [Note: The twist got level 2.]

[on their second set of jumps] “And this is their second jump element. Salchow. Triple Salchow. Well done. These guys are lacking in speed a little bit, but for a first season, the main thing is that they manage the technical side.”

[on the death spiral–the other commentator says that Rogonov had the same entry with his previous partner] “Well, of course. Partners change, but some elements remain. Some elements that you did well just need improving, that’s all.”

[on their throw triple flip] “They managed to do it. Kristina did well. But.. it’s the throw that they didn’t manage to do in the short program. That led to a fall in the short program. In the free skate, it wasn’t done very precisely, but the guys did it.”

[on their throw triple loop] “Well done, [Kristina]. The jump elements, the coordination elements, the guys managed to do them up to 98%.”

[before their first lift] “Now, it’s time for Lyosha to work. Oi oi oi! They lost balance a little in the lift. The thing I would like to repeat is, and maybe it’s a question for the choreographers and program designers… These guys have very little speed, and it’s very difficult to do a lift at such low speed. If the female partner is losing her axis a little bit, then at high speed it is always possible to adjust her a little bit and come and save her. But at low speed, you have to do it on toe picks and the lift appears very short and not the most attractive.”

[on their second lift] “In principle, Lyosha is a very experienced partner, a partner who knows how to lift. It’s just experience, and the experience of the choreographer. They have a very young choreographer working with them.” [Note: Sergei Komolov.] “He needs to understand that the program is very over-packed with transitions. It’s interesting to watch, but you get tired. I got tired watching them by the middle of the program. There’s so much going on. Somewhere, you just want beautiful lines–that they skate parallel and fly next to each other. Especially at the end of the program, when we are going on rhythm, and you want them to finish strong. You want them to go with power, to do the lifts with power. Whereas these guys [A/R] do two little transitions, little steps, and then he lifts her and there’s no speed left, and they finish midway through. They break off the lift midway through, and this immediately looks juniorish.”

Astakhova/Rogonov: “The program is very over-packed with transitions. It’s interesting to watch, but you get tired.” (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)

[after they finish] “But it’s their first season, and this is a great success. At their first World Championships, to perform the free skate so securely! These guys can congratulate each other, and I also want to congratulate Artur Dmitriev–a specialist with whom I have trained in the past. I’m very happy for Artur that, two years in a row, he brings pairs to the World Championships. Even though they are alternates, the alternates don’t look in any way worse than members of the first team. It’s good that we have such a young generation growing to replace the old.”

[The other commentator says something about Julia Antipova. But Trankov ignores him, and says about A/R:] “A pair in their first year, not even a year… It was very good. When it comes to the components and the skating, these guys will most likely improve. I’m sure in 10 minutes’ time, these guys will be sitting in the stands watching more experienced pairs skaters and taking some notes for themselves. But I am very happy with their performance. Well done.”

[The other commentator says Kristina was happy to get a chance to go to Worlds.] “Well, for her, it’s a unique season because she has no experience whatsoever. She never skated in GP events. This year was the first year she’s skating in GP events. I’m not even sure she competed in juniors. Well, maybe a few years ago. She did very well. You can tell that she is able to psych herself up [for competitions].”


One thought on “Maxim Trankov’s Commentary on the Pairs Event at Worlds 2015: Part 2

  1. Pingback: Best, Most & Worst of Pairs: 2016-17 | A Divine Sport

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