Maxim Trankov’s Commentary on the Pairs Event at Worlds 2015: Part 3

Here is the final section of Max’s translated commentary from Worlds 2015.

2014 Olympic champion Maxim Trankov
2014 Olympic champion Maxim Trankov

On Marchei/Hotarek’s free skate:

[at the start] “An Italian theme for the Italian pair. La Strada, performed by Valintina Marchei, a singles skater only yesterday, and Ondrej Hotarek.”

[on their SBS triple Lutz jumps] “Triple Lutz. Superb. Even better than…” [The other commentator interrupts with what sounds like “D/R”.] “Yes. Very much in sync, with great amplitude.”

[on their throw triple flip] “Throw triple flip. Also completed without any problems. By the way, the guys [M/H] are training together with Duhamel/Radford under the same coaches–Bruno Marcotte and Richard Gauthier.”

[on the double twist] “It’s a double twist for now. Evidently, the guys are still learning the triple twist. However, this element wasn’t the best for Ondrej even when he was skating with Stefania Berton.”

Marchei/Hotarek:  "It's a double twist for now."  (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Marchei/Hotarek: “It’s a double twist for now.” (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)

[on the SBS spins–the other commentator says that the SBS spins are an indicator of how well the pair is skating together] “Well, it’s generally an indication of pairs skating. In principle, you could put two different pairs skaters together, and they would do the side-by-side spins in unison because they know how to follow the other, how to adjust it. Valentina Marchei still needs to learn this, that’s all. You can still see that she is skating like a single skater.”

[on their SBS jump combination] “That’s a very serious jump combination. Triple Salchow/double toe loop/double toe loop.” [The other commentator says they didn’t do it perfectly.] “But they will get very high marks for this.”

[on their lift–the other commentator asks how Valentina can not be afraid to be lifted like that, as a singles skater] “Well, in reality, Ondrej is a very secure partner. He’s very big, sturdy, and strong, and really you can trust a partner like that. He always had… I think Valentina is the lightest of all his partners with whom he [has] skated.”

[on their throw triple Salchow] “The guys execute their free skate clean. This is really…” [He sounds happy.] “Today, pairs skating is a pleasure [to watch].”

[on the last lift, which they aborted] “And, similarly [to Ilyushechkina/Moscovitch], these guys are left without a lift. Maybe I should say about all my competitors: ‘strong and secure partner.’” [He laughs.] “As soon as I praise someone…” [He means he jinxed them.] “The lasso is the most difficult lift, as far as timing is concerned. It’s not the most valuable of lifts, but you really need to be in tune with each other in order to do the lasso lift.”

[after they finish] “You could see that, after the throw, Valentina skated very carefully. She concentrated very hard on this lasso [lift]. Maybe she tried too hard, so to speak. They were too… I noticed because, prior to that, she was skating very artistically and very well, but just before the lasso, she was suddenly so concentrated.” [The other commentator tries to explain the dangers of the lasso lift.] “There are many nuances to this element, and of course, you need experience. The other question is whether it was worth taking this risk. They could have done another lift with a similar value, but simpler execution.”

[The other commentator asks about their SBS jumps.] “Very serious. If they add a triple twist [and] Valentina adds a little bit of pairs skating [experience], and you will have a serious pair. At Europeans–a serious threat to our Russian pairs.”

[when they walk to the K&C] “I wouldn’t be so upset if I were them. To be in the top 10 at Worlds…” [He clearly didn’t expect A/R to beat them overall.]

[The other commentator compliments their throws.] “Well, I can’t really say that their throws are super-great, because they train in Canada where the throws are small–like jumps—i.e., you can see that Ondrej is simply not getting in the way of her jumping her Lutz. He just steps aside, gives the direction, and Valentina then jumps. It will be interesting to compare her [SBS] triple Lutz with the throw [triple Lutz] and see how much bigger it is. I think there is not much difference.”

[He watches a replay of their throw triple Salchow.] “You see, even on the [throw] Salchow, the distance between them is practically 2 meters, whereas there should be 5 at least. He can almost take her by the hand when she lands.”

[when they sit down in the K&C] “But it’s very serious progress, to learn so much in one year. Valentina did very well!”

On Denney/Frazier’s short program:

[before the start] “They are coached by Ingo Steuer–the coach of our rivals [Savchenko/Szolkowy] and a rival coach of Robin Szolkowy. Two German coaches–one coaching a team from the U.S. and the other a team from Russia.”

[on whether Robin is returning to Germany] “I don’t know. He was only contracted for one season. It’s very expensive to keep foreign technical specialists, and the way things currently are, I don’t know what is going to happen in [the] future. Plus, it’s going to be very difficult for Robin. He is married. His wife Romy is expecting a baby, so he will have to go back in any event. Of course, it’s possible to send someone to him to train for a while.”

The sound on this Youtube video disappears for some reason throughout Denney/Frazier’s program and only reappears after they finish.

Trankov then gives a very long speech about how Haven’s sister Caydee used to compete with John Coughlin and what a great pairs skater John was. Trankov says that Coughlin paid attention to the same things that Trankov himself finds so important in pairs skating–the quality of the pairs elements, interesting lifts, the height of the twist, the height and distance of the throw jumps that wow the audience, the step sequences. He says John Coughlin even spoke at a conference about how those elements should be rewarded. Trankov then speaks very passionately about how important the quality of pairs elements and the quality of overall skating is to him personally and also to other pairs skaters of his generation.

Trankov says that if viewers want to see “real” pairs skating, they should watch Pang/Tong skate in the competition. He says that, with Pang/Tong’s retirement after Worlds, pairs skating will lose the last team from the era of great pairs skaters. And that viewers will never again see anything like the quality of the elements Pang/Tong did. Trankov says he competed against Pang/Tong for many years and learned a lot from them.

In the meantime, he compliments the lifts and throws that Denney/Frazier performed in their SP.

On Denney/Frazier’s free skate:

[at the start] “These guys [D/F] are working with John Zimmermann and Ingo Steuer, who was the coach of the famous pair of Savchenko/Szolkowy, five-time world champions.” [Note: John Zimmerman was actually not coaching D/F at this point; after U.S. Nationals, they switched to Steuer as their full-time coach.]

[on their SBS triple Salchow jumps] “He did a double Salchow.”

Trankov said there were lots of soundtracks used this season, and that this was the soundtrack to The Lion King.

[on their SBS double Axel] “Unfortunately, this pair did not manage with their jump elements. In the first instance, it was he who doubled the [triple] Salchow, and now the double Axel resulted in a fall for her.”

[on their throw triple Salchow] “The throw was very precisely executed. Very well done.”

[on the death spiral] “This year, we see a lot of back outside death spirals. It is not only because it’s the most difficult–and highly valued by the judges–death spiral. But it is also a trick. Next year, the back outside death spiral will be a requirement for the short program, so pairs are trying to include it in their free skates this year to avoid the need to learn a completely new element and new technique over the summer.”

[on their lifts] “This pair has interesting lifts, but there are big question marks regarding their jump elements. I think these guys are going to go down the rankings now, at least in the free skate…”

Denney/Frazier:  "This pair has interesting lifts, but there are big question marks regarding their jump elements."  (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Denney/Frazier: “This pair has interesting lifts, but there are big question marks regarding their jump elements.” (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)

[The other commentator asks if D/F will slide below A/R.] “The question is whether the judges still remember that A/R even exist, because we are now two warmup groups later.” [Trankov goes on to say that D/F should lose a lot of points.] “It is evident that the judges are not helping at all at this event, and that you need to skate clean in order to fight for a place in the sun.”

The other commentator then criticizes the music choice and the costumes. Trankov says you can make a masterpiece out of any music if you try. He adds that Ingo Steuer never tried to “tell a story” in his programs.

On Ilyushechkina/Moscovitch’s free skate:

[on Kirsten/Dylan’s unexpected split] “They were a perfect match. Their personalities were identical, and they got on very well off the ice, and it was evident when they skated. And they had great energy about them.”

[about Luba] “She became Bond’s girl–no more, no less.”

[on their SBS triple toe loop/double too loop jump sequence] “It’s quite a simple combination, I must say. But I’m sure those guys are learning a 3T/3T combination.”

[on their triple twist] “We have yet to see a good twist [at this point in the competition].”

[on their other jumps] “They managed very well with all their jumps. You see what good speed can do. These guys are skating with good speed, and it immediately appears like they are in a class above [the previous pairs].”

[on their first lift] “It’s a very difficult and interesting lift. As we’ve discussed before, it’s a reverse [lift]. Luba is in a very difficult position.”

[on the throw triple Lutz and their overall skating] “There was a touch down with the hand. These guys are skating with feeling. It’s a pleasure to watch.”

[on the transitions] “It worked in their favor that they combined two strong pairs schools–the Canadian and the Russian. This is pairs skating. All those little transitions–a few steps, and suddenly they are in a spiral. It’s all done very well and in sync. All the elements are well skated and of high quality.”

Ilyushechkina/Moscovitch: "This is pairs skating. All those little transitions . . . . It's all done very well and in sync."  (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Ilyushechkina/Moscovitch: “This is pairs skating. All those little transitions . . . . It’s all done very well and in sync.” (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)

[on the lunge lift]
“Compare Lyosha’s [Rogonov’s] lifts to this. This guy [Dylan] covers half the ice and almost does a full circle. I think it will be very difficult for our [i.e., Russian] skaters to compete with this because these guys are really demonstrating strong skating.”

[on the death spiral] “A very difficult entry. But unfortunately, a fall from the death spiral means the guys might be left without an element. I will have to watch the repeat to be able to say for sure. Maybe I jinxed them.”

[on their SBS spins] “They lost unison. But at the end, they exited in sync. That shows their experience.”

[on the end of their program] “At the end, they botched the lift as well. The program fell apart a little at the end. They started very strong, but I think they lost concentration toward the end. They completely botched two elements, and the SBS spins were done very badly. I need to see if they even completed a full circle in the death spiral, otherwise they could be left without a mark for the death spiral. They could get 0 for that, and the lift will most likely get level 1 or even basic level, because there was no more than one rotation. They seriously messed up the end [of the program]. I think I praised these guys too much.” [Note: I/M received no credit for the death spiral and only basic level for the final lift.]

[The other commentator says that Dylan was better with Kirsten.]
“This pair is different, but very interesting. I will be very interested to see them develop. Luba used to have problems with jumps, but she is now landing them very securely. She did so well! The lifts are very interesting. They made mistakes where I didn’t expect it–the death spiral. The requirements for elements change constantly. It is hard to re-learn the technique, and the death spiral is the pain of pairs skating! This pair has a lot of potential. They are very serious athletes, and if they continue working as they did, they could be serious contenders. I already like them better than the top Canadian team. They have better skating skills, that’s for sure.”

[The other commentator says that the Canadian federation doesn’t think they are better than D/R.] “Well, the Canadian federation has its own ideas about figure skating. They never supported Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, and neither the experts nor the fans could understand why.”

Trankov then continues to praise I/M and says they demonstrated “very serious skating” at Worlds.

On Della Monica/Guarise’s short program:

[The other commentator says that everyone can speak Russian, even Della Monica/Guarise.] “Well…yes… they trained with Oleg Vasiliev. But the most interesting thing about this pair is the story of the [male] partner. Many know this, but many don’t. What can you say about Matteo when he skates? [He is] a person who is a world champion in roller skating. There have been many previous Italian pairs guys who came from roller skating, but you could tell that they were roller skaters, no matter how long they skated. But the progress that Matteo has made–landing triple jumps, becoming a figure skater, so to speak–he did very well! He was forced to quit roller skating, as his partner was caught doping [using some hidden, hard-to-detect drugs]. And under the roller skating rules, both partners get disqualified, for life. So Matteo was left without his sport that he had dedicated his whole life to, and had become World Champion in. He was forced to switch to figure skating. But in the end he got to go to the Olympics, which he would not have been able to do as a roller skater.”

[on their skating] “But if we get back to the skating, the guys [DM/G] didn’t skate their best here [in the SP]. Nicole had a mistake on the triple Salchow, and the throw [triple Loop] also had a stepout–quite a serious mistake. So of course, there also won’t be a high technical score.”

Della Monica/Guarise:  "The guys didn't skate their best here."  (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Della Monica/Guarise: “The guys didn’t skate their best here.” (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images AsiaPac)

[on the steps that they do in hold] “At the same time, I like this position in the step sequence, I like this type of sequence.”

[The other commentator says Trankov is a fan of choreography.] “I am, yes. I support skating [skills], that figure skating remains as much as possible art on ice and not athletic gymnastics. More rhythmic than athletic gymnastics, so to speak.”

[The other commentator says DM/G didn’t finish with their music.] “Well, this only gets punished if you didn’t manage to finish within your allocated time slot. We are required to skate a minimum of 2mins 30secs, and a maximum of 2mins 50secs. The timer stops when you finish your [last] move. So if they managed to get within that time, then [finishing after the music] doesn’t really play that much of a role, just visually.”

[The other commentator wonders if they will be punished in the second mark.] “Well, if there is a really big discrepancy [with the music], then yes. But sometimes it’s a choreographic idea–like Julia Lipnitskaya in Schindler’s List, when she turns around slowly and looks at the audience. It was all done almost without any music and was part of the choreographic design. If it’s part of the choreographic idea, then it’s justified.”

The other commentator then blames the time difference and jet lag for there being few clean skates in the short program to that point. But Trankov disagrees. He says the time difference is not so bad, that there are many GP events and the World Team Trophy held in Asia, and DM/G should be used to adjusting to the time difference. Plus, Trankov says the schedule for pairs at this event was very good, because China is a “country of pairs skating,” and everything was done to accommodate pairs skating first and foremost. He says that in the past, pairs skating always had a good schedule because it’s a very dangerous discipline, especially for the girl, but that this has now changed and pairs now have to perform in very poor conditions, schedulewise. He laughs that Elena Ilinykh gave an interview to say that they had a poor competition schedule because training was set for 6:30 a.m. Trankov said ice dancers always used to train at 6:30 a.m., but that things have now changed. Then they speak about how awful the schedule was at Europeans.




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