The pairs practices at Worlds on Monday/Tuesday were, unfortunately, missing quite a few teams. The Canadian and Russian pairs didn’t arrive in Boston until later on Tuesday. But here are some notes from practices so far.
Sui/Han look ready to go!! They had a terrific run-through of their Farrucas SP Tuesday morning. They didn’t perform all their elements, but what they did looked great. The triple twist was very good; the throw 3F was huge; the lift was easy, with good speed. I was most impressed with their step sequence—perfectly in time to the music, very sharp. This is the second time I’ve seen Sui/Han live this season; to me, they look faster and much crisper now than they did at Skate America last fall. They landed an amazing throw quad Salchow later in practice. I think it was the best quad throw I’ve ever seen, with such flow and speed coming out. Beautiful!
Peng/Zhang also look surprisingly good, considering they’re coming off injury. Tuesday morning, they landed multiple sets of clean SBS jumps (very encouraging). Then they did a good run-through of their Come Together tango SP. They landed triple twist (good), throw 3Lp (big, slight 2-ft), and SBS 3Ts (right on). Their performance level was good—they also look much sharper than earlier in the season. Their timing and partnering all looks much better. I really enjoyed the program, can’t wait to see it again later this week. Cheng Peng looked confident.
Wang/Wang only skated short sections of their Romance SP. They hit a nice triple twist and a very nice throw 3Lp. Their skating is light and elegant; they have very nice extension and detail. They hit some successful SBS 3Ts.
Savchenko/Massot are so interesting to watch! Their elements are huge, yet everything is done with such smoothness and ease, like it’s not difficult at all. They seem to be enjoying themselves out there; lots of smiles from Aliona. The quality of their basic skating is excellent, just the unison and attention to detail. Bruno has good partnering skills–he’s very attentive to Aliona as they’re skating, always keeping an eye on her, setting her down gently from lifts. Their SBS jumps look good; their throws are still an area of concern. They landed some clean throws Monday night, but many of the throws Tuesday morning were 2-footed. The throws are just so huge, Aliona is having trouble controlling the landings. But–they are enormous and really kind of take your breath away. Aliona/Bruno’s LP run-through Tuesday morning was okay. The triple twist was lovely; SBS 3T/3T sequence good; SBS 3S solid; SBS spins great; and the one-handed hip press lift (which failed at Euros) was smooth and easy. However, they had problems on the reverse lasso lift–a bit worrisome–and both throws were 2-footed. So, a good but not great run-through. I found the techno Peer Gynt music a bit softer, less jarring, live in the arena than on TV.
Scimeca/Knierim‘s SBS jumps were inconsistent in both practices, with some falls, hands down, other errors. However, except for SBS jumps, I think they’re in terrific shape. Their throw jumps are looking fantastic—very high, very good landings. Twists are good. Lifts mostly quite good too, although dismounts could be just a tad smoother. Mostly, what stands out is how well they’re skating overall. Good speed, great presence on the ice. The amplitude of their skating is something you have to see live to really appreciate, and, in this area, they match up well with some of the top teams. I think Alexa/Chris look well-prepared and ready for this event. Their Elizabeth: The Golden Age run-through went well Tuesday. The SBS jumps are my only area of concern. The rest of the package is strong enough that minor jump errors will be forgiven by the judges. Let’s just hope they can avoid falls/pops.
Kayne/O’Shea missed the Monday night practice but were there Tuesday morning. They ran through their POTO LP mostly without elements. Everything in this program is soft, gentle, and lovely. Tarah/Danny have great chemistry. I’d like to see a little more attack and speed in the actual competition.
James/Cipres landed a clean quad throw Salchow in Monday night’s practice!! How ’bout that! 🙂 Unfortunately, though, they were inconsistent on many other elements. They worked the SBS 3T/3T quite a bit but didn’t land any clean ones. Their Romeo & Juliet LP run-through didn’t go that well. The opening triple twist was clean, although low. Vanessa looked shaky on a spiral transition move and then fell hard on the second jump in the SBS 3T/3T combo. The fall seemed to rattle her, and they popped both throw jumps into singles. Vanessa doubled the SBS 3S. Lifts looked good, but overall not a great practice, except for the quad throw.
Esbrat/Novosolev, the second French team, looked overwhelmed (especially her). They are struggling with the triple twist. Their run-through (LP) was full of errors; she fell several times and looked quite upset at certain points. They do have an attractive look together and seem well-matched physically.
Marchei/Hotarek‘s practice Monday night was a bit rough. They worked on the triple twist but continue to have problems with it. I knew they were coming into Worlds with a new SP and was excited to see it. But then the music came on … Carmen. Well, the step sequence is a standout, as usual with M/H’s programs, and Valentina plays the fiery Latin diva well (as in last year’s Malaguena SP). But it’s standard stuff otherwise … and is there anything more indicative of desperation/creative fatigue than throwing together a last-minute Carmen SP? (All right, maybe doing a last-minute POTO SP.) The elements in their run-through were a bit weak. Valentina doubled or singled the SBS 3S, the twist was low & crashy, and the throw 3Lz was 2-footed. Valentina was not her usual sparkly self during practice—she & Ondrej both looked a bit grim. Hopefully things improve as the week goes on.
Della Monica/Guarise, on the other hand, looked quite good. They started slowly Monday night, running through their Romeo & Juliet LP mostly without elements. It was surprising how enjoyable and complete the program felt, even without jumps—always a good sign. After the program, they worked more on elements, hitting some good twists and lifts. Tuesday morning, I was a bit late to practice, but saw them land a nice throw jump. Their basic skating and presentation look strong. They have an intimacy and smoothness to their skating that a lot of higher-ranked teams lack. I thought they looked comfortable and confident.
Ziegler/Kiefer were on the same practice group as the Italian teams. They struggled with their twist Monday night—it’s very low. They switched back and forth between double and triple twists. Their SP run-through was okay, about their usual level. They did a double twist; he stepped out of the SBS 3S. Throw 3Lz was landed, but small. The hand-to-hand lift was okay—slightly awkward on the entrance/exit. Then he fell on the step sequence. 🙂 They’ll be hoping for better as the week goes on, no doubt.
Danilova/Kamianchuk, the team from Belarus, have nice basic stroking. They also ran through their SP without elements.
Tankova/Krasnopolski of Israel looked very tentative in practice. They worked the throw 3Lp quite a bit, but were unable to land a clean one. It’s their first season together, and they don’t seem fully in sync yet. Their timing is a bit off on all the elements, and they are doing only double twist. In their The Prayer SP run-through, they skipped the twist and SBS jumps, and the throw 3Lp was 2-footed. The hand-to-hand lift wasn’t great either—a bit slow, and the dismount was awkward.
So, those are my notes from pairs practices so far. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Russian and Canadian teams later this week!! I won’t have time to write up notes from the Friday/Saturday morning practices, but I’ll try to live-tweet info & impressions from the arena (Twitter: @ClaireCloutier). Until then! 🙂
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