Worlds 2016: Pairs Review

Last year, the pairs event at Worlds was exciting, yet predictable. Duhamel/Radford were expected to win, and they did. The Chinese pairs were expected to dominate beneath them, and they did. This year’s pairs event at Worlds was quite different and not very predictable at all! Duhamel/Radford won again; but this time, their victory was quite unexpected. And there were many other surprises in the event. Not many had expected Savchenko/Massot to win a medal, and surely no one thought that all 3 Russian pairs would finish off the podium (including the reigning Olympic champions!). It was an event full of surprises.

This was the first World Championships that I’ve ever attended in person. I have to say: Seeing most of the world’s top pairs live, all at once on the same ice, was an almost overwhelming experience! There was just so much to take in, so much to see. It made me once again appreciate the difficulty of the judges’ job: Trying to note all technical elements, while also trying to understand and appreciate the special qualities of each performance, is not easy.

My dominant impression, overall, is how very talented and good all the top teams are.
So often, the commentary in news articles and forums focuses on differences between the top pairs—how certain pairs are supposedly far stronger technically or artistically than others. But you know? Seeing them live, the truth is: They’re all great. All of the top teams have great speed, good partnering, some strong technical elements, and a terrific overall package on the ice. Fact is, they wouldn’t be where they are otherwise. Seeing them live, what impressed me most was not any one pair, but how great they are as a group.

Yet despite all the talent in the field, this Worlds was, unfortunately, not the most cleanly skated event for the pairs. Nerves seemed to strike many teams in Boston. Seven pairs among the final 16 set new overall season’s-best scores. However, most of the remaining pairs were 10-15 points below their season’s-best.So it was an exciting event, yet at the same time I felt bad for the pairs who struggled.

Let’s take a look at the action and see what happened.




Meagan/Eric came into Worlds following a tough season in which they faced illness, technical problems, and frustration. Given these issues, I wasn’t sure what to expect from them at Worlds. However, when I saw them in practice in Boston, I noticed a change in their demeanor. Meagan was smiling. She seemed confident. They looked good in practice and were landing great side-by-side triple Lutzes—their calling-card element. They looked different than they had in their last few competitions.

Meagan/Eric started the event with a strong performance of their “Your Song” SP. They had a slight adjustment on the triple twist landing, and the throw 3F was 2-footed. However, the SBS 3Lz was outstanding (many +2s), and the rest of the elements were mostly excellent. Plus, Meagan/Eric were really on in this performance and totally sold the program. The big crowd at TD Garden appreciated the soaring music/skating and gave them a standing ovation. Meagan/Eric placed 2nd with a season’s-best 78.18. It was a great start for them.

An incredible moment for Meagan/Eric  (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

Duhamel/Radford followed with nothing less than the best performance of their career. Skating to Adele’s “Hometown Glory,” they put out what had to be the skate of their dreams. Not only did they go completely clean, they skated with such passion, heart, and joy that their LP was certainly one of the highlights of the entire championship. Their elements were almost all excellent. The throw quad Salchow was of course a highlight; the landing was low but held, and they earned 9.20 points (highest-scoring throw in the event). Their lifts were good as well, with great ice coverage; the reverse lasso lift earned 9.30 (highest-scoring lift in event). Their twist was called level 2 (one level lower than normal) but got great GOE (+2s/+3s). I just love this program for Meagan/Eric. It is so emotional and really quite beautiful, in my opinion. Although Meagan/Eric may not have quite the classic line or level of detail of some of the other top teams, they are great performers and really excel in capturing the mood of the music, as they did here. The “Hometown Glory” program suits them so well: Simple but strong. The rueful undertone, and climactic ending, of the music seemed like an evocation of their whole season. Meagan/Eric earned 153.81 to win the gold. For me, it was just an amazing performance, and the sellout crowd at TD Garden agreed, giving them another huge standing ovation.

As exciting as last season’s World title was, I’m sure this victory is the sweetest of all for Duhamel/Radford.


This pair also came into Worlds off a challenging season in which they battled a series of injuries. However, once again Sui/Han rose to the occasion to win their second consecutive silver medal at Worlds.

Sui/Han: Passion & excitement in the short program (John Tlumacki/Boston Globe)

Sui/Han opened with the best short program we’ve seen from any pair this season. All the big tricks were on display in their Farrucas SP: A high throw 3F, terrific level 3 triple twist, outstanding hand-to-hand lift. They had one sole +1 in GOE; every other mark was +2/+3 across the board. But the true highlight of this program is the step sequence. Rarely, these days, do we see a step sequence in pairs that is so well choreographed and performed: Every movement absolutely hitting a beat of the sharp, driving flamenco music, with the tempo actually increasing through the sequence. The step sequence was perfection and, indeed, it received a perfect score from the judges: Level 4, all +3s, for a total of 6.00 points. Sui/Han earned 80.85 for this SP, the highest score for any pairs SP this season, and were in 1stplace.

Unfortunately, Sui/Han couldn’t quite match this standard in their Samson & Delilah LP. They started with an incredible level 3 quad twist, which earned 10.31 points (highest-scoring element overall in event), plus a solid set of SBS 3T/2T. However, Wenjing then fell on the throw quad Salchow. This element had been hit-and-miss for them in practice; it was a risk to put it in the LP, which unfortunately didn’t pay off. Wenjing also doubled the SBS 3S (an element that’s been problematic for them all season). Their lifts were terrific as usual, and the program was still very good overall, but with Duhamel/Radford’s amazing performance, they had no chance of holding onto the lead. They earned 143.62 to take the silver medal.

Sui/Han went straight to Canada after Worlds to start their new programs for next season with choreographer Lori Nichol. I hope they get a chance for a nice long rest after that!


Coming into Worlds, few foresaw Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot standing on the podium. It is, after all, just their first season competing together. Pairs simply don’t win World medals in their first season together … except for Olympic champions Volosozhar/Trankov, who won silver in 2011. The fact that Aliona/Bruno nearly matched V/T’s accomplishment gives you some indication of the caliber of this team.

A stunning Worlds debut for Savchenko/Massot (ISU)

Aliona/Bruno’s Cirque du Soleil SP was very good. Their opening triple twist was enormous! This move is already becoming S/M’s trademark: It even drew gasps from the crowd when they replayed it on the jumbotron! Aliona/Bruno continued with a throw 3F that was very high, but 2-footed. Bruno landed a bit forward on the SBS 3T, which held down the GOE on that jump. But the remaining elements were all great, earning level 4s and positive marks. Their step sequence was soft and charming, like the performance itself. It lacked the intensity of Sui/Han, but was very good. S/M’s score of 74.22 put them in 4th place and the final group for the LP.

In the LP, Aliona/Bruno had to follow Duhamel/Radford’s outstanding performance—a tough spot. But they didn’t let it faze them. They again started with their amazing triple twist. What’s great about this element is that it immediately gets the crowd excited about the performance. Next came a good SBS 3T/3T sequence. Unfortunately, Aliona doubled the SBS 3S and 2-footed the throw 3F. However, the lifts were all very good and earned mostly +2s/+3s. Their SBS spins are already, perhaps, the best in the world. They didn’t even do the spins quite as well as usual in this LP, yet their rotational speed, positions, and synchronization are incredible. I can’t even tell you what a pleasure it is to see this team live. Their skating is very unique and interesting. Unlike the Russian teams, who are going for power and impact, Savchenko/Massot have a light, easy quality as they glide over the ice. There is such precision and detail in their skating. They earned 3rd-place PCS of 72.41, which in my opinion was fully merited due to the overall quality and unison of the performance. They’ve been criticized for a lack of transitions in this program, which I don’t personally agree with, but the judges did mark them down a little in this category (8.86 TR score vs. all 9s for their other PCS scores.) They earned 141.95 to take bronze.

It was a magnificent debut for Savchenko/Massot, and they are certainly the most exciting new team we’ve seen in a long time.


I thought Stolbova/Klimov did well at Worlds, considering they were coming off a fairly serious back injury to Fedor. They lost many weeks of training time during the injury, but still put out good performances in Boston.

Stolbova/Klimov: Coming back from injury (ISU)

Stolbova/Klimov’s “I Put a Spell on You” SP was well done, but not their best. Their opening triple twist was very low, crashy, and appeared underrotated. They got all negative GOE on this element. The throw 3F, on the other hand, was amazingly fast and high in the air. The speed with which they enter their throws is so impressive! The SBS 3T was also great. However, the death spiral and lift were both perhaps a bit slow, as was their footwork overall. Their scores were, if anything, a bit generous I thought. They earned 73.98 for 5th.

Ksenia/Fedor then put out a fairly strong LP. Their triple twist was again low, but much better than in the SP. The last jump in their SBS 3T/3T/2T combo was singled, costing them about 1 point, and Ksenia 2-footed the second 3T. Both throw jumps had amazing height and speed. (The throw 3F appeared 2-footed on replay, but it was not marked as such.) Unfortunately Ksenia fell on the SBS 3S. Their first 2 lifts were pretty good; the last lift looked rather small and slow to me. The closing combo spin was strong, but finished after the music. I absolutely love their program to The Unknown Known; the ominous music and intriguing choreography make it fascinating to watch. However, this performance paled quite a bit compared to their brilliant outing at the Grand Prix Final. Their final score was 140.50, good for 4th LP/overall.

As much as Stolbova/Klimov have probably the best basic skating/partnering skills in the field, I have to say that in Boston, at least, some of their pairs elements were simply not as strong as the other top teams. Their lifts were fine, but not spectacular—the ice coverage just wasn’t as good as the top 3 teams, and their speed in the lifts was not always consistent. (Their lift marks ranged from 0 to +3.) Their twist, never a strong point, was particularly weak (which makes sense considering Fedor’s injury). Even their death spiral was honestly a little slow, compared to some other teams. Stolbova/Klimov are great skaters, and I don’t mean to take anything away from them. However, this is what I saw with their elements.

One of my main takeaways, seeing Stolbova/Klimov live, is how very excellent their programs were this season, especially the LP. Their programs completely suited their skills and personality on the ice, and I hope they can come up with something just as brilliant next season.


Evgenia/Vladimir took 5th at Worlds, moving up a spot from last year’s 6th place.

Their “Warriors” SP was very good, until the end. They opened with a fabulous level 4 triple twist (8.50 points), and followed with a good SBS 3T and throw 3Lp. Their combo spin was fast and nicely set to the music. Everything was going well until the step sequence. This sequence is supposed to be the highlight of the program, but it just doesn’t live up to the size and pace of the music. They didn’t have enough speed on it, and also Vladimir stumbled. It just kind of ruined the impression of the program for me. However, they still earned 72.00 points for 6th.

A good placement for Tarasova/Morozov

Tarasova/Morozov’s Chopin LP was good, but not great. They went with a triple twist at the start, rather than the quad twist they did at Russian Nationals. The triple twist was outstanding, earning a nearly perfect score of 8.60. They also landed a gorgeous throw 3S with great flow and distance, which got all +2s/+3s. There were a few problems on other elements: hand down from Vladimir on the SBS 3S, imperfect landing on the throw 3Lp, SBS spins off sync. There were also problems on the reverse lasso lift: Evgenia could not grasp her blade as planned, and the dismount was a bit off. In general, T/M’s lifts were not as fast or impressive as I expected. The lifts tend to slow toward the end, and received mostly +1s from the judges. Technically, the program was a bit shaky; artistically, it was elegant but just didn’t really leave a strong impression. Nonetheless, T/M received 6th-place PCS marks (66.11) to hold on to 5th LP/overall.

I suspect that Evgenia/Vladimir are very satisfied with their placement in Boston, but less so with their performances. Frankly, I think they skated better at last year’s Worlds, although their scores/placement were higher at this year’s event.


It was quite a shock to see the Olympic champions place only 6th in Boston—and below the other 2 Russian pairs. After a strong win at Europeans, I was expecting V/T to win the title or at least a medal here. But instead, they seemed to have lost form in the 2 months since Euros, despite coming early to the U.S. for training camp. They were far from their best in Boston.


Surprising struggles in Boston for Volosozhar/Trankov

Tatiana/Max opened their Bollywood SP with a spectacular level 3 triple twist, then hit their SBS 3S. Their throw 3F was super-high, but 2-footed (mostly -1s). The hand-to-hand lift was a bit unsteady and slow; the step sequence was terrific but lost speed at the end; and the combo spin was a bit off. I felt their score of 77.13 was a bit generous for what they put out in this program. They were 3rd.

Skating last in the LP, the door was still open for Tatiana/Max to possibly win. But they couldn’t take advantage. Instead, their Dracula LP was peppered with errors throughout. The throw 3F was again incredibly high, but Tatiana barely hung on to the landing. Max fell off his center in the SBS spins and got wobbly; Tatiana had to turn out of the landing of the throw 3Lp. Plus their lifts didn’t look that great. Tatiana’s positions were lovely, but the lifts didn’t have great ice coverage and were at times a bit slow. The judges seemed uncertain how to score them, with lift marks ranging from -1 to +3. Worst of all, Max omitted the last (rotating) section of their reverse lasso lift. This meant the whole lift was invalid, which cost at least 7 points. This was a huge error; V/T appeared to fight their way through the rest of the program, and they just didn’t look anywhere near as smooth as they did at Euros. When the scores came up, Volosozhar/Trankov were 7th LP/6th overall.

It was a shocking and unexpected result. To my knowledge, Volosozhar/Trankov have not spoken to the press since that long program. With Max talking about his desire to start a family, you have to wonder if Volosozhar/Trankov will continue with competitive skating or move on to the next stage of their lives. Selfishly, I hope they continue. Looking back on their stunning Euros performances, I feel this pair still has so much to give us.


It was also quite a surprise—and, in this case, a pleasant one!—to see Luba/Dylan come 7th at Worlds. Prior to this, their season had been fairly disappointing. So it was great to see them unexpectedly put it all together in Boston and bring their skating to a new level.

Luba/Dylan drew to skate 2nd in the short program, not the best place to start! But they didn’t let it distract them and put out a very nice performance of their Led Zeppelin SP. Their triple twist wasn’t super-high, but it was clean and scored well. Their throw 3Lz had good height and nice runout and earned almost all +2s. The level 4 step sequence was also very nice, with good edges, and their cantilever-into-death-spiral was spectacular seen live! Some of their partnering transitions/holds could have been smoother. But overall it was a very good program, and they skated it with great attack and energy. The crowd really liked it. They earned 68.17, topping their previous season’s-best by almost 5 points! A great result. They were in 8th.

A beautiful lift from Ilyushechkina/Moscovitch  (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

I really enjoyed Luba/Dylan’s LP to Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2. Their triple twist was even better in this program, getting level 4 and mostly +2s. They landed the SBS 3T/2T, and both throw jumps were very good! The only real error was Luba singling the SBS 3S, which cost about 4 points. The entrance to the axel lasso lift was somewhat shaky, which held down their GOE, but the final hip press lift was a showstopper, covering a huge amount of ice! It was a great performance, and for the first time this season, I felt like I “got” this Rachmaninov program. Luba just radiated joy and passion as the music built toward the end; she is such an exceptional performer, and Dylan was right there with her. They earned 131.35, another season’s-best score, to take 6th LP/7th overall. Moving up 6 spots from last year’s 13th-place finish was quite an accomplishment in this year’s tough field. Also worthy of note was the high PCS Luba/Dylan received in the LP: 65.95, just slightly behind Tarasova/Morozov’s 66.11. That PCS score suggests the judges may be starting to see this couple on a higher level. Let’s hope Luba/Dylan can build on this momentum next season!


It was also surprising to see Dylan’s ex-partner Kirsten Moore-Towers finishing right behind him in 8th place. Kirsten/Mike have had some ups & downs this season, and this was their first Worlds together. But they really pulled it together in Boston and skated very well. I think Kirsten’s experience really came into play here. She’s been in this position so many times, and she didn’t appear nervous at all. Her confidence carried them through.

Moore-Towers/Marinaro: No problems here with the twist  (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

Kirsten/Mike started with a solid performance of their Etta James SP. Their triple twist was clean (although not particularly high), and the SBS 3T and throw 3Lp were fine. Their step sequence was well done, with nice character to the music. This bluesy program suits them. I feel that Kirsten/Mike’s line and positions are somewhat lacking in refinement and detail compared to some of the other teams, but nonetheless they delivered the program very well and received quite a high score, 66.06, to place 10th. There were discrepancies in the judges’ PCS scores, with some going down to the high 6s while others were in the low 8s. However, the end result was a season’s-best for Moore-Towers/Marinaro.

Kirsten/Mike’s Romeo & Juliet LP was not as clean as their SP, but still successful. They had some minor flaws on the SBS jumps, and the SBS spins were off. However, both throw jumps were great, with good flow and height, and the triple twist was fine. (It was a relief to see them hit both twists here, after the accident at Canadians!) I still feel that lifts are not a strong suit for this team; Mike’s turns and stance could use improvement. But, they received mostly +1s/+2s for their lifts, so evidently the judges think they’re on the right track. Overall it was a fine performance for Kirsten/Mike: Good basic skating skills, nice phrasing and interpretation of the music. They got a nice response from the crowd and scored 124.84 for 8th LP/overall. It was a great result for their first Worlds.


Alexa/Chris came into Worlds off the best performance of their career at Four Continents. They had a real chance to capitalize in Boston and place in the top 6 or higher. Unfortunately, they were not able to do so and finished in a disappointing 9th place.

Disappointing results for Scimeca/Knierim

Scimeca/Knierim were looking good in the practices at Worlds, so I had high hopes going into the short program. And their Metallica SP was not bad at all. Chris fell on the SBS 3S, but the rest of the program was great. The twist was graded level 3 but earned high GOE marks. All their other elements were level 4 and very well done. Scimeca/Knierim had good speed and presented the program well; their PCS was correspondingly strong (32.80). They earned 71.37 for 7th place.

Unfortunately, Alexa/Chris’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age program was pretty much a disaster. The quad twist was only level 2 and looked slightly underrotated. They had mistakes on every jump element, including the throws, which had looked so good in practice. Also the SBS spins were off. At least the lifts and death spiral were solid, but with so many mistakes, it was difficult for the program to make much impression. Their final score was 118.69, over 20 points off their 4CCs score. They dropped to 12th LP/9th overall.

In the final analysis, this was a huge opportunity missed for Alexa/Chris. Their overall score from Four Continents (207.96)–had they been able to replicate it–would have put them 5th at Worlds.


The French team experienced both highs & lows in Boston and finished 10th.

James/Cipres: Another good short program  (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

James/Cipres’s “I Put a Spell on You” SP has been the stronger of their 2 programs all season, and that trend continued at Worlds. They had another successful SP, completing all their elements without major errors. The landing of the throw 3F was imperfect (break at the waist), leading to negative GOE, but they got good levels/marks on their lift and twist, earning a very good season’s-best score of 66.69 for 9th.

However, Vanessa/Morgan again struggled through their Romeo & Juliet LP. They went for the throw quad Salchow (after landing a clean one in practice), but fell. They were also out of sync on their SBS 3T/3T, and the second jump got downgraded. There were still quite a few bright spots, however. Their SBS spins were good, and all their lifts had impressive ice coverage. The crowd roared at their final lift, in which Morgan sinks down into a lunge. Yeah!! Vanessa/Morgan have lots of charisma in person and are fun to watch. They placed 10th LP/overall, down one spot from last year’s 9th place.

Della Monica/Guarise

Nicole/Matteo looked good in practice at Worlds, and it was great to see this team put out two solid performances to place 11th.

Della Monica/Guarise: My favorite of the three R&Js

I really enjoyed Nicole/Matteo’s Magnificat SP; it’s a well-constructed program, and they skated it very nicely. Plus, they stayed vertical on all their jumps—great to see, as this team has struggled a lot with falls in the past. Their step sequence was a highlight and earned many +2s. They were 11th.

Nicole/Matteo then followed up with a really good performance in the LP! They had a few problems with their jumps—out of sync on the SBS 3T/2T, 2-ft on the throw 3S—but again, stayed vertical! I was really excited for them! Nicole/Matteo’s Romeo & Juliet was my favorite of the three R & J programs we saw in the LP (skated back-to-back!). I find the program very intimate and interesting; the transitions are (for once) truly well-set to the music, instead of just existing to add complexity. Nicole/Matteo performed the program beautifully, with emotion, and they’ve improved so much this season. The main thing this team lacks is speed. They tend to slow down as they go into their elements—they need to hit them with attack, like Stolbova/Klimov do. But hopefully that will come as their consistency and confidence improve. Their score of 118.49 was a little lower than I expected, and they were only 13th in the LP, but held on to place 11th overall. A nice step up from their 14th place last year.


A few days before Worlds, the Chinese federation announced that Peng/Zhang would replace Yu/Jin on the Chinese team. I was very doubtful of this decision. However, as a fan of Peng/Zhang, I still hoped it would all work out and they would skate well and help retain China’s 3 spots. Peng/Zhang looked pretty good in the Chinese test skates the week before Worlds and in practice at Worlds, so I was hoping for the best. But, it all fell apart in the SP.

Their Come Together tango SP started off so well, with a beautiful level 4 death spiral and crisp transitional steps. But then they went for the throw 3Lp … and disaster struck. Peng couldn’t land the jump and slammed hard into the boards. Meanwhile, Zhang skated on, leaving her to pull herself up and dash after him. Their SBS 3Ts were intended to come right after the throw; Zhang did his in time to the music, while Peng did a 2T a moment later. They did receive 0.7 credit for the jump, despite the complete lack of synchronization, but the damage was done. Peng/Zhang, who were 4th at Worlds just a year ago, could only manage 60.01 and 12th in the SP. Some felt even that score was high. But their TES was bolstered by four level 4 elements, which they reeled off after the fall.

Last year, the throw 3Lp was a money element for this team, good for 6.00 points or more nearly every time. Their throws had been looking strong in practice. I don’t know what happened on the throw in the SP, but it broke my heart a little to see it, as a fan of Peng’s. I don’t think Hao Zhang intended to be callous in skating off ahead of her; I think he was just in autopilot mode, and didn’t realize how bad the fall was. Nonetheless, the image of him skating off, with her in a crumpled heap behind him, is what people are going to remember from this event.

A tough moment (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

Peng/Zhang skated last in the second warmup group the next day and actually turned in a quite decent performance of their Pearl Fishers LP. This time, the throw 3Lp was perfect, with wonderful flow and distance, and earned 6.70. They landed a nice clean set of SBS 3T/2T and a very good triple twist. However, Peng doubled the SBS 3S and turned out from the throw 3S. Their lifts were good—maybe just a bit of rust from so much lost training time—but still they were good and got mostly +1s/+2s. Their skating showed a totally different level of speed, quality, and sophistication compared to the teams who’d skated before them. But they got dumped by the judges, receiving only 11th-place PCS. Peng/Zhang finished 9th LP/12th overall. It was a sad end to their Worlds.

Peng/Zhang’s 12th place, combined with Sui/Han’s 2nd, meant that China lost its third pairs spot at next year’s Worlds. A stunning and sad turn of events, considering the Chinese pairs were 2-3-4 at last year’s Worlds.


This was Tarah/Danny’s first trip to Worlds! Unfortunately, they had a few problems in Boston and placed 13th.

Tarah/Danny’s Worlds debut

Tarah/Danny’s “Take Me to Church” opened with a very pretty death spiral, and they hit their SBS 3S nicely. However, the triple twist landed on Danny’s shoulder, and Tarah put a hand down on the throw 3Lz. Perhaps rattled by these mistakes, Danny then fell during their step sequence. Because the fall happened during an element, they received not only the -1.0 fall deduction but also -1.80 GOE on the step sequence. This left them in 14th.

Tarah/Danny rallied somewhat in their POTO LP. The triple twist was better here, although still low. Their SBS jumps were solid, with the SBS 2A/2A sequence having a nice flow and rhythm to it. The throw 3S was a bit slow on the entrance, but landed. Unfortunately, Tarah fell on the throw 3Lz. It wasn’t a bad performance, but it just seemed to lack some of the intensity and fire Tarah/Danny showed at U.S. Nationals. Compared to the very top teams in Boston, Tarah/Danny did lack speed and power; however, their consistency with the elements helped lift their score. They earned 118.96 to place 11th LP/13th overall.


Valentina/Ondrej had a disappointing competition at Worlds and finished 14th.

Marchei/Hotarek: Sophomore slump?  (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

They debuted a new Carmen SP. The program had all the usual Carmen trimmings—red/black costumes, attitude, some sharp footwork. However, it just felt a bit one-note and not all that exciting. We’ve seen so many Carmens. Technically, it as a bit up-and-down. Valentina/Ondrej landed a good set of SBS 3S to start, but the triple twist had a very low catch and got all negative GOE. The throw 3F was well landed but small. There was some notable discrepancy in Valentina/Ondrej’s PCS marks—some judges were in the 5.0s, while others gave 7.0s. (Of course, they weren’t helped by having to skate in the first group.) M/H were 13th.

Valentina/Ondrej’s ’70s disco LP started off well, with successful SBS 3Lz. However, the rest of the elements were somewhat weak. They again struggled with a late catch on the triple twist and earned only 4.80 (versus 7.00 points or more for top teams). Both throw landings were a little scratchy, and they had problems on the SBS 3S combo—he fell and she doubled on the first jump. Even the lifts and spins were a bit off, and they seemed to lack their usual speed, which didn’t help in terms of selling an uptempo disco program. With all the small technical issues, it was hard for the crowd to get into the program, and it felt simultaneously frenetic yet flat. I think this program might have worked with 3 music cuts, but 4 was just too much. They scored 110.97 for 15th LP/14th overall, dropping three spots from their 11th-place finish last year.

Marchei/Hotarek seem to have hit a sophomore slump. They are struggling a bit both technically and artistically right now. Hopefully things will get back on track next fall.


This was Wang/Wang’s first appearance at a major ISU event, and unfortunately I think their lack of exposure and experience hurt them in Boston.

Wang/Wang: 15th place

They had to skate first in the short program. Perhaps feeling the pressure, Xuehan fell on the SBS 3T and had a slight break on the landing of the throw 3Lp. However, their triple twist was very good and the hand-to-hand lift was easy, light, and well-done. I found their performance lovely–very refined and romantic. But seeing them live, Wang/Wang do lack the speed and power of higher-ranked teams. There was a big discrepancy in the judges’ PCS marks: Some gave 5.0s, while other gave 8.0s!! The final score was only 57.32 (12 points off their season’s-best at Cup of China). Wang/Wang were 15th.

Wang/Wang’s My Fair Lady LP was similar. Xuehan again had difficulty with the SBS jumps, falling on the SBS 3T and doubling the SBS 3S. However, the rest of the elements were really quite well done. I enjoy the choreography and flow of this program and find it to be a very pleasing package aesthetically. However, Wang/Wang’s GOE/PCS were rather low. They were only 14th in the LP/15th overall, despite delivering a lovely, elegant program.

Wang/Wang arguably have the packaging, and elements of a higher-level team. However, their lack of speed is a big problem, since this is one of the main things the judges look for. Hopefully they can work on that during the off-season.


It was a surprise to see this young French team claim the last spot in the pairs final! Only in their first season together, with very little international experience, they nonetheless have a nice look, good lines, and some decent elements. They placed 16th in both segments/overall. It will be interesting to see how they develop as a team.


I feel so incredibly lucky to have seen all these pairs live at Worlds! It was so fun to see in person the amazing speed of their stroking, the height of their lifts, the velocity of the throws. Although you can appreciate all this on video/TV, it’s just an extra thrill and even better to see it live! So I feel blessed and thoroughly enjoyed my time in Boston … although I did feel some heartbreak for the pairs who didn’t skate well.

Worlds was an exciting conclusion to the season. And now I’m hoping that all the pairs can get a long and much-deserved rest before starting preparations for next fall! Good-bye, from Boston.

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