Russian Pairs: A New Generation

Sometimes, it seems like pairs skating begins and ends in Russia.

Factually, of course, this isn’t true. Obviously, lots of other countries have competed in pairs since 1908, when the discipline first became part of Worlds and the Olympics. In the early years, pairs skating was dominated by Austria, Hungary, and Germany. Then, from 1954-1962, Canadian pairs won 7 world titles. In recent years, China became a force. And now of course, it’s a Canadian pair, Duhamel/Radford, who reign as two-time World pairs champions.

And yet. In 1908, the very first year that pairs was competed at Worlds, a Russian team took bronze: Lidia Popova/A.L. Fischer. So, in a way, you could say Russia was there right from the beginning. True, it was a very long time before Russia/Soviet Union again medaled in pairs. But in 1962, the names Lyudmila Belousova/Oleg Protopopov enter the record books as World silver medalists. We know what followed: The 13 Olympic gold medals. The 33 World pairs championships. Countless other medals and titles. Truth be told, the greatest names, the most legendary names, in the sport of pairs skating mostly come from Russia.

A glorious tradition, to be sure. But what is the state of Russian pairs skating today? Russian pairs won gold and silver at the Sochi Olympics. However, their traditional dominance at Worlds was broken in the mid-2000s by Savchenko/Szolkowy and the Chinese pairs. Surprisingly, since 2006 Russia has won only one World pairs title (Volosozhar/Trankov, 2013). The last 2 years, Russian pairs have been shut out of the World medals entirely (although all Russian pairs still placed top 10). Russia’s senior pairs have been hampered by injuries and motivational problems since Sochi. Stolbova/Klimov and Volosozhar/Trankov (if they return) remain potential threats to medal or win at Worlds/Olympics, but their success is by no means certain. Meanwhile, Tarasova/Morozov are only just starting to show they can compete at the highest level. So the outlook is unclear for Russian senior pairs.

If you look at younger Russian pairs, however, it’s quite a different story. Here, we see a big wave of new talent coming up in the junior/lower senior ranks in Russian pairs. The sheer number of new, promising young Russian pairs to emerge in the past 2 years is pretty amazing. And it’s possible this new generation could be the start of another golden age for Russian pairs skating.

boikova-kozlovskii

Boikova/Kozlovskii: One of the youngest new Russian teams

What’s so special about the young Russian pairs? First and foremost, their high technical level. When you watch junior pairs, what you usually see is pairs midway in their technical development. Junior pairs often have triple throws, but only a double twist; or a triple twist, but only double throws. Frequently, they’re still doing double loops or flips for their side-by-side (SBS) jumps, instead of double Axels or triples.

But the rising Russian pairs are different. Almost every Russian pair on the Junior Grand Prix this year had the full technical package to compete in senior pairs: Triple twist, 2 triple throws, SBS triples and double Axels. Not only do they have all these difficult elements, they’re already performing them at a high quality level, in many cases. Considering most of these pairs have only been together 1 or 2 years, it’s amazing to see such strong technique! Some of the Russian pairs girls are as young as 13 or 14; some of the men just 17.

These rising teams also outshine their competitors in their basic pairs skating. Russian pairs are known for power, speed, attack, and skating skillls; and these qualities are all evident in most of the young teams. The young Russians attack their footwork and elements with a confidence and fearlessness that is quite stunning; and in great contrast to other junior pairs, who often have a tentative, underpowered look. (And no wonder; they’re still learning the discipline and how to skate with each other.)

A third area in which the young Russians stand out? Artistry and innovative presentation. Many of these teams are working with new, relatively unknown coaches and choreographers. The results are quite interesting. While other junior pairs skate to warhorses and retreads of older pairs’ programs, the young Russians are trying different types of music and styles—everything from Mad Max to the Scorpions to French torch songs to Strauss waltzes. They’re experimenting, taking risks. It’s exciting, even if some of the experiments don’t fully work out.

Over the last decade, Russian pairs coaching became increasingly dominated by the Nina Mozer group and centralized in Moscow. However, the majority of the younger teams are training outside Moscow–in St. Petersburg, Perm, or even, in one case, Ekaterinburg. And they’re working with coaches who either haven’t had high-profile students in a few years, or are new and upcoming. I think it’s good for Russian skating to have more pairs coaches gain prominence. Tamara Moskvina and, more recently, Mozer have guided Russian pairs skating to incredible heights, but new ideas and energy are always a good thing.

For all the talk about Russian junior ladies, Russian junior pairs have actually been even more dominant the last 2 years than the ladies. Over the last 2 seasons, Russian junior pairs have won 66 percent (20) of the total medals available (30) on the JGP circuit. (Russian junior ladies have won about 45 percent of all ladies medals.) The only foreign pair that’s been able to keep pace is talented Czech team Duskova/Bidar. A few other teams (Alexandrovskaya/Windsor of Australia, Liu/Johnson of USA) have crept in for medals, but have not proved fully competitive at the JGP Final or Junior Worlds.

So, who are the new young Russian pairs? If you’ve been watching the junior scene, you probably know a bit about them already. But for those who haven’t been following juniors or the lower levels at Russian Nationals, I’llprovide an overview here of each of the pairs, their accomplishments, their stats, and their outlook for the future. In this article, I’ll concentrate on pairs who have appeared either on the Junior Grand Prix or at senior Russian Nationals.

Amina Atakhonova/Spiridonov

Ages: 14 / 18

Birth dates: May 3 2002 / Feb 5 1998

Heights (ft): 5’0″ / 5’10 1/2″

Heights (cm): 152 / 179

Former partners: None

Coaches: Natalia Pavlova/Sergei Zaitsev

Choreographer: Alla Mikhailova

Location: Moscow

Seasons competing together: 2

This pair is one of the youngest of the group, but have already completed 2 seasons on the Junior Grand Prix. Last season, Amina/Ilia hit the JGP circuit with a bang, winning gold and silver at their regular JGP events, then bronze at the JGP Final. Unfortunately, they had to withdraw from Junior Worlds with an injury.

This season has not been quite as successful. Atakhonova/Spiridonov started with silver at JGP Ostrava. Next, they had a brilliant short program at JGP Tallinn, where they set the highest-ever SP score for junior pairs. However, they fell apart in the LP at Tallinn, finishing 4th. They qualified for the JGP Final, but had another disastrous LP. Amina/Ilia did not skate at senior Russian Nationals; hopefully we will see them at Junior Russian Nationals (Feb. 3-5).

Although Atakhanova/Spiridonov had some struggles this season, they are still one of the most promising and well-regarded junior teams. Their basic pairs skating is possibly the best of all the young Russian pairs: They have great speed, attack, and sharpness, and they skate close together. Their choreography is detailed, and they perform it well and with good unison. Technically, their throw jumps are big. Their signature move is the SBS flying back sit spins—a very unusual and excitingelement.

I believe Amina/Ilia’s challenges this season are likely due to a growth spurt. If you look at videos from last season vs. this season, it’s clear Amina has grown quite a bit. Adjusting to growth spurts can be difficult; but Amina/Ilia still have a decent height differential, so hopefully they’ll get through this.

Going forward, a challenging area will be SBS jumps, where Amina sometimes struggles; again, I hope this improves as she adjusts to her new height. Another area to work on is expression and projection. Ilia does pretty well with his interpretation, but needs to put more energy into it consistently throughout the program. Meanwhile, Amina is a very naturally charismatic skater—your eye just goes to her and stays on her—but she is very, very serious on the ice. I’d like to see a few more smiles, a little more relaxed quality. This season, Amina/Ilia are skating their LP to “Singin’ in the Rain,” music that begs for light and joyful expression, and to me, they quite miss the mood of the piece.

Atakhonova/Spiridonov are coached by Natalia Pavlova/Alexander Zaitsev in Moscow. Their coaching situation gives some pause. Pavlova is a highly accomplished and experienced pairs coach who had some very successful senior students in the 1990s: Eltsova/Bushkov (1996 World champions) and Totmianina/Marinin (prior to their World/Olympic titles). However, more recently, Pavlova has been at the center of controversy, with two of her most prominent skaters in recent years struggling with eating disorders (Lyubov Iliushechkina, Julia Antipova). Whatever happened in those situations, it can only be hoped that an appropriate and supportive training environment is now in place.

I think the future for Atakhonova/Spiridonov could be brilliant. However, right now, they are going through a challenging time in their skating; and much will depend on how they are handled during this period and how they cope with it.

Aleksandra Boikova/Dmitrii Kozlovskii

Ages: 14 / 17

Birth dates: Jan 20 2002 / Dec 23 1999

Heights (in): 5’2″ / 6’0″

Heights (cm): 160 / 183

Former partners: None

Coach: Artur Minchuk

Choreographers: Tatiana Druchinina/Edvard Smirnov

Location: St. Petersburg

Seasons competing together: 1

Boikova/Kozlovskii are only in their first season together, but have had surprising success. They won bronze at the JGP Final and finished 6th at senior Russian Nationals, an impressive result. They will certainly be in contention for a slot on this year’s Junior Worlds team.

Aleksandra/Dmitrii’s greatest strength so far is their jump consistency. Their jumps are not always perfect; but they tend to stay on their feet, with only minor errors. They have 2 SBS triples (3S, 3T/2T) in their long program and are pretty consistent in landing them. They have a nice, high triple twist, and great flow/speed out of their throw jumps.

The other area where Aleksandra/Dmitrii shine is performance level. Both are quite natural performers, showing animation and expression in their skating, if not much refinement. This makes them interesting to watch. They also have good speed on the ice.

What they need to work on most is unison. They are such a new team that it’s not to be expected they would have good unison at this point–and they don’t. Their SBS jumps and spins are often a bit out of sync, and so is their footwork. I expect they’ll probably improve a lot in this area by next year.

At just 14/17, Aleksandra/Dmitrii will still be junior-eligible for several more years and thus will have plenty of time to develop. The future looks pretty bright for them—as long as Aleksandra doesn’t get too much taller. Fortunately, she appears to have gone through, or at least started, her growth spurt. So hopefully their heights will stay compatible. Having only just turned 17, Dmitrii will surely grow in strength the next few years, which should make their big elements even more impressive. Meanwhile, their coach Artur Minchuk (former partner of Ksenia Stolbova) is very young himself, at just 27. It’s going to be interesting seeing this whole team grow and develop over the next few years.

Ekaterina Borisova/Dmitry Sopot

Ages: 17 / 18

Birth dates: Sept 13 1999 / Jan 5 1998

Heights (in): 5’0″ / 6’2″

Heights (cm): 154 / 188

Former partners: Sergei Lisiev/Alexandra Evsiukova

Coaches: Pavel Sliusarenko/Valentina Tiukova

Choreographers: Ksenia Vaskina/Olga Voloszhinskaya

Location: Perm

Seasons competing together: 2

Borisova/Sopot debuted on the Junior Grand Prix last season and were very successful, winning gold at one event, bronze at the other, and gold again at the JGP Final. They also won the Youth Olympic Games and claimed bronze at Junior Worlds.

During the off-season, Ekaterina suffered an illness that hampered their preparation for the fall. They did fairly well in their JGP events this year, but had to withdraw from the JGP Final due to health problems. Hopefully we’ll see them again at Junior Russian Nationals.

Although Borisova/Sopot haven’t been at their best this season, they still won 2 JGP bronze medals and remain in the mix for the Junior Worlds team. Ekaterina/Dmitry’s greatest strength is the size/amplitude of their skating. They have a big presence; they really command your attention and fill out the ice very well for their age. They cover the ice with more ease than other junior teams. Although they don’t skate with quite the same aggressive speed as some teams, they have good flow and command of their skating. They look mature and confident; they also have more chemistry than some other juniors and relate to each other more.

Technically, Borisova/Sopot have a good, high triple twist and big triple throws. Their lifts are more secure and smooth than some of their competitors. Their weakness is the SBS jumps; alone among the young Russian teams, they do not have a SBS triple jump in the LP, relying instead on SBS 2A and 2T/2T. Even with easier content, theystruggle to land their jumps.

Artistically, Borisova/Sopot’s programs are ambitious. Last year they skated to Lawrence of Arabia, challenging music even for a senior team, and I thought they did surprisingly well carrying off this intense, dramatic piece. They were not overwhelmed by the music.

Looking forward, I feel like Borisova/Sopot have much potential for the future. They’re very well-matched physically; and Dmitry’s size (6’2″, strong build) is a bigadvantage for them. Theyneed toadd more polish and detail to their skating, but that should come with time and maturity. The only thing they really lack is the SBS jumps; unfortunately, that’s a pretty big weakness. One factor that could help is their closeness in age (17/18). For skaters in their teens, a 3- or 5-year age gap looms large. With Borisova/Sopot being only a year apart, they may better understand each other’s states of mind as they navigate the tricky jump to seniors.

Ekaterina/Dmitry currently train in Perm with Pavel Sliusarenko/Valentina Tiukova. For Russian pairs who train outside of Moscow and St. Petersbug, it’s always an open question: Do they need to move to the capitals to get higher-quality training and advance their career? Bazarova/Larionov trained in Perm and later Saransk for most of their career, only moving to Mozer’s group in Moscow in their final season. Will Borisova/Sopot make the same move?

Alisa Efimova/Alexander Korovin

Ages: 17 / 22

Birth dates: Jun 8 1999 / Feb 15 1994

Heights (ft): 4′ 11.5″ / 5′ 11.5″

Heights (cm): 151 / 182

Former partners: None (Efimova)/Alexandra Minina (Korovin)

Coaches: Natalia Pavlova/Alexander Zaitsev

Choreographer: Julia Goriunova

Location: Moscow

Seasons competing together: 2

Efimova/Korovin are actually a senior pair, unlike all the other couples I cover in this article. However, I include them because they are closer in age, ability, and partnership length to the junior Russian pairs than they are to the senior pairs.

Efimova started as a singles skater in Finland. In 2014, she moved to Russia and was paired with Korovin, then 20. Korovin’s age was 1 year over the limit to skate juniors in the 2015-16 season, meaning the team had to start as seniors, even though Efimova was just 16 in their first season together. Korovin’s age slots them into an intermediate spot in Russian pairs skating. He is too old to compete in juniors, but is several years younger than the top Russian pairs skating men. Efimova/Korovin had limited chances to compete in their first season and placed 9th at senior Russian Nationals.

This year, Efimova/Korovin have gotten more competitive opportunities. They received a plum assignment to Rostelecom Cup, their first senior Grand Prix, where they finished 7th out of 8 pairs. They were also sent to Tallinn Trophy, where they were 2nd. At Russian Nationals, they placed a promising 6th in the SP, but dropped to 8th in the LP/overall.

While Efimova/Korovin have had mixed results so far, I’m quite excited about this young team. There’s so much to like in their skating. First of all, they have great speed and sharpness on the ice. Their triple twist is terrific—high, light, and already earning level 3 and +2s. Their triple throws are big and exciting to watch (if not always perfectly landed as yet).

What really stands out about this pair, though, is simply—Alisa Efimova. This 17-year-old is, to me, one of the most excitingnew talents I’ve seen in pairs the last few years. She is fast, charismatic, andbeautiful to watch. Where some teenage skaters look gawky and uncoordinated, Efimova does not. Her body lines are clean, neat, and lovely; her lift positions are stunningly good; and she knows how to place her head and arms to produce a greateffect. Efimova reminds me (dare I say it?) of the young Ekaterina Gordeeva, in the precision, beauty, and speed of her skating.

The only thing I might wish for is a bit of Gordeeva’s effervescence. Alisa is very serious on the ice! A little more lightness and a few smiles couldn’t hurt. Also, more strength in her SBS jumps. Alisa/Alexander have 2 SBS triples in their LP, but Efimova is quite inconistent with her jumps as yet. (Let’s remember that Gordeeva was inconsistent, too, in the beginning.)

Korovin, for his part, seems like a good, solid skater; but Efimova is clearly the star. And that’s fine—except that Korovin must improve his lift technique to present her better. Alexander gets their lifts up with no problem, but maintaining balance, speed, and smooth transitions is another issue. For example, in their long program at Tallinn Trophy, 2 of their lifts came down early, as he appeared to get Alisa’s weight behind him, causing loss of balance. The lifts were better at Russian Nationals, but still need work. With their SBS jumps not an area of strength, they’ll need good, strong lifts to keep their TES up.

What is the outloook for Efimova/Korovin? Despite some weak points with the SBS jumps and lifts, I’m optimistic about this team’s future. They have several things going for them. First, they’re well-matched physically, with a perfect height differential. Second, they have big, exciting technical elements (twist, throws) that will serve them well in years to come, plus the trademark Russian pairs speed and attack that the judges love. Third, with Efimova to sell their programs, they also have great PCS potential. They still need development artistically (especially in their interaction on ice, which is minimal). But their cool, uptempo cha-cha SP is one of my favorites this season, and their Strauss waltz LP has many lovely moments. At Russian Nationals, Efimova/Korovin earned the highest PCS among the younger senior/junior pairs, despite some technical snafus.

Efimova/Korovin have one final competition this year, Winter Universiade. I’m glad they received this assignment and hope they can do well. Efimova/Korovin share the same coaches as Atakhanova/Spiridonov: Natalia Pavlova and Alexander Zaitsev. Well … Once again, the hope is that their talent will be nurtured and developed. The Russian Federation lucked into a jewel with Efimova; they should give her the chance to shine.

Anastasia Mishina/Vladislav Mirzoev

Ages: 15 / 21

Birth dates: Apr 24 2001 / Nov 21 1996

Heights (in): 5’2″ / 5’10”

Heights (cm): 157 / 178

Former partners: Maksim Kudriavtsev (Mishina)

Coaches: Nikolai Velikov/Ludmila Velikova

Choreographer: Natalia Pecherskaia

Location: St. Petersburg

Seasons competing together: 3

This couple is one of the best-known Russian junior teams. Last season, they won Junior Russian Nationals and took silver at Junior Worlds. This year, they dominated the Junior Grand Prix, winning both their JGP events and the JGP Final. They seemed like a lock for Russia’s Junior Worlds team … until yesterday, when Vladislav’s profile suddenly appeared on a Russian partner search site!

Why would this team break up when they have been so successful?? Let’s take a closer look at the partnership to see what’s been working and what hasn’t.

Mishina/Mirzoev’s greatest strength is probably their SBS jumps. They’re quite reliable in hitting their SBS jumps and usually land them cleanly. Their SBS Tano 3S is a signature move, and they also include SBS 3T/2T/2T in their long program. Mishina/Mirzoev’s other technical elements are strong too: They get good height on their throw jumps, their lifts are more secure than many other juniors, and their triple twist is reliable and fairly clean.

Mishina/Mirzoev also have strong skating skills: good speed, power, and edges. They shine artistically; choreographer Natalia Pecherskaia has created wonderfully fun, charming, detailed programs that take advantage of their youth and energy, turning those qualities into strengths. Vladislav is a very talented performer, with great expression and musical awareness. At just 15, Anastasia is great, too, but needs a bit more polish in terms of keeping her posture correct and extending and finishing her positions.

Despite all their strengths, there’s been some doubt about this team’s prospects in seniors. With Mishina’s recent growth spurt, their height difference is not as large as is often seen in pairs, and their body types differ. There’s also been some suggestion that Anastasia/Vladislav have quite different personalities and don’t always see eye to eye. (It’s possible that could be partly a function of their 5-year age gap.)

There’s been no official announcement yet about the partnership breakup; and rumor is that Mishina/Mirzoev may complete the remainder of the season together (presumably, Junior Russian Nationals/Junior Worlds). However, if the partnership is effectively over, you have to wonder how successful they’ll be at those events.

If Mishina/Mirzoev were both committed to their partnership, I could have seen them developing in a similar trajectory to Stolbova/Klimov (their coaches’ former students). Mishina/Mirzoev were never destined to be a classic-style Russian pair a la Gordeeva/Grinkov or Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze, but I could have seen them becoming a very technically strong and accomplished team with their own unique style, like Stolbova/Klimov.

But it sounds like Mishina/Mirzoev may have already decided they are better suited to other partners. The apparent end of their partnership, despite great success, is an example of the instability of junior pairs.

Anastasia Poluianova/Maksim Selkin

Ages: 15 / 17

Birth dates: Jul 10 2001 / Apr 8 1998

Heights (in): 5’3″ / 6’0″

Heights (cm): 162 / 184

Former partners: Stepan Korotkov/Apollinaria Panfilova

Coaches: Pavel Sliusarenko/Valentina Tiukova

Chroeographer: Olga Volozhinskaia, Ksenia Vaskina

Location: Perm

Seasons competing together: 1

Poluianova/Selkin are in their first season together. Last year, Anastasia competed with another partner and won a JGP medal. This season, she and new partner Maksim placed 4th at JGP Ostrava and 10th at senior Russian Nationals.

At present, Poluianova/Selkin are not among the top young Russian teams. However, with further development and coaching, it’s possible they could move up in juniors, as they have several years of eligibility left. Anastasia is an appealing skater, and she and Maksim have a very nice, attractive look together. They are well-matched in height/body line and have good throw jumps. However, they lack the strong skating skills of the other young Russians; comparatively, they’re rather slow on the ice. Also, the quality of their triple twist and lifts could improve.

I think it’s a bit soon to predict this team’s future. It will be interesting to see how they develop over the next off-season. They train in Perm, in the same coaching group as Borisova/Sopot. If they don’t progress together as a team, both could figure into Russian pairs skating as potential partners for others.

Alina Ustimkina/Nikita Volodin

Ages: 16 / 17

Birth dates: Sept 2 2000 / Jun 29 1999

Heights (in): 5’4″ / 6’1″

Heights (cm): 162 / 186

Former partners: Maxim Bobrov (Ustimkina)

Coach: Alexei Sokolov

Choreographers: Roman Soloviev, Valentin Molotov

Location: St. Petersburg

Seasons competing together: 3

Ustimkina/Volodin became partners in 2014. Last year, they won bronze at the Youth Olympic Games and were 5th at Russian Junior Nationals.

This season, Ustimkina/Volodin were successful on the Junior Grand Prix, winning silver and bronze. They finished 4th at the JGP Final. Interestingly, they also competed as seniors at Tallinn Trophy and won that event over Efimova/Korovin. Alina/Nikita placed 10th in the short program at senior Russian Nationals, but had to withdraw due to Alina getting a fever.

Although Alina/Nikita have skated well this season, they’re not quite in the top group of young Russian pairs. They are fairly consistent with their throw jumps; and they have nice, clean, precise movement and lines. However, the technique on their triple twist is a bit unusual, with Nikita throwing Alina up and to the side, rather than overhead. Also, they lack the power, musicality, and performance quality of the best young Russian teams. Alina/Nikita are good skaters, but often look a bit mechanical on the ice. They need to relate more to their music and to each other.

It’s hard to guess just what the outlook is for Alina/Nikita. Their consistency is their best trait and should serve them well. With strong coaching, hopefully they can improve in their interpretation/presentation. At 5’4″, Alina is rather tall for a pairs skater; but Nikita is also tall at 6’1″, so I think their height differential works. Alina/Nikita have several more years of junior eligibility; I think they’ll need that time to develop more artistry, improve their technical elements, and evaluate if this partnership is likely to succeed at the senior level. Their coach is former Russian pairs skater Alexei Sokolov (partner of Julia Obertas), who is still quite young himself, at 37.

Elizaveta Zhuk/Egor Britkov

Ages: 13 / 19

Birth dates: Nov 2 2003 / Sept 16 1997

Heights: Not available

Former partners: One former partner (Zhuk)

Coaches: Philippe Tarasov/Juia Bystrov

Choreographer: Lyudmila Antonova

Location: Ekaterinburg

Seasons competing together: 3

Surprisingly, this team has been together 3 seasons already, although Elizaveta is just 13. She’s so young that they weren’t age-eligible for this year’s Junior Grand Prix, and thus have not competed internationally.

Nonetheless, Zhuk/Britkov impressed me quite a bit at senior Russian Nationals this year! They placed 9th with two very credible programs. There were no falls or pops in their routines; just one jump turnout. And they completed all senior-level elements, including triple twist (level 2), 2 triple throws, SBS 3S, and SBS 2A/2T. I was amazed to see such strong elements from such an unknown young team! Elizaveta/Egor get good height on their throws, and Elizaveta is a good SBS jumper so far. Their lifts feature innovative positions, but are a bit slow and tentative. They need to improve their speed on the ice. However, I liked the lack of hesitation they showed at Russian Nationals; and Elizaveta has very nice posture/line. She shines, despite her youth.

If my math is correct, Zhuk/Britkov will have 2 seasons of international junior eligibility before Egor ages out. I hope we see them on the Junior Grand Prix next season, even if only for 1 event.

In the longer term, I’m not sure if this couple will make the transition to seniors. I couldn’t find their height information online. But Egor is not very tall at 19; and it looks like Elizaveta may not have had her full growth spurt. I think it’s likely she will eventually outgrow him and need a different partner. On the other hand, with Zhuk/Britov based in Ekaterinburg, it’s possible they might stay together longer they might otherwise, due to a smaller pool of partners available locally. They train with coaches Philippe Tarasov/Julia Bystrov.

Great expectations

Today’s young Russian pairs are skating at a higher level than most other junior pairs, as shown by their results. These teams are so young …. but already so good. It’s great to see the skills, knowledge, and expertise of Russian pairs skating passed down to a new generation of pairs skaters and coaches.

Of course, for every Russian pair like Tarasova/Morozov, who succeeded in the jump to seniors, there are many more who didn’t. Odds are that not all these young teams will have successful careers as seniors. But even if they don’t all continue in their existing partnerships, I believe and hope we’ll see many of these exciting young skaters competing for years to come–and carrying forward the great tradition of Russian pairs skating.

The standards for Russian pairs are so high. And the pressure must be hard for young skaters to deal with, at times. Yet it’s those same high standards and expectations that help build the World and Olympic medalists/champions of the future. To reach the top, you have to aim high.

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