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. Continue reading

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Grand Prix Final 2016: Pairs Review

The pairs event at last weekend’s Grand Prix Final ended unexpectedly, with Tarasova/Morozov of Russia winning gold and favored World champions Duhamel/Radford taking only bronze. Along the way, we saw some growing pains from the new Chinese pairs, more consistency from Zabijako/Enbert, and scrappy performances from Seguin/Bilodeau. The overall level of skating was not as high as at last year’s Grand Prix Final. But it was interesting to see some new faces and storylines emerge in Marseilles. Continue reading

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NHK Trophy 2016: Pairs Review

NHK Trophy in Japan was the last stop on the Grand Prix circuit this season. For the third consecutive year, Duhamel/Radford won the event. We also saw strong performances from the two Chinese pairs at the competition. Let’s take a look at what happened. Continue reading

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Cup of China 2016: Pairs Review

At Cup of China, the pairs competition is usually all about the top Chinese pairs. And it was never more so than this year, when we saw new teams Yu/Zhang and Peng/Jin compete against each other for the first time.

These 2 new pairs are the product of a partner swap that the Chinese federation made last spring, when they broke up the successful teams of Peng/Zhang and Yu/Jin and required them to switch partners. This partner swap was controversial, and I think many fans were anxious to see how the ex-partners would look at this event.

For now, the answer is that both new teams looked really strong at Cup of China. And as much as I feared there might be drama, there wasn’t any. All parties involved actually looked happy, or at least at ease, during warmups and in the kiss-n-cry. And the new teams’ results pretty much speak for themselves, and are very promising for the future. Even with #1 Chinese pair Sui/Han out due to injury, the Chinese pairs dominated this event, finishing 1-2-4.

While it’s too soon to call the partner swap a success, we at least know that both teams have gotten off to a very good start, and show promise for the future. For the skaters’ sake, I’m happy about that. Continue reading

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Trophee de France 2016: Pairs Review

The pairs event at Trophee de France featured some some big names, but I was disappointed to see a field of only 6 pairs (instead of the allotted 8). Two French pairs who were originally assigned to the event withdrew quite late, and were not replaced. Since pairs skaters already have the lowest number of entries in Grand Prix events, it was really disappointing to see 2 slots go unused. With only 6 pairs entered, Savchenko/Massot easily dominated the event. Continue reading

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Rostelecom Cup 2016: Pairs Review

Last season, Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot burst onto the scene with an unexpected World bronze medal. Savchenko/Massot showed huge potential in their debut season. This season, their task is to fulfill that promise and establish themselves as gold-medal contenders at Worlds and Olympics. They took a step forward this week by winning Rostelecom Cup. Meanwhile, Russian pair Natalia Zabijako/Alexander Enbert—also in only their second season–turned heads by winning silver at their home Grand Prix. Let’s look at the action in Moscow. Continue reading

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Skate Canada 2016: Pairs Review

Skate Canada was the first Grand Prix event for two-time World champions Duhamel/Radford. Their presence automatically raised the level of this competition; but there were quite a few other good pairs in the field as well. Overall, this was a better-skated pairs event than at Skate America, with some close competition for the medals. Let’s see what happened. Continue reading

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Skate America 2016: Highlights from Ice Dance, Mens, and Ladies

Since I attended Skate America in person, I thought I’d share some of my personal highlights/impressions from ladies, men, and ice dance. No scoring analysis here; just some opinions, based on seeing the competition live! Continue reading

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Skate America 2016: Pairs Review

The Grand Prix season started this week at Skate America in Chicago, and luckily, I got to see the event live! This was my second year attending Skate America, and it was a lot of fun! The level of competition in the pairs event wasn’t the highest. But there was drama and some emotional highlights, too. Let’s take a look at what happened.

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Walking in the Judges’ Shoes: The Sochi Judging Project

Figure skating fans love to talk about judging–everyone has an opinion on it! But, talking about the judges’ work is quite different from actually getting in there and doing it yourself–as I recently found out.

This spring, the Naked Ice web site launched a judging project (“We’ll Be the Judge of That!”) in which fans would actually judge an entire competition, issuing a full set of TES/PCS marks for each skater, just like real judges. Not only that, Naked Ice upped the stakes by choosing the 2014 Sochi Olympics ladies’ event—one of the most controversial of the IJS era—as the competition to be judged. The results of the project are available tonight on the Naked Ice site: “We’ll Be the Judge of That–2014 Sochi Olympics Results.”

I participated in this project as one of the 7 judges. It was really interesting and a lot of fun! It was also a lot of work; and very educational. To be honest, I think this is one of the most important fan projects I’ve ever seen done in the skating community. Because, as much as we all talk about judging, very few of us have actually done the job and really understand the challenges. This project gave us a window into what judges really experience when they’re using IJS. And I have to say: Judging under this system is not easy. Continue reading

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