12 hours later, and we are nearing the end of the day. I need a nap :-)
In the final group: Kavaguti and Smirnov, Mukhortova and Trankov, Savchenko and Szolkowy, and Pang and Tong.
Talk with Lipinski and Weir in the studios.. both of them are really well-spoken. You can watch the archives on Universal Sports if curious about what they had to say.. I unfortunately didn't write any of the comments down until after the commercial.
Weir really likes the Germans, says they have had a rough year after Shen/Zhao came back and then weren't the clear-cut favorites anymore. He says even with mistakes, they are still incredible. Jian Tong is the best male pair skater in the world says Weir, and Savchenko is the best female pair skater. Weir says if he and Lipinski skated pairs, he would want to be thrown around and wear a dress. Not surprising.
Okay.. time for the skating. Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov from Russia first to skate.. in 2nd place. I really like the first half of the program. Not so much the second half, but we aren't to that point yet. Throw quad Salchow.. big fall forwards.. not sure if it's rotated. Side by side triple toe loops.. beautiful. Nice twist.. off at the beginning of their side by side spins but nice positions throughout and ended in unison.. slow though. Spirals to end the first half. Now it gets cheesy to me with the Blue Danube section. Side by side double Axel/hop/double Axel.. nicely done. throw triple loop and again a fall forwards. Nice carry lift with an unusual dismount. Spin that goes onto one foot is nice but somewhat labored until that point.. and pairs spin to end with some nice positions. Death spiral holding onto the left leg, but to her side instead of behind.. not as bad. Okay, they definitely aren't terrible.. they just aren't my cup of tea with this program. I hate how cheesy and happy they are throughout that second half but then she just loses it and gets all pissy as soon as they finish. He at least can keep a smile. It's just all very superficial to me with her.
Score: She gives a semi smile in the kiss and cry. 65.39/67.28 -2.00 = 130.67.. Total = 203.79. Into first. Without having a scoring sheet in front of me, I don't know whether I find that fair or not.
Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov also from Russia. Love Story. I like them but I'm not a fan of this program really, either. Nice split triple twist.. distance and height. GORGEOUS side by side triple Salchows, perfect unison. Side by side triple toe/double toe-- she muscled the triple and only got a single toe in.. not a huge mistake. Nice lift. His posture isn't great compared to hers. Throw triple loop again absolutely gorgeous and extended on the landing. She's very pretty in her lines even through the simple stuff in the program. She landed a gorgeous throw triple Salchow but HE fell forwards.. quick recovery, though. They are on. And then of course the side by side spins go off unison. Nice spread eagle choreography into the pairs spin which is done well. Really shaky overhead lift near the end.. he looks tired. And another lift.. better than the last but no more energy for him. Well done. Very, very well done. I think it might end up very close between them and the previous team. Three of their four jump elements were as good as they get but the lifts weren't as good. Kavaguti and Smirnov will probably beat them on components again, too. We will see..
Score: 62.75/66.16 -1.00 = 127.91.. yup.. again not enough. 197.39 and second overall.
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy from Germany.. Out of Africa.. this is my favorite pairs program of the year and I'm waiting for them to skate it up to it's potential. It's amazing even with flaws. Not that I want them to make mistakes. Side by side triple toe/steps/triple toe-- she doubled the first. Throw triple flip.. as always she nails it. Side by side double Axels.. she landed forward but they did them. Side by side spins.. close together and nice positions.. well done. Really nice positions in the pairs spin, and ends going to the opposite direction and keeping the speed relatively well. Spread eagles into split triple twist.. not the highest but done. Nice and quick turning by him in the lifts, comfortable edges. Great how the choreography builds through the program. Death spiral isn't great, Carruthers says awkward looking. Spirals with legs up and out to the side.. both match. Another really nice lift. Throw triple Salchow to end and she nailed that one. This better go into first place. They finally skated it well aside from her one doubled jump. A long hug at the end and the crowd liked them, too.
Score: 65.86/69.36 = 135.22.. Total = 204.74.. first by less than a point. Geez. The Russians really rack up the points.
Finally, Qing Pang and Jian Tong from China. Don Quixote.. Side by side double Axels/step/double Axel.. both nicely done. She doubled the side by side triple toe. They have a cushion to have made that mistake, but hopefully no more. They skate with a speed and intensity that is pretty new as of this year. Way off on the unison of the side by side spins. Split triple twist great as always.. She still can do a lot of work with her basics and her overall finish, but it's still much improved. Huge throw triple Salchow.. right into throw triple loop.. less sure on the landing but still a good one. She looks so genuinely happy towards the end. Same as the Zhangs with the lifts.. she can stretch more. But who cares.. I'm sure they did enough to win here. The program builds and works really well for them. Congrats. Nice way to finish their careers if they do retire after the event.
Score: 65.55/70.56 = 136.11 Total = 211.39.. the winners, well done! I don't know about some of their components beating the Germans...