My own thoughts and analysis of the pairs and mens short programs from Portland begins tonight at 10:00 PM EST! This post will be continually updated throughout the pairs competition.
The referee of the event is Vanessa Riley-- for more on her history, check out one of my favorite YouTube videos of all-time. Among the judging panel is Alla Shekhovtsova, who was a part of the controversy surrounding the 2002 Olympic Games. Russian Figure Skating Federation President-turned-General Director Valentin Piseev is (was?) her husband.
First, the seven required elements for the senior pairs in the 2010/2011 season:
A lasso lift take-off (hand to hand)
A twist lift-- either double or triple
A throw jump-- either double or triple
A solo side-by-side jump-- either double or triple
A solo side-by-side combination spin with only one change of foot and at least one change of position
A death spiral on a back inside edge
A step sequence that is either straight line, circular, or serpentine
In the first warm-up group:
Zhang/Toth (USA)-- she lands a triple toe loop perfectly
Moore-Towers/Moscovitch (CAN)-- she in a catch-foot spiral into their throw triple loop
Stolbova/Klimov (RUS)-- she does a double toe
Castelli/Shnapir (USA)-- split triple twist with a nice delay
None of the teams were introduced by name except for Castelli/Shnapir. Weird. Zhang/Toth do a throw double Salchow then go over to the boards to speak with their coach. The Canadians work on their lift while the Russians practice their throw and she falls out. Anyone with IceNetwork coverage have VERY choppy video feeds right now? I can hear one of the commentators going over the required elements for the short program, and then I believe I hear David Pelletier setting up the competition.
Music is Clair de Lune. This choppy feed is going to drive me insane. Set up for the split triple twist-- not all the way around, not much height, and a big collision on the landing. I think they both did the triple toes in the side-by-side, but she jumped before he did. Lift went up scratchy but when it gets going, it actually is nice. They could do it with more speed, though. Throw triple Salchow that she lands solidly. Side by side camels/sit/upright / change/ sit variation that is off and she comes out first and wobbles a bit. Right into straight line footwork that fits the music but isn't particularly challenging. Catchfoot into the death spiral and that's a nice position. So what to work on? The music was slow but they still could have had more speed. Their edges seemed pretty scratchy and the lift seemed like it was a bit of a struggle to get into the air. The twist wasn't close and will probably be downgraded. But it was a pleasant performance and honestly better than I was expecting. Twist on replay looked alright as far as the rotations, but there was definitely a bit collision. At least I got part of it right.
48.13. Components average a little over 5.00.
Whoever the commentators are, you can hear everything they are saying on this feed. Zorba the Greek. Right away you can tell this team isn't at all refined, but at least they have an excitement about them. Triple twist again with a slight crash here, little preparation into the side-by-side triple toes and she puts a hand down. Music slows for some choreography. Lift again looked a little sloppy to me in the beginning but it had good speed. She could have been stretched just a bit more. Spiral by her into the throw triple loop, she lands that one. Death spiral, he in a catchfoot at the entrance. Variation where her front side faces the ice. Mirror footwork gets the crowd involved and they pick up the energy. Side by side spins flying camel/sit/y-spin/ change/ sit/grab leg/upright. In unison, but her very first position traveled severely, leaving a moderate distance between the two. They got off a bit on the change-foot but were quickly back together.
61.64.. Components average 6.50. They really are getting good PCS.. I'm not sure I'd go that high just yet. Into first, that's high!
First senior Grand Prix, also competed on the Junior Grand Prix this season. Nice high split double twist with her arms over her head. The feed paused on their throw, which I think was a triple flip. Side by side triple toes also completed. Sound goes out now. Mirror footwork for them but I can tell you they had been skating with little relation to the music up to this point anyways. Besti squat by her with a kick over her head from him into their lift. Both legs bent so the feet are over the head and then she grabs one of the blades. Now they have some intensity-- flying camel/sit/yspin/upright/ change/ sit with blade held/upright-- some positions held just long enough to count. The sound has gone out three times now. Hydroblade moves right into her death spiral-- right out of Bourne/Kraatzes book, but that was a nice little variation. Nothing to make them stand out (and no music), but all of the elements were clean. They have decent carriage, but I felt like they were a little slow. On the throw flip, she was just slightly forward but there was a nice running edge out of it.
53.73. Into second, just below their seasons best. Not bad. They look like they don't have any expectations here.
He absolutely towers over her. Odds are I probably said that in my Skate Canada live blog, too. Music starts with Pink Floyd's Money-- their starting pose reminds me of Ina/Zimmermans Pink Floyd short program. Nice speed already and into side by side triple Salchows-- he has a big crash falling out forwards. Split triple twist was a good one. Side by side flying camels/sit/upright/change/ sit tuck position and out.. a mess in unison, centering on the change, and the timing of changing the positions. Straight line footwork falls a little flat. Change of music now. Throw triple Salchow, she overrotates it and also falls forwards out of it. Lasso lift with one hand right away and then she into a split position as he still holds on with one hand-- that change of position also seemed a little rough. Death spiral to end. I think they tried to get back into that in the last minute, but the audience wasn't feeling it. What a difference from the Skate Canada short program, when they finished second. The twist was great, but everything else seemed a little sloppy to me.
Sui and Han look on waiting to take the ice for their warm-up.
47.24 for the Americans, and they go into last. Two deductions for the two falls.
Second warm-up group:
Kemp/King (GBR)-- Their costumes look like they should be skating to the musical Chess, but it's actually Coldplay.
Sui/Han (CHN)-- Camera pans to them and she lands a twist and then a throw single to get the feeling-- she's all smiles.
Denney/Barrett (USA)-- Her costume is.. interesting. Black with illusion fabric and then a white sleeve and skirt. It's worse than my lame description makes it sound, that's for sure.
Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER)-- Cameras aren't matching the PA announcer, so I didn't see much from them in their introduction.
The Chinese warm up their side by side jumps, and then the Americans warm up double toes. Camera stays on them for a long while. Silvia Fontana and John Zimmerman shown watching their warm up now. Savchenko does an easy triple toe. Han and Denney just got really close to each other two times in five seconds. Sui is practicing her footwork sequence. Mention of Sui's big fall yesterday in practice.. hit her head on a throw quad attempt. Commentators think this is their senior debut-- guess they printed the protocols last week before Cup of China was over.
Oh, so she's the one responsible for the Chess costumes. As I mentioned, Clocks by Coldplay string quartet-ized.. Split triple twist and she gets far away from him. Side by side double flips... still as their jump of choice, but done. Throw triple loop she lands nicely. shoot the duck position into her death spiral, not bad. Mirror side by side straight line footwork.. this is slow and he always looks a bit off. Wiggle choreography right in the middle is ahead of the music, or at least a good few seconds ahead of where it was in Canada. Flying camel and he lost it from the beginning and is just doing whatever he wants while she continues the entire spin. Lasso lift goes to one hand and she grabs the blade, he sets her down with one hand. As their coach is Siudek, that obviously was their best element. Spin was a mess, he looked off in the footwork too.. even the double flips look like they have to be so muscled out. The overall quality of their skating just isn't there, but at least the program wasn't completely empty in between the elements. She has a wrap on the throw loop. His hair looks a lot better here than the long mess it was in Canada, but who is really paying attention? :-)
42.00. Into last now. A point and a half below their Skate Canada.
Stop saying this is their senior debut, whoever these commentators are. This program has the potential to rock the house. What I respect about their skating is the amount of content they absolutely pack in to the program. Double Axels with nice edgework into them. Crazy footwork into the split triple twist-- excellent. Huge throw triple flip-- she's all over the place in the air but knows how to come down just right. Straight line mirror work and then some fun choreography in the middle. It's not getting the audience reaction I thought it would but they are selling it. Now the audience gets clapping. Flying camel/catchfoot/upright/ change/sit-- a little off in the middle but not too bad. Centered well. Lasso lift that again goes into her in a full split while he holds on with one hand. The first position looked like it got a little "stuck" before it went all the way up. She into a shoot the duck before her death spiral and he lassoes the rope as he holds her arm. I have all the respect in the world for how they are able to include SO MUCH content leading right into every single element, as I said in the beginning. They fly through the elements like they are nothing. Obviously they are young and not yet finished or brilliant technicians, but they have unbelievable potential if they manage the growth spurts.
57.53. Second by four points. I'm curious as to where the Canadians earned all of their technical points, but I bet the Chinese lost some points on the lift.
Love Theme from the Cousins. Sounds weird, no? Okay no more trying to be funny. Nice gentle choreography to set the mood. Split triple twist ever so slightly short, but it didn't affect the run out. Side by side triple toes in great unison. They are SCRATCHY. Throw triple Lutz was effortless-- she rotated so quick. Catchfoot into their death spiral and she again opting for her front side facing the ice. Side by side flying camels nice extension/upright/ change/ y-spin-- great unison and centering throughout that and all decent positions. Mirror footwork has some nice use of edges and toe work. Lasso lift with her grabbing the blade and then a variation star lift with her leg bent to a flip out dismount. I enjoyed that 100 times more than at NHK Trophy, and they skated really well. Aside from the scratchiness (as opposed to the "crunch") of their blades on their crossovers, they are a developing really well and relating much more to the music than last season. Again showing Fontana and Zimmerman at the boards as they go through the program.
58.49. Again, interesting. Into second by three points.
Korobushko, Bond's version. Sharp choreography to set the mood. Throw triple flip.. she really bent her knees in that take-off, and it flew. Nice split triple twist with spread eagles leading right in. Side by side toe loops-- she doubled. Lasso lift with a kind of twisted-bent-knee split with him holding her with one hand. Death spiral switched hands and then she held on with both.. looked a little bit sloppy. Mirror footwork is nice and difficult with some edgework as they are in hand holds. The crowd isn't crazy about any of it and I'm not really thrilled so far either. Flying camel/sit/y-spin/upright/ change/ sit/upright-- on and off unison but the positions are good. Meh. First competition with this but it seemed pretty hmm.. generic and rushed to me? I much prefer last season short (so far). My favorite moment is where he lifts her and then swings her parallel to the ice-- I was hoping that was their entry to the lift or something really exciting, but it was just a bit of choreography done in isolation.
63.99 and first just by two points. The Canadians ran away with the total elements score, even with her hand down on the toe loop. I need to see protocols.