I woke up without my alarm at 7:40. I must have really wanted to watch this pairs free skate!
Kadlecova/Bidar-- A long way to go with the elements, but they weren't quite the disaster I expected. Only side-by-side doubles and a fall on the throw triple Lutz/flip, and also the unfortunate fall on the third lift that was aborted right away and they ended up tripping each other. They both have some nice flexibility but they don't really finish anything off and their posture can be better. I was typing about how there was a decent amount of content going on in between the elements and then he fell on some of the choreography. Kadlecova keeps a smile nearly the entire time and Bidar doesn't have much emotion. They still look happy with their efforts, which is nice. It's not their fault they got invited!
Khnychenkova/Magyar- Joannie Rochette's free skate music for two seasons a couple of years ago. Side-by-side triple toes were big, but he stepped out and she did a combo with a double toe. Much better posture than the Czechs but they are not as soft or fast over the ice. Throw triple toe has a hand down. Lifts are basic and slow. The side-by-side spin stayed in unison until the change foot. Throw triple Salchow with maybe a hand down. Those lifts are really scary-- he crawls as he tries to turn and there's nearly nothing by the time of the dismount. There's some arm choreography right in place which is the first sign of such, and you can tell (as they zoomed in on their faces) that they are doing it but not understanding it or listening to the music at all. Eh. Transitions and interpretation mark should be lowest here. They've topped their seasons best by 17 points, but they seem a bit disappointed that they drop below the Czechs and will most likely finish last. They might need a lot of work (especially the lifts), but they weren't that bad, either.
Zhang/Toth- Better twist than Skate America (which was the start of a disaster beginning) Side-by-side triple toe/double toes in nice unison but a bit far apart. Side-by-side spins are far enough apart that there's no almost incident this time and they kept them timed decently. Big throw triple Sal and she has to step out. Lift that goes to a one-armed carry and then a split variation-- that is nice. Little speed into a throw triple loop and she falls. Double Axels are done at different times, but they are really running out of gas so they'll be happy they got through them. They don't leave an impact on me (like next-to-every other American pairs team), and I wish he in particular would try and give more to the performance. She definitely stands out while he's just "there".
In the second warm-up, the Russians came close to the edge of the boards on a split twist, where the Canadians were standing and talking to their coaches. I've never seen replays of the warm-up, but we are getting plenty of them this week and we definitely saw that incident again almost instantly.
Brodeur/Mattatall are a team I enjoy, but I don't really care for this particular Gershwin free skate. She doubled the side-by-side triple toe, I'm not sure what he did. Side-by-side spins stayed in great unison. Side-by-side double Axel/double toes were also nice. Throw triple loop was slow to start rotating and she fell. Lift that goes in both directions with little difficulty-- he's so strong. She gets the throw triple Sal towards the end. Lifts are a highlight and the choreography and their interpretation is good, I just don't think I'll ever be blown away by this music. Not their best skating this week, and it sucks because the door for that bronze medal was wide open. Then again, the Germans haven't skated yet, but they do have a comfortable lead..
Hausch/Wende- I love this program, and picked it as my favorite pairs free skate of the year a few weeks ago. Already a bobble in the beginning at the end of the split twist, she got a bit far back on the blade and had to check herself. They recover for the side-by-side triple toe/double toes, though. SBS spins in good unison. She looks so relaxed, I don't remember that in previous seasons. Playing it a bit safe with SBS double Salchows. Nice throw triple flip! They've really gotten it together this year, and I must really like them because I'm actually nervous for them. Awkward dismount out of a later lift where she gets a bit stuck on his shoulder and then the set down is rough, but they are keeping it together. Good for them. It wouldn't be music I would sit and listen to on my Ipod or anything, but there's something about the program as a whole that really makes it work. The bronze should be theirs... and it is, easily.
Bazarova/Larionov- SBS triple toes-- she with a hand down. Beautiful, big split triple twist. Throw triple flip was crooked and she sat down on the landing. SBS double Axel/step/triple toes-- that double Axel always has questionable rotation on her part because she has the Lipinski-whip into it. Nice spiral sequence, one of the first that actually stands out. She recovers on the throw triple loop and lands it nicely. Here's another team with great lifts, but I realized that I almost NEVER look at him, but I'm not really missing much. He lets her do all the emoting and presenting of the team. SBS spins are close together and keep in unison throughout. I like them, but I'm indifferent towards this program.
Savchenko/Szolkowy-- I'm really going to try to like the program this time around. Easy throw triple flip. SBS triple toes/step/triple toes-- second ones muscled out but they got them. Okay, here's what I think it is about this program. Points are really gimmicky and flashy, and that works for some teams that don't really have an ounce of artistic quality in them. This team, however, very much does as showcased by both of last seasons programs, so I wish they would have went a different direction than this Pink Panther. Yikes. Split triple twist from the difficult entry and she has to step out on the landing, and then they play it safe with SBS double Sals-- not like they need the triples here. Everything is looking paced much better than at Skate America where I thought both programs were frantically skated. Ugh, their faces and the music at the end when it goes techno-- just not a fan at all. Nice lifts at the end and of course, the throw triple Sal at the very end as usual. Not bad, but I'm quite confident that I'll never get chills or excited over this like I did with several of their programs in the past. One quality I did enjoy was their variations on some of the elements (lifts, spirals, death spiral) that matched the quarkiness of the music.