Sui and Han of China start off the pairs competition to a medley of country songs. They qualified for both the senior and junior Grand Prix Final but elected to skate in the former. Nice side by side double Axels and what I really appreciate about their skating is the amount of content in between and leading right up to the elements. Nice big triple twist, so easily done. Throw triple flip and her skate really had to dig deep to stop her from flying forwards-- so tiny, yet so powerful. Mirror side by side footwork again has difficult content, but it also shows that they still can do plenty as far as their basics go. He was ahead of her on every change in the side by side spins. Lift goes into the full split as he holds her with one hand, and they end with a nice solid death spiral. Off on the spins and through some of the footwork, but still, I could watch this program over and over and not get tired of it. 61.49-- seasons best by two points. I'd say that's on the high side, but we will see how it compares to everyone else.
Iliushechkina and Maisuradze of Russia are next, with a much more traditional program. Side by side triple toes-- hers looked short on rotation and he had a wide swinging free leg on the landing. Throw triple loop lands a bit pitched forward but she keeps the flow. Death spiral and he changes hands-- she's in a nice position. Side by side spins-- nice unison on the first half but off on the change foot. I love them (her in particular) but I do not love this program. The music is big, they don't really skate fast enough to it, and I just don't think it's really their style. Their lift also goes into a really cool position as he holds her back up and she faces the ceiling in an arched position. Compared to the Chinese, hardly an ovation, but there's hardly anyone in the stands. Eh. I wish they had a better program. 60.06.
Moore-Towers and Moscovitch of Canada are skating to Zorba the Greek and it's full energy from the start. The triple twist doesn't get very high, and I wouldn't say the air position is very pretty. Right into side by side triple toes and those are done well. Lift has a bit of trouble at the start as it looks like her hand position was slightly off but once it's up, it's fine. Throw triple loop that has a really solid landing. Death spiral where she faces the ice. Music picking up for the footwork and I think the thing that bothers me about them so far is their lack of finishing off the moves-- for example, the way she leads into the throw jump with the measly back spiral. Everything is rushed in the same way the previous Chinese fly through everything, but it doesn't look particularly good with this team. At the very end, after the footwork, he fell straight forward after tripping on his toe pick and she right away counted off to him to get them back in timing for the end side by side spins-- good for her. 58.73, third for now but not really far off of the other teams.
Bazarova and Larionov of Russia skating to Adagio by Secret Garden. Her side by side triple toe is tiny as always, while his actually has a little bit of a wobble this time around. Beautiful split triple twist. Throw triple flip with an absolutely perfect landing. Death spiral in which she changes hands-- probably could go down just a bit more. Side by side spins are a little far apart but they stay in unison throughout.. she has much more stretch than him. Another cool lift variation. Much like Mukhortova/Trankov skating to Secret Garden last year, I don't think some of this choreography matches the music especially the footwork sequence. But when you skate to slow music and you have to pack plenty of content into the steps, I guess there has to be some kind of contrast. Anyways, nice program. I prefer it to their free skate. 63.86, good enough for first but close enough that it's really anyones game for bronze.
Pang and Tong of China have returned to their short program from last season-- I kinda liked the Nocturne, but I also like this so I don't mind. Side by side triple toes that she's had trouble on earlier in the season, not the case here. Well done. Split triple twist good as always. Nice throw triple loop, and they are looking much faster than usual. Close on the start of the side by side spins and then he wanders off a little. Unison on and off and the final y-position isn't particularly great, but as a whole the spins were good. Overhead lift and her variation is pretty ordinary when you compare it to all of the other teams-- she also doesn't really stretch fully or point her toes. Footwork and death spiral to end. Gentle, yet aggressive when they needed to be. Maybe going back to this program is what they needed, because that was far better than anything else they've done so far this year. 68.63, new seasons best by a point and a half.
Savchenko and Szolkowy of Germany end the day, skating to Korobushko. I never make costume comments, but what is up with hers, seriously? It gives the appearance of seeing her bra and underwear through the costume, but it's really just a darker white at those spots, I think? Maybe it really is her undergarments. Throw triple flip, split twist, and side by side triple toes were all well done. Footwork has some deep edges and difficult content in the steps and the arm holds. Flying side by side spins and you can see her watching him to make sure they stay on unison, which they do. You know, my issue with this program the first time around is that I thought it was incredibly sloppy, but it was their first competition of the season and I figured it would get better. It doesn't look sloppy here, but I'm just not feeling the gimmicky vibe of it. I much prefer Send in the Clowns or even their Jean-Michel Jarre program from several seasons ago. However, I think they were the best today on both the elements and components, even if I prefer Pang and Tongs program. 74.40! Well, I'd say the judges definitely prefer this as well!