Torino Worlds Pairs: Brysica, Barney, MukhOff…

Major Universal Sports/Comcast Fail!

The Pairs LP started airing before my scheduled TiVo recording even began, discluding the entire third-to-last group, and ALL but the last two Men’s SPs were covered up by a Russian news program. WTF!? A Plushy conspiracy? Thank god this didn’t happen with my Olympics recordings, but it still has me fuming. Perhaps it’s my local cable providers’ fault. Whosever it is, off with their heads!

Notable SPs

Berton & Hotarek: I don’t disagree with Tony Wheeler, an excellent (newish?) skating blogger (also from Ohio…must be somethin’ in the water). This italian team is very promising, delivering one of the finest short programs, and deserving notice here. Next step: upgrade to a triple twist. How lovely too to see John Zimmerman on their coaching team. (He and Shae-Lynn should have won AT LEAST the first night of “Thin Ice”!)

Evora & Ladwig (Maranda): Her expressive face really sells this couple. She also has beautiful extension, and their program has a gentle, and sincere loving quality…well, it is “Love Actually.” Their footwork and final lift feels a bit slow, but some of that could be attributable to camera angle/perception.

Denney & Barrett (Barney): Great speed and attack. This is definitely the team we’ve grown to love from the past two Nationals! Her triple toe is a bit Tara (ie: rollerskater-ey, fast but low), BUT she nails it, unlike in Vancouver. They leap to 6th, and with a personal best!!! Wow, with this performance, and Evora & Ladwig’s great showing, I have a flash of irrational hope that they might they climb high enough to regain 3 berths.

Savchenko & Szolkowy (Szolchenko – 3rd): Not inspired, but acceptable. He doubles his triple toe, and their spin unison is off, but it keeps their placement high enough to pretty much be a sure thing for the podium, and not out of reach of gold, if Pang & Tong open the door. I wonder if his botched jumps this season are a confidence issue, or more one of some apathy creeping in.

Kavaguti & Smirnov (Smirguchi – 2nd): Very strong performance, on a par with their Vancouver SP. Honestly, it’s nice to see them out from under the palpable Olympic pressure. They seem excited to skate, and are well prepared.

Mukhortova & Trankov (MukhOff – as in F**k Off, “off” is the Anglicized version of “ov.”): Starts off with a BEAUTIFUL triple twist! They are quite emotionally connected throughout. They also appear ready to seize some Vancouver redemption. He’s never looked cuter, with his sharp, swashbuckler goatee. If I could step (yes, I said step) into any male figure skater’s body, it would be his…perfectly proportioned.

Pang & Tong (Bang & Gong – 1st): With their performance, they own this event. How refreshing to have them arrive here as favorites, and to see their burgeoning confidence. Good for them for taking 3 weeks off after Vancouver. So often that sort of training decision seems to get pooh-pooh’d by the commentators. Obviously, it gave them a second wind.

Gimme Free Skates

Bazarova & Larionov: They have beautiful foundational skating skills: edging, line, unison, carriage. But, why do so many young russian men seem to look 40 (perhaps it’s the doping)? As they develop their expression, and get a new costume designer they’ll be on their way to top 5 placement! I look forward to seeing a VERY classic Russian program from them (ie: Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, etc.) in future seasons.

Zhang & Zhang (Zhang Squared): Technical perfection. Their best in a long while. If their choreographers were able to unlock the artistry in the other top 2 chinese teams, why not them? Perhaps there just isn’t the expressive raw material there to work with. I hope they do some major growing for next season. The right programs will be KEY! How about Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra? Now that would be exciting, and put the focus on their strengths: speed and height. With their tricks timed on the musical climaxes, it would be sick.

Dubé & Davison (Brysica): This program actually finally showed glimpses of its potential. And, there is still SO much potential there. Unfortunately, they gave points away here and there. But, their story-telling and connection were strong. Maybe they will actually make it through to next season…IF she can figure out her triple salchow technique! I a-mused during their SP that Davison should pair up with Volosozhar, of Ukraine, since her partner has bailed and believe she’s deserves better…and she is AMAZING! Carruthers touts their death spiral as a model of good technique. What he keeps forgetting to mention is that although it is more beautiful, the catch foot spirals are done by the other teams FOR POINTS! It’s the system’s fault for requiring it, not the pairs’ fault for doing it.

Denney & Barrett: Great placement coming into FS! Amazing to have top two US teams in top 10!!! CONGRATS! Ooooh no…he’s down on triple jump, while she pops hers. Great regroup, and throw triple lutz. Just like Dick, I hate catch spirals, but I think their backwards catch foot spiral actually works, as they get good extension and stretch. Coach Jim Peterson continues to be adorable, with his anxious kiss-n-cry mannerisms. He wants this so badly! I kind of missed the amusing killer-grip, quintessentially straight-guy hugs he gave Barrett at Nationals, and Ladwig in Vancouver.

A COMMENTATING ASIDE: Did Tara have some facial work done? Or, is she just filling out? Something’s different, for sure. I was surprised to hear Johnny share that he felt Tong was the best male skater in pairs, for his edging quality. I honestly wouldn’t have thought that. And, that Savchenko is the best female pairs skater (a more obvious assertion). He suggests the pairs teams should switch it up! I get such a kick out of his Russian über-pronunciation. He and Carruthers don’t have a good vibe together. Carruthers always exudes irritability to me, and never melds well with other commentators, even Yamaguchi and Gannon in Vancouver. I am convinced he has an eternal thorn in his side for losing his Olympic gold.

Kavaguti & Smirnov (3rd): When she falls on their quad salchow throw attempt, she really appears like a rag doll…no bones! It’s amazing that she can get back up and land her triple jump…no problem. Her flexibility goes without saying. Strong, clean jumps. On their throw triple loop she pitches forward and falls. Better attack and commitment throughout than in Vancouver, but with two falls, an even lower score. Their innovation is notable, but they’re ahead of Zhang & Zhang…with TWO FALLS??? Really?

Mukhortova & Trankov: Another killer triple twist, and beautiful triple jumps! Hold it together. I’d love to see them on the podium, especially after their underscored SP. However, there is a plainness to them, especially after seeing Kavaguti & Smirnov. SHIT…he falls forward on their throw salchow, and she lands it?! WTF? They’re giving it away, again!? Spin unison off. Looking slow overall. Indeed, they’re behind their countrymen. Ugh.

Savchenko & Szolkowy (2nd): They feel pretty free and loose. She doubles their first triple jumps, and fights through her next two jumps. I’m enjoying how they’re relating to one another. I really do love how full of longing this program is. Her triple salchow landing is VERY confident, with great ride-out, and a strong extended leg position. Kavaguti & Smirnov were SO overmarked, and only 1 point behind S&S?!

Pang & Tong (1st): She makes the EXACT same mistake as Savchenko, popping her triple jump! This program is just so well paced. Bad spin unison…giving points away. I love how they burst out in the flamenco mid-section. Their move after their twist always looks like a mistake to me, when she hunches down and leans into him…as if their costumes have snagged. It’s not as inspired as their historic Vancouver WOW-performance, but very strong. While watching their perfect throws, I realize I don’t think I’ve ever seen them miss a throw…they own them!

See complete final results here.

Good U.S. Showing

The results for the top 3 were exactly as in Vancouver, just moved up one spot (thanks to Shen & Zhao’s departure). How predictable! Both US pairs are in the top 9…alas, no additional berth, but a good showing. Unfortunately, I missed seeing Evora & Ladwig’s FS, due to the tv scheduling debacle. I was very sad to see Langlois & Hay skate so poorly, and end up in 11th. I hope they can regain some momentum next season, and that she heals more fully. My top 4 prediction flopped gold and silver.

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