Worlds 2011: Pairs – The Ones to Watch

I apologize again for the delay in coverage, my life has been a whirlwind for the past week but I promise to write something about the other disciplines and their outcomes at the World championships. I’ll do the men’s competition last because I need to brace myself… I may need to vomit at Chan’s scores, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he was somewhat deserving of them. Somewhat is the key word there.

Anyways, to pairs skating. We could talk about how Savchenko and Szalkowy regained their World title after their disappointing (but not disastrous) season last year but this competition was really about the up and coming stars and 2011 Pairs silver medalists: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov. PJ Kwong had them pegged as bronze medalists but I was banking on Pang and Tong making tons of mistakes in the long (despite an impeccable short) while V/T skated clean. And I was right. (In fact, I was 3 for 3 on my podium predictions for pairs.)

Let’s begin this discussion with the short program.

Tatiana and Max were one of the first to skate and they began their international competitive career with a bang. They skated cleanly and at the end of the day, was 3rd after the SP. If they had begun their career a little earlier, I wouldn’t be surprised if they pushed upwards to 1st or 2nd, especially with Mother Russia hosting the event.

Aliona and Robin made a small mistake in the SP (they weren’t synchronized in one set of the combination spin) and ended up in 2nd. A bit surprising to me since I thought that their superior skating skills and transitions (and that GIANT throw triple flip) would have carried them above Pang and Tong. Looking at the protocol, I’m a bit confused as to what happened but I do think that they deserved a higher score than they got.

Pang and Tong skated flawlessly. They were even synchronized in their spins – something the Chinese pairs always seem to screw up. I admit that I prefer the choreography and music of this SP (this has become my new favourite SP of the season) over the Germans but I can’t help but think that Aliona and Robin’s programs were a lot harder. Still, with the Zhangs and Shen & Zhao gone, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chinese federation paid these two a lot of money to compete for another year. Besides, we still don’t know whether Sui Wenjing is 13 (or somewhere below 15) or not.

Also, this result also marks the fact that Kavaguti/Smirnov are official dumped dumped dumped. And even the legendary Moscovina can’t help them anymore. They also abandoned the meat costumes for this competition.

In the LP, things shifted a little bit.

Aliona and Robin skated perfectly. They were flirty, sneaky and actually a lot of fun to watch. I didn’t like this program at the beginning of the season but they’ve really grown into it and learned how to sell it. The Russian crowd was totally into it!

Tatiana and Max skated a great long, with only one mistake – a step out from Max on a triple salchow. However, I must say, that triple twist in the program – best triple twist EVER. It looked so completely and utterly effortless. Still, their scores were not that much lower than Aliona and Robin’s, which was a bit surprising. I would have liked to see the margin between them to a little bit bigger. I blame the hometown advantage, although that is not to say that Tanya and Max aren’t good. They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with next season.

As expected, Pang and Tong made a lot of mistakes during their LP, as they have done all season. Tong singled their first triple axel and put his hand down and their second sbs jump was only a double toe. Not something you would expect from last year’s World champions. These two are starting to unravel and I’ve got the feeling that they just want to retire and get on with life. Then again, they rallied after the disastrous beginning and finished beautifully. This skate was the first time I realized that this program was choreographed pretty well to the music. Especially with that throw triple loop near the end.

All in all, Volosozhar and Trankov made this competition a lot more exciting than it would have been. I wish the young team of Iliushechkina and Maisuradze were at there to make a splash. Not to mention they might be more beneficial to Mother Russia in the long run. Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov seem like a decent pairs team – they have lovely lines and a graceful elegance – at the moment but Vera’s jumps are barely getting off the ice and she looks as if she still has some growing to do and goodness knows what they will do to her jumps. I also wish that my little Chinese team could have been there but Sui might be underage. Still, they’re fun to watch.

That’s pretty much it with what I have to say about pairs. The world should really watch out for Volosozhar/Trankov because with the Olympics in Sochi, you never know what they could achieve.

Comments? Opinions? Please share!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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