by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(8 November 2021) The pairs event at the Grand Prix in the Olympic ice rink in Turin was not at a high level even with the two Chinese teams who gave very good or good performances, as the six other teams did not.
2021 World silver medalists and two time World Champions Wenjing Sui & Cong Han from China won the event with 224.55 points, just one week after winning Skate Canada. Therefore they are qualified for the Grand Prix Final which up to now is planned in Osaka, Japan in December.
Their first element in the short program to the Spanish soundtrack of “Nyah“ from “Mission Impossible“ by Hans Zimmer was a good side by side triple toe loop, followed by an outstanding triple throw flip which was rewarded with five GOEs of +5 and four GOEs of +4. The other elements were excellent as well (all Level 4) and the components had an average of 9.2.
Han later said: “After our Grand Prix in Canada last week, we feel a bit tired, but we are very excited to compete here in Italy and to see a lot of audience. We came to Italy three weeks before the two Grand Prix, right after the Asian Trophy in the Olympic rink in Beijing not with a specific trainings goal, but in order to prepare for our two Grand Prix events in Canada and here.”
In their free program, they skated to two interpretations of John Legend‘s cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Water,“ one of them a jazzy version. They opened their program with an outstanding triple twist with Level 4, followed by a good combination of triple toe loop, double toe loop and another double toe loop. The side by side triple Salchow, the Axel Lasso lift and the triple throw flip were very good, but the triple throw Salchow landed on two feet and the last lift a bit shaky. They also had the forward outside death spiral in their program which you do not see often at all. The pair combination spin had only a basic level. But overall, it was a very good performance.
Sui said: “It’s a hard month for us with three competitions and we change a lot of time zones. I feel today after the short program my energy and body are not really well, but we did well. We still have some problems we need to fix. I think we can keep working on making the program.”
The second Chinese pair of Cheng Peng & Yang Jin from the same school in Beijing earned the silver medal with 211.86 points. All seven elements in their short program to “Piano and Moonlight Sonata“ by Ludwig van Beethoven and “No One“ by Alicia Keys were excellent, including the triple throw loop. The GOEs were mainly +3 and +4, their components were around 8.7. Jin said, “We felt good today about our performance and we focused on each element and on all the details. We feel that we made improvements since our last competition, the Asian Open Trophy.”
In their free program, they used music from the soundtrack of the Chinese film of “The Banquet“. They opened the program with a side by side triple Salchow, but her jump was under-rotated and a bit shaky. The combination of triple toe loop and double toe loop was very good, the triple twist even excellent. Peng stepped out of the triple throw loop and their death spiral was not totally clean. The three lifts and the other elements were excellent again. Her components were around 8.7. Peng explained, “This is our first and only Grand Prix. We really treasure the opportunity to be on the ice and a competition we want to thank the audience and this experience means a lot to us.”
Iuliia Artemeva & Mikhail Nazarychev of Perm in Russia won the bronze medal with 187.01 points. In their short program to the soundtrack of “The Artist“ and to the song “Bumble Boogie“ by Jools Holland, their triple twist was good, but Artemeva fell on the triple throw flip. The side by side triple toe loop and the four other elements were good. Their free program to “Fire On Fire” by Sam Smith and to “Chronos” by Kirill Richter included a good sequence of double Axel, Euler and triple Salchow and a very good triple twist. Artemeva went down on the triple toe loop and stepped out of the triple throw flip. The three lifts were excellent, therefore they moved up from fourth to third place.
Nazarychev said of the competition, “We prepared really hard for this Grand Prix, the practices went well and our skate should have been like the practice, but I guess we lacked some work and we have a second event soon in France. We'll try to fix all our mistakes and show what we want - the best we can do and beautiful skating.”
Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise from Italy finished in fourth place with 179.26 points. In their short program to the soundtrack of “Let It Be“ (originally by the Beatles) both skaters fell on the side by side triple Salchow. The triple throw loop was good and four other elements very good. “We had a big mistake at the beginning, but the rest of the program was good. For sure we would have preferred to skate a clean short program, but we are satisfied,” Della Monica said.
Guarise added, “It is amazing to skate in front of an audience.” In their free program to the soundtrack of “Moulin Rouge“, they dropped from third to fourth place because Della Monica doubled the side by side Salchow in a shaky way and he was not clean on the triple version either. Both skaters doubled the first side by side side toe toe loop and Della Monica fell on the triple throw loop and landed the triple throw Salchow on two feet. The other elements were mostly good.
Rebecca Ghilardi & Filippo Ambrosini, also from Italy, came fifth with 165.45 points. In their short program to "Mambo Italiano" by Bette Midler, they made no big but several small mistakes, including on the side by side triple Salchow, the triple twist and the spin. Their triple throw Lutz was good, however. In their free program, Ghilardi doubled the side by side Salchow which he tripled. In their jump combination Ghilardi doubled and Ambrosini singled the toe loop after the double Axel. They popped the triple throw Lutz, the other elements were clean.
Alina Pepeleva & Roman Pleshkov of Moscow ended sixth with 162.71 points, like at Skate America two weeks before. She fell on the triple toe loop and on the triple throw loop in the short program and they made three mistakes in the long program.
Sara Conti & Niccolo Macii from Italy landed on seventh place with 152.72 points. His step-out on the triple toe loop was their only mistake in the short program, but they made several mistakes in the free program.
Annika Hocke & Robert Kunkel from Germany withdrew after a short program in which Hocke fell on the triple twist and stepped out of the triple throw loop. Kunkel had stomach problems the next day and did not want to take the risk of dropping his partner on lifts.