by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
The pairs competition at Skate Canada 2021 in Vancouver, BC had a good but not outstanding level.
Wenjing Sui & Cong Han from China, World Champions in 2019 and silver medal winners at the Olympic Games 2018 and the World Championships 2021, celebrated a run-away victory in Vancouver with 224.05 points and therefore won 15 points for the Final. They opened their short program to the Flamenco “Nyah“ with an excellent side by side triple toe loop, followed by a huge triple throw flip which was awarded seven GOEs of +5 and two GOEs of +4. The triple twist and the lift were outstanding as well. The step sequence was very fluently performed, but only got a Level 2. The components had an average of 9.2. Han commented, “We’re very excited to compete here in Canada and to see the audience that gives us support. We know that we have some level problems from the last competition (in China), but there was little time before this competition. So, this is maybe our next goal.”
In their free program to two versions of “Bridge Over Troubled Water“, the triple twist was outstanding again and the combination of triple toe loop, double toe loop and another toe loop good. The pair spin was a bit too short and Sui fell on the triple Salchow. The three lifts and the two throws were excellent again, and the components were around 9.2. Sui commented, “Our performance was not bad. We had some misses, and we missed a level on a lift and spin. We can improve on this and we will try to fix all of it, This is our first win at Skate Canada, so it is really exciting.” They had been second at Skate Canada three times.
Daria Pavliuchenko & Denis Khodykin from Russia, third at the European championships 2020, won the silver medal with 193.08 points. In the short program to the song “Be Italian“ by U.S. singer Fergie, their twist, their throw loop and their lift were excellent, the other elements good, but she fell before the spin. Pavliuchenko said, “We enjoyed skating here. We missed international competitions a lot last season. We still need to work on our program, but for today it was OK.”
In their free program, the combination of three toe loops was shaky and Pavliuchenko went down on the triple Salchow. The loop lift was not clean and she touched down on the triple throw flip. The twist was outstanding again. In spite of being third in the free, they remained second overall. He said, “Today’s free skating was bad. We know it and we know what we need to do to improve. This is the beginning of the season and it is normal that we are not yet in top shape.”
Ashley Cain-Gribble) & Timothy LeDuc of Euless, Texas, claimed the bronze medal, winning 189.90 points after being only sixth in the short program to the soundtrack of “The White Crow“. There, Cain-Gribble fell on the triple Salchow which was downgraded. They got only .65 points for this element and including the fall deduction they had -0.35 points for this elements. The triple throw Lutz was deeply landed, the other elements good, the spin even excellent.
Their free program to the soundtrack of W.E. by Abel Korzeniowski, however, was the second best of the competition and had no big mistakes. Their two throws and the three lifts were good, the twist almost clean and the side by side triple loop a bit under-rotated. In their jump combination of triple Salchow, double toe loop and double loop, all three of her jumps were under-rotated. Cain-Gribble later said, “We are very happy with the program today. We had a solid skate, which is really good for our confidence.“ LeDuc added, “We worked so hard this season so far and going into this competition. To feel like it paid off is really awesome.”
The new Canadian pairing of Vanessa James & Eric Radford finished on fourth place with 187.92 points, less successful than they had hoped. James had skated for many years with Morgan Ciprès for France, but she had dual citizenship. They had been fifth at the Olympic Games of 2018 and won the European championships in 2019, but then they split because of Ciprès‘ strange behavior when he sent nude photos of himself to minor girls. Radford skated with Meagan Duhamel until 2018, even won Worlds in 2015 and 2016 and won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in 2018 with her. After skating at Autumn Classic in September, Skate Canada was only the second international competition for James and Radford together. They are coached by Julie Marcotte in the Montreal area.
In their short program to “Shiny Happy People“ by Ruben and the Dark, their twist was good, but James under-rotated the triple Salchow and stumbled on the triple throw Lutz. The spin was not totally clean, but the other three elements good. Radford said he had pain in his knee. They opened the free program to “Falling“ by Harry Styles and to “Maselstrom“ by the music arranger Karl Hugo with a good triple twist, but then James fell on the triple toe loop which was planned as a combination with two double toe loops. The triple Salchow was good, the triple throw Salchow excellent, but James missed the triple throw Lutz, touching down with both hands.
Minerva Hase & Nolan Seegert from Germany finished on fifth place with 186.82 points. They had won the Nebelhorn trophy in September. They train in Russia and had big travel problems after their flight from Moscow to Los Angeles was delayed for five hours. They missed their connection to Vancouver and had to spend a night in Los Angeles. The next morning their Covid test had expired. They had to do a new test, but because of long lines of people at the airport they missed their morning flight to Vancouver and arrived too late for the noon practice. Nevertheless they were third in the flawless short program with an excellent side by side triple toe loop and a very good triple throw Salchow. Hase commented, “We are happy to finally be here after a very long journey. It is our first time at the Grand Prix in Canada. We are very happy with our skate, but there are still some levels we need to catch up on.” In their free program, most elements were good again, but Hase stepped out of the triple loop.
Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro from Canada are sixth with 180.25 points. In their short, Moore-Towers stepped out of the triple toe loop and the twist was a bit shaky, but the other elements good. In their free program, seven elements were good, the twist not clean because she landed on his shoulders. Marinaro had to begin a lift twice which is not allowed. Later he aborted another lift, therefore they dropped from fourth to sixth position. Lori-Ann Matte & Thierry Ferland from Montreal in Quebec are seventh with 168.81 points on their first senior Grand Prix. They made no big mistakes but several small ones. Zoe Jones & Christopher Boyadji from Britain ended up eighth with 134.68 points. Jones is already 41 years old and has three children, among them twins who are 14 years. Several elements in their short program had negative GOEs, but they did not fall. In the free, Jones went down on the triple toe loop, the other elements were soso, but their style has no high level.