Figure Skating: From the Boards

Nice Day 1 — Not So Nice? March 29, 2012

Filed under: 2011-2012 Season News,Worlds — Tara Wellman @ 9:47 am

Day 1 (well, the “official” day 1, since the qualifying rounds were earlier in the week) of the 2012 World Championships featured the Pairs and Dance Short Programs.

To say it was a “weird” day is putting it mildly.

If I had told you a week ago that there would be no Russian Pairs team in the top three after the short, you would have laughed and called me crazy. If I’d continued, saying the top Russian team would be Bazarova and Larionov in fourth position, you’d have thought me positively mad!

But that’s precisely how the chips fell on Wednesday.

The two American teams skated early and, in fact, had a couple of the cleanest programs of the day! Marley and Brubaker

Savchenko and Szolkowy survived the "Last Team Standing" Short Program.

continued to prove their potential and showcase their improvement. And I have to say, Mary Beth is transforming into a wonderful senior-level competitor. They had a slight bobble on the throw, but beyond that, they were clean.

Their teammates, Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, had the cleanest short of the entire event. And my goodness, that split triple twist! Everything was neat and clean. Plus, they skated with a much deeper, more inclusive emotion that made them much softer and more inviting in their presentation. They seemed to have worked on the seamless-ness of their transitions, too. They still don’t have the high technical levels or the program components to match up with the top teams, but those are both things I expect to go up if they stick to this plan next season.

Much to be proud of for both American teams!

This started to get crazy when all three Russian teams skated in the same group. …all three Russian teams fell on strange elements. Or, in Bazarova and Larionov’s case, a non-element.

They tumbled on their closing pose, much like Sale and Pelletier at the 2002 Salt Lake Games! But, because it was after the music, it didn’t hurt their scores.

Kavaguti and Smirnov, on the other hand, fell on the exit of a lift. They both fell, thus a -2.00 deduction. Along with other bumps and bobbles, they ended the day in 11th place, roughly nine points off the lead.

Surely Volosozhar and Trankov would rid the arena of the gremlins, right? Uh, not so much. They, too, fell, this time right in the middle of their death spiral. They both went down, thus a -2.00 deduction. Along with their bumps and bobbles, they ended the day in 8th place, some eight points from first.

Even the top finishers — Savchenko and Szolkowy — had stumbles. Mainly, they went for the throw triple axel and she landed upright … but very much on two feet. Still, they were the only top contenders to skate like they owned the place, and it showed in their marks of 68+.

Pang and Tong, the wildcards in this event, didn’t at all look rusty after a season off. In fact, they looked refreshed. Their elements are still massive, and their flow and expression seemed even better. They are strongly in second place, with a good chance to regain their elite world standings after the long.

Perhaps the surprise of the night came courtesy of the youngsters, Takahashi and Tran. The two have struggled to pull all the pieces together this season. They have stunning choreography that weaves elements from one to the next with great ease and elegance. But, if they don’t hit the elements themselves, it’s pointless.

Not so, this time around. No, there was GREAT value in all they did. One little touchdown of the free leg on the throw, but otherwise clean. Yes, including those pesky side-by-side triple salchows! Their score of 65.37 held up for a long time as the madness fell around them, and they ended the day in third place.

See the full results of the Pairs Short Program here:

The Short Dance event was bizarre in a different way — the technical panel was stingy as ever and even the top teams only managed level threes on the Rumba patterns! 

Virtue and Moir take the early lead.

In fact, the highest base value given of the day? Again, you’d never believe me if I’d told you it would happen this way. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. Yep. They had the most level 4s of anyone in the event, and their score of 59.56 kept them at the top very deep into the event.

Again, we saw Russian favorites falter — Bobrova and Soloviev fell. Yes, fell. More Russians falling! Only Ilinykh and Katsalapov managed to skate well for Russia, and they finished fifth.

One surprisingly good skate came from Cappellini and LaNotte. Now, they’re fantastic. So striking on the ice, a charming couple, and very smooth, strong Latin skaters. This was a fantastic SD from them. Still, I didn’t expect them to end up in front of American’s Maia and Alex Shibutani.

The Shibs skated well. Their dance work with Corky Ballas shows! And yet, they received only 27.00 for their base value mark. The technicians getting low technical marks? See? I told you it was weird. So weird that Maia and Alex are in 7th place after the short, 4.12 points behind their Canadian rivals, Weaver and Poje.

The Canadians skated strong. Confident as ever, with as much sass as you can muster from one Latin dance! Their fourth place finish was not surprising. Nor, really, were their scores of 66+.

In fact, there was nothing surprising about the order of the top three. It was just those shockingly low marks!

Davis and White skated a strong but calculated dance that, to me, held them back. They skated without hesitation technically, but their performance lacked a little spark. Apparently, though, their elements lacked a few bullet points, too, as they were handed level threes on footwork and patterns.

So too, though, were Virtue and Moir. In fact, the two teams had identical base value marks, meaning it all came down to execution and components. That’s where Virtue and Moir outshined the competition. Where Davis and White were cautious, Virtue and Moir were electric. Regardless of whose program you prefer, they skated with greater attack, and it showed in the marks.

The hold just over a two point lead, which doesn’t seem insurmountable. But … they have such a strong Free Dance that I’m curious if that 2+ points just won them their title back.

I’m not sure, barring mistakes (and at this rate, who knows what will happen!), that Davis and White have that much make-up room with their FD, especially considering the trouble they had at Four Continents getting the level calls.

Pechalat and Bourzat, skating under the pressure of the home crowd, closed the show. And they did so brilliantly. Broke nose? What broken nose? This is, perhaps, the closest they’ve been to the top two teams. And none other than Marina Anassina and Gwendal Peizerat were in the crowd cheering them on!

See the full Short Dance results here:

So there you have it! One bizarre night of skating in the books.

The Free Dance begins in a few hours. Let the drama continue!


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