Pairs Discussion Thread 2019-20: “Two skating as one”

Sabine-Yuna

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Fedor Klimov just posted a group photo and identified the gathering in Baselga di Pinè, Italy as an "ISU Development Pair Skating Camp": https://www.instagram.com/p/B0ymr4QnJPW/
Is that Elizaveta Kashitsyna/Mark Magyar (HUN) on the left next to Lana Petrovic/Antonio Souza-Kordeiru (CRO); Cain/LeDuc also are training there for 3 weeks.
It's Julia Chtchetininna/ Mark Magyar and I recognise the two German teams Hase/ Seegert and Hocke/ Kunkel. Italians Ghilardi/ Ambrosini are on the picture too.
 

Sylvia

Wishing I could go back to the Lake Placid JGP
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Thanks, @Sabine-Yuna! Ioulia Chtchetinina seems to have confirmed her new partnership with Mark Magyar on her Instagram with this photo from the camp:

ETA that Ashley Cain has helpfully listed the skaters' IG user names in her post: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0y4BtdlNSI/
 
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aftershocks

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15,881
... if a team like James & Cipres was even the top team most of last season.
James/Cipres won every competition they entered last season, except for Worlds, because they were the best at those competitions, except at Worlds (where the judges made sure the bar was set extremely high by over-rewarding their closest rivals before J/C even came on the ice to warm-up). It's not for nothing that many teams are looking to emulate J/C's on-ice chemistry, their innovative moves, music, costumes, and/or to work with their choreographers. :D

With all the new pairings, training strategies, and new music selections, it looks like everyone is aiming to up the competitive ante in pairs in coming seasons. But it doesn't seem that the ISU has yet gotten the memo. So many teams with talent or potential -- yet too few opportunities to compete, improve, and excel. What else is new(s)?
 

vanillashake

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James/Cipres won every competition they entered last season, except for Worlds, because they were the best at those competitions, except at Worlds (where the judges made sure the bar was set extremely high by over-rewarding their closest rivals before J/C even came on the ice to warm-up). It's not for nothing that many teams are looking to emulate J/C's on-ice chemistry, their innovative moves, music, costumes, and/or to work with their choreographers. :D

With all the new pairings, training strategies, and new music selections, it looks like everyone is aiming to up the competitive ante in pairs in coming seasons. But it doesn't seem that the ISU has yet gotten the memo. So many teams with talent or potential -- yet too few opportunities to compete, improve, and excel. What else is new(s)?
Well no offense to James/Cipres, but in reference to Savchenko/Massot, my only point is they would be a pretty easy team for Savchenko/Massot to beat, so they have every reason to think they would still be competitive if they returned based on last season.

I am a huge fan of Savchenko/Massot, particularly Savchenko goddess who has always been one of my favorites, so would love to see them return at some point this quad.
 

Mad for Skating

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It was posted in the Japanese news thread yesterday that Riku Miura (recently split from Shoya Ichihashi) and Ryuichi Kihara are a new pair team for JPN: https://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/threads/japanese-figure-skating-2019-20-season-news-updates.105719/page-2#post-5614941

Laura Barquero posted this photo from Italy today (with Broda/Betegon): https://www.instagram.com/p/B0xyuWqgV4E/
New partnership with Ton Consul for Spain?

Other new senior level pairs that I know about:

Olivia Boys-Eddy (CAN) & Livio Mayr (AUT) - training in Oakville, Ontario: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzJMob3JK17/

Lubov Ilyushechkina & Charlie Bilodeau (CAN) - debuting at Quebec Summer Championships this coming weekend

Natasha Purich & Bryce Chudak (CAN) - she's still recovering from her patellar fracture (had another surgery in early July)

Nadine Wang (USA) & Francis Boudreau-Audet (CAN) - debuted programs at Minto; Quebec next

Chelsea Liu (USA) & Zhong XIE (CHN) - debuted in China; she last competed internationally in Feb. 2019

Anna Duskova & Radek Jakubka (CZE) - currently training in Montreal

Elizaveta Zhuk (RUS) & Martin Bidar (CZE) - she's currently at the Team Mozer camp in Italy: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0vbHiLI1s1/

Annika Hocke & Robert Kunkel (GER) - planning to compete on JGP as well as senior internationally

Elena Pavlova (RUS) & Ruben Blommaert (GER) - recently trained with Klimov & Team Mozer in Italy https://www.instagram.com/p/B0vTEDoJ6yi/

Isabella Gamez (USA/PHI) & David-Alexandre Paradis (CAN) - debuted SP at Minto; Quebec next

Eloise Papka & Johannes Wilkinson (RSA) - debuted at South African Nationals in early April

Nadezhda Labazina & Maxim Miroshkin (RUS): https://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/threads/from-russia-with-love-33-summer-2019.105726/page-6#post-5606514

Ksenia Stolbova (RUS) & Andrei Novoselov (FRA)

Emily Chan & Spencer Howe (USA) - has competed SP only to date, AFAIK

Any other confirmed new partnerships (senior)?
I am so excited about most of these pairings! I can't wait to see them all compete, especially Ilyushechkina/Bilodeau and Stolbova/Novoselov <3
 

aftershocks

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Well no offense to James/Cipres, but in reference to Savchenko/Massot, my only point is they would be a pretty easy team for Savchenko/Massot to beat, so they have every reason to think they would still be competitive if they returned based on last season.
Let's be honest that Savchenko/Massot have skills and rep as reigning Olympic pairs champions to beat anyone and everyone. I don't think there's really a question of them worrying over whether they would still be competitive. That's beside the point. As much as diva Aliona is a fierce competitor, I don't think Bruno has the same desire to mount a future comeback.

In any case, James/Cipres are usually never regarded with the respect they deserve, so your 'pardon me' putdown is par for the course.

Little do you remember then that James/Cipres have previously beaten Savchenko/Massot in a segment of at least one competition: 2017 Skate Canada fp, by three points. That was the season J/C were coming fully into their own, hampered of course by judges over-managing their scores, especially at 2017 IDF when they should have won gold in their home country over mistake-ridden, 'Candy Man' ridden T/M; but what else is new(s)? :rolleyes:

At 2017 Skate Canada, J/C skated better than both D/R and S/M overall, and should have at least won silver. Unfortunately, despite beating S/M in the fp, and basically beating D/R in the sp based on their performance, but not on the manipulated judges' marks, J/C ended up being relegated to third place overall:

Reminder: S/M were not slam dunk dominant when they began trying to mount a run for 2018 Olympics. In case you've forgotten, they were also in 4th place going into the fp at the 2018 Olympics, but they won by sheer force of will, self-belief, gumption, chutzpah, magic, hard work fully realized. :encore:
 

aftershocks

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Bringing this conversation over here from the U.S. pairs history thread, since it's more generally about current international pairs teams' outlook:

Russia is weakened in pairs relative to what they were for a long time. Their current #1 team is Tarasova & Morozov. A team of their level who cant even win a single major title, would never have been #1 Russian team in the past.

As for China I mean they dont seem to have anyone coming up after Sui & Han retire probably after 2022, and possibly Peng & Jin.
Mmmm, no I disagree with you regarding your observation of Russian pairs. Much of the history of Russian pairs is tied to politics, and to how the Russian federation capitalized on Belousova/Protopopov's ground-breaking pioneering of new moves and new approaches to pairs figure skating in the 1960s. B/P were not hugely favored by the Russian fed because it was felt the pair were too old. However, what B/P did for pairs evolution and for Russian pairs dominance, cannot be underestimated.

There are some Russian pairs who were not better overall e.g., than Tai & Randy, nor aesthetically better than Meno/Sand, but the politics, combined with the strong Russian classical ballet tradition, pioneeringly leveraged by the Protopopovs, kept Russian pairs teams on top for years, to the point where Russians seem to feel they belong on top of the podium all the time. Russian pairs and Russian pairs aesthetic deserve a lot of credit, but their skaters don't deserve credit and points that are politically-motivated. Case in point: No way that T/M should have won 2017 Internationaux de France in front of France's James/Cipres, who skated better than the Russians, in slam dunk fashion too!

I previously acknowledged that Russia's death grip dominance on the pairs podium has lessened in recent years, but that does not mean their fed's political influence, nor their skaters' talent has weakened. It's just that there's increasingly more depth internationally in pairs, as well as in the other disciplines. It's a fact that many pairs teams today have been largely influenced by the innovation and chutzpah of Savchenko/Szolkowy, by the athleticism and fierce competitiveness of Duhamel/Radford, and in recent years by the charisma, synergy and excitement of James/Cipres, especially with the smooth flow and creativity garnered in collaboration with ice dance choreographers.

And yet, seemingly in the minds of many judges, T/M are considered aesthetically and technically the state-of-the-art.
I would agree that T/M are state-of-the-art in pairs when they are at their best technically. But I disagree that they are or should be the face of pairs skating. That mantle was owned by Savchenko/Szolkowy, Savchenko/Massot, and briefly by Volosozhar/Trankov and Duhamel/Radford, and in recent years, it's been owned by the amazing Sui/Han, and by France's James/Cipres through the sheer excitement and synergy of their on-ice connection, combined with their costumes, music, and the exciting improvements they've made to their skating.

Still, the old guard and the politics favor T/M, even when they aren't at their best. Plus, Boikova/Koslovskii, the exciting young Russian pair co-coached by the legendary Tamara Moskvina, have great potential. And there are other up-and-coming Russian pairs with talent. I think it's a good thing though that the international pairs playing field has been leveled in recent years. But whenever the Olympics rolls around, the Russian fed goes into politicking overdrive. They have already made improvements and political maneuverings in ice dance. And you can bet they are fiercely preparing to position T/M for 2022 Beijing. However, if Sui/Han are healthy and in competitive shape, they surely would be favored to win.

The fact T/M hasn't won Worlds or Olympic gold does not mean Russian pairs are weakened. T/M have won a slew of medals on the GP, they won GPF in 2016-17 season, and they have two silver medals and a bronze medal at Worlds. T/M's biggest failing has been their inability to project to the audience and to connect with each other. As well, the competition is stiffer. It's actually China, North America, France, and previously Germany with S/S and Steuer who breathed fresh life and creativity into pairs competition, especially with collaborators like Shae Lynn Bourne, John Kerr, Charlie White, et al, lending choreographic input.

Your thoughts about Chinese pairs may be true. That's why Chinese fed felt the necessity to obtain Chelsea Liu from the U.S. Still, I would not presume to characterize the Chinese pairs program as being currently down for the count. China will be fielding three pairs teams at Worlds this season. We'll see what happens this season. I would certainly be happy to see some groundbreaking changes in the balance of power among the pairs division.


Of course there is always politics, but as you said politics favors T&M at times too and yet they still fail to win even one major title with that. So it seems clear they are weaker than past Russian #1s and the depth are pool of talent overall in Russia is weaker. If you arent convinced just compare them mentally to the Protoppopovs, Rodnina & Ulanov or Rodnina & Zaitsev, Gordeeva & Grinkov, Miskutienok & Dmitriev, Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze, Volosozhar & Trankov, or probably even Valova & Vasiliev or Totmianina & Marinin. And it pretty easy to see they are inferior to all of those teams. A team like them never would have been Russian #1 in the past as they arent strong enough.

As for competition yes China is much stronger now than they once were, but that is thinking long term history, since they have been really strong for 20 years now, and many times even stronger overall than they are now. There was a long period they had 3 major medal contenders in Shen & Zhao, Pang & Tong, Zhangs all at once, which they dont have now. I would say overall Canada is weaker than it used to be. We still have some great pairs at times like Duhamel & Radford, but on the whole we used to be a bigger force than we are now. The U.S is definitely weaker than they have been in the past. Germany used to be a lot stronger in competition, it looks like Savchenko is retired again, but outside of her and her partners and Woetzer & Stuer in the 90s they have had nobody else the last 3 and a half decades, when they used to regularly be a huge force in pairs. France have James & Cipres who are their best pair in a long while, and Massot comes from France, so yeah I would say France is stronger today. I wouldnt say overall the competition is stronger now than in the past.
Politics always favors T/M, as it has many Russian teams, regardless of poor performances. Once again, a blatant case in point: T/M winning 2017 IDF with mistake-ridden Candyman over a spectacular showing by J/C in their home country, no less!

The fact T/M have often failed with political support is due to the increasing depth of talent in pairs, and as well to the fact that T/M have so far been unable to fully project their personalities or to show any real emotional connection with each other. The other startingly fact is how they have consistently picked terrible vehicles that don't jibe with their abilities -- forget about enhancing what they are good at. Some of their classical selections have worked well, but still without them projecting any charisma or connection whatsoever. I once saw them do an exhibition number where amazingly they touched the edges of projecting a bit of personality. But they need a lot of work in that aspect of their skating. Winning GPF is major whether you think so or not.

As far as T/M never winning Worlds or Olympics, that's because of the stiff competition and because they haven't deserved to yet, not because they can't or won't. If they don't ever land on top in a major, it will probably be because of the competition and because of the problematic areas of their skating, i.e., inability to connect with each other and project more to the audience.

IMO, T/M are not weaker than Russian pairs teams of the past. There were some teams in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s who won mostly because of superior technique and the dominant love the skating community has for Russian aesthetic tradition, not because these teams projected much personality. Most of them didn't. But politics, Russian rep, and their generally consistent tech expertise kept them on top. So T/M are as good and in some cases better than those teams re technical brilliance. It's just that unfortunately for T/M they are facing more depth of competition and they have thus far been unable to find any charismatic mojo. They obviously have been trying, as have many teams, to copy the je ne sais quoi and pièce de résistance that James/Cipres magically possess. ;)

It is possibly true that Rusfed has a somewhat weaker pool of skaters in pairs comparative to their past. If this is somewhat true, I think it's largely because of Rusfed's dedicated focus on improving their singles disciplines over the past 25 years or so, which probably took some talent away from pairs. At least that's a possible factor. Nothing happens in a vacuum regarding developments in the sport of figure skating.
 

vanillashake

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270
I definitely wouldnt say teams like Gordeeva & Grinkov, Dmitriev and both his partners, Berezhnaya & Sikhardlidze, Protopoppovs, lacked personality or charisma in the least. Maybe some of the others did, but none of those pairs.
 

SleepyShawn

Active Member
Messages
78
Some recent program debuts from pairs that were missing from last season:

Ilyushechkina/Bilodeau


Not the version I would choose for My Funny Valentine. Got similar vibes of that action thriller La Vie En Rose from last season (forgot who skated to it) but heck I’m so happy that they’re back! And that 3t from Luba looks better than ever :cheer2:difficult step sequence with lots of variations in holds

Yu/Zhang


Obviously this looks like they are still in the process of recovery here and there but man this program I just love :love:everything looks so fresh! Just love their skating, especially Yu’s ethereal presence is so wonderful to see. Wondering what this music is. Another contemporary piece? It’ll be interesting to see the battle among them, Wangs, Tang/Yang and the new Chelsea Liu & her partner for the third spot this year

This season is going to be exciting for sure! Lots of upcoming new talents and returning old veterans. Please all be healthy! 🙏
 

Gris

Well-Known Member
Messages
164
Some recent program debuts from pairs that were missing from last season:

Ilyushechkina/Bilodeau


Not the version I would choose for My Funny Valentine. Got similar vibes of that action thriller La Vie En Rose from last season (forgot who skated to it) but heck I’m so happy that they’re back! And that 3t from Luba looks better than ever :cheer2:difficult step sequence with lots of variations in holds

Yu/Zhang


Obviously this looks like they are still in the process of recovery here and there but man this program I just love :love:everything looks so fresh! Just love their skating, especially Yu’s ethereal presence is so wonderful to see. Wondering what this music is. Another contemporary piece? It’ll be interesting to see the battle among them, Wangs, Tang/Yang and the new Chelsea Liu & her partner for the third spot this year

This season is going to be exciting for sure! Lots of upcoming new talents and returning old veterans. Please all be healthy! 🙏
Music for Yu / Zhang's FS are 'Europe, after the Rain' 'November' and 'Last Days' by Max Richter.

Three months ago Zhang had two surgeries due to soft tissue infection in his leg hence they missed the 1st stage of club league last month. They're now set for the 5th stage next week.


(BTW, Richter's 'November' is becoming a warhorse now...)
 

Japanfan

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There are some Russian pairs who were not better overall e.g., than Tai & Randy, nor aesthetically better than Meno/Sand, but the politics, combined with the strong Russian classical ballet tradition, pioneeringly leveraged by the Protopopovs, kept Russian pairs teams on top for years, to the point where Russians seem to feel they belong on top of the podium all the time.
Russia believes or used to believe (given the international competition you referred to) that it is the rightful home of Olympic pairs gold (used to be dance gold as well). And that contributed to the perfect storm that was the 2002 Pairs Scandal. And no, I don't want to rehash that old debate. But traditionally the dominance of Russian pairs has been such that it was for the most correct to believe that a Russian pair could only have been beaten by another Russian pair.

The Chinese pairs, S/S, S/M, D/R, and a few other pairs on occasion have had something to say about that!
[/QUOTE]

It's a fact that many pairs teams today have been largely influenced by the innovation and chutzpah of Savchenko/Szolkowy, by the athleticism and fierce competitiveness of Duhamel/Radford, and in recent years by the charisma, synergy and excitement of James/Cipres, especially with the smooth flow and creativity garnered in collaboration with ice dance choreographers.
And all of those pairs have breathed fresh life into the discipline.

And yet, seemingly in the minds of many judges, T/M are considered aesthetically and technically the state-of-the-art.
I would agree that T/M are state-of-the-art in pairs when they are at their best technically. But I disagree that they are or should be the face of pairs skating. That mantle was owned by Savchenko/Szolkowy, Savchenko/Massot, and briefly by Volosozhar/Trankov and Duhamel/Radford, and in recent years, it's been owned by the amazing Sui/Han, and by France's James/Cipres through the sheer excitement and synergy of their on-ice connection, combined with their costumes, music, and the exciting improvements they've made to their skating.
I agree. T/M just don't have much personality, IMO. There is no unique stamp or signature to their skating.

They have already made improvements and political maneuverings in ice dance. And you can bet they are fiercely preparing to position T/M for 2022 Beijing. However, if Sui/Han are healthy and in competitive shape, they surely would be favored to win.
Oh, for sure. S/H are currently at the top of the world and well be competing at home in their country's first home Olympics. That Pair Gold will be their medal to lose if they remain at the top of their games.

The fact T/M have often failed with political support is due to the increasing depth of talent in pairs, and as well to the fact that T/M have so far been unable to fully project their personalities or to show any real emotional connection with each other. The other startingly fact is how they have consistently picked terrible vehicles that don't jibe with their abilities -- forget about enhancing what they are good at. Some of their classical selections have worked well, but still without them projecting any charisma or connection whatsoever. I once saw them do an exhibition number where amazingly they touched the edges of projecting a bit of personality. But they need a lot of work in that aspect of their skating. Winning GPF is major whether you think so or not.
The Russians have always been good at identifying skaters with the potential to skate pairs and do it well. And they are also exceptionally good at nurturing and refining that talent technically. Personality has been seen as secondary, although some Russian pair skaters have certainly brought it regardless (i.e Dmitriev). It a proven formula, and if it works, don't fix it.

I definitely wouldnt say teams like Gordeeva & Grinkov, Dmitriev and both his partners, Berezhnaya & Sikhardlidze, Protopoppovs, lacked personality or charisma in the least. Maybe some of the others did, but none of those pairs.
Those would be examples of pairs who brought their own personality and charisma to the ice. In the case of B/S, I would say it was mainly S.

But there have been many cookie cutter pairs. Again, it's a formula that works. I would say that T/M are an example of a technically exceptional pair who were woefully lacking in personality. There unison was a thing of beauty to be sure, but I found watching them to be about as exciting as watching paint dry.
 

vanillashake

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Totmianina & Marinin are the exception of great Russian pairs rather than the norm. It is extremely rare for a Champion Russian pair to be that dull and lacking in excitment. It is important to point that out, anyone painting them as the example of a typical top Russian pair is making a mistake. Granted the current top Russian pairs are like that too, but that goes back to what I said about the decline of Russian pairs.
 

Amy L

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Competitive debut of Zhuk/Bidar from Mid Atlantics.


Rough skate... How long have they been together? They have a lot of work ahead of them to get used to their techniques and gel together. Although I guess this means she's been released by Russia, or they couldn't have been here right?

Other pairs SPs:
Mokhova/Mokhov
Serafini/Tran
Knierims
Replaceable teenage girl #75/Krasnopolski
 
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sammyf

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2,610
All these junior teams were missing from the JGP this year. Any ideas split/injured?

Heidrun Pipal/Erik Pipal AUT
Darya Rabkova/Vladyslav Gresko BLR
Giulia Papa/Riccardo Maglio ITA
Gioia Fiori/Francesco Mascia ITA
Daria Danilova/Michel Tsiba NED
 

Sabine-Yuna

Active Member
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All these junior teams were missing from the JGP this year. Any ideas split/injured?

Heidrun Pipal/Erik Pipal AUT
Darya Rabkova/Vladyslav Gresko BLR
Giulia Papa/Riccardo Maglio ITA
Gioia Fiori/Francesco Mascia ITA
Daria Danilova/Michel Tsiba NED
Some of them might be too old to skate junior as Danilova/ Tsiba.
 

Sabine-Yuna

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Competitive debut of Zhuk/Bidar from Mid Atlantics.


Rough skate... How long have they been together? They have a lot of work ahead of them to get used to their techniques and gel together. Although I guess this means she's been released by Russia, or they couldn't have been here right?

Other pairs SPs:
Mokhova/Mokhov
Serafini/Tran
Knierims
Replaceable teenage girl #75/Krasnopolski
I guess this doesn't necessarily mean she is released. This is no ISU competition and if there can skate a pair that doesn't fit the age requirements (Mokhova/ Mokhov) there can probably also skate a pair that isn't officially registered at ISU. But thanks for the videos! It was really a rough skate for Zhuk/ Bidar. I think they have started practicing around the ISU Camp in Novogorsk at the beginning of may.
 

AxelAnnie

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Loved that from I/B. Hated the version of that iconic song.

I am by no means expert is critiquing. Their stroking looked good, and they skated quite close to each other. Her jump looked so solid. It looked like his part of the throw was weak. But I liked them. Hope to see lots more.
 
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shan

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20,776
Loved that from L/B. Hated the version of that iconic song.

I am by no means expert is critiquing. Their stroking looked good, and they skated quite close to each other. Her jump looked so solid. It looked like his part of the throw was weak. But I liked them. Hope to see lots more.
Who are L/B?
 

hanca

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9,035
I have to say I am not very impressed with Krasnopolski’s new partner. I feel he downgraded from the last year’s Conners. But serves him right.
 

rfisher

Let the skating begin
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60,076
I suggest people use the first three letters of each skater in a pair or dance team's name. There are so many similar initials, it really does help avoid confusion.
 

vanillashake

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270
@aftershocks, I would also like to ask you on saying James & Cipres aren't liked by the judges. I agree they weren't before last season, but last season I think the judged loved them and they took a huge jump. It got to the point a totally clean Tarasova & Morozov had no chance against a clean James & Cipres, where the season before a flawed Tarasova & Morozov beat James & Cipres. And that is despite T&M improved with less cheesy programs than what they were doing the season before.
 

Mad for Skating

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@aftershocks, I would also like to ask you on saying James & Cipres aren't liked by the judges. I agree they weren't before last season, but last season I think the judged loved them and they took a huge jump. It got to the point a totally clean Tarasova & Morozov had no chance against a clean James & Cipres, where the season before a flawed Tarasova & Morozov beat James & Cipres. And that is despite T&M improved with less cheesy programs than what they were doing the season before.
This is a seriously valid point, but prepare for a 5-paragraph explanation :lol:
 

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