Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vancouver 2010: Pairs SP

I was going to post for the SP and FS, as soon as they happened, but I got so caught up in just watching that I didn't actually make it to writing. I wasn't overly invested in any of the pairs, so I was able to watch the competition in relative calm...

So, starting with the SP: ugh, really, judges? Are you SURE about the marks?

Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao: If I had to pick a personal favorite of the realistic medal contenders, Shen & Zhao would be it. I've been in love with this pair since their FS at the 2003 World Championships, and considering how long they've been around, with things just not working out at the Olympics, I really wanted them to win. Their SP was pretty perfect technically, although their side-by-side spins seemed vaguely off. They set a world record with their performance, but to me there was something missing--I've seen them better, with more sparkle. It was probably because they were first to skate, and the atmosphere hadn't quite yet warmed up. Also, his costume was extremely questionable, as was his apparently dyed hair.

Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett: Caydee had a somewhat surprising, somewhat not surprising, mistake on the side-by-side triple toes and doubled hers. I've actually only seen them perform at two competitions (2009 and 2010 US Nationals), but both times they've been rock solid. On the other hand, this was their first Olympics. Except for that mistake, though, their program was pretty good, and they clearly should be proud.

Amanda Evora & Mark Ladwig: I love them! I think this might be the first completely clean competitive program I've seen them perform, and although I held my breath during their side-by-sides everything went off without any problems. At the end Amanda looked like she was already crying out on the ice, and it was great to see. They set their personal bests, which must be a wonderful feeling at the Olympics.

Skip a few, thanks to NBC's spotty coverage... I also have no particular recollection of Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hay.

Maria Mukhortova & Maxim Tranknov: She is pretty, delicate, and pretty quintessentially Russian, and the commentators were gushing about their potential to carry on the future of the Russian tradition. Unfortunately for them tonight, he completely wiped out on their side-by-side triple toes and she put her hand down. The rest of their program sort of never reached a peak as a result, but somehow, SOMEHOW, they placed safely above Mark & Amanda, even beating them in the TES. I can understand if the Russians had better PCS, but in both segments? It must really pay to be Russian... and I mean that in more than one way.

Tatiana Volosozhar & Stanislav Morozov: Their blue, shiny costumes hugged every single (non-)contour of their bodies, and was extremely distracting, but that aside I thought their program was solid. Their side-by-side jumps were iffy, but there was no fall, and their throw triple loop was awesome. For whatever nitpicky reasons their straight-line step sequence was rated a Level 1, and their death spiral a Level 2, which conveniently placed them behind the Russians. Oh, figure skating...

Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov: Their skating fails to really grab me, but I have to say that they have really improved over these past several years. She was wearing this really strange white, rhinestoned headband that made her look like she was in Star Trek or something even though she was trying to be a swan. Their scores were higher than I expected, but to be fair they were technically solid even though they still carry this perpetual awkwardness. Also... Kavaguti? Really? Was that necessary?

Jessica Dube & Bryce Davison: I can never figure out whether this team is actually any good. Their SP started out okay, but then just as the commentators (who, by the way, must be paid by the word) mentioned that the triple Salchow is the bane of Jessica's existence, she fell on their side-by-sides. I don't really understand why then they wouldn't just elect to make their side-by-sides triple toes instead, but whatever. After her fall their performance sort of fell flat and they seemed to know it too, but the judges, blinded by the red maple leaf on a white background flanked by two thick red lines, gave them enough points to place above the other Canadians, the Russians, and the Ukranians, with room to spare. As fsonline put it, their citizenship must give them +3 GOEs.

Qing Pang & Jian Tong: I don't really remember this pair, except that they received a time violation. It seems very odd to me that it would happen at the Olympics of all places, but in the end it would make no difference. Everything seemed pretty well done, even though the judges rated their twist and their death spiral Level 1.

Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang: I also don't really remember this pair either. They were technically very good (although again, their lift was rated a Level 1... what determines that, anyway?) but the commentators remarked that their artistry is lacking. Possible, but the judges didn't really seem to think so.

Aliona Savchenko & Robin Zolkowy: I love "Send in the Clowns" and I loved their costumes. They were so creative without being distracting, and really drew the crowd in. I've never been quite able to decide what exactly I think of them, but they were on in the SP. Everything looked great, and now that I look at it everyone's twist list is a Level 1, so I actually have no idea what's going on. At the end her nose was smeared with red makeup, which just added to their overall impression of playfulness and happiness. They squeezed into second just 0.50 points behind Shen & Zhao.

So if I were judging, my list would have looked like this: 1. Shen & Zhao 2. Savchenko & Zolkowy 3. Kavaguti & Smirnov 4. Pang & Tong 5. Zhang & Zhang 6./7. Langlois & Hay / Volosozhar & Morozov 8. Evora & Ladwig 9. Dube & Davison 10. Mukhortova & Tranknov. Not that in the end, this would make any difference in the medal standings, but still...

No comments: