When the first thing you see when entering Hartwall Arena is China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han practicing their beauty of a free skate, to „Bridge Over Troubled Water”, you already know these Worlds are going to be amazing. Plus, the arena looks fantastic, and there are plenty of fans in the blue chairs on Monday afternoon, two days before actual competition kicks off in Helsinki.
And while some other people have decided to spend these first days of the week visiting the city – no proper chances to do that once the event has started –, Inside Skating team is inside the venue of the Worlds already; and, for the next 4 hours, photographer Natasha Ponarina will be all eyes, thoroughly photo-documenting the pairs’ first practice in the main rink. …and also parts of the second one, on Tuesday; so do not go too far – you might like what you’ll see.
Monday, March 27
It’s 14:45 and the group 1 of pairs take the ice for their first official practice in the main rink; among the four pairs in this group, and some of the heavy favorites here, in Helsinki, are China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, recent Four Continents champions.
Bronze medalists at 2017 Europeans, Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès came to Helsinki dreaming big, aiming high; here you have them practicing their sensual, flirtatious short program, to music from the soundtrack of the movie „Fifty Shades of Grey”.
…while John Zimmerman and Silvia Fontana carefully watches them from behind the boards (according to ISU bio page, John Zimmerman and Jeremy Barrett are the French’s coaches, while Silvia Fontana and John Kerr are listed as choreographers).
Exchanging smiles at the boards: Vanessa, alongside John Zimmerman and Silvia Fontana
Wenjing Sui and Cong Han – and a preview of their emotional free skate (or should we say „free dance”?) The program was choreographed by Lori Nichol and it suits them beautifully. A fellow pair skater, Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers, will write on twitter just a couple of days later: „I can’t say enough how much I love Sui/Han’s skating. This is my favourite pairs long program of all time”.
There’s beauty in Xiaoyu Yu and Hao Zhang’s skating also – here you have them practicing their long program, also choreographed by Lori Nichol, on the first day of the week of Worlds. The program is set to „Cavatina” and „Larghetto amoroso” by Emil von Sauer.
The highlight of group 3 of practice is, of course, this pair: Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot; here you have them at the boards, talking to their coaches, Alexander König and Jean-Francois Ballester.
For their first practice in the main rink, Aliona and Bruno decided to focus on their joyful short program, to „That Man” by Caro Emerald.
In group 5 of practice, eyes are drawn to Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov’s dark, intriguing long program, to pieces of music by René Aubry („Après la pluie”, „Pomeriggio”, „Lied guitare”); their free skate was choreographed by Nikolai Morozov and Yuri Smekalov.
Russia’s Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov came to Helsinki as the European and Grand Prix Final champions, hence one of the teams fighting for gold at this edition of the Worlds. For their first practice in the main rink, they chose to focus on their long program, set to „Music” by John Miles.
World champions en titre coming to Finland, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford needed to fight through competition in Helsinki, since Eric struggled with a hip problem; but their first practice in the main rink, and second of the day, went well, he’ll point out later. Here you have them practicing their long program, to Patricia Kaas’ „Non, je ne regrette rien” (choreo. by Julie Marcotte).
Meagan and Eric at the boards give us the chance to see some of the fans’ banners in the arena (supporting Yuzuru Hanyu, Michal Brezina, Mai Mihara).
Liubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch came with loads of enthusiasm in Helsinki, in already their third World Championships as a team. Here you have them practicing their short program, to „Tango Jalousie” by Jacob Gade, a program choreographed by David Wilson and Marie-France Dubreuil.
Tuesday, March 28
Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov during second practice in the main rink, on Tuesday afternoon
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford practicing their energetic short program, to „Killer” (performed by Seal); the SP was also choreographed by Julie Marcotte.
Long, beautiful lines in Liubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch’s free skate, to „When You Say You Love Me” (choreo. by David Wilson and Sandra Bezic), as practiced on Tuesday in the main rink.
Family portrait: Fedor Klimov and his mom during pairs’ practice at 2017 Worlds in Helsinki
What a start of 2017 Worlds: ladies brought their A game in Hartwall Arena
The battle of the hundreds: the men’s short program at 2017 Worlds