This edition of Skate Canada, the second Grand Prix of the season, featured some notable firsts: the first time we saw Kirsten Moore-Towers skating with Michael Marinaro, after her unexpected split with Dylan Moscovitch, the Senior Grand Prix debut of Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, a promising young pair from Russia, a quadruple twist to die for performed by the Chinese Wenjing Sui and Cong Han and an exquisite set of programs from the two-time World bronze medalists, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who’re definitely trying to climb the rankings this season. Their aces up their sleeves? Wonderful music for both the short and the free, their trademark triple Lutz in parallel and a throw quadruple Salchow atop of that. Let’s take the stories one by one.
by Florentina Tone
Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro: a partnership that needs polishing. It must have been terribly hard for Kirsten to see her scores at 2014 Skate Canada: a year ago, she and Dylan Moscovitch started their season with a silver at Skate America, scoring 208.45 points overall (71.51 for the short and 136.94 for the free), while this time she and Michael Marinaro received only 53.79 points for the short and 105.03 for the free; and a total of 158.82 points, finishing their first Grand Prix together on a disappointing 6th place. But I wouldn’t read that much into their scores at Skate Canada: sure, Kirsten and Michael seemed slow and tentative, but this was their first appearance on the international stage, after only six months of partnership.
For the fans of Kirsten’s (and Dylan’s) skating, it was equally hard to see her looking so fragile and disenchanted in the Kiss and Cry (she used to be all smiles and I did admire her confidence over the last two seasons), but, all in all, she and Michael are just at the beginning of the road. They do have a great foundation to build on and, surely, better things will come. Their next assignment is Trophée Eric Bompard, November 21-23, in Paris.
Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov: the bronze in Kelowna, a great start of their Senior career. Their biggest strength? Their triple twist. Have you seen it? It’s absolutely huge, a textbook twist. And I could also add their speed across the ice, the unison and, all in all, their youth. Their short program, to “Sarabande Suite (Aeternae)” by Globus, was a terrific surprise – and even more surprising was the fact that the routine was choreographed by Maxim Trankov. Add here the following detail – the Russian pair is currently trained by Robin Szolkowy – and you could say the former competitors, Robin and Maxim, are doing a very good job preparing this new team for the future; and by future I mean 2018 PyeongChang. The free program also bears Maxim’s signature, but I do have some doubts about using the symphonic version of Lionel Richie’s “Hello”.
By the end of the program, they both looked tired and lacking confidence – but, seeing the scores, Evgenia regained her smile: apparently, they had done enough to be on the podium in Kelowna.
Wenjing Sui and Cong Han: would they follow in Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao’s footsteps? It seems more than possible, because to me the talent of this young Chinese pair is obvious. Let’s not forget they are the World Junior champions in 2010, 2011 and 2012, winning the gold at the 2012 and 2014 Four Continents Championships too. In Kelowna, Wenjing and Cong won the silver – and I have to say their free program, skated to Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, Fantasy for Orchestra Op. 32, was a marvel, featuring a quadruple twist and insanely courageous lifts. Not to mention they’re both wonderful actors; I found myself totally swept in their dramatic, powerful routine. I believe I’m already a fan of this team and it was a joy to see them surrounded, in the Kiss and Cry, by the 2010 Olympic champions Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford: they seemed to have found the winning formula. Sharing the same musical piece as the dancers Elisabeth Paradis and François-Xavier Ouelette, Meagan and Eric were in a class of their own during their short program in Kelowna, receiving a season best score for their performance (72.70 points) alongside standing ovation; I was totally amazed by their routine on that shivering, touching music (“Un peu plus haut” by Ginette Reno) and I was equally impressed with the free program, skated to a Muse Medley that suits them wonderfully. Hats off to Meagan and Eric: they responded beautifully to the gorgeous, dramatic performance of Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov at Skate America. What a battle will be in Barcelona, at the Grand Prix Final (I bet both teams will be there), and, consequently, at the Worlds in Shanghai.
A final reverence to: Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage (she’s a trained ballerina and this definitely shows; and the ballet-themed programs suit them great. Not to mention their speed, their twist and their enthusiasm and joy when skating; they definitely looked polished at both Skate America and Skate Canada), Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres (I applaud their efforts to rebuild their technique for the twist, but focusing on this particular element they seemed to have lost some of their speed and overall consistency; at the end of their free program, they were both completely exhausted. But I’m a fan of this particular pair – beautiful lines, great posture on the ice, innovative programs – and I’m sure they’ll look different at their next assignment, Trophee Eric Bompard; they only need some run-throughs…)
The final rankings at 2014 Skate Canada
1. Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford, Canada, 210.74 pts
2. Wenjing Sui / Cong Han, China, 184.64 pts
3. Evgenia Tarasova / Vladimir Morozov, Russia, 175.45 pts
4. Madeline Aaron / Max Settlage, United States, 165.91 pts
5. Vanessa James / Morgan Ciprès, France, 161.79 pts
6. Kirsten Moore-Towers / Michael Marinaro, Canada, 158.82 pts
7. Brittany Jones / Joshua Reagan, Canada, 146.77
8. Mari Vartmann / Aaron Van Cleave, Germany, 145.89 pts