As I said before, almost every single pair team nowadays performs half of their step sequence in a dance hold, in order to try to get Lv4.
You keep focusing on one moment from the step sequence but it's just one moment in that program. It doesn't make the rest of their program have a lot of closed holds or other transitions. And they spend like what, less than 3 second or so, in that closed hold. You don't need exceptional skating skills in order to perform a face-to-face hold for a few steps.
When you're 'throwing a lady around for some transitions' that's time spent not doing stroking. So you do need decent skating skills in order to be able to get away with it and still generate enough speed.
And I am not comparing them with anyone else. You keep insisting on the comparisons. I think their skating skills are good but not very good so I'd give them something in the 7.00-7.75 range depending on a particular performance (assuming there were no major problems or stamina issues).
Ok, so as promised, I did a close look at how V/T's program is constructed element-by-element. I'll dump more info in the Pairs SP thread but to get back to you elif:
You were right and I was wrong in that very well executed face-to-face holds are recurrent throughout V/T's program. It's good choreography as it's consistent with and appropriate to the waltz theme and they execute it well and I didn't give them enough credit for it.
Those face-to-face holds, happen at three points in the program:
- at the start, when they are setting up the mood
- after coming out of the twist
- after coming out of the 3toes
Whilst they are well executed and you don't see them noticeably slowing down doing them, they happen at points when they aren't skating very fast ('winding down' after an element or right from posing at the very start) so they are not that hard to control.
The actual entries into their big elements (and the death spiral), however, are mostly cross-overs.