As predicted, the Pairs event at the 2021 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, is shaping up to be a Chinese-Russian battle for dominance in the discipline. Twenty-four pair teams competed in the Short Program with Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii (FSR) taking the lead ahead of China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han and Anastasia Mishina and Alexandr Galliamov (FSR).
Boikova and Kozlovskii were flawless in their brand new routine to “Merry Go Round of Life” from the Howl’s Moving Castle soundtrack which featured solid side-by-side triple Salchows, a level-four triple twist and throw triple flip. The lift, footwork and spin were also graded a level four and all elements received many positive grades of execution. The 2020 European Champions scored 80.16 points for their efforts for first place.
“We are feeling well, we are glad we were finally able to show the work that we have been doing the whole year,” said Boikova.
“The program is about love, hope, happiness and we try to explain these emotions for our viewers, for you,” Kozlovskii explained regarding their new program. “We are trying to focus on our feelings. I try to focus on my partner and she on me. We are glad to skate to such a legendary composition, a cult one, the movie—it’s probably a piece of art and not just a movie. The music from that movie is a part of the picture and hence we depict the energy of a real cult movie.”
Sui and Han showed strength in their sultry performance to “Blues for Klook” which only had one mishap when Sui stepped out of the opening side-by-side triple toes. The 2018 Olympic silver medalists otherwise landed an excellent throw triple flip and level four triple twist and garnered a level four on the death spiral, steps and lift. The team also racked up a ton of GOEs for all elements to place second with 77.62 points.
“I think we did pretty well,” said Sui. “Though we made a little mistake, we are happy that we finished our first program this year in a rather good way. I hope we can finish our long program successfully and do our best tomorrow.”
Han relayed that they missed the Cup of China as he was still recovering from hip surgery from last April. As a result, they didn’t have much time to train a new program and decided to use their 2017 short program that helped them win the gold that season.
“Because I had a surgery, our main goal this year was to recover from the injury,” he offered. “Next year will be the Olympics, and that’s our biggest goal. This competition is challenging for us. We like our ways of training, and it’s been moving to the right track gradually. As you can see from the competition, our physical condition is getting better and better. So for us, this competition is to show the best side of ourselves.”
Mishina and Galliamov showed lots of character in their routine to variations on the ballet La Esmeralda and are currently in third (75.79). The 2020 Rostelecom Cup silver medalists landed a triple twist, throw triple Lutz, and side-by-side triple Salchows while picking up a level four on the death spiral, spin and lift.
“We are thrilled being in such a big competition!” said Galliamov. “We will get ready for tomorrow and we are happy with the skate. We will try to set ourselves for tomorrow and go in with a clear head.”
Teammates Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov opened their confident “Bolero” routine with a level-four triple twist, but then Tarasova opened up her triple toe on the side-by-side jumps. Nevertheless, the two-time World silver medalists quickly recovered to land a huge throw triple loop and also earned a level four on the death spiral, spin and lift. They sit in fourth with 71.46 points.
“Today I didn’t do the side-by-side jump well,” noted noted Tarasova. “All and all, the elements were quite well performed, but there was a severe mistake and we lost so many points there, hence the feeling is not the nicest. But tomorrow is a new day.”
“There are no real expectations,” responded Morozov when asked about their goals for the Free Skate. “We don’t want to raise the hopes, just skate and enjoy ourselves tomorrow.”
Cheng Peng and Yang Jin of China had a rough start when Peng took a freak fall in the beginning of their program which caused the zipper to break on her dress. Sui then put a hand down on a slight underrotated triple toe, but the 2020 Four Continents silver medalists were otherwise clean and executed a throw triple loop and triple twist. The are currently fifth (71.32).
“We were a little bit tense tonight and made a few mistakes,” offered Peng. “We lost some points on technical scores. We didn’t perform very coherently tonight. I stumbled on my partner accidently.”
The team is still debating as to whether they will keep the same program for sext season as they haven’t had a chance to perform it much this season.
USA’s Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc (USA) are in sixth place (64.94) after Cain-Gribble underrotated and fell on a triple Salchow. The 2021 U.S. national bronze medalists produced a throw triple Lutz and earned a level four on all elements except for the triple twist.
Teammates Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, who are making their debut as a team at this event, are in seventh place (64.67), followed by Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (64.37), Miriam Ziegler and Severin Kiefer of Austria (64.01), and Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro (63.45).
The Pairs’ event concludes tomorrow evening with the Free Skate.