2021 Skate America: Pairs Free Skate | Page 22 | Golden Skate

2021 Skate America: Pairs Free Skate


Unabashed Mainer
On the Ice
Feb 12, 2014
On another note, there's a lift I'd like to ban (or at least require it to get negative GOE, lol). The one where the woman is in a split position lying sideways hugging her knee. It is so, so ugly, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever — and here's the kicker for me — it seems like every single pair team is now doing this awful lift! I think the first team to do it, if I remember correctly was Savchenko/Solchowy back in the day. I thought it was awful then, and I think it's even more hideous now. Ban it, I say!
Honestly, I wish they'd get rid of most of the skate grabs in lifts, too. Every now and then, there are few that are nice to watch, but most of them are not.


Dec 14, 2007
I also feel if a team was overscored it was Boikova/ Kozlovskiii and not Miura/ Kihara. B/K were overscored for their pairs' elements and their individual elements in both the SP and FS. I'm not sure they deserved the bronze but reputation always matters even in pairs skating where the judging tends to be more logical.

In regard to Miura/ Kihara it should be noted the Kihara really has been struggling for a long time to build momentum. He skated with both Suzaki and Takahashi before partnering with Miura, but the dynamics of those partnerships never seemed healthy to me. So, he has been skating pairs for a very long time. This team's rise and, especially Kihara's rise, was not an instantaneous thing.

Agreed. Kihara has skated pairs for a while, but every partnership is different. His first partnerships weren't nearly as good. I'm just looking at his current partnership. I haven't seen M/K skate a clean-ish LP yet, yet the judges are already very on-board and they scored a very high personal best score with a jarring fall into the boards. To their credit, they recovered very well from that fall and finished the program strongly. In the SP, the judges didn't crack down on the twist landing on Kihara's shoulder. They have some really nice qualities and deserved to medal, but it's still a pretty fast rise for a team that placed at the bottom of Four Continents in 2020. More people are behind this team because they're from Japan and it allows them to be competitive in the Team Event.

But M/K skated well here with 1 big mistake and their score wasn't too excessive. Boikova/Kozlovskii had a rough time. They don't look the same as they did in 2019-2020, but they're still being scored that way. Their twist looked considerably lower and didn't clear his head by much and still got +3s. It's great they're going for the more difficult jump combo because they might need it, but it was rough here starting with the half loop. Their 75 in the SP was high too.

And 2 falls wasn't enough to knock them off the podium against a quality US pair that skated a strong free skate at their home GP. I get that B/K are a reigning World medalist, but Knierim/Frazier were just 4 places below them at Worlds, it's not like B/K should be untouchable. But as a newer team, K/F will just have to make fewer mistakes next time so they can't be denied a higher placement.
Last edited:


Sep 1, 2020
I find this bizarre. You claim that but then write an entire essay on how overscored and utterly lacking in presentation, skating ability, jumps, throws, twists they are compared to everyone else.

Like if you think a team's music sucks, their presentation sucks, their skating sucks then it IS personal.

If you don't like a team just say so. I honestly find it the height of hypocrisy to tear a team to shreds then innocently claim "Nothing personal". It's like prefacing something with "No offence".

You might want to stop exaggerating, and look at your own posts. I do not dislike Miura/Kihara's skating. I dislike the politics of the scoring. And I dislike the way U.S. teams are often dismissed in the scoring without having the quality of many of their elements properly acknowledged. My previous post was not an essay on M/K. I critiqued the scoring and performances of a number of teams.

Politics is rampant in this sport and it impacts outcomes. Too often Russian teams are spotted a number of errors and still receive high scores. U.S. teams tend to be heavily punished for mistakes, even minor ones. In a number of respects, the judging here was inconsistent overall.

I understand and I appreciate how hard Miura/Kihara have worked, and that part is exciting. It's obvious though that it is seen as important to push the Japanese team very far forward in the standings this Olympics season. They are Japan's only competitive pairs team. The U.S. has a lot of depth in pairs, but not many opportunities to improve competitively across-the-board, due to the inadequate competitive structure of the sport. That was a bad fall on the throw landing in the fp by Miura, but it clearly didn't matter.

I would not argue with M/K leapfrogging from 64.37 at 2021 Worlds (behind the two U.S. teams, but within the same scoring range) to suddenly be rated around 67 to 69. But M/K are suddenly being rated 71 to 72, and that rating possibly will begin to inch higher. Despite the 72 sp score at SA, some M/K uber fans even claimed that M/K were robbed in the sp! They were actually generously scored (very high positive GOE on 3-twist when there was obvious shoulder contact on the dismount; and very high positive GOE on a slightly shaky throw landing).

Also, I did not say M/K are "utterly lacking in presentation skills, [nor that their] music and skating sucks." Those are your words. Furthermore, it was M/K fans in the sp thread who tried to say that M/K are better than U.S. teams, and that M/K only have to worry about 'polishing' their skills to compete with the Russians. All international pairs teams are chasing the Russians these days, and that's been the case off-and-on (mostly on) for decades. M/K are not 'better' than U.S. teams. If anything, they are on a par, as demonstrated by scoring at 2021 Worlds. The fast rise in M/K's scores this season is not just about their hard work, and their confidence and consistency in bringing back their same programs, it's also about politics.

If you are going to respond to my posts, please stop misrepresenting what I've said.


Sep 1, 2020
But as a newer team, K/F will just have to make fewer mistakes next time so they can't be denied a higher placement.
I agree with your points about the politically-motivated rise in scoring for Miura/Kihara this season, which doesn't mean they don't deserve their success, or that they don't deserve an increase in scoring. It just should be done fairly, and not so politically. The scoring should be separated from the fact that they are Japan's only pairs team, and that a lot fans and people in the sport 'feel good' about Japan making strides in a discipline they've never excelled in previously.

In your reference to K/F having to make fewer mistakes, what happened in the scoring at SA means they aren't allowed any mistakes, while some teams are given high GOE for errors that are ignored. Once very high scores are given to certain teams in the sp, it doesn't matter how well comparable teams skate in the fp. K/F were just not rated as highly as they should have been in the sp, especially on PCS.

So yeah, U.S. teams are charged with being perfect. And even when they skate clean, like Cain-G/LeDuc did at Finlandia Trophy, politics comes into play because the judges are viewing Ash/Timothy politically as the third American pairs team (possibly the second). Chiefly, Ash/Timothy simply aren't being valued, and they are NOT a new team. Still, they have to go out and prove they can skate perfectly time and time again. They don't have any margin for error. And that makes the pressure even greater.

Meanwhile, teams like T/M (who put a lot of pressure on themselves), and B/K, and M/K, et al, are all spotted mistakes, with high scores.
Last edited:


Sep 1, 2020
the judges went a little easy on Boikova/Kozlovskii-
An understatement. But thanks for sharing your thoughtful views. The judges always 'go easy' on the Russians.

My advice to all the U.S. pairs has been to simply try to relax, and to embrace the challenges and the nerves, and to feel lighter and freer. Plus, not even think about scores, and who's ahead, or anything like that. They will still be charged with having to skate perfectly, while many other teams are spotted mistakes with high scores. If U.S. teams don't put pressure on themselves, but simply be prepared, go out to enjoy and to fulfill their talent, that's all they can do, because they don't have control over the political judging.

I like how Liu/O'Shea continued smiling throughout. Next, hopefully, they will be able to correct their stumbles. I think it's chiefly Chelsea who's having some throw jump and sbs jump landing issues. Danny had problems I think in the fp on one of his sbs jumps, because he was looking over at his partner. This happens a lot, with one partner missing their own jumps due to watching out for the other partner.


Record Breaker
Jun 2, 2014
Honestly, I wish they'd get rid of most of the skate grabs in lifts, too. Every now and then, there are few that are nice to watch, but most of them are not.
The skate grab is probably one of my least favorite moves. I wish they could give them points for NOT doing the skate grab. That and the poorly executed over-the-head splits move is ugly if the flexibility isn't top notch.


Sep 1, 2020
readernick said:
[MK's] rise and, especially Kihara's rise, was not an instantaneous thing...

M/K's rise, in terms of their own hard work and achievements, of course, has not been 'instantaneous.' But their huge jump in scoring in this Olympic season has been very quick. Kihara learned pairs with two previous partners, beginning with Narumi Takahashi in 2013. Miura/Kihara's pairing was announced in August 2019, ahead of the 2019 - 2020 season. So they've been together for two years and approximately 3 months. M/K matched well from the beginning, and they improved a great deal by 2020 - 2021. They are about 8 months ahead of Knierim/Frazier in terms of current partnership experience. That's not a huge partnership-length advantage, especially since both Alexa/Brandon have many years of pairs experience between them.

Brandon teamed with Haven Denney in 2002 for competitive roller skating. They switched to pairs skating in 2005 and competed together for three years, then they split due to family logistics. They re-teamed in 2011 and won the 2013 World Junior pairs championship.

Alexa Scimeca switched from singles to pairs in 2011. She paired with her future husband, Chris Knierim, in 2013. After Chris retired in February 2020, Brandon (having split with Haven after 2020 U.S. Nationals) contacted Alexa, and the rest is history. They matched very well physically and athletically right away.
Last edited:


Sep 1, 2020
Taking into account both SP+FS, the Japanese definitely had the best performance of the pairs.
I disagree. T/M, then K/F, and then it's close between M/K and C/J, if we're going to be fair and not political. M/K's issue on the 3-twist dismount in the sp was ignored, and also the throw landing in the sp was a bit shaky, and still received high GOE. In contrast, Brandon had a step-out on the landing in the sp, and their usually high 3-twist did not reach their normal capacity, but there wasn't an error on it. Meanwhile, M/K, were generously scored in the sp, with no deductions on the clear shoulder contact on their 3-twist dismount. Then MK had the crash landing on one of their throws in the fp, but they recovered well afterward. Whereas, K/F skated clean in the fp.

T/M had a couple of issues in both programs, but nothing major. And their overall quality is superior to other teams, albeit their skating lacks emotional connection. By now though, the beauty of their elements is so wonderful, I tend to root for them finally winning Olympic gold. I hope they hold it together the rest of the season.


Mar 5, 2012
If Brian and Jessica ever get those SBS in line, they're going to score off the charts.

The judges are drowning them in GOE on the pair elements.

Playing catch up here...I feel the same. Their pair elements (SBS notwithstanding) are such a joy to watch. So I went and looked at the scoring breakdown to see if the judges saw it the same way.

Of all the teams who did a 3Tw3, they scored highest:

Calalang / Johnson7.98
Miura / Kihara7.25
Pepeleva / Pleshkov6.92
Knierim / Frazier6.76

Even when you add in everyone's twists, they're still near the top:

Tarasova / Morozov (3Tw4)8.57
Calalang / Johnson7.98
Liu / O'Shea (3Tw4)7.8
Boikova / Kozlovskii (3Tw4)7.71
Miura / Kihara7.25
Pepeleva / Pleshkov6.92
Knierim / Frazier6.76
Walsh / Michaud (3Tw2)4.32

Holding their own in the death spiral (unless noted otherwise, most teams did a FiDs4):

Tarasova / Morozov5.21
Boikova / Kozlovskii4.94
Liu / O'Shea4.83
Calalang / Johnson4.83
Pepeleva / Pleshkov (BiDs4)4.83
Knierim / Frazier4.83
Miura / Kihara4.61
Walsh / Michaud (BiDs2)3.7

Throws are a bit harder to compare apples-to-apples since teams do so many different ones. Here are all the salchows:

Calalang / Johnson5.72
Pepeleva / Pleshkov5.53
Liu / O'Shea4.3

All the lutzes:

Calalang / Johnson6.36
Knierim / Frazier6.13
Miura / Kihara2.65

And, just for kicks, all the throws in one big list (if you add everyone's two throws together, C/J were only outscored by T/M):

Tarasova / Morozov (3F)7.27
Tarasova / Morozov (3Lo)7.14
Boikova / Kozlovskii (3Lo)6.64
Calalang / Johnson (3Lz)6.36
Knierim / Frazier (3Lz)6.13
Pepeleva / Pleshkov (3Lo)6.07
Calalang / Johnson (3S)5.72
Pepeleva / Pleshkov5.53
Miura / Kihara (3Lo)5.43
Knierim / Frazier (3Lo)5.43
Liu / O'Shea (3S)4.3
Walsh / Michaud (3T)2.77
Boikova / Kozlovskii (3F)2.73
Miura / Kihara (3Lz)2.65
Liu / O'Shea (3Lo)2.5
Walsh / Michaud (3Lo)2.5

They had a great choreographic sequence as well:

Knierim / Frazier4.57
Calalang / Johnson4.5
Miura / Kihara4.5
Tarasova / Morozov4.43
Liu / O'Shea4.07
Boikova / Kozlovskii3.71
Pepeleva / Pleshkov3.64
Walsh / Michaud3.5

Beautiful pairs combination spin (unless noted, teams achieved level 4):

Tarasova / Morozov6.11
Calalang / Johnson5.85
Knierim / Frazier5.79
Miura / Kihara5.53
Pepeleva / Pleshkov5.27
Liu / O'Shea (PCoSp3V)3.6
Walsh / Michaud (PCoSp3V)3.43
Boikova / Kozlovskii (PCoSp2V)3.27

Some teams did Group 3 lifts, some did Group 4, but they all have the same BV, and C/J's was near the top:

Tarasova / Morozov6.85
Miura / Kihara6.78
Calalang / Johnson6.7
Liu / O'Shea6.7
Knierim / Frazier6.48
Boikova / Kozlovskii6.41
Pepeleva / Pleshkov5.61
Walsh / Michaud5.46

Their axel lasso lift was very good:

Tarasova / Morozov9.8
Miura / Kihara9.5
Calalang / Johnson9.4
Knierim / Frazier9.4
Boikova / Kozlovskii9
Liu / O'Shea8.9
Pepeleva / Pleshkov8.3
Walsh / Michaud7.2

And finally (be still my heart!) their amazing reverse lasso lift (level 4 unless noted):

Calalang / Johnson9.5
Knierim / Frazier8.9
Liu / O'Shea8.7
Miura / Kihara (5RLi3)8.58
Tarasova / Morozov (5RLi3)8.3
Boikova / Kozlovskii8.3
Pepeleva / Pleshkov (5RLi3)8.2
Walsh / Michaud (5RLi1)5.8

tl;dr: If C/J land their SBS jumps, they will win all the medals, because they've really got something special, and the judges agree.

Thank you for reading. :p
Last edited: