Best (or Favorite) Pairs Programs

CrazyKittenLady

My cat jumps better Axels than me.
Final Flight
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Feb 2, 2019
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Austria
Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo attempting a throw quad sal in the 2002 Olympic FS.


To anyone who is interested, I highly recommend the book "The second mark", describing the painful training process that especially Xue had to go through in China. After the skate her father commented that she actually landed the quad, but fell afterwards due to the shock and sheer disbelief of what she'd just accomplished. Shen and Zhao went on to finally grab that Olympic gold in 2010.

And of course I mustn't omit my favourite pair ever: Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin. Though very successful in their career, they never achieved legendary status and are as a whole a bit underrated and often overlooked IMO. As a treat, have one of their early exhibition programs here: Tatiana and Max skating to Ameno in the 1999 RusNats gala. I love the gymnastics elements!

 
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TontoK

Hot Tonto
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 28, 2013
Country
United-States
And of course I mustn't omit my favourite pair ever: Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin. Though very successful in their career, they never achieved legendary status and are as a whole a bit underrated and often overlooked IMO. As a treat, have one of their early exhibition programs here: Tatiana and Max skating to Ameno in the 1999 RusNats gala. I love the gymnastics elements!
They were a very fine pair, and they unfairly get overlooked in the shuffle of the very long line of beautiful Soviet/Russian pairs.
 

BlissfulSynergy

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
I've just started to get interested in Pairs skating and so far I really love a few teams, but I was hoping some experienced Pairs fans could suggest their favorite programs for me to watch. (I've just been watching Sui/Han on repeat, and don't get me wrong, I think I'll always be super impressed by them and their programs, but I really need to broaden my horizons). So far I like Sui/Han, Boikova/Kozlovskii, Peng/Jin and Panfilova/Rylov.
Ahhh, pairs is my favorite discipline. And there are so many great pairs programs. I'm not sure whether many of the best ones can be found on YouTube these days.

I posted recently about pairs advances and great programs of the past among all pairs, in the U.S. pairs thread.

You should check out on YouTube:
The best of Gordeeva/Grinkov
Belousova/Protopopov (who started the craze for balletic pairs skating, and the dynasty that is Russian pairs)

Tai Babilonia/Randy Gardner (especially their 1979 World championship win). Plus look for the book:
Forever Two as One, Tai & Randy, with Martha Lowder Kimball.
You will learn so much about pairs skating and partnership development and longevity

Meno/Sand had some lovely programs, especially at 1995 World championships in Birmingham, England
Meno & Sand (USA) - 1995 World Figure Skating Championships, Pairs' Free Skate - YouTube

One of the most creative pairs programs I list as one of my faves is the Peter Oppegard coached and choreographed program by Stiegler/Zimmerman at the 1997 U.S. National championships:
S. STIEGLER AND J. ZIMMERMAN - 1997 US NATIONALS - FS - YouTube

The choreo tells a story, and it moves so well with the music. S/Z had a great deal of speed and played the characters well, as a young team. The creativity is off-the-charts. But I'm not sure current limiting rules would allow for something this creative and engaging today, when higher, faster, power, pop and difficulty are more emphasized.

Zimmerman went on to enjoy a successful pairs career with Kyoko Ina. They are the last U.S. pair team to medal at the World championship (2002 bronze medalists). I/Z at the Olympics in 2002:
Ina & Zimmerman (USA) - 2002 Salt Lake City, Figure Skating, Pairs' Free Skate - YouTube
Talk about a vertical lift entry and exit! Ha ha, everything old is new again. Moskvina was their coach in the final years of their career, and as usual, Moskvina knows how to bring out the best when she has talented athletes to work with!

Moskvina worked wonders with Kavaguti/Smirnov:
Yuko Kavaguti / Alexander Smirnov 2014 Skate America LP - YouTube

Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze's Lady Caliph, mentioned earlier:
[HD] Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze - 1998 Nagano Olympics - SP - Елена Бережная и Антон Сихарулидзе - YouTube (also coached by Moskvina)

Sale/Pelletier's Love Story was fun and seemed made for them. Their partnership took off quickly. I enjoyed their chemistry. They had many many great and entertaining exhibitions after their competitive career. You should look for their exhibition programs on YouTube. Here's one of their best competitive programs, which won them Worlds in 2001:
Jamie Sale & David Pelletier 2001 Worlds LP - Tristan and Isolde - YouTube

In terms of creativity, look at everything you can find by Savchenko/Szolkowy of Germany -- their career spanned 2005 - 2014, with five World championships and two Olympic medals (Savchenko also later enjoyed success with Bruno Massot, finally winning an Olympic gold medal and another World championship in 2018). During her tenure with Robin Szolkowy, S/S along with their coach, Ingo Steuer, greatly influenced pairs skating. Steuer was also a very creative pairs skater with Mandy Woetzel in the 1990s. They won the 1997 World championships and the 1998 Olympic bronze medal:
[HD] Wötzel & Steuer - 1998 Nagano Olympics - SP - YouTube Not a great twist, even for that time, but inventive moves and they are well-matched on the ice

One of S/S's most creative programs is Pina (Lilies of the Valley) free program. I wish they'd continued exploring and improving even more on that program. It was innovative and unexpected:
Aliona SAVCHENKO Robin SZOLKOWY - GPF 2011 - Pairs LP - YouTube

S/S had a great program to The Mission which won them their first European championship in 2007:
A.SAVCHENKO AND R.SZOLKOWY - 2007 EUROPEANS - FS - YouTube
program starts at 1:53
It's a very emotional program and an emotional win for them

A lot of people may have forgotten this non-stop, full of energy, difficult sp, Lost in Space:
Savchenko & Szolkowy - 2009 World SP - Lost in Space - YouTube

2010 Olympics sp to Send in the Clowns:
2010 Olympics- Savchenko Szolkowy SP [HD] - YouTube

2013 GPF TheNutcracker:
Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy - GPF 2013 - LP - YouTube

2007 Worlds sp Once Upon a Time in Mexico:
Savchenko/Szolkowy Short Dance - Worlds 2007 - YouTube (not dance, it's mislabeled)

S/S rivals, Volosozhar/Trankov, who partnered late in their career had some good programs and were well-matched. It's too bad they didn't get paired together sooner. Look them up. This is one of their best:
Swan Lake ballet on ice by Volosozhar & Trankov at 2012 World Championship - YouTube
In a lot of their moves, V/T pattern themselves in this program after S/S's style of skating, but S/S influenced all of their peers and pushed the discipline forward

Savchenko/Massot best programs:
2018 OG 06 P-SP Savchenko Massot - That Man NBC no commentary - YouTube
Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (GER) - Gold Medal | Pairs Free Skating | PyeongChang 2018 - YouTube

Shen/Zhao 2003 Worlds:
Shen/Zhao 2003 worlds LP - YouTube (they are Sui/Han's coaches)
Shen completed this program with injuries to her right ankle, as mentioned by the commentators

shen zhao 2004 worlds lp - YouTube
This is my favorite Shen/Zhao program

Duhamel Radford 2016 Worlds in Boston:
Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD - 2016 World Championships - LP (BBC) - YouTube

Stolbova/Klimov 2015 GPF
2015 GPF - Ksenia Stolbova / Fedor Klimov SP UHD - YouTube
2015 GPF - Ksenia Stolbova / Fedor Klimov FS UHD - YouTube
Also Stol/Klim's 2014 Olympic programs were great

Underhill/Martini are one of the great Canadian teams, winning 1984 Worlds and bringing Canada back from a 19-year drought of being off Olympics and Worlds podiums:**
Barbara Underhill & Paul Martini - 1984 Worlds Pairs LP(UKTV) - YouTube

Urbanski/Marval
Urbanski & Marval - 1993 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Pairs' Free Skate - YouTube
program starts at 2:25 (Interesting throw-axel from a lunge position)

Yamaguchi/Galindo (mirror skaters)
Yamaguchi & Galindo (USA) - 1989 World Figure Skating Championships, Pairs' Free Skate (US CBS) - YouTube

Evora/Ladwig 2010 Olympics (they had great lifts and the Olympics was their shining moment; they should have been scored better, but it was politics):
A. EVORA AND M. LADWIG - 2010 OLYMPIC GAMES - SP - YouTube
A. EVORA AND M. LADWIG - 2010 OLYMPIC GAMES - FS - YouTube

Brasseur/Eisler of Canada were also an exciting team with wonderful lifts
[HD] Brasseur & Eisler - 1994 Lillehammer Olympic - Free Skating - YouTube
Brasseur and Rocky Marval of the U.S. later married

Dube/Davison of Canada to Blower's Daughter:
Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison LP at 2008 World Championships (British Eurosport) - YouTube

Current Canadian champions Moore-Towers/Marinaro will be reprising Blower's Daughter this season. One of M-T/M's breakout performances:
Kirsten Moore-Towers / Michael Marinaro 2018 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships - FS - YouTube
choreo by Julie Marcotte, this was their second year skating this program and it paid off to keep working on it for a second year!

Marcotte also choreographed for Takahashi/Tran who skated together for 5 years for Japan; Tran is Canadian and now skates for the U.S. with Olivia Serafini. T/T won the bronze medal at Worlds in 2012:
Narumi Takahashi-Mervin Tran WC 2012 SP - YouTube

Tran has such a smooth skating style. He was good with Castelli, but they never figured out their different technique on jumps which kept their partnership from progressing to top level success. I love this exhibiton by C/T: Marissa Castelli /Mervin Tran US National 2016 Gala - YouTube

Cain-Gribble/LeDuc 2019 win at U.S. Nationals:
US Figure Skating Championship 2019: Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc’s free skate | NBC Sports - YouTube

Calalang/Johnson are a well-matched team with great elements; they've been together a short time, but clicked right away, and had a great breakthrough clean performance at 2020 U.S. Nationals, but it's not on YouTube. Here are programs that are available -- fp from their 2018-2019 season, and their sp that they kept and reworked for 2020-21 -- Meno/Sand are their coaches, along with Christine Binder:
Jessica Calalang & Brian Johnson 2020 ISP Points Challenge SP Opportunity 2 9/30/2020 - YouTube
19 Jessica CALALANG : Brian JOHNSON USA FS ISU CSPOL2019 Warsaw Cup - YouTube

A fortuitous new pairing that bodes well:
Knierim and Frazier dominate in first Grand Prix event as pair | NBC Sports - YouTube

James/Cipres 2016 Worlds sp
2016 Worlds JAMES CIPRES SP FRA nbcsn - YouTube
commentator Ryan Bradley needs to shut up with his nitpicking; this is a preview of J/C's breakout 2016-2017 success which propelled them to three great seasons during which they greatly influenced the discipline no matter who agrees or disagrees

James/Cipres 2016-2017 sp, Earned It at WTT (they also delivered a sparkling performance at 2017 Euros where they medaled for the first time at those championships):
Vanessa James Morgan Cipres SP 2017 World Team Tokyo - YouTube

2017 EC James & Cipres FS ESP - YouTube breakthrough Sound of Silence fp at Euros

2019 EC FP - Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres (FRA) - YouTube Wicked Game

J/C in exhibition: Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres - Gala les Etoiles de la Glisse 2015 - 2nd Ex - YouTube

An underrated sp by James/Cipres 2017 TDF:
2017 GP France JAMES & CIPRES SP FRA OC - YouTube

2017 TDF fp -- they should have won, no question:
2017 GP France JAMES & CIPRES FS FRA OC - YouTube
 
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Jeanie19

Record Breaker
Joined
Oct 20, 2017
Country
United-States
Ahhh, pairs is my favorite discipline. And there are so many great pairs programs. I'm not sure how many of the best ones can be found on YouTube these days.

I posted recently about pairs advances and great programs of the past among all pairs, in the U.S. pairs thread.

You should check out on YouTube:
The best of Gordeeva/Grinkov
Belousova/Protopopov (who started the craze for balletic pairs skating, and the dynasty that is Russian pairs)

Tai Babilonia/Randy Gardner (especially their 1979 World championship win). Plus look for the book:
Forever Two as One, Tai & Randy, with Martha Lowder Kimball.
You will learn so much about pairs skating and partnership development and longevity

Meno/Sand had some lovely programs, especially at 1995 World championships in Birmingham, England
Meno & Sand (USA) - 1995 World Figure Skating Championships, Pairs' Free Skate - YouTube

One of the most creative pairs programs I list as one of my faves is the Peter Oppegard coached and choreographed program by Stiegler/Zimmerman at the 1997 U.S. National championships:
S. STIEGLER AND J. ZIMMERMAN - 1997 US NATIONALS - FS - YouTube

The choreo tells a story, and it moves so well with the music. S/Z had a great deal of speed and played the characters well, as a young team. The creativity is off-the-charts. But I'm not sure current limiting rules would allow for something this creative and engaging today, when higher, faster, power, pop and difficulty are more emphasized.

Zimmerman went on to enjoy a successful pairs career with Kyoko Ina. They are the last U.S. pair team to medal at the World championship (2002 bronze medalists). I/Z at the Olympics in 2002:
Ina & Zimmerman (USA) - 2002 Salt Lake City, Figure Skating, Pairs' Free Skate - YouTube
Talk about a vertical lift entry and exit! Ha ha, everything old is new again. Moskvina was their coach in the final years of their career, and as usual, Moskvina knows how to bring out the best when she has talented athletes to work with!

Moskvina worked wonders with Kavaguti/Smirnov:
Yuko Kavaguti / Alexander Smirnov 2014 Skate America LP - YouTube

Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze's Lady Caliph, mentioned earlier:
[HD] Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze - 1998 Nagano Olympics - SP - Елена Бережная и Антон Сихарулидзе - YouTube (also coached by Moskvina)

Sale/Pelletier's Love Story was fun and seemed made for them. Their partnership took off quickly. I enjoyed their chemistry. They had many many great and entertaining exhibitions after their competitive career. You should look for their exhibition programs on YouTube. Here's one of their best competitive programs, which won them Worlds in 2001:
Jamie Sale & David Pelletier 2001 Worlds LP - Tristan and Isolde - YouTube

In terms of creativity, look at everything you can find by Savchenko/Szolkowy of Germany -- their career spanned 2005 - 2014, with five World championships and two Olympic medals (Savchenko also later enjoyed success with Bruno Massot, finally winning an Olympic gold medal and another World championship in 2018). During her tenure with Robin Szolkowy, S/S along with their coach, Ingo Steuer, greatly influenced pairs skating. Steuer was also a very creative pairs skater with Mandy Woetzel in the 1990s. They won the 1997 World championships and the 1998 Olympic bronze medal:
[HD] Wötzel & Steuer - 1998 Nagano Olympics - SP - YouTube Not a great twist, even for that time, but inventive moves and they are well-matched on the ice

One of S/S's most creative programs is Pina (Lilies of the Valley) free program. I wish they'd continued exploring and improving even more on that program. It was innovative and unexpected:
Aliona SAVCHENKO Robin SZOLKOWY - GPF 2011 - Pairs LP - YouTube

S/S had a great program to The Mission which won them their first European championship in 2007:
A.SAVCHENKO AND R.SZOLKOWY - 2007 EUROPEANS - FS - YouTube
program starts at 1:53
It's a very emotional program and an emotional win for them

A lot of people may have forgotten this non-stop, full of energy, difficult sp, Lost in Space:
Savchenko & Szolkowy - 2009 World SP - Lost in Space - YouTube

2010 Olympics sp to Send in the Clowns:
2010 Olympics- Savchenko Szolkowy SP [HD] - YouTube

2013 GPF TheNutcracker:
Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy - GPF 2013 - LP - YouTube

2007 Worlds sp Once Upon a Time in Mexico:
Savchenko/Szolkowy Short Dance - Worlds 2007 - YouTube (not dance, it's mislabeled)

S/S rivals, Volosozhar/Trankov, who partnered late in their career had some good programs and were well-matched. It's too bad they didn't get paired together sooner. Look them up. This is one of their best:
Swan Lake ballet on ice by Volosozhar & Trankov at 2012 World Championship - YouTube
In a lot of their moves, V/T pattern themselves in this program after S/S's style of skating, but S/S influenced all of their peers and pushed the discipline forward

Savchenko/Massot best programs:
2018 OG 06 P-SP Savchenko Massot - That Man NBC no commentary - YouTube
Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (GER) - Gold Medal | Pairs Free Skating | PyeongChang 2018 - YouTube

Shen/Zhao 2003 Worlds:
Shen/Zhao 2003 worlds LP - YouTube (they are Sui/Han's coaches)
Shen completed this program with injuries to her right ankle, as mentioned by the commentators

shen zhao 2004 worlds lp - YouTube
This is my favorite Shen/Zhao program

Duhamel Radford 2016 Worlds in Boston:
Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD - 2016 World Championships - LP (BBC) - YouTube

Stolbova/Klimov 2015 GPF
2015 GPF - Ksenia Stolbova / Fedor Klimov SP UHD - YouTube
2015 GPF - Ksenia Stolbova / Fedor Klimov FS UHD - YouTube
Also Stol/Klim's 2014 Olympic programs were great

Underhill/Martini are one of the great Canadian teams, winning 1984 years and bringing Canada back from a 19-year drought of being off Olympics and Worlds podiums:
Barbara Underhill & Paul Martini - 1984 Worlds Pairs LP(UKTV) - YouTube

Urbanski/Marval
Urbanski & Marval - 1993 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Pairs' Free Skate - YouTube
program starts at 2:25 (Interesting throw-axel from a lunge position)

Yamaguchi/Galindo (mirror skaters)
Yamaguchi & Galindo (USA) - 1989 World Figure Skating Championships, Pairs' Free Skate (US CBS) - YouTube

Evora/Ladwig 2010 Olympics (they had great lifts and the Olympics was their shining moment; they should have been scored better, but it was politics):
A. EVORA AND M. LADWIG - 2010 OLYMPIC GAMES - SP - YouTube
A. EVORA AND M. LADWIG - 2010 OLYMPIC GAMES - FS - YouTube

Brasseur/Eisler of Canada were also an exciting team with wonderful lifts
[HD] Brasseur & Eisler - 1994 Lillehammer Olympic - Free Skating - YouTube
Brasseur and Rocky Marval of the U.S. later married

Dube/Davison of Canada to Blower's Daughter:
Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison LP at 2008 World Championships (British Eurosport) - YouTube

Current Canadian champions Moore-Towers/Marinaro will be reprising Blower's Daughter this season. One of M-T/M's breakout performances:
Kirsten Moore-Towers / Michael Marinaro 2018 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships - FS - YouTube
choreo by Julie Marcotte, this was their second year skating this program and it paid off to keep working on it for a second year!

Marcotte also choreographed for Takahashi/Tran who skated together for 5 years for Japan; Tran is Canadian and now skates for the U.S. with Olivia Serafini. T/T won the bronze medal at Worlds in 2012:
Narumi Takahashi-Mervin Tran WC 2012 SP - YouTube

Tran has such a smooth skating style. He was good with Castelli, but they never figured out their different technique on jumps which kept their partnership from progressing to top level success. I love this exhibiton by C/T: Marissa Castelli /Mervin Tran US National 2016 Gala - YouTube

Cain-Gribble/LeDuc 2019 win at U.S. Nationals:
US Figure Skating Championship 2019: Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc’s free skate | NBC Sports - YouTube

Calalang/Johnson are a well-matched team with great elements; they've been together a short time, but clicked right away, and had a great breakthrough clean performance at 2020 U.S. Nationals, but it's not on YouTube. Here are programs that are available -- fp from their 2018-2019 season, and their sp that they kept and reworked for 2020-21 -- Meno/Sand are their coaches, along with Christine Binder:
Jessica Calalang & Brian Johnson 2020 ISP Points Challenge SP Opportunity 2 9/30/2020 - YouTube
19 Jessica CALALANG : Brian JOHNSON USA FS ISU CSPOL2019 Warsaw Cup - YouTube

A fortuitous new pairing that bodes well:
Knierim and Frazier dominate in first Grand Prix event as pair | NBC Sports - YouTube

James/Cipres 2016 Worlds sp
2016 Worlds JAMES CIPRES SP FRA nbcsn - YouTube
commentator Ryan Bradley needs to shut up with his nitpicking; this is a preview of their breakout 2016-2017 success which propelled them to three great seasons during which they greatly influenced the discipline no matter who agrees or disagrees

James/Cipres 2016-2017 sp, Earned It at WTT (they also delivered a sparkling performance at 2017 Euros where they medaled for the first time at those championships):
Vanessa James Morgan Cipres SP 2017 World Team Tokyo - YouTube

2017 EC James & Cipres FS ESP - YouTube breakthrough Sound of Silence fp at Euros

2019 EC FP - Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres (FRA) - YouTube Wicked Game

J/C in exhibition: Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres - Gala les Etoiles de la Glisse 2015 - 2nd Ex - YouTube

An underrated sp by James/Cipres 2017 TDF:
2017 GP France JAMES & CIPRES SP FRA OC - YouTube

2017 TDF fp -- they should have won, no question:
2017 GP France JAMES & CIPRES FS FRA OC - YouTube
What a terrific and detailed list. And I love the Lost in Space program.
 

BlissfulSynergy

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
Underhill/Martini are one of the great Canadian teams, winning 1984 Worlds and bringing Canada back from a 19-year drought of being off Olympics and Worlds podiums:**
Barbara Underhill & Paul Martini - 1984 Worlds Pairs LP(UKTV) - YouTube

** I mentioned the bolded in my previous text because strangely, as of 2019 Worlds, the U.S. pairs discipline has experienced a 17-year drought of being off Olympics and Worlds podiums. Oh Nos!!! :eek2: Will the U.S. somehow be able to refrain from matching or surpassing this little known nor remembered Canadian pairs record? :unsure: I have definitely felt in recent years that U.S. pairs has been building momentum toward breaking regularly into the top echelon of pairs skating. This pandemic unfortunately ain't gonna help matters any regarding momentum and competitive opportunities.

Still we can't honestly continue adding to the years count until a viable and safe World championships can be held again. At the moment, Worlds being held next year with a normal contingent of competitors is not a sure thing.

No matter what, the Olympics is gonna be impacted even if it is held in 2022. I have no doubt that more retirements and changes within the ranks are inevitable leading up to 2022.


ETA:
I agree with the mentions by other posters of Mishkutenok/Dmitrev (especially 1992 and 1994 Olympics); and I also have enjoyed many performances by Pang/Tong.
 
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Delienne

Spectator
Joined
Jul 1, 2020
I'm a big fan of Tarasova/Morozov, I feel they're rather underappreciated so here are some of my fave performances from them:

Their Glam program was what drew me in: https://youtu.be/5Bv2ODSrAT8

Although somehow I missed their SP from the season before Lord of the Dance! When I discovered it later, it was instant fave!

And their SP at 2019 Worlds was stunning, stunning I tells you 🥰

Their Gala Ex at 2019 Worlds was awesome!
Lord of the dance is fantastic! I had never seen that, thanks for sharing. They should go back to something like that
 
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