Pairs FS Worldwide: The Divine Discipline | Page 7 | Golden Skate

Pairs FS Worldwide: The Divine Discipline

BlissfulSynergy

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I read somewhere that for Mervin there was a citizenship option to marry Narumi and decline his Canadian citizenship which was even more tough choice than for Yuko. So far the only foreign skater who got Japanese citizenship is Tim Koleto who is married to Misato Komatsubara.
Ah, I'd heard a few things about the problems Merv and Narumi had. But I didn't hear about the option for them to marry. My God, that's a tough set of options particularly if you aren't romantic with each other. I thought that Mervin was willing to give up his Canadian citizenship after he and Narumi had invested 5 years together and had won a bronze medal at 2012 Worlds with the Olympics on the horizon in two years. But apparently a lot more obstacles were involved. I felt sorry for Narumi because maybe she saw no other option in the cards but to split with Mervin and try with a Japanese partner. And nothing worked out for her. I believe she tried with two different partners (one of them Kihara) before retiring.

I didn't realize that Koleto is married to Misato and that's why he was able to gain Japanese citizenship.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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I was SO pleasantly surprised with M/K at both WTT and Worlds. Their presence alone boosts Japan up to being a serious podium contender at the Olympic team event, which is exciting.
Yes Miura/Kihara are definitely an exciting prospect for Japan for the next Olympic Team event. I believe M/K had already broken through competitively with some events last season. Maybe it was 4CCs where they skated so well and a lot of fans have been buzzing about them ever since.

The JSF urgently needed a team without citizenship issues for a team event in Sochi Olympics 2014, so they even didn't calculate consequences, it didn't matter for them back then.
LOL. The means and method of going about things is always important to the eventual outcome. Will people running feds and ISU never learn?! Sadly, Merv and Narumi were never able to find out how far they could have progressed together.

Skaters are not commodities. They are human beings with emotions and with physical demands constantly being placed on them. The athletes should all be treated with more respect and consideration. But yeah, I do understand what you are saying and how the cultural background of Japan did not at first support partnering in ice dance and pairs to the extent that we see happening today. And it's happening now simply because of the Olympic Team event requirements.
 
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Colonel Green

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LOL. The means and method of going about things is always important to the eventual outcome. Will people running feds and ISU never learn?! Sadly, Merv and Narumi were never able to find out how far they could have progressed together.
Narumi wanted to go to the Olympics, which she was never going to be able to do with Mervin, unfortunately.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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Narumi wanted to go to the Olympics, which she was never going to be able to do with Mervin, unfortunately.
Of course, once it became crystal clear that Mervin was not going to be able to become a citizen because none of the restrictions and requirements would be relaxed. I wonder what Narumi's thinking was when she first joined with Mervin five years previous to their surprise bronze medal win? Did she always dream of going to the Olympics, or only after success with Mervin? They could have simply focused on Worlds and other major events aside from the Olympics. Albeit that the Japanese fed had invested a lot in Narumi and so they also wanted her at the Olympics for the team event. But switching Narumi to skate with someone who lacked pairs experience two years before the 2014 Olympics, was never gonna cut it.

The Olympics is this hazy dream for skaters that even when realized may never fully satisfy (even for some athletes who stand on the podium). It is coming down from the podium and facing real life that sometimes turns out to be the hardest step.

Oh well, Narumi did make it to the 2014 Olympics with Kihara and they placed 18th. Maybe she feels that experience was worth the unfortunate split with Mervin, despite the fact that she and Kihara were never that good together. I see that Narumi later teamed for a short time with Russian skater Alexandr Zaboev in 2015, before moving on to Ryo Shibata in May 2016. None of her partnerships post Mervin worked out. But at least she 'made it to the Olympics' with Kihara. And at least Kihara has that experience of learning pairs with Narumi under his belt, which serves him well. The fact that Kihara was new to pairs did not help Narumi or bode well for any long term solidity/success for their partnership.

Meanwhile, Mervin made an excellent match (on the surface) with Marissa Castelli. They were really good together, but they faced a variety of obstacles they weren't able to overcome. Before Marissa, Mervin had returned to Canada to pair with Natasha Purich, and they looked good together too. But Purich has so often changed partners. She looked fabulous with Drew Wolfe, but they broke up too. Speaking of which, are Camille Ruest and Drew Wolfe planning to return to competitive skating?

Now of course, Mervin has found happiness with Olivia Serafini. They are a nice team to watch, but maybe not as well-matched as Mervin was physically with some of his other partners. Still Mervin is so smooth and such a great pairs guy, it seems like he can skate with anyone and make it work!
 
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Dreamer57

Medalist
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May 20, 2018
I've just logged onto Twitter and there's a rumour circulating about Eric Radford teaming up with Vanessa James for Canada?

I'd be really shocked if it happened. Meagan has posted about betrayal on her IG today.
 

ladyjane

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Netherlands
Hi everybody. I heard the rumour for the first time on TSL (and didn't believe it at first), and Meagan's IG seemed to clinch it. She was very, very upset, but remains as decent as she always has been and did not mention names. So, if one hadn't heard this rumour, one could think all kinds of things due to her post. In fact, on Facebook there were people who thought she was in the midst of a divorce! I hope we get to know what's really happening soon. I would never even have thought of this particular pairing ever. But then, neither did I think Morgan Cypres would be such an idiot as to send disgusting pictures to little girls.

That said...I secretly like the idea. I'm guilty as charged in looking forward to seeing them.
 

flanker

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If Vanessa and Eric just want to skate together, I don't see why anyone should be upset about it.
 

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
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Aug 12, 2014
If Vanessa and Eric just want to skate together, I don't see why anyone should be upset about it.
I think it's because Eric wanted to retire for a couple of years before they did retire. I don't think Meagan was completely ready to quit. And when she competed in Battle of the Blades, she posted on IG how much she'd missed performing and having that rush of adrenalin and happiness when she skated well.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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Looks like we have the first off-season drama. Well, this didn't take long at all...
Exactly. I go away and get busy elsewhere for awhile, and then come back to exciting breaking news. I happened today to first come across the YouTube video of That Skating Show episode where the exclusive news was broke for the first time. Oh, this is going to be hella interesting. James/Radford seemingly have a good opportunity to shake things up at the top. We shall see, on pins and needles.

LOL, I guess those in the skating community who professed some unfair disdain toward Vanessa's SS, and some of those judges who enjoyed always managing the scores of J/C, likely thought they were well rid of Vanessa altogether. But my gosh, Vanessa James always rises like a Phoenix! You go girl! Maybe we might get to see some of Shae Lynn's choreo on Vanessa after all, with the added bonus of Eric Radford. Yummy!

Honestly, Eric has always been an aesthetically pleasing skater with lovely long lines, coupled with bravura athleticism. Vanessa has nice lines and great athleticism too. I wish that they were both younger and planned to stay around for awhile to see just how well they could develop together. I don't imagine they will stay in the competitive arena for four years, but maybe two perhaps? I have to finish watching their interview with Asher and Dylan. :love2:
 

BlissfulSynergy

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Cross-posting about a bit of pairs skating history from U.S. pairs thread:

Well, wonderful recap of pairs history, but if we’re considering 6th to 8th great results, then none of the US pairs really need to find a solution to their current problems, I guess? And I say this just matter-of-factly, they are going to continue to land there if they compete like they have been, because I don’t see two or three teams entering the scene and surprising everybody. Especially past the Olympics with retirements happening.

I just would like to see them going a bit further. So it’s not that I give them no credit, but I’m skeptical in general. Until they show me they can do it, I won’t believe they can.
I agree with you that I want to see U.S. teams going further. That's why the missed opportunity at Worlds to have better placements and to bring home a third spot, kinda stings. And now with Canada's recent new pairing of two veterans who are bound to shake things up at the top, the missed opportunity at Worlds for K/F to resoundingly establish themselves hurts a bit more. I see that Brandon liked Meagan Duhamel's post stating how she feels blindsided by the new partnership of James/Radford. Personally, I like the palpable excitement of this new pairing.

BTW, there's a whole lot that goes into improving an entire pairs discipline. The individual athletes mostly have to work on managing their own careers. It's up to the U.S. federation to think about improving the discipline as a whole, and that just hasn't been U.S. fed's focus for far too long. In general, I think U.S. fed has tended to think that careers for athletes work themselves out automatically. At least, that's the way it seems they think.

Regarding your comments on the history I cited, here's more:

Please note that 6th to 8th has not been U.S. pairs history on the world stage since forever. LOL! As I pointed out, there has been a dearth of podium placements at Worlds and Olympics for U.S. pairs teams for about 18 going on 19 years (not counting last year of course). Being in the midst of that dearth, I'm sure makes it seem like it will go on forever, and has gone on forever, but it hasn't and hopefully it won't in the future. Fingers-crossed!!! The ongoing international podium dearth certainly is part of the reason why fans tend to look down on the U.S. pairs discipline. But that disdain is unfair IMO. The U.S. pairs discipline's 19-year mark will match the record of same set by Canadian pairs during the 1960s and 1970s, when U.S. pairs teams were making the podiums at Worlds and Olympic, on occasion, generally in the silver and bronze categories. Meanwhile, the Russians were building their dominance in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, which of course has never waned since, even though it did fluctuate a bit at the top with the rise of Chinese pairs skating, and with the vibrant competitiveness of certain German and Canadian teams.

I find the entire history of pairs skating fascinating and neverendingly entertaining and enlightening. I wish Fours competitions would come back into vogue. Fours was particularly popular in Canada. U.S. and Canadian pairs skating parallels quite a bit. It was a U.S. team that broke through first on the Worlds stage post WWII. The devastation of Europe and the resultant immigration of a number of skating athletes led to opportunities for North American teams to break through, which they did in fine fashion, never looking back. Most North American teams (including singles skaters as well) were at first known for their athleticism/ athletic influence on the sport. A young brother/sister team from the U.S., Peter and Karol Kennedy, were the first North American pairs team to win Worlds, in 1950. Of course, the only other U.S. team to win Worlds is Tai Babilonia/Randy Gardner, in 1979. Babilonia/Gardner flourished in the 1970s. They were known for their athleticism and for their gorgeous unison and line.

In the early years post WWII, both the U.S. and Canada began flourishing in pairs skater internationally. But it was a Canadian team who broke through to win the Olympics for the first time for a North American team, Barbara Wagner/Robert Paul:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cyFFTXF8kg (prior to this 1960 Olympics win, they'd won Worlds for three years, and a 4th time in 1960).

It was surely the advent of Wagner/Paul as World and Olympic champions which helped give Canada some of the strength of its pairs legacy. However, the U.S. has a strong pairs legacy as well, albeit without any U.S. team having won the Olympics. Canada has two winning Olympic teams in Wagner/Paul and Sale/Pelletier (albeit the latter was at first silver, then gold post scandal). It is quite interesting that both Canada and U.S. have both spent nearly identical years off Worlds and Olympic podiums in different eras, and yet both countries still have made important contributions to pairs, with Canada having the edge in prestigious accomplishments, particularly in recent history.

It pays to note though that before and after the breakthrough by the Kennedys in 1950, U.S. teams had a presence on the Worlds podium off-and-on. Karol & Peter Kennedy won an Olympic silver medal in 1952. The Kennedys also won four silver medals at Worlds in the late 1940s and early 1950s, in addition to their 1950 World gold medal. Prior to WWII, the U.S. had a decorated pairs team in Beatrix Loughran/ Sherwin Badger, who won silver at the 1932 Olympics, in addition to two bronze medals at Worlds (1930, 1932). Canada had a post-WWII winning pair team in the late 1940s in Suzanne Morrow/ Wallace Diestelmeyer who won Olympic bronze and World bronze in 1948. Ann Davies/Carlton Hoffner won World bronze in 1949, joining teammates, Karol & Peter Kennedy on the podium. A Hungarian team, Andrea Kekesy/ Ede Kiraly won gold that same year, in Paris. And so on. The stats are readily researchable.

Pairs skating in the early years pre- and post-WWI was dominated by German, Austrian, British, Hungarian and some Swedish and Finnish teams, and one fabulous French team, the Brunets! In addition, a U.S., a Norwegian and a Czech team reached the World podium during that period. Fascinatingly, during the first ever World championships in 1908, a Russian pairs team won the bronze medal! But it wasn't until 1962 when Ludmila Belousova/ Oleg Protopopov broke through at Worlds to win silver that another Russian team took the Worlds podium. Of course, Belousova/Protopopov (later The Protopopovs) were a revolutionary team who continued winning silver and then gold, later a bronze in the following years, and famously Olympic gold in 1964 and 1968. I would guess that the harsh effects of the Russian Revolution and later the World Wars is what interrupted Russia's ability to make headway in pairs skating, until the Protopopovs came along and changed pairs skating forever.

All of this history is readily available for anyone who is interested to research and to marvel at. I find it fun and instructive to look back.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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I think it's because Eric wanted to retire for a couple of years before they did retire.
Well, that was at a certain point in Eric's life and in his partnership with Meagan. New horizons and changes in life's circumstances can tend to have a rejuvenating effect on one's outlook. :wink:
 

BlissfulSynergy

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Re the below comment, cross-posted from U.S. pairs thread: It will be interesting indeed to see what happens with so much factoring into the effects of the pandemic on training, along with new partnerships, and the breakthrough of the Moskvina-trained young Russian teams, and the physically ailing Sui/Han, and yet to break through all the way to top, Peng/Jin (who also seem to have a number of vulnerabilities). Of course, the ace-in-the-hole for the Chinese teams will be the Olympics happening in their home country. It should be a very exciting upcoming season for pairs.


This is also a gentle callout to all pairs. With the unknown factor of where Vanessa and Eric will land, no one has any way of knowing if their chances are as good as they were this time. And considering the possibility of things settling down for more countries--hopefully the pandemic is waning in the skating world and more rinks are opening again--many teams will have the chance to prepare better for the Olympics.

If you take a look at Worlds results, the difference between 11th and 6th is smaller than 6th to 4th (Peng and Jin had six points over MT/M, but they'll be in China for the Olympics, so you know, home advantage). If you think about it, there's a bigger chance of these teams fighting amonghts themselves than any of them breaking into the top 5.
 

Dreamer57

Medalist
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May 20, 2018
Exactly. I go away and get busy elsewhere for awhile, and then come back to exciting breaking news. I happened today to first come across the YouTube video of That Skating Show episode where the exclusive news was broke for the first time. Oh, this is going to be hella interesting. James/Radford seemingly have a good opportunity to shake things up at the top. We shall see, on pins and needles.

LOL, I guess those in the skating community who professed some unfair disdain toward Vanessa's SS, and some of those judges who enjoyed always managing the scores of J/C, likely thought they were well rid of Vanessa altogether. But my gosh, Vanessa James always rises like a Phoenix! You go girl! Maybe we might get to see some of Shae Lynn's choreo on Vanessa after all, with the added bonus of Eric Radford. Yummy!

Honestly, Eric has always been an aesthetically pleasing skater with lovely long lines, coupled with bravura athleticism. Vanessa has nice lines and great athleticism too. I wish that they were both younger and planned to stay around for awhile to see just how well they could develop together. I don't imagine they will stay in the competitive arena for four years, but maybe two perhaps? I have to finish watching their interview with Asher and Dylan. :love2:
I also discovered That Skating Show fairly recently. The presenters have a nice camaraderie. I recommend watching their worlds recap on pairs, I thought they gave quite a balanced view (y)

How I thought that pairs skating had the least amount of drama...but I am definitely looking forward to what the new season will bring for pairs!
 

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
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Aug 12, 2014
Well, that was at a certain point in Eric's life and in his partnership with Meagan. New horizons and changes in life's circumstances can tend to have a rejuvenating effect on one's outlook. :wink:
Definitely. That's one of the things I love most about the interview with Dylan & Asher, and the print interview with Bev Smith ... the sense that Eric and Vanessa said they have, of being excited by this opportunity to create a completely new something in pairs. I always felt that Eric was a more musical and smoother skater than Meagan was, and I'm really looking forward to seeing his and Vanessa's skating together.

Also, Eric mentioned that in the past 3 years his injuries have completely healed. That is one thing that previously gave me the feeling that in the last couple of years before he and Meagan retired in 2018, he'd been looking forward to retiring. The constant wear and tear on his body. It reminded me of something Sandra Bezic said about another 15-or-16-inch height difference in a pair: Castelli/Shnapir. In response to a question from Terry, Sandra said that for lifts and throws, that big a difference didn't always make things easier. For one thing, the guy has to get way further down in his knees to get the lady up.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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That shows how true it is that taste plays a role. I agree with you that Robin is a very special skater. And in my opinion, therein is a bit of a clue: When Robin and Aliona skated, I saw two individual skaters doing pairs elements together.

Whereas when Aljona and Bruno skated together, what I perceived was much more two skating as one, not just in terms of elements and unison, but in terms of emotion, connection and unity of purpose.

I am cross-posting your below comment from the James/Radford partnership thread, as it was off-topic in that thread.

I have to disagree with you that Aliona, Robin and Ingo didn't have connection and unity of purpose. As we know, in fact there was an emotional connection between Aliona & Ingo. In the long run, it seems Aliona wasn't completely happy due to the enormous stress once Ingo was ostracized by German Fed, and he was no longer paid by the federation. Aliona/Robin stayed loyal to Ingo and paid him out of their own pockets. I've heard that Ingo can be demanding and difficult, so that added to Aliona's stress. Perhaps Aliona and Ingo both had intense personalities, which made working together and having a romantic relationship together, difficult.

Meanwhile, Robin was the calm center in the storm between Aliona and Ingo. LOL Robin's personality does not appear to be very demonstrative, but he was an excellent pairs partner. While Robin and Aliona did not seem to have emotional synchronicity, they did have mutual goals. Plus, their partnership pushed the boundaries of what a pairs team could be. In other words, they were not the typical or classical pairs team. They did not have long lines or lyrical grace. They were edgy, athletic and innovative, and they moved on the ice with creativity and a compelling unpredictable quality. They matched each other in physical terms very well. Their relationship off-ice was apparently more professional and less BFF.
 

TontoK

Hot Tonto
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Definitely. That's one of the things I love most about the interview with Dylan & Asher, and the print interview with Bev Smith ... the sense that Eric and Vanessa said they have, of being excited by this opportunity to create a completely new something in pairs.
But that's about what you would expect any new pairing to say.

They're not going to release a statement that they look forward to presenting programs with stale content, haphazard emotional commitment, and boring music.

I look forward to seeing their programs; they'll have to show me. I'll either like them or I won't, but it's not going to be on the basis of what anyone says... either pro or con.
 

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
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Aug 12, 2014
I am cross-posting your below comment from the James/Radford partnership thread, as it was off-topic in that thread.

I have to disagree with you that Aliona, Robin and Ingo didn't have connection and unity of purpose. As we know, in fact there was an emotional connection between Aliona & Ingo. In the long run, it seems Aliona wasn't completely happy due to the enormous stress once Ingo was ostracized by German Fed, and he was no longer paid by the federation. Aliona/Robin stayed loyal to Ingo and paid him out of their own pockets. I've heard that Ingo can be demanding and difficult, so that added to Aliona's stress. Perhaps Aliona and Ingo both had intense personalities, which made working together and having a romantic relationship together, difficult.

Meanwhile, Robin was the calm center in the storm between Aliona and Ingo. LOL Robin's personality does not appear to be very demonstrative, but he was an excellent pairs partner. While Robin and Aliona did not seem to have emotional synchronicity, they did have mutual goals. Plus, their partnership pushed the boundaries of what a pairs team could be. In other words, they were not the typical or classical pairs team. They did not have long lines or lyrical grace. They were edgy, athletic and innovative, and they moved on the ice with creativity and a compelling unpredictable quality. They matched each other in physical terms very well. Their relationship off-ice was apparently more professional and less BFF.

Certainly, we can continue to disagree.

I was only commenting on what I saw on the ice between them, and I didn't see unity of purpose or much emotional harmony. I saw two skaters each doing excellent, exciting elements and programs. But as always, YMMV and as I said before, it's all about taste and what I want to see in a pair.

I don't know the history of Aliona-Ingo-Robin off ice or their relationships. Not especially interested now, but I notice how thoroughly you delve into pairs!
 
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