2018 Skate America pairs review: Aljona Savchenko is everywhere

It’s Skate America already? What the heck? Didn’t we just get done with the whole Olympic ordeal? Oh, that’s right, it’s time to buckle our seatbelts and take another wild ride on the Grand Prix circuit. Here’s my review on the pairs event.

Nica Digerness and Danny Neudecker’s SP is pleasing and lovely. They have a stunning throw triple loop (since when did it get that big???). The FS is also just a very pleasing program, and I think they can be very proud of their outing here.

Now for Hocke/Blommaert of Germany: I love her dress and makeup for the SP, but the program itself doesn’t stand out to me. As for the FS, WOW! The gray-and-black jumpsuits gave it a very edgy modern look, and the music (“Land of All“ by Woodkid) is actually the same piece Nathan Chen is using this year! The overall aesthetic really reminds me of Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres, another team that’s creative and unique. Unfortunately for Hocke/Blommaert, the free skate was kind of a mess, but I think it could be really brilliant by the end of the year.

Evelyn Walsh and Trent Michaud’s Beatles SP is a bomb! Unfortunately, the jumps just got the best of them in both programs. But never fear – I’m sure it will “Come Together” in time 🙂 Also, can we tear our eyes away from Trent and his V-neck for a minute to check out Evelyn’s AMAZING bodysuit? Daaaang!

Okay, I love everything about Minerva Fabienne Hase/Nolan Seegert’s SP!!! Skate to “Say Something” and my heart is yours. Her dress literally made me gasp because it reminds me of Ekaterina Gordeeva’s 1994 Olympic gala costume 😭 One thing I really like about them: their twist isn’t huge, but it’s tidy. I can’t say I really like their free skate though; it isn’t really memorable for me.

The Knierims’ SP is the kind of program you will either totally love or totally hate. Personally? I love it so much! It’s funky, it’s modern, and it’s totally off the wall. Watching their FS, I had to keep reminding myself every 5 seconds that this was not Savchenko/Massot’s “Lighthouse” program from the 2016-2017 season. The jumps were simply not there, but these two programs are by far my favorite Knierim programs ever! About the split with Aljona…I don’t really know what happened amongst them, but I wish them all the best. At the very least, Aljona and her coaching team gave them some killer programs, and now it’s Alexa and Chris’s job to make the most of them. And that means getting those jumps down.

As if the Empress Aljona hasn’t been talked about enough, she was definitely present in Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc’s SP. Everything – the costumes, the music, the choreography (even the booty bump!) just screamed “ALJONA IS OUR MUSE!!!” Overall, the SP is really fun and enjoyable. However I’m not sure if the pink Barbie dress suits strong and dynamic Ashley. The FS is also a good program; it’s modern but not too off-the-wall for lovers of traditional skating. The matching jumpsuits remind me of Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise – I approve!

My fellow pairs blogger Claire (go check out her blog A Divine Sport, she’s amazing!) told me two years ago to keep an eye on this amazing couple named Alisa Efimova/Alexander Korovin. Well, I’m so glad I listened to her! They have so many little transitions and choreographic moves that keep you interested throughout the whole program. I am a huge fan of the short program: cool, modern, and full of fresh content. I was hesitant about their FS because it’s “La Strada” and many “La Strada” programs end up looking like a dorky clown show, but they managed to keep it both competitive and fun. Alisa in particular has that Russian pair girl it-factor – dare I say even a little like Gordeeva? Well-deserved medal.

I’ll admit, the first time I saw Tarasova/Morozov’s SP this season, I was skeptical. But this time I didn’t mind it. It’s cheerful, it’s upbeat, and it’s not Candyman. Her dress is a MILLION times better than the bowling shirt from Finlandia; she looks like a movie star! (Moulin Rouge vibes, anyone?). The free skate is the kind of beautiful program I’ve always wanted them to skate – finally something that doesn’t get in the way of their beautiful lines and huge elements (and no more polka dots, what more can you ask for?). I think they definitely took some notes from – you guessed it – Savchenko and Massot. I wish the choreography had a few more memorable moves, but I enjoy this program and I think it will be stunning if they can clean up the jumps. My only major problem is, how does she continue two-footing throws and getting positive GOE for them? Wasn’t the new judging system supposed to fix these kind of things? Obviously this is the judges’ fault and not the skaters’, and I’d rather take it out on the old people behind the monitors than beautiful, sweet, talented Evgenia anyways. I just don’t understand how I, a casual skating fan who can’t tell a lutz from a flip, can see a two-footed jump with a naked eye, but a panel of nine people getting paid to see these things apparently all missed it.

Overall, it was a very interesting pairs event. I enjoyed watching some pairs I hadn’t seen before, and there are some very promising programs this season! I admit I desperately miss some of the big names in the discipline (say it with me: ALJONA, WHERE ARE YOU?), but there’s also something special about watching an event that’s bursting with new skaters (or at least they’re new to me!). Often in post-Olympic season, we discover so many new skaters to love.

I may decide to do a review of the other disciplines later, but I’m very busy with school right now, so we’ll see how far I get. As always, happy skating, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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