Grand Prix of Helsinki pairs review: WE COULD’VE HAD IT ALL

It’s Grand Prix #3!!! So far, I’ve survived without any major crushing heartbreak or emotional breakdowns, and this time I’ve got a special surprise for you: not only am I reviewing pairs, but I will be doing another post about the other disciplines too, which will hopefully go up soon after this one. So without further ado, let’s get started.

First of all, I hope I’m using the correct name for this event. Guys, I’m so used to good ol’ “Cup of China” that I honestly had to check with Jackie Wong @rockerskating just so I knew what the event was even called. Clearly, I’m not half as invested as I was last year, watching competitions with color-coded sheets detailing all the seasons’ bests and height differences between pair partners.

Second, skating events in Finland always give me happy feelings because in 2017, Worlds were in Helsinki and the entire pairs event was EPIC. Sadly, there was no Sui/Han vs. Savchenko/Massot showdown here, but there was enough going on to keep me awake, and I discovered a few programs I really liked.

I loved Miu Suzaki/Ryuichi Kihara’s “Yuri on Ice” SP soooooo much last year. Somebody, please tell them that malagueña is not their style! The elements were messy, which definitely didn’t help matters. One thing I do approve of: her dress gives me Satoko Miyahara “Firedance” vibes and his costume gives me Shoma Uno “Loco” vibes.

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Their FS, on the other hand, is beautiful! She looked so exquisite in her costume. He’s not a huge guy, but he maneuvers the lifts well; you can really tell they’ve picked up some great positions and are working on things.

Barquero/Maestu from Spain almost made me cry because their SP reminded me of Marchei/Hotarek and I suddenly remembered how much I miss Marchei/Hotarek 😢. The Spanish team doesn’t have the speed of the top teams, but they make up for it in charm. Which is why I was so disappointed with their FS. Where is the sparkle? It was a pretty strong outing for these guys and I hope they can keep it up.

Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Nathan Bartholomay have a great tango SP. They aren’t just two people running around the ice while a tango plays in the background; they’re actually skating tango steps in proper dance holds. Their lifts this year are beautiful too. And for the FS, sure the jumps were a mess, but can you EVER go wrong with Whitney Houston? I don’t think so. (By the way, Deanna, you wouldn’t mind loaning me that FS dress sometime, would you?).

Ryom/Kim are keeping their “A Day in the Life” SP and that is honestly the best news I’ve heard all week. They looked so upset about the mistakes in the SP, but I can see the potential just oozing out of them. One thing I’m not crazy about is the return of the FS. The lady wailing in the background is the exact opposite of their lively, dynamic style and doesn’t do them an ounce of justice. She is such a sassy little superstar; why don’t they skate something freaking awesome like James Bond or even heavy metal? I could see them doing Sui/Han’s “Blues for Klook” and blowing the roof off the rink.

If this review isn’t finished on time, it’s because I was in a group chat about how amazing Miriam Ziegler/Severin Kiefer are. Yes, the SP is more of that ombré Savchenko-inspired stuff, but they make it work! The final lift is a stunner, the choreography fits them like a glove, and the music is so beautiful. I thought I couldn’t love them any more than I already do…but then the FS happened. ADELE! Confession: the first figure skating program that ever made me cry was Stolbova/Klimov’s exhibition program to “Hello”, the first program that made me jump off the couch screaming was Duhamel/Radford’s “Hometown Glory”, and my favorite ladies’ program of all time is Wakaba Higuchi’s “Skyfall”. (I like Adele, okay?). Ziegler/Kiefer’s program is no exception to my obsession. The lifts are right on time with the music and the jumps looked fairly solid. When the final lift went awry just as Adele sang out, “WE COULD’VE HAD IT ALL!!!”, I thought it was very fitting. But honestly, this program is a knockout and I can’t wait for my new faves to rise.

For me, the discovery of this competition was Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin’s beautiful SP. Daria stood out to me as a star – there’s just a sparkle to her presence. But just like with Barquero/Maestu, I ask myself, “What the heck happened to the free skate?” It’s supposed to be The Great Gatsby, but the music cuts were jarring as heck. (Seriously, and we give Daniil Gleikhengauz a hard time about his music cutting?). Gatsby programs are supposed to be fun, dramatic, nostalgic…I got nothing from this. It was like a completely different pair than the beautiful skaters who did such a good job in the SP. It’s so frustrating because they (she) have such potential – great twist, pretty lifts, solid jumps. But I’ll be patient and pray to the skating gods that a stunning FS will come along for them.

I’m a big fan of Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise, and I’m beyond excited that they won the short program. It works for them – it’s edgy, it’s modern, it’s sexy (my mom couldn’t shut up about his booty btw). I like the FS even more  – I always love Tristan and Iseult programs and this one does the trick. The costumes are beautiful, the lifts are to die for, and the best part is that this is a very Nicole and Matteo program. They look like they were born to skate to Tristan and Iseult. I was really hoping they could’ve gone clean and won the event, but alas the jumps got the best of them. Still, I think this silver medal sets them up perfectly for a shot at qualifying to the Grand Prix Final.

I spent the past five minutes trying to think of words to describe Zabiiako/Enbert’s SP, and I finally found them: “WHAT THE HECK?”. The music, the costumes, the battleaxe choreography…Nina Mozer, what were you thinking? Last year they weren’t exactly exciting to watch, but at least they looked like a standard, professional pair. Natalia has somehow gone from beautiful flower princess to corpse bride, and Alexander just looks like a major Fashion Don’t. If they wanted to go with a medieval theme, they had so many great options: Game of Thrones, Robin Hood, King Arthur…anything but this. I know everyone is saying they look like a watered-down Stolbova/Klimov this year, but I could never imagine Ksenia and Fedor agreeing to skate this program or wearing these leftover Halloween costumes. The only resemblance I see is Natalia’s short haircut – and let’s not pretend we’ve never seen a pair girl with short hair before! The FS is actually pretty good and definitely a step up from last year’s snooze fest, but doesn’t stand out to me in any particular way. Which I suppose, compared to their SP, is a good thing. It will do its job for the season.

Wow, I was brutally honest about this event! Hope I didn’t awaken the angry skating gods…Until next time, happy skating, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

P.S. Don’t forget, my blog post about the other disciplines will be up soon!

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