2018 NHK Trophy Pairs review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Spiral

And here goes Grand Prix #4! It’s hard to believe that a year ago, I was screaming my head off watching Sui/Han set a new world record at 2am. The pairs world has changed so much in a year that I barely recognize my beautiful sport!

Forgive me if I sound sleep-deprived and unusually cheery; I’m writing this well past midnight and I’ve been busy planning for my 16th birthday this weekend. It’s a well-known fact that nobody sleeps when there’s skating going on in Japan, so I’ll quit complaining and just start talking about the skating.

Suzaki/Kihara’s SP was much improved from the hot mess I saw last week in Finland. But why, why, why did he ditch the Shoma bolero? 😩 That was the best part of the program! (Although it did look a little less snoozy this time). And just when the SP started to look okay, the FS turned into a splatfest. I guess I can’t win.

Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrafonov had a solid SP, but let’s just talk about that FS! ROXANNE! Some mistakes of course, but I think it could be epic if they clean it up. They are still very young for pairs and they have lots of potential; I just hope they stay together long enough to get there, cuz US pairs don’t exactly have a great history of that.

Barquero/Maestu had a great outing here. The SP is adorable! I just wish there was more to keep me awake in the FS. They aren’t exactly the fastest skaters in the world, so this style just made them look slower and sleepy. Or maybe I’m just running on

Kayne/O’Shea’s SP is beautiful!!! It’s one of those quiet programs that work better than you’d think. The FS is also amazing but unfortunately it wasn’t their day – hope to see them nail it at Nationals.

Moore-Towers/Marinaro ditched their 2A+Euler+3S combo in the FS. So I thought I didn’t have anything to be nervous about. Well, I did 😭 They won’t make the GPF now, but Kirsten wins my award for best post-competition tweet: “thank u, next”.

I’m honestly surprised Alexa and Chris Knierim even showed up after the drama with Savchenko…and then they won a medal with no coach at all? WTH? I did NOT see that coming. Side-by-side jumps are still a thorn in their side, but this is the strongest they’ve looked all season, and their programs are first-class.

”OH, OPHELIA!”…yep, I’m still singing Peng/Jin’s SP music because it’s That Good. They are just so cute! I’ve always called them my baby Sui/Han, and they are growing into such a beautiful pair together. The FS still has room for improvement, but I’m so proud that they’re going to the GPF. And yes, I blinked on those doubled side-by-side jumps.

I admit I was brutal on Zabijako/Enbert’s SP last week. Honestly, I still don’t like it, but they look so much better than they did at the GP in Finland. Their FS was as close to perfect as I’ve ever seen them skate, and the program itself isn’t bad. But I just can’t get on board with this team. I want to yell at Tarasova/Morozov to get their jumps together and stay solidly in Russia’s no. 1 spot, or better yet: COME BACK, STOLBOVA!

Random observations:

1. What was with all the lost levels on death spirals in the SP? Even Zabijako/Enbert got a level 1! In the FS, there were no such problems, but it was strange seeing half the pairs get such low levels.

2. Do you ever watch a program and downright hate it the first time, but by the second or third time you decide it’s not that bad? Well I was surprised how many times I did that here. I guess I’m in a better mood than I was last week.

3. Apparently you CAN win a Grand Prix medal without a coach! 😱

That’s all for now. I will try to do some reviews of the other disciplines, but I will be very busy this week so don’t hold your breath. I’m also signed up for a project The Judges’ Table (details coming soon!) right after Rostelecom Cup. In the meantime, happy skating, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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