2019 Russian Nationals Pairs Review: Better than Game of Thrones

Happy holidays! This year, you’re going to be punished with not one, not two, but THREE reviews in one weekend…if I can manage not to fall into a coma from sleep deprivation.

Valid question: why are Russian and Japanese Nationals on the SAME FREAKING WEEKEND that just HAPPENS to be the weekend before CHRISTMAS? Guys, I am a busy girl. I can’t keep up with all this. But there’s no rest for the wicked, so here goes.

First of all, the pairs event was insanely good.



Technically, this was by far the best I’ve seen them skate this short program. They still look a little uncomfortable with the “fun” style, but they made it through.

I still remember last year’s Nationals so clearly – laughing at the whole Candyman program and wondering how the heck they became Russian National Champions. But this year I was blown away. I loved their free skate to death from the first time I saw it, and to see it clean was almost too much for my heart. It was like seeing Cinderella finally walk down those stairs at the ball. I’ve spent the past four years waiting for them to become the breathtaking pair they can be. Sorry, I know I sound like a proud mom. This is the kind of team that can win World titles.

Also, happy news: Evgenia didn’t two-foot any of the throws! Hope it continues; I’m really starting to get a soft spot for this team.


I know I’ve raked them over the coals all year about those knight costumes, but I’ll admit: Natalia and Alexander didn’t put a foot wrong. The short program is slowly becoming…less cringe-worthy for me. And the free skate was lovely. I could actually picture them skating something like Adam Rippon’s Coldplay program – elegant, soft, but a little avant-garde. I think they could be an amazing force of nature, but they have to find a style that works for them.

Now for some score comparison. A few weeks ago, I was terrified that Zabiiako/Enbert were going to pass Tarasova/Morozov and my perfect world was going to cave in. Both pairs went clean and Tarasova/Morozov beat Zabiiako/Enbert by 6.31 points – a comfortable margin. So I guess I panicked for no reason.


This was really a breakthrough event for Boikova/Kozlovskii. They threw down two amazing skates and rightfully earned their medal here. Unless the fed is truly out of their minds, I think they’ve locked down that third spot to Europeans and Worlds. I was initially not a fan of the SP at all, but it’s okay. Then they laid down an EPIC free skate to The Nutcracker! It’s hard to believe that they’re just 16 and 18 years old; they look so poised out there, and they can only grow from here.

They’re still 10 points behind Zabiiako/Enbert, but that’s honestly not unreachable in a few years. They just need to keep delivering good skates and be patient.


Daria and Denis’ SP is a dream. She is so tiny and sparkly on the ice; I definitely like her. And you know what? They skated a clean free skate to follow it up. Well done, well done. But please, fix that Great Gatsby program. Honestly, the PCS they got for the free skate were a gift. I just don’t understand how their SP could be so beautiful and their FS could be so bad. But fix that and they could make a run at the team next year. I still think Boikova/Kozlovskii are by far the better pair;


These guys have super solid elements, and I’m kind of rooting for them because I love a comeback queen, but to be honest…their programs didn’t draw me in. Sorry, the whole “Party Like a Russian” program just didn’t keep me interested. However, I think if they can get interesting programs, they will be contenders in the next few years, and they have a great shot at Junior Worlds.


Alisa. Efimova. Landed. Her. Triple. Salchow.

I think these two were a little underscored. They have excellent transitions and choreography, and she has that it-factor I love. Their short is probably my favorite of all the SP performances here. At first I was hesitant about the FS, but it does the trick. Now they can continue growing and hopefully put a dent in the pairs scene.


Side notes:

• The level of Russian pairs is amazing. Literally all of them have level 3 or 4 twists (thanks Claire Cloutier for pointing that out!). All these teams are just so good.

• Shoutout to Nadezhda Labazina and Nikita Rakhmanin for their epic Stolbova/Klimov cosplay costumes in the free skate. And on that note: I MISS KSENIA AND FEDOR 😭

• They don’t have the big jumps, but Panfiliova/Rylov have a really nice FS . They’re skating to the W.E. soundtrack, but their costumes are so Gatsby that I kept waiting to hear “Young and Beautiful”. She has a lovely softness and her lift positions remind me a little of Lubov Ilyushechkina, which is the greatest compliment I can give a pair skater.

I’ll be back soon with my reviews of the Russian ladies (WARNING: SOME HUGE SHOCKERS) and Japanese ladies (after I watch all their performances). Until then, happy skating, and may the odds be ever in your favor.


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