Who to Watch: A Quick Introduction to Pair Skating

As a skating fan since 2014, I’ve interacted with a lot of people who love figure skating as much as I do. However, it was shocking to me to see how many people didn’t watch pair skating (or at least not more than once a year or so). Pair skating is sometimes treated like Harry Potter hidden in the cupboard, and I think it’s just because not many people have discovered just how great it is. So I decided to give a little crash course about pair skating so more people can learn about it in a fun, non-intimidating way.

TEAM CHINA:

Wenjing Sui/Cong Han:

  • Playful brother-sister relationship
  • They can skate so many different styles 
  • They always look glamorous, like they’re starring in “Crazy Rich Asians”.
  • Her hair is a character of its own
  • She has suffered many injuries, but he helped her through them and refused to leave her for another partner, even if she was unable to recover

Cheng Peng/Yang Jin:

  • They’re such cuties
  • Their “Ophelia” SP was the best skating program last year in any discipline and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me
  • When Peng broke up with Hao Zhang and Jin broke up with Xiaoyu Yu (so Yu/Zhang could skate together), the new team of Peng/Jin were originally dismissed as the weaker pair. But they worked their way up and ended up winning a silver medal at the Grand Prix Final last year
  • Another Chinese pair lady with fabulous hair!
  • They made drastic progress in the 2018-19 season

Xiaoyu Yu/Hao Zhang:

  • They have strong elements, beautiful throw jumps, and great lifts
  • He is an Olympic silver medalist from 2006
  • She’s exquisitely graceful and a total beauty queen
  • A veteran athlete, he competed in his first world championships in 2002 (the year I was born!)
  • They don’t have any Grand Prix assignments because they are still healing from some injuries, but they will be back soon!

TEAM RUSSIA:

Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov:

  • Stunning elements, especially the twist and throw jumps
  • They haven’t always had the best choreography, but this season they’re working with Massimo Scali and Charlie White to create new programs.
  • They’re super nice people
  • They look just like Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour from the Harry Potter movies.
  • They withstood the pressure of skating at the Olympics without their flag (due to the dispute between the Russian and International Olympic Committees), and they largely held the Russian team together to win the silver medal in the team event.

Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert:

  • Beautiful balletic lines; they’re very graceful skaters.
  • They actually did a short program with mimed sword-fighting last year and if that’s not big chaotic energy, then I don’t know what is.
  • Her Instagram is full of fashion, food, and her own amazing drawings!
  • She suffered a severe head injury several years ago, but she returned stronger than ever.
  • Everyone who knows Alexander is always saying how funny and sweet he is.

Aleksandra Boikova/Dmitrii Kozlovskii:

  • Classic Russian pair skating from a bygone era
  • They’re so good that they moved into the senior ranks several years early
  • They’re still babies!
  • There’s a cute whimsical feeling to their programs
  • Their coach, Tamara Moskvina, is the most energetic, clever little old lady you’ll ever meet

Ksenia Stolbova/Andrei Novoselov:

  • Brand new pair
  • After several injuries, she missed the last Olympics and broke up with her partner Fedor Klimov (who wanted to retire and become a coach). She could have easily quit, but instead she decided to keep fighting and give it another try.
  • He has struggled for many years to find a partner, but he stayed in the sport until she came along.
  • She’s very intense on the ice and a determined athlete, so she’s gotten the reputation of being a big diva, but she can actually be an adorable little sweetie.
  • Iron Man didn’t kill Thanos. Ksenia Stolbova’s throw jump landings killed Thanos.

TEAM FRANCE:

Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres:

  • Death-defying tricks and gorgeous transitions
  • Their programs are modern, innovative, and feature some of the best choreography I’ve seen in pair skating
  • A few years ago, they were held back because they were struggling to put clean programs together, but they kept working and now they are one of the more consistent elite-level pairs.
  • There’s a magnetic, sexy chemistry between them (even though they’re not dating)
  • This woman knows how to wear a bodysuit.

TEAM CANADA:

Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro:

  • Their team nickname is “Sparkles and Sauce”.
  • She’s a sassy queen
  • They came in from behind to claim one of the three spots for the Olympics last year.
  • Kirsten always has some of the best dresses.
  • Check out their gala performances to “Glad You Came” and “Eet” – they’re stunning!

Lubov Ilyushechkina/Charlie Bilodeau:

  • Another new pair to get excited about!
  • There is nothing more flexible in this world than Lubov’s back. Yulia Lipnitskaya fans, come over here and support a bendy queen
  • She’s hilarious and sweet – follow her Instagram for some sunshine and fabulousness.
  • She left Russia several years ago to skate with Dylan Moscovitch and had to learn English to become a Canadian citizen.
  • While I haven’t seen them do any bizarre tricks yet, they did some with their previous partners, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they added some stunts to their gala performances

Evelyn Walsh/Trennt Michaud:

  • A young, up-and-coming pair.
  • They have a much smaller height difference than most pairs, which is in many ways beneficial to their choreography.
  • Their SP to “Come Together” by the Beatles is one of my all-time favorite programs.
  • They always have great costumes, especially the black bodysuits from the aforementioned Beatles program.
  • He’s dating Kaetlyn Osmond so how can we not stan?

TEAM ITALY:

Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise:

  • There’s a quiet beauty to their skating that really pulls me in; their programs are usually creative and stylish.
  • If you haven’t seen their gala program based on the “Rocky” movies, you haven’t lived.
  • They always have fabulous bodysuits.
  • Before he switched to figure skating, Matteo was a world champion in competitive roller skating.
  • Did I mention he’s a model? You might find a few risqué photo shoots floating around the Web when you google his name…

TEAM USA:

Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc

  • Thanks to them, the US has two spots for Worlds next year.
  • She was told that she wasn’t going to make it as a pair skater because she was tall, but instead, she’s used her height as an advantage.
  • Their programs are sometimes modern and stylish and sometimes flirty and fun – I think they really sell their programs.
  • They have such great chemistry on the ice that I actually thought they were an off-ice couple!
  • Their friendship is really cute.

Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier:

  • There’s a lovely softness to their skating.
  • Their lifts are some of the best in the field.
  • Another pair girl who recovered from a serious knee injury.
  • Haven is pair skater Caydee Denney’s little sister.
  • They actually started in roller skating and have been skating together since they were kids.

TEAM AUSTRIA:

Miriam Ziegler/Severin Kiefer 

  • They’re from a small skating federation (small fed skaters often don’t have the financial support/opportunities like skaters from larger feds), but they have carried the sport in Austria so well.
  • Their music choices are always so good. (Last year, they skated to Adele and I literally screamed).
  • They’re honoring their late coach Jean-Francois Ballester this season with their programs.
  • Another team with generally beautiful costumes!
  • They’re a very cute couple off the ice – their Instagram posts are adorable. 

TEAM NORTH KOREA:

Tae Ok Ryom/Ju Sik Kim

  • The only skaters from North Korea so far to achieve major international success.
  • Their programs are stylish and cool.
  • She has great lift positions.
  • They skated under huge pressure at the Olympics in South Korea and delivered beautifully!
  • They have almost no financial support from their federation, but they keep on skating and getting fairly good results.

Of course, I don’t have time to talk about every pair in the field, but I hope this gave you a little taste of the amazing world of pair skating! I will be focusing more on pairs throughout the year – I hope to resume my weekly reviews of the Challenger and Grand Prix events, as long as I’m not too busy with school. I mainly talk about the pairs and ladies, but I may also end up reviewing the men and ice dancers at larger events, like the Grand Prix Final or Worlds. Next week, we kick off the competitive season with Skate Canada Autumn Classic and Lombardia Trophy. Until then, happy skating, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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