by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(21 November 2018) In the Ice Dance competition at the Rostelecom Cup 2018 in Moscow, there were less surprises and stories than in the other three events and all couples had interesting and technically demanding programs without too many mistakes. Like in Finland, the sons of Olympic Dance Champions Andrei Bukin, and of Klimova-Ponomarenko competed in the same event.
Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin from Russia, seventh at Worlds 2018, took the lead in the Rhythm Dance and also won the free dance, earning 199.43 overall points. They danced their Rhythm Dance to the Paso Doble "Malaguena“ and two Tangos. Their excellent and speedy twizzles sequence in unique sit position during the first part had six GOEs of +4 and a level 4, but their midline step sequence only a level 2. In the first Tango Romantica section, Stepanova lost balance for a moment and would almost have fallen. This section only received GOEs of 0. Only one of eight key points in both sections was given to them. Their outstanding curve lift, however, had mainly GOEs of +4 and level 4.
Stepanova commented, “Today not everything worked out, which is a shame since it happened here at home. It is just another experience for us. Tomorrow we want to perform better and learn from our mistakes.” Bukin added, “It is difficult to analyze right now (the mistake) as it just happened. We will look at it, but not today as we have the free dance tomorrow and are preparing for it.”
They opened their free dance to the sultry, sexy and passionate Blues “Am I the Only“ by Beth Hart with a stellar curve lift, followed by a combination spin. It was as excellent as all other elements, including the step sequences, the lifts, the twizzles and the three choreographic elements. Their components had an average of 9.5, with many 9.75 as highest ones. “We are very happy to come back after yesterday,“ Stepanova explained. “We haven’t made a mistake in a long time and it was a good lesson for us. We make the Grand Prix Final for the first time at the senior level and two first places in the Grand Prix series are a great success for us.”
Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin from Spain, 12th at the Olympic Games nine months ago, won a narrow silver medal with 174.42 points. Dancing to two Tangos, four of the eight key points in the two Tango sections were positively rewarded. Next Hurtado stumbled on the twizzles which therefore only had a level 2 for her and a level 4 for him. The good midline step sequence got a level 2 and the very good curve lift the usual level 4. Hurtado said, “It wasn’t our best performance of this program today. There was a lot of improvement in other parts of the program, but we still need to do it as we do it in practice.”
In their free dance, they moved up from third to second place. They danced to “Great Gig in the Sky” by Pink Floyd, “Vladimir’s Blues” by Max Richter and “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles. The levels were high, most elements had GOEs with an average of +3, only their choreographic steps were a bit shaky. Their components were around 8.2. Khaliavin explained, “Today we skated much better than yesterday. We’ve worked on our mistakes and we improved. There were still some minor mistakes, but overall we did well.” Hurtado added, “A medal on the Grand Prix has been a goal and I dreamed of it when I saw Javier (Fernandez) getting on the podium. It proves to skaters in Spain that you can be here when you work hard.” With a fourth and this second place, they will most probably not reach the Final.
U.S. dancers Christine Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko came third with 174.21 points, just .21 less than the Spanish team. They had been second in the Rhythm Dance to the “Tango Jalousie” and “Yo Soy Maria”. Three key points in the good Tango sections were approved, the three other elements were excellent and their components around 8.0. In their free dance, they performed to “Bloodstream” and “Angel” by Tokio Myers who arranged the two pieces especially for the couple. Again they made no real mistakes, but their levels were a bit lower than those of the Spanish team and they dropped to third place. “We are pretty happy with how it went today. We didn’t get all our levels, but for our first senior year we’re happy to come third in our second Grand Prix,” Carreira commented.
Sofia Evdokimova & Egor Bazin from Russia finished on fourth position with 164.66 points in their first bigger senior event. In the Rhythm Dance, their curve lift was excellent, but the four other elements only relatively clean although their levels were good. This is why they they were only sixth in this part. In their elegant free dance to a Nocturne by the Norwegian group Secret Garden and “Sarabande” by Globus, they could win two spots because they made no big mistakes, the levels were high and the components around 7.6.
Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodyriev from Poland placed fifth with 161.62 points. In the Rhythm Dance, they had relatively high levels and they were fourth. But in the free dance, Spodyriev’s twizzle sequence was not clean, the one foot step sequence got only a level 1 for both of them and the spins had only a level 2. Therefore they dropped to fifth place.
Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevicius from Lithuania had been invited as alternates for the Japanese team Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed who had split in early summer. Reed, who is American, had competed with other partners for Georgia and for Israel before. In their very first Grand Prix together, the students of Marina Zoueva finished on sixth position with 158.03 points. Their levels in the Rhythm Dance to three Tangos were quite high. In the free dance to “Crazy“ by the American Soul Duo Gnarls Barkley, the twizzles were excellent, but the one foot step sequence had only a level 1 for her and 2 for him.
Anna Yanovskaya, who skated for Russia until 2015, & Adam Lukacs from Hungary are seventh, earning 148.13 points. Competing to a Flamenco and a Tango, his twizzle sequence in the Rhythm Dance was shaky and their second Tango section was not clean either. They used a medley of music pieces by the Swiss electronic band Yello for the free dance. Here they made no mistakes and had higher levels.
Japanese dancer Misato Komatsubara & her U.S. partner Tim Koleto, who are married with each other, came as alternates for the Armenians Tina Garabedian & Simon Proulx Senecal. This couple had finished their career at the end of last season, but announced it only in the summer. Komatsubara & Koleto, students in the Montreal dance school, placed eighth with 143.28 points. Komatsubara fell on a linking step, otherwise the Rhythm Dance was relatively well performed. In their free dance, they played their lives together, using the famous music of Love Story in a vocal version by Mireille Mathieu. The lifts were their best elements and very well performed.
Annabelle Morozov, daughter of the coach Nikolai Morozov, and her partner Andrei Bagin from Russia ended up ninth with 133.58 points. Their free dance music is the opera Tosca. Their levels were relatively low and they made several small mistakes.
Madison Chock & Evan Bates had withdrawn from their first Grand Prix in Finland two weeks before because their programs were not ready after Chock‘s knee surgery and the long time it took to heal. Many skaters knew that they had not trained much before Moscow. But they or their coaches or federation announced their withdrawal only some days before the event, too late to invite any other dancers who needed a visa – not a sportsmanlike behavior.