The leadership of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov after the rhythm dance at the World Figure Skating Championships is not surprising. The Russian couple skated their number in one breath and were more than convincing. In the absence of major competitions, the judges had no opportunity to monitor the progress of other duets for almost a year and could not ignore their previous achievements. Nevertheless, they highly appreciated the program of Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donoghue, the only ones from the top six at the tournament who presented a new program.
On the main ice of the Globe Arena, dancers were competing with might and main, but the air was filled with nervous anticipation of the evening girls’ finale. Therefore, at the morning training there was a sea of people, although it would be better not to see what was happening there with most of the skaters: the leader fell several times during the jumps – Anna Shcherbakova, the Japanese woman Rika Kihira did not even try to try either the triple axel or the quadruple salchow, but 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva left the ice right during the musical rehearsal of her program – obviously, so as not to throw out the energy ahead of time.
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By Friday, each of the categories, with the exception of the dance one, had already managed to prove that you can not watch workouts at all, since they do not mean anything, and at the same time get your own sensation: for men it was an incredible rise of the junior Yuma Kagiyama and the failure of the favorite Nathan Chen, in pairs – a fantastic rental of the third nationally recognized pair of Anastasia Mishina and Alexander Gallyamov, thanks to which they ended up at the very top of the podium, and their compatriots made inexplicable breakdowns.
Plus – Alexandra Trusova, who, before the start of the World Cup, was predicted an almost unconditional victory over quadruple jumps, and, as a result, over rivals, and she was left without a cascade in the short program. That is, she was grossly mistaken where it was impossible in principle.
It is not surprising that the dancers have faded into the background against this background. Firstly, in this type of program, the probability of unpredictable events is minimized due to the fact that “they do not fall in dances,” as the skaters themselves like to emphasize. Any fall is force majeure, and, therefore, a rarity. Secondly, most of the strongest did not even bother with the change of programs this season.
The new production was intended to be demonstrated by the European champions and vice-world champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, but they, on reflection, returned at the end of the season last year’s more well-trained dance. For more confidence, so to speak. But taken together, this immediately made the tournament boring.
The duet’s coach Alexander Zhulin made no secret: their team is going to Stockholm with one and only goal: to win. One could not be surprised at such a position. Four-time world crown holders Gabriela Papadakis and Guillaume Sizeron refused to participate in the 2021 World Cup, citing the fact that they did not have time to properly prepare for the tournament due to the pandemic, and all the rest of Vika and Nikita were beaten at the last world championship in 2019 …
It seems that the two seasons that have passed since then are too long for the balance of power to continue to remain unchanged, but on the other hand, over the past year, the strongest dancers have not crossed anywhere. Well, what could the judges be guided by? Only for personal records of each of the duets, and they have noticeably grown in Sinitsina and Katsalapov recently and surpassed the maximum marks of all possible rivals.
On Friday, the European champions actually repeated their best result in rhythmic dance (88.15) and were 2.1 points ahead of the Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donoghue (86.05).
But here’s the paradox: if you look at what is happening not with the eyes of a judge, but with the eyes of an ordinary spectator, I would give the audience sympathy prize to the Americans. Against the background of constant talk that the current season turned out to be crumpled for the skaters, no one really trained and therefore did not have time to roll out new programs, Hubbell and Donoghue made an excellent production and presented it brilliantly.
Dancing in terms of freshness of programs is a demanding thing: everyone has long learned how to perform twizzles and step tracks at the maximum level of difficulty, as well as to cope with supports, and if you are not able to attract attention to yourself with something unusual, be it a new production, an unexpected element or a change of style, you instantly become “like everyone else.” This means that you can lose because of any, including an absurd accident.
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In my opinion, a certain blow to dancing as a discipline was caused by the trend of modern performances in three other types of programs. If we take the strongest (Nathan Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu in men’s singles, Riku Kihiru in women’s singles, two-time world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Tsun in pairs), we can see that their programs are not a plot story, as it was fashionable Once upon a time, but in fact, a continuous dance and a very complex path of steps, into which jumps, spins and other technical elements are most organically inscribed. The trend has not yet become widespread, but it is in this vein that the most authoritative and sought-after directors of the world work (and in fact set the trend) – Lori Nicole and She-Lynn Bourne.
Sometimes the direction of trends can be given by chance. It’s no secret that many coaches, when staging new programs, tend to leave the order of elements as familiar to the athlete as possible, veiling it with some small strokes. A very clear example is Evgenia Medvedeva’s two championship seasons: in a year and a half of her adult career, she has collected such a number of awards that not every skater will have in her entire sports life, but she did it on the same technical baggage and in the same stylistic and musical key.
Fans of all sorts of numbers and statistics in 2017 even amused themselves with comparisons: Medvedeva changed the free program, but all the elements in it not only remained identical to the performance of the previous year, but even coincided in timing. That is, the coaches simply put the program, rolled up to absolute automatism, to a different music.
Tamara Moskvina did the same this season, turning the “Star of Captivating Happiness” by Alexandra Boykova and Dmitry Kozlovsky into “Howl’s Moving Castle” from a Japanese cartoon. Moreover, if the coaching staff of Medvedeva in 2017 reacted painfully to comments about the identity of the championship program, then Moskvina, without any hesitation, presented a replacement as a well-thought-out tactical move. Which, moreover, was crowned with success for her skaters – a small gold medal in the short program.
In this regard, a crazy thought arose: why is this not a technique? If athletes and coaches often say that the requirements for the saturation of programs with mandatory elements leave no room for creativity, why not charge singles and sports couples to change the music and costumes of their programs during the season and create a kind of “alternative ”Without too claiming the high artistic quality of the action?
Purely spectacular figure skating will only benefit from this. And it will certainly be more interesting than watching the athletes roll mothballs from the “chest”. It certainly does not threaten the individuality of leaders: those who claim to be the first will always find a way to attract attention.
Source site russian.rt.com