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Russians Mukhortova and Trankov Lead Pairs at Skate America

The pairs teams at Skate America were not quite ready for prime time. They wanted to make sure we all understood that this is, indeed, the first Grand Prix of the season. In a bit of a surprise, the Russian pair of Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov are leading the pack after the pairs short programs with a 66.32. German World Champs Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy trail them with a 64.08 after Szolkowy doubled a planned side by side triple toe loop.

The Russian pair, who skated to Pink Floyd, was very good, no major errors. Mukhortova landed a bit forward on her throw double loop, and she also hit an awkward pose here and there, but hopefully that all will be ironed out as the season goes on. I actually prefer Savchenko and Szolkowy, because I find them more exciting and the height on their throw is slightly ridiculous (as were the costumes). My boyfriend said that their music was the "worst music ever." And I'm not going to go that far, but I guess it wasn't too hot. Still, they are not too far behind, and they actually beat the Russians on presentation, with a 29.92 to Mukhortova and Trankov's 28.92.

American champs Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker were in third place after a few mistakes. He turned out of the side-by-side double salchow, and she fell on the throw triple loop. They are nearly ten points behind the leaders with a 57.02. I thought they were good but they too looked like it was definitely the first competition of the season. They have an interesting landing on their double twist and we'll see if they bring the triple in the free skate.

I'd like to congratulate the fourth place team, Canadians Megan Duhamel and Craig Buntin for giving me motion sickness during the first few minutes of their program. Not sure how that happened. The pair scored a 54.26, but the program was a bit wonky. Buntin has been hampered by a shoulder injury/surgery recovery, but it was Duhamel who fudged the landing on the side-by-side triple toe loops as well as the entrance to a spin.

I actually enjoyed watching American former champs Rena Inoue and John Baldwin much more, as they are much smoother, but they had a fall in the throw triple axel, and Baldwin doubled a planned triple, which left the couple far behind in fifth place with a 50.00. The also looked slow and a bit nervous.

Free skate is tomorrow! The opening night jitters are to be expected this early in the season, but it would be nice to see some more energy and confidence tomorrow night!

And in case anyone is wondering, yes, I will be fashion blogging at the end of the event, and Savchenko's amazing leg warmers/fingerless gloves and hot pants(?) will not go unnoticed. I'm searching for my own pairs on eBay as I type this.