Here were my quick thoughts on the Pairs skating at NHK. I will write a full review post early this week. I am as usual pressed for time so I will be picky about who I write about:
Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov (Russia,music: Adagio by Secret Garden): She is so lovely and then his outfit is ridiculous. Such typical pairs stuff! I think I'm going to really like this couple as they progress. Side by side triple jumps landed. She really is just elegant. Throw triple twist is good. Throw triple flip is great. They do a nice, low death spiral where they change hands. Their pair spins are mostly together...they lose a bit of unison halfway but actually it's not that bad. Lift with change of position that is not the most gorgeous but obviously difficult. Footwork...not as special as the rest of the program. I really do like watching them. They'll have to develop a bit artistically and figure out who they want to be out there (other than just a smooth pair) but that should come if they stay together. 60.16
Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin (USA, music: Oblivion): They are both dressed in black and she has a red flower in her hair. Throw triple twist is very good. Throw triple salchow is solid. Wow, side by side triple toes, DONE. Lift with a few changes of position, not my fave lift. UGH they are quite off on their side by side spins. No good. Pair footwork doesn't do it for me...it's always so slow. Death spiral has a difficult beginning. I liked their music but I felt like that program could have been done to just about anything. Nothing too special about it but it was mostly well-executed until that spin. 54.19...they end up in sixth.
Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett (USA, music: Love Theme from Cousins): Caydee still has her short haircut from last season although she is flipping it out a bit. She is wearing a purplish dress and Jeremy has a darker purple bodysuit. I like that these two are actually using the music right from the beginning. Throw triple twist is not spectactular, bit of a collision like some pairs have. Side by side triple toes are nice. Throw triple flip is great. Wow, setting a new bar for ugly death spirals, there. EW. Her butt was all the way in the air. Yes, it looked as bad as it sounds. And the judges hated it, too. Lots of probs on the side by side spins. Footwork is fine. Lots of speed on the lift but it is not too smooth. I actually really like the program, although it doesn't touch what I assume the top pairs will show. 55.03, fourth for the night.
Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran (Japan, music: Feeling Good by Michael Buble): She has some great expressions off the top and they have some nice speed. Side by side triple salchows are not great but they are completed. Throw double twist...not pretty to me but the judges appear to have disagreed. Side by side spins have some great speed. They look pretty together. Spirals, which are nice. Difficult entry to throw triple toe. They are not really energetic in the footwork at first but they get it back a bit. She kind of stumbled or had a weird bit of choreography just now. Lift has a crazy position change...looks very difficult. I like their death spiral. Hmm. I can't say was super impressed by them, but they are quite young, still. 57.23, third place.
Qing Pang and Jian Tong (China, music: Nocturne in C Sharp): Already they have much more grace and expression than most of the teams. Side by side triple toes are good. Their bodies are moving together so well. Throw triple twist is good. Death spiral is beautiful with a difficult entry. Throw triple loop is very big. Difficult lift entry...don't love her position. Footwork has emotion. Side by side spins are not perfectly together. 67.10, first place.
Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin (USA, music: Ave Maria): Side by side double axels at the beginning. Throw triple twist...Throw triple loop...she almost puts a hand down. She falls on their next side by side combo so they will not get the scores for either jumps. She holds onto the skate at the start of the death spiral but it looks kind of like an incomplete move or something. Their side by side spins are not perfectly in unison but close. I am bored. But it's such a perty song, right? I dunno. Throw triple salchow is solid. Her positions on the lift don't do much for me. But they have quietly taken back this perofrmance following that fall. Nice job...they will have to avoid the mistakes to compete with some of the others here. 100.69 for the free skate...third in the free! 154.88 overall...they miss the bronze by less than a point.
Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett (USA, music: Rhapsody in Blue): Uh oh. All I am thinking of is Evan Lysacek in a bowtie. Uh OH. They are wearing a lot of blue...There's interpretation for you. Caydee is flirting. I have not see her flirt much. Throw triple twist is serviceable. Is that a good descriptor? She botches the landing on the side by side triple toes. Throw triple flip was wonky but landed. They have a lot of energy right now. Very bouncy program! Side by side double axels and then triple somethings...looks like they lost a lot of points here. Their side by side spins start off and end a lot better than the other day. Throw triple loop is nice. Their lifts look almost out of control - I am worried he will drop her. A MUCH better death spiral than the other day, meaning....less horrically ugly. OH we are dancing now! hooray. Er the last lift dismount is kind of odd-looking. Was that on purpose? I don't know. Looking at the judging protocols, it appears they messed up.97.35...seventh in the free skate, although 4th through 7th were extremely close together in points. 152.38 overall for fifth place.
Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran (Japan, music: El Dia Que me Quieras): She takes a tumble on their side by side triples. Throw double twist is quite high - maybe they will add a triple soon? Botched landing on the throw jump. The producer picks an untenable angle for the side by side spins...how can we even tell what they were like. Shaky death sipral intro. Ugh. Double axel - she falls and misses the combination. er....how did these two finish so high in the free skate? This is terrible. Oh, but he lifts her up from a very difficult position, so good for them. Throw triple toe loop is not great. And she has quite the split on their next lift. And a beautiful spiral. So...things are looking up. I'm sure this was just a shaky competition for them...but they should be quite happy the judges were so generous...they didn't exactly look like they deserved a medal to me. 98.43 in the free skate. 155.66 for the bronze.
Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov (Russia, Music: The Man in the Iron Mask): Vera Bazarova is like a little doll. Some interesting choreography at the beginning...these two are trying to keep me awake, huzzah. Side by side triple toes are clean. Throw triple twist is fine. Throw triple flip is not the best but definitely clean. I had a feeling those double axels would be out of unison...and they were. Just a timing issue...I think she was fast. Interlocking spiral siutation...wonder if the ever fell practicing that one. Lift could be done better but it's very ambitious...wow, as is the landing. Throw triple loop is lovely. Wow, the next lift entrance is ridiculous as is the exit. Everything is a bit choppy at this point but it COULD be very exciting. Not the greatest side by side spins. Oh gosh, their lifts are keeping me interested. Low death spiral. Very nice! 113.67 for the free skate. 173.83 overall for silver.
Qing Pang and Jian Tong (China, music: Liebestraum): Nice choreography. Their set of side by side double axels is good. She steps out of their side by side triples. Side by side spins have a great unison and speed. Like their pairs spin. Their throw triple twist is the best one here. They just really connect with each other and the music in a way that the younger pairs have not been able to yet. Triple throw is big and I think clean. Nice ease on the lift. Gorgeous throw triple loop...Death spiral is just ok with a change of hands. Very difficult spread eagle lift. Very nice program and performance. Not perfect but definitely enough to win! 122.27 for the free skate. A bit unsettling is that they lost points on both of their initial jumping passes...that won't be good when they have more competition. 189.37 overall for the win.