Ranking the Programs of Russian Nationals, Pt. 1: Pairs Free Skate

Trying something new here, because I’m on break and I have time!

To recap Russian Nationals, I am going to take on the ambitious challenge of watching every  Ice Dance/Ladies/Pairs FS and ranking them (literally in the order of how much I like them, because objectivity is boring). Since the Ladies field is going to take a VERY LONG TIME to watch (even though I saw half of it live), I’m starting with the much smaller pairs event. But, just to make it seem *credible*, here’s what I will be scoring the programs on:

  1. Music choice – letter grade from A-F
  2. Costume – letter grade from A-F
  3. Choreography – letter grade from A-F
  4. Musicality – letter grade from A-F
  5. Originality – letter grade from A-F
  6. Performance/Expression – letter grade from A-F

There were 11 pairs in this event. Each of their free skates will be scored on this scale. The higher the team’s “GPA,” if you will, the higher they are on the list. So…let’s get going!

11. Anastasia Poluianova/Maxim Selkin  

Actual Placement: 1oth


Music Choice: A (Notre Dame De Paris). One of my favorite musicals for skating. I will never not approve of that choice, even if the skater’s interpretation of such is lacking.

Costume: B. Nothing great, nothing awful.

Choreo: C. Lots of two-foot skating, nothing particularly interesting. (I can’t stand boring choreography, especially if it involves 8,000 crossovers.)

Musicality: C. They were in time with the music at some parts of the program, but they didn’t seem to have any sort of connection to it.

Originality: C. This concept and piece, as much as I like it, has been done before – over and over, to be frank.

Performance/Expression: C. Not much going on in terms of emotion or audience/musical/partner connection. However, they’re (I think?) young and probably inexperienced as seniors, so they have a lot of time to grow in that area.

10. Bogdana Lukashevich/Alexander Stepanov 

Actual Placement: 11th


Music Choice: B. Don’t know what it is (my Shazam app has ceased to work, and their ISU bios have virtually nothing in them), but it sounds sort of like an old action movie score. It’s not my favorite, but I have to give them points for originality here (I mean, I’ve never heard it before…).

Costume: C. Not crazy about her all-over polka dots (would’ve been better if they were only the skirt, or only on the bodice, instead of the entire dress) or his…open-jacket-over-a-prisoner-shirt…thing.

Choreo: C. Again, lots of two-footed skating, and not much of interest.

Musicality: B+. They did well in keeping time with their music and matching the movements to it, but again, I didn’t see any connection to it.

Originality: B+. I’ve seen a couple of programs that were stylistically similar to this one, but it’s not an overdone style.

Performance/Expression:  C. They were kind of robotic, to be honest.

9. Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov

Actual Placement: 2nd


Music Choice: C (Disco-ish medley). Okay, before I even start this, I am aware that it seems odd to put a world-class pair (who medaled) this low in the standings, but Evgenia and Vladimir’s problem has always been packaging, and although they have an excellent SP this year, their free skate is…yikes. It’s more choreographically complex, thus why it’s above some other programs, but I do not like the music/concept/choreography/execution. Their music makes me want to run screaming (if anyone here happens to like this genre of music, please don’t throw tomatoes! It’s just not my thing), thus the low score.

Costumes: C-. Just…WHY. WHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHY. CANNOT GET OVER THE FACT THAT SOMEONE TOLD THEM TO WEAR SOMETHING THAT LOOKS LIKE SOME SORT OF FRANKENSTEIN-INSPIRED SPACESUIT. LIKE, THEY PAID ACTUAL MONEY FOR THAT. If it weren’t so sad that they actually competed in an elite athletic competition in these, it would be almost amusing.

Choreo: B+. Some interesting bits, and the transitions were good and complex, but mostly blah.

Musicality: B. Sometimes really into it, sometimes totally tuned out.

Originality: A-. Disco programs aren’t exactly a hot trend in pairs (and for that I am eternally grateful), but originality should be encouraged, even if it doesn’t work, so here ya go.

Performance/Expression: B-. They seemed like they were getting into it at times, but it was kind of patchy throughout the program. The slow sections were very blah.

I know I went sorta snarky on them, and I feel bad, because I actually really like this team. It’s just this program.

8. Elizaveta Zhuk/Egor Britkov 

Actual Placement: 9th


Music Choice: B+. Not sure what it is, but it’s unconventional and not an earsore.

Costume: B. I don’t really care for the weird tattoo deal on her dress, but it’s all but invisible from far away, and they just look like generic black costumes. Boring, but better than crazy.

Choreo: C. Nothing particularly interesting going on in this program’s choreography. Not too complex.

Musicality: A-. Their movements matched the music really well. I really liked that.

Originality: A. Like I said, unconventional choice.

Performance/Expression: C. Meh…

7. Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert 

Actual Placement: 3rd


Music Choice: B (“Cry Me A River”). A lot of skating fans run screaming at the first sign of any and every Michael Buble song. I am not necessarily one of them. (Okay, so maybe I groan a little when Feeling Good comes on, but generally, I’m pretty tolerant of warhorses – really can’t think of any one I legitimately can’t stand.) However, someone at my rink used this song a few years ago, so I connect this program to that one, which is sort of distracting.

Costume: A. I love her dress, even though I have no idea what it has to do with the program. He looks fine, too. Their ombré game is strong.

Choreo: B. Fine, but nothing that really stuck with me.

Musicality: B+. They were fairly strong in this area, but they did not reach the level of DRAMATIKS™ that this music requires.

Originality: B-. Don’t think this one has been used too much, but it is Michael Buble, so it kinda isn’t very original.

Performance/Expression: C+. Again, needs more DRAMATIKS™.

6. Alexandra Boikova/Dmitrii Kozlovskii 

Actual Placement: 6th


Music Choice: B+ (Tristan and Isolde). A warhorse, yes, but I kind of like that particular warhorse.

Costumes: A-. I like them, but they don’t really stand out.

Choreo: B+. It fits the music and is decently complex, but I don’t remember any of it standing out.

Musicality: B. Passable.

Originality: C. Warhorse, but to a lesser extent than some other warhorses.

Performance/Expression: B+. Their emoting was okay, but it went in and out like a spotty wi-fi connection.

5. Anastasia Mishina/Vladislav Mirzoev

Actual Placement: 7th


Music Choice: B+ (samba piece/La Vie En Rose). Weird combination of pieces, but I liked both of them. (Maybe not together, though…?)

Costume: B-. Hers is a really strange cut with the stomach cutout and the asymmetrical skirt. I am actually sort of loving Vladislav’s purple shirt, though…

Choreo: A. Complex, interesting, matches the music…finally, a program I can give a high choreo grade to!

Musicality: A. They were with the music and seemed to connect with it.

Originality: A-. While both of the pieces they used are fairly mainstream in skating, they are pretty much never used together…so I gotta give them that.

Performance/Expression: A-. Pretty good! They had really great expression in parts, and although it waned a little bit in others, it wasn’t bad for a junior pair.

4. Kristina Asthakova/Alexei Rogonov

Actual Placement: 4th (hey, it matches!)


Music Choice: A (The Storm, Le Bien Qui Feit Mal). I LOVE the first piece (“The Storm” is one of my favorite instrumentals!), and the second piece is okay, too, although it still sort of blows my mind that there is a rock opera about Mozart. People really will watch anything these days…

Costume: D. Uhh…what even are these? I can’t even come up with a humorous analogy for these costumes, except maybe that he looks like a vampire. And I have no words for Kristina’s dress.

Choreo: A-. Kristina and Alexei have a sort of simultaneously quirky/dramatic style, and this choreography fits that image. It’s unique and memorable, which is more than I can say of most of the programs on this list.

Musicality: A. They were totally into this music and their choreography matched it perfectly.

Originality: A. This program is a sequel to their last FS. If that doesn’t get the point across, I don’t know what will.

Performance/Expression: A. They were SO INTO IT. I just love their total commitment to character.

3. Alisa Efimova / Alexander Korovin

Actual Placement: 8th


Music Choice: A (Strauss medley). Can’t go wrong with good, solid classical. Not too original, but it’s a standby for a reason.

Costume: A-. Not too crazy about his purple velvet pants, but her dress is nice.

Choreo: A. One of my favorite things about this program. It was just perfect for this music.

Musicality: A. They did a very good job keeping time with the music and matched the moods of it well.

Originality: B. Um, not really…

Performance/Expression: A. I thought their interpretation of the music and projection to the audience were excellent.

2. Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov 

Actual Placement: 5th


Music Choice: A (Clair De Lune). I actually used this piece for a program once. Needless to say, I really like it.

Costume: A-. Simple and elegant. Exactly what Clair De Lune costumes should look like.

Choreo: A. Elegant, complex, and beautifully executed, as is their custom.

Musicality: A. As is also their custom, their interpretation was on point. Very nuanced. In that regard, Yuko and Alexander are far above the rest of this field. Nobody else comes close to matching their refinement and maturity, except maybe Stolbova/Klimov (and that’s a serious ‘maybe’).

Originality: B-. I mean, it’s Clair De Lune, which is basically a warhorse.

Performance/Expression: A. See above, because I’m lazy and it’s late.

  1. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov

Actual Placement: 1st

Before continuing, please take a moment to appreciate this majestic screencap.

Now, the Scorecard: 

Music Choice: A-. I don’t know what it is, but I like it fine.

Costumes: B+. I don’t love jumpsuits, but Ksenia looks amazing in everything, so I’ll give it a pass. Fedor looks like modern art, which I don’t think is a compliment, but it’s better than last year’s “Netflix marathon in pajamas” costume.

Choreo: A. Smooth, difficult, interesting, and very complimentary to the music. Plus, their SS is amazing, which makes everything look even better.

Musicality: A. They were very connected to the music, as usual. Their style is what I would describe as “intense”, so this music was a great fit for them.

Originality: A. Definitely a unique program. (I’m running out of words, y’all.)

Performance/Expression: A, because ^^. I cannot think anymore, so I shall leave this post.

Stay tuned for the next installment sometime soonish. Merry Christmas! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s