Wednesday, December 15, 2010

my favourite pairs program

30 Days of Skating

Day Two: What is your favourite pairs program?

Pairs was my first love in skating. Well, pairs, and wanting to grow up to Kristi Yamaguchi. I think I was just too young to "get" ice dance, and without an American star team to focus on, the networks didn't show much dance. (Of course, even with American stars now, they still don't show much dance!) So pairs was what really drew me in, because I loved the elements and the connection between the skaters. And there's still something about a perfectly-executed throw jump that gets me.

So in some ways, it's hard to pick just one, but really, it must not be that difficult, because I always come back to the same program when I'm asked this question.

Jamie Salé & David Pelletier's 2000-2001 free program, set to the Prélude & Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde is, for me, the greatest pairs program ever. There are plenty of others I could consider, and perhaps others that are more complex or better constructed (though I think that the choreography in T&I is pretty exceptional), but it's the word "favourite" that makes this an easy choice. This was what brought me back into skating. This was where I saw the magic again.

That performance is the one that I saw in March 2001, the one that won them their world title. It's not the cleanest skate of this program (2001 Four Continents was), but it's the one I love most, the one I love to re-watch and cry over. It was the skate with the most heart, the best flow, the support of a huge Canadian crowd, and with the added pressure and excitement of being the home team favourites at Worlds. If I manage to get 2/3 of the way through without losing it, the platter lift always, always gets me. I miss platter lifts. And simple, perfect death spirals.

And while it's easy to pick a #1, there are still a ton of programs I'd love to mention, so how about some honourable mentions?

Mishkutionok & Dmitriev's 91-92 LP to "Liebestraum" - one of the first programs I remember from the night I started watching skating, and still a classic
Gordeeva & Grinkov's 93-94 LP to "Moonlight Sonata" - an obvious choice, probably the most iconic program in pairs skating, and with good reason
Marcoux & Buntin's 03-04 SP to "Caravan" - my favourite pairs short program, specifically the performance at 4CCs, and the beginnings of the Val & Craig fan club, and first in their traditional succession of sassy shorts
Wakamatsu & Fecteau's 06-07 LP to "Last Emperor" - still would give anything to rewind and go to Halifax to have seen this at Canadians...
Meno & Sand's 97-98 LP to "Nessun Dorma" - even though they used this music like 800 times, it was still magic for them
Castile & Okolski's 08-09 SP to Memoirs of a Geisha - my favourite among Brooke & Ben's many excellent programs; I think they had the best choreography of the 2006-2010 quad, and I would also give anything to rewind and let them compete injury-free for those four years
Salé & Pelletier's 01-02 SP to "Jalousie" - a close second favourite program them

I'm sure I could go on, but this is probably a good place to end. Two days in a row, let's see if I can keep this up when I have a bit busier day tomorrow!

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