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Alice Cook: It was a classic battle in pairs skating competition

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  February 12, 2014 03:37 PM

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Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won the gold medal in the pairs competition (Getty Images).

As fresh and as fun as the American teams are, they could not match the experience, strength, consistency and classic style of the resurrected super power of pairs skating.

The Russians would rule, and it turned out to be a classic battle.

In the end no team could touch what Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov brought to the ice. They were magnificent in the short program, and even better in the free skate. This team powers through every move, and in my mind she is the best female pairs skater ever.

Their performance kept building from beginning the end. A flawless triple throw in the final minute of the program sealed the deal. When the music stopped and crowd roared, Maxim put his hands in his face as if he was in shock. He then fell to the ice and kissed it.

Volosozhar and Trankov gave us an Olympic performance for the ages. The gold medal is deservedly theirs.

The silver medal went to another Russian team, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov. This team skated without a hint of nervousness. Every element was executed cleanly and with confidence. She skates with an attitude that says “I’m good and I know it.”

I still think the Addams Family routine is a bit hokey, although there is no denying how impressively this team delivered the goods.

Four time world champions Aliona Savachenko and Robin Szolokwy were the last to skate. The German team was my sentimental favorite going in and there was still a window for them if they were flawless.

They were anything but. He fell on his triple jump, and she fell on a gutsy throw right at the end of the program. At 30 and 34 years old this will be it for them. I was happy to see them hang on for the bronze.

Canadian champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radcliff had a shot at the bronze medal coming into the free skate. Their side-by-side triple lutzes were the most difficult of any team, and they landed them cleanly. The program went downhill from there, and I didn’t feel they connected with each other or the audience.

The second Canadian team impressed me more. Kristen Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch smiled their way through a wonderful program with the best lifts of the competition. Kristen is delightful to watch, and I loved how she jumped up and down for joy when the music stopped.

300pairs2.jpgThe Skating Club of Boston's Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir came into the free skate in ninth place and that’s where they finished. New England’s first couple didn’t have the same sharpness we saw in the team event. As usual, they rolled out their big weapon - a quad throw. The take off was perfect, she was straight in the air, she completed the four rotations, then landed on two feet. The throw was so close to being clean, and even with the less than perfect landing it was an amazing attempt.

What I like about Marissa and Simon is their speed and athleticism. She skates fearlessly and has a certain toughness about her that sets the team apart. Watch Simon’s feet when he is lifting her. The turns are so smooth and fast.

Castelli and Shnapir should feel great about their first Olympic experience. They had no aspirations of making the podium in the individual event. What they wanted to do more than anything was lay down two strong performances. Mission accomplished.

I see Marissa and Simon sticking around for another four years and making some noise in 2018. This team almost packed it in a few years ago. Then they recommitted themselves to each other and their coach, Bobby Martin. I’m sure they are happy now they stuck it out.

It will be exciting to see what happens next.

The other American team of Felicia Zhang and Nathan Barthololmay skated two excellent programs. Even though they finished 12th, they should not be disappointed. They are a well-matched team physically, and have only been together two years. It can only get better from here.

The pairs competition is now in the books. It was fun to watch, and I will always believe it’s the most exciting event in figure skating. The Russians have brought it to a whole new level. We’ll see if the Americans can match it four years from now.

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