Top Three Russian Pairs Announce Their Music

Nina Mozer’s trio of favorites to make the Olympic pairs team all announce their music; programs include another Carmen.

For much of history, including the current time period, Russia has been the best country in the world for pairs skating. And right now, their top three pairs are all training together in Moscow under the same coach, Nina Mozer. Two of them are certain to make the Olympics if they avoid injury, the third is the favorite for the more open final berth. Like many skaters in their top tier position, they’ve delayed announcing their music much longer than most.

But this week Mozer, it seemed, decided it was time, and she got in touch with R-Sport and told them about her students’ programs.

Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov

Reigning Olympic silver medalists, Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov have not had as successful a quadrennium as they’d like, hindered by injuries and other difficulties. They had trouble too this summer, and from the announcement, we first hear Mozer even rejected the first set of new programs they have choreographed. Perhaps that discouraged them from spending too much time looking for unusual music, since they’ve gone with standards for both programs.

Their short is to “Besame Mucho,” an old Latin American song that’s found plenty of takers, especially ice dancers doing Latin dances. Google Translate, at least, doesn’t make it look like Mozer specified which version they’re using. Whichever one it is, the program will probably involve Stolbova being appropriately divatastic, and will probably be plenty artistic. But it’s neither Stolbova’s biggest chance for that this season, nor piece of music they’re using that everyone else this season is using too.

That is instead the music of their long program: Carmen. This is always a warhorse, but with three major ladies skating to it already this season, for most skaters, hearing this news, one would have to worry they’d never stand out. But while two of those three Carmens have already demonstrated some of the character’s ferocity to the music, there are few skaters competing right now that are as fierce as Ksenia Stolbova. This isn’t bad news for her. Her Carmen will be overshadowed by no one. Rather, it’s bad news for the three ladies, who at least don’t have to compete against her, but will nonetheless be in her shadow instead.

Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov

As late as last week, rising stars and reigning world bronze medalists Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov were avoiding naming their music even as they discussed details. They said at the time they were going to wait for the test skates next month. It seems Mozer changed her mind. Although she still didn’t specify the actual pieces used in their free program. But she told R-Sport enough.

She did reveal the pieces for their short program, and one of them’s another warhorse: Sergei Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto. Rachmaninoff is common music, and the 2nd his most-used piece. This program will combine it with his 1st Concerto, which isn’t the most common way to use it, but they’re hardly the first skaters to do a Rachmaninoff medley either. In tone it’s not unlike their disliked free skate last year, except the music itself is far better. Perhaps they felt they did well enough with that kind of classical to see how well they can do with a better quality program on top of it.

But they did even better with their fun, flirtatious short program, and thus apparently decided to do a “happy and merry” long program this time around. Mozer specifies that the long program involves “rock’n’roll” and “boogie woogie.” This sounds more like 50s/”big band” than anything else, though that may be a quirk of a literal translation. Whether they can keep the high energy their short program had last season up for four and a half minutes is a question they’ll hopefully answer in the positive by the Olympics.

Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert

Current Russian bronze medalists Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert were the ones who skated to cliche music last season, when their free was to “Cry Me a River,” which rapidly attained overused status after vocals became legal in all disciplines. This season, however, their music choices, though not unique, are the most intriguing of the three teams, their long program composition especially.

Their short program is straightforward enough: the soundtrack of the movie Summer of ’42. In all likelihood that means the famous song from said soundtrack: “The Summer Knows.” It’s a beautiful piece that has found its way onto the ice before, but not nearly as often as it could have. Zabiiako & Enbert may not be the skaters to do it the most justice it’ll ever be done. But it should serve them well enough.

Both Mozer and R-Sport emphasize the use of the ballet Sleeping Beauty in their long program. But it will be combined with a pair of very unexpected companion pieces: Alex Clare’s “Too Close,” and the Andrew Sisters “I Love You Much Too Much.” At least the second piece is a unique choice, even if there’s a Japanese guy also skating to the first. These are three different pieces with three very different tones, which few would’ve thought would form a coherent program.

Mozer does give a possible explanation for how they fit together, since she describes three parts of the program. But the Google Translated version does not make it absolutely clear these sections correspond to the three pieces of music. If they do, “Too Close” depicts them “in the choreographic hall,” “I Love You Much Too Much” is “the duet,” and then the “concert where the children play the heroes of the ‘Sleeping Beauty.'” Which almost makes it sound like she’s described which pieces from the ballet they’re using, rather than what’s happening in the different sections of the program!

We probably can’t know what’s going on that program until we see it. We may not understand it even then.

Russian test skates are in Sochi, September 9-10. Tickets are on sale, and we have a good chance of getting footage of all these programs then.

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