Dec 3, 2010
Not-Morozombie love: Ilinykh/Katsalapov
One of the great things about having a blog is the fact that it is a ready-made medium to shamelessly hype the skaters one is irrationally fond of and make snide remarks about the skaters one finds repellant (even if the audience for this blog consists of only my great-aunts and their cats).
This post falls under the former category.
Like many others, I first noticed the dance team of Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov last year in their breakout junior season. At that time, Ilinykh/Katsalapov were rumbling around the junior circuit with their now-infamous free dance, wherein gunshots were peppered throughout the program, with Miss Ilinykh tragically felled by a spray of bullets at the program's end:
Is that not a fabulous program? For a team that has only been skating together for a couple of seasons, Ilinykh/Katsalapov gel together remarkably well.
For their senior debut this season, Ilinykh/Katsalapov have admittedly been disappointing. Although I had not been one of those over-enthusiastic fans who predicted world dominance from this team the moment they stepped onto the ice as seniors, I find their programs quite pedestrian this year, especially when compared to last year's Schindler's List FD. The music in their Schnittke SD would not be out of place at an Abu Ghraib torture session, while they have gone the well-trod ballet route with their Don Quixote FD:
There are definitely solid reasons to be skeptical of this team and their chances at ice dance dominance. The overall intricacy of their programs can be much improved, for instance, and there is also the pesky fact that Russia is filled to the brim with talented dance teams. The results of this Grand Prix circuit appears to have Bobrova/Soloviev currently esconced in the Russian #1 position with a silver, a gold and a trip to the Grand Prix Final. Then there is also the unknown factor of Khoklova/Andreev--whatever Mr. Andreev may be, Ms. Khoklova is a former world medalist and European Champion. Both teams have potential to make a strong claim on the top spots in the Russian pecking order. Besides the two aforementioned teams, there are also other up-and-comers like Riazanova/Tkachenko. Where does all this leave Ilinykh/Katsalapov? As such, perhaps it is rather too premature at this point to make any solid predictions of success for this team.
But look at them. No, I'm not referring to how attractive Ilinykh/Katsalapov are (honestly, it is difficult to tell who is the prettiest of the pair--Mr. Katsalapov, Miss Ilinykh, or Miss Ilinykh's tutu) but the sheer quality of their skating. For such a young pair, they have such strong skating skills, such wonderful smoothness. The quality of their edges, their flow, their line and extension are all superb, especially for their age. Skating skills are the essential and basic foundation of ice dance, and Ilinykh/Katsalapov have skating skills in spades. This above all is indicative--more so than their Junior World Championship title or whatever their results are this season--of great potential for this young team. Mr. Piseev--take note!