Pairs teams perform similar elements to single skating – such as jumps, spins and footwork – but they have to be done in unison. They also throw in some crazy acrobatic tricks, just for good measure.
Some of the moves that are unique to pairs skating include twists, throw jumps and twist lifts, and yes, there is a move called ‘The Death Spiral.’
The Death Spiral is one of the easiest elements to spot in the routine; it involves the male partner holding the hand of the female partner while she is fully extended away from him, pivoting around in an almost horizontal position, with her head scarily close to the ice. Thankfully no one has died doing a death spiral, as far as we know.
Just like in singles skating, pairs skaters perform two programs – a short program and a free skate.
The short program lasts a maximum of 2 minutes and 50 seconds, and has 7 required elements.
The free skate can last between 4:20 and 4:40 and is physically much more demanding, with a maximum of 12 elements.
For each performance, teams are giving a Technical Elements Score – which is basically a mark that reflects how difficult their elements were and how correctly they were performed – and a Program Components Score.
The Program Components Score consists of skating skills, transitions, performance, choreography and interpretation.
Both scores are combined to get a final mark.
Now to some expert commentary from our Aussie team:
“You have to be strong," said Harley Windsor.
Australia’s first Indigenous Winter Olympian admits he wasn’t quite ready for the transition from singles skating to pairs skating when he first trained with Katia:
“I just didn’t have the muscles for it. I didn’t know how much stronger you need to be to lift a partner above your head, and to hold some of the positions. I really had to work on my fitness.”
“We are just friends” – Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya
While it’s true plenty of Olympic Ice Skating Pairs are couples in real life – take the USA team this year as an example – just as many are not. And Katia would like everyone to know that she and Harley are definitely NOT an item. “We are friends. We sometimes can fight on the ice. But we leave it on the ice.”
Windsor and Alexandrovskaya skate their short program on Day 5 (February 14).