20 of the Best Skating Programs from the Fall of 2016

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19. Isabella Tobias & Ilia Tkachenko (ISR): Free Dance

The Pas de Deux from The Nutcracker is a bit of a warhorse piece of music in skating. But like Liberstraum, it’s one ice dancers don’t use as much. Dances are supposed to dance to a beat, after all. Still, even among dance teams, it’s hard to make it into a unique thing. Meanwhile, while one would expect Isabella Tobias & Ilia Tkachenko, now in their third year skating together, to be good, one wouldn’t have necessarily have expected them to be great. They’re a team that’s sort of lingered around the middle, getting respectable showings at Grand Prix Events, but not winning medals at major events.

This program was a welcome surprise. It’s the creation of Igor Shpilband, the coach who developed both of them with their previous partners before they paired with each other. He’s come up with a dramatic program or two everyone’s still talking about, although it’s more common of him to do that with more popular or Latin-type music. But in terms of sheer beauty, there may not even be another free dance like this one this season. There isn’t anything fancy here, just simple elegance and the kind of magic The Nutcracker has when performed right.

This might not be as remembered as some, but maybe it ought not to be forgotten. It might be what Tobias & Tkachenko, at least, will be most remembered for.