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2013 WDSF GrandSlam Series 09/12/2013

2013 GrandSlam Standard Hong Kong © Kwong

The 2013 GrandSlam Series in Latin and Standard had each around 1,000 couples dance in minimum one of the five regular legs held between March and October around the world.

The Series got underway near Barcelona, ESP, with much innovation that was brought to the GrandSlam concept . New was that Latin and Standard events were held at one and the same location on two consecutive days. And new was certainly the way the couples’ performances were assessed by the judges.

On 30 and 31 March, 12 WDSF Adjudicators making up the panel for the GrandSlam Latin used a brand new Judging System 2.0 for the very first time.

The system calls for 4 Components to be evaluated and for the adjudicators, working in 4 groups of 3 adjudicators each, to grade these on an absolute scale from 1 (very poor) to 10 (outstanding).

  1. Technical Quality
  2. Movement to Music
  3. Partnering Skill
  4. Choreography and Presentation

The system acknowledges that first two Components cover technical aspects of the performance and that the other two assess the latter’s artistic qualities.

From the inaugural leg, the contenders for the 2013 title had to travel to Asia in May. Hong Kong premiered as GrandSlam host and did so to everyone’s acclaim.  Compared to Spain, the standing there was shuffled considerably among the semi-finalists and finalists, but the winners remained the constant in both disciplines.

Aniello Langella - Khrystyna Moshenska, ITA, in Latin and Emanuel Valeri - Tania Kehlet, DEN, continued their reign with uncontested first places, even though their scores – as all the others – came out somewhat lower than in Spain. With every round that was scored, the adjudicators working with Judging System 2.0 were gradually getting calibrated – and their perfect score of 10 was getting more and more elusive

After a two months hiatus came the leg that registered the highest participation of all: Stuttgart, GER, was the fixture in mid August for 306 couples in Latin and 241 couples in Standard taking two full days to determine the winners.

The record number of entries combined with the fact that they represented 49 different countries made for the highest number of GrandSlam ranking points to be awarded during the 2013 Series. These and other multipliers saw the base points increase nearly three-fold. Langella - Moshenska, ITA, and Valeri - Kehlet, DEN, accrued 1180 points each by winning their third in a row. 

Only three weeks after Stuttgart, GER, it was back to Asia once more. In Beijing, CHN, entries remained below 100 each in Latin and Standard, but many of the top-ranked couples in GrandSlam rankings were present.

Aniello Langella - Khrystyna Moshenska, ITA, were the most prominent absentees in Latin. In Standard this distinction belonged to Sergei Konovaltsev - Olga Konovaltseva, RUS.

Many seemed convinced that the Judging System 2.0 would only rarely produce ties in the results. There is just too much to differentiate, they had thought. But in the Beijing several identical scores for two of the couples led to a tie after the semi-final and to seven-couple final in Latin. Armen Tsaturyan - Svetlana Gudyno, RUS, won it ahead of Charles-Guillaume Schmitt - Elena Salikhova, FRA. It was a premiere for both!

The Standard ended up with a podium that was identical to the one in Stuttgart. Most remarkable was the fact that Dmitry Zharkov - Olga Kulikova, RUS, were able to repeat their third-place finish in Beijing. 

The last regular leg of the Series took place in Moscow, RUS, on 26 and 27 October. With the number of entries up there in the range of Stuttgart, despite a few high-profile absentees, Moscow was less international and less rewarding in terms of ranking points. Russia took advantage of the ratio as well as the home field advantage by putting four couples in each of the finals.

Langella - Moshenska, ITA, and Schmitt - Salikhova, FRA, came in first and third in Latin, leaving the other four places to Russian couples. In the Standard final, Dmitry Zharkov - Olga Kulikova narrowly defeated Sergei Konovaltsev - Olga Konovaltseva. Third and fourth place went to Russia too

With hegemony of Langella - Moshenska, ITA, in Latin and Valeri - Kehlet, DEN, in Standard very firmly established, one started to look more closely to the subtle shifts of power in the fight for places between the other couples.  This will probably be the case in the GrandSlam Finals in Shanghai, CHN, as well. 

Only the twelve top couples in the ranking have been invited to dance here. Maybe – and just maybe – the victories are foregone conclusions, but virtually all the other places are up for grabs in the two season-ending competitions that pit the world’s best against each other for the Showdown in Shanghai.