Pairing Off- The Cutting Edge with a Russian Twist

By Elizabeth Harmon
If the line “Toe pick!” sounds familiar, you’re probably a fan of “The Cutting Edge,” one of the best figure skating movies ever made.
Released in 1992, the film starred Moira Kelly and D.B. Sweeney as a pairs figure skating team who fall in love while training for the Winter Olympics. It has great chemistry, great banter, and early-1990s big hair and shoulder pads. It also has a few inaccuracies that make skating fans cringe. Suffice to say, “The Pamchenko” wouldn’t be allowed in Olympic competition.
Regardless, it’s one of my favorite movies, and something that inspired me to write a figure skating romance. And while both “The Cutting Edge” and “Pairing Off,” my debut novel released in Feburary by Carina Press, are about pairs figure skating duos that fall in love while chasing Olympic gold, there are also some pretty major differences, including…
The Heroines– While “The Cutting Edge’s” Kate has focused exclusively on skating since childhood, in “Pairing Off,” Carrie’s background as a synchronized skater and a flyer on the cheerleading squad give her a surprising advantage when she becomes a competitive pair skater in her teens. Kate’s a prim New Englander, Carrie’s a Georgia girl, the daughter a country music one-hit wonder, and a man who wants to be president.
The Heroes– All-American Doug in “The Cutting Edge” is a former Olympic hockey player who initially dismisses figure skating …until he tries it. Though Moscow-born Anton played hockey as a child, he’s been training and competing as a figure skater since his early teens and knows it’s a lot more than sequins and sparkle.
The Coaches– Kate and Doug have gruff but loveable Anton Pamchenko. Carrie and Anton have gruff but loveable Galina Borisova, and not-so-lovable Ivan Shustov, aka “Ivan the Terrible.” Pamchenko creates a stunt move to help his pair clinch the gold. Ivan the Terrible devises a stunt to help his pair too, a risky off-ice maneuver that brings Carrie and Anton closer then they ever imagined.
The Olympics– Kate and Doug compete for Team USA at Albertville, while Carrie and Anton skate in Lake Placid as members of Team Russia.
The Russians– In “The Cutting Edge” they’re still Soviets and with the exception of Pamchenko they’re cold and calculating. Since “Pairing Off”, is set in Russia, they’re everywhere and range from surly and sneaky, to caring and kind-hearted, as fish-out-of-water Carrie adapts to life in Moscow.
The Endings– Spoiler alert! “The Cutting Edge” never reveals how Kate and Doug place in their Olympic competition. (Though we can guess!) “Pairing Off” does, but to find out…you’ll have to read it.
This post was originally published 2/16/2015 at

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