ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2010/2011: Cup of Russia
Tomas Verner (CZE) strikes gold
Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic eclipsed Canada's Patrick Chan to win his first Grand Prix title Saturday in Moscow at the Cup of Russia. The bronze went to Jeremy Abbott.
Verner gave an entertaining performance to Michael-Jackson medley that was highlighted by eight triple jumps and intricate footwork. The 2008 European Champion picked up a seasons best of 156.21 points and moved up from third to strike gold with 230.31 points. „It is a big surprise that I took the gold and that I got my ticket for the Grand Prix Final. I didn't excpect that after all the changes I've made”, Verner commented.
Performing to „Phantasia” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Chan produced a triple Axel-double toe and two more triples and strong spins, but he missed three jumps and didn't get credit for a jump combination too many. The two-time World silver medalist scored 145.25 points and slipped to second place at 227.21 points. „I felt pretty good going into the program, but sometimes the jumps don't come the way you want. I feel comfortable for the Grand Prix Final and I'm looking forward to improve”, Chan said.
Abbott also struggled with some jumps in his routine to „Life is Beautiful”, falling on a quad toe attempt and an underrotated triple Lutz, but hit a triple Axel-triple toe. The U.S. Champion earned 139.60 points and dropped to third at 217.21 points. „I'm not guaranteed a spot in the Grand Prix Final now and I'm pretty disappointed. My training was sporadic due to boot issues. It just wasn't as consistent as I wanted. Ice is slippery and sometimes we fall”, noted Abbott.
Samuel Contesti (ITA) moved up from 9th to 4th with a strong Free Skating (207.30 points). Alban Préaubert (FRA) finished fifth (204.68 points). Verner and Chan have qualified for the Grand Prix Final.
Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS) skate to victory
Russia's Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov skated to victory in the Pairs event Saturday at the Cup of Russia in Moscow. Japan's Narumi Takahashi/Mervin Tran claimed the silver and Amanda Evora/Mark Ladwig captured the bronze medal.
Kavguti/Smirnov gave a solid performance to „Clair de Lune” that included a throw triple Salchow and loop, a triple twist and a side by side triple toeloop, but their last Lasso lift didn't receive a value. The European Champions scored 120.79 points and accumulated 182.70 points overall. „It was not bad for our first free program in competition. We landed the difficult elements and we are very happy to have skated well at a competition in Russia and on Yuko's birthday”, Smirnov said. „I wanted to make myself a present and give the audiences a present and I achieved it”, Kavaguti added, who turned 29 on Saturday.
Skating to „El Dia Que Me Quieras”, Takahashi/Tran produced a throw triple Salchow, throw triple toeloop and had a level four for the spins and death spiral, but she crashed on the triple Salchow. The World junior silver medalists picked up 109.57 points and totaled 165.47 points to remain in second place. „Today our skating wasn't so great, but we are second and got the silver medal. I'm so happy with that!” Takahashi told the post-event news conference.
Evora/Ladwig skated to „Nessun Dorma” and landed three triple throws and difficult lifts, but she went down on the side by side triple toe. The U.S. pair earned a seasons best of 110.27 points and pulled up from fourth to win the first Grand Prix medal of their career. „We are very happy with our performance tonight, and getting the bronze medal here is a bonus. It (the bronze medal) is another dream come true. We've been on the Grand Prix circuit for a while now and a medal is something you aim for”, Evora explained.
Katarina Gerboldt/Alexander Enbert (RUS) slipped to 4th at 160.42 points and Paige Lawrence/Rudi Swiegers (CAN) placed 5th.
Miki Ando (JPN) claims Ladies gold
Miki Ando led the Japanese Ladies to a 1-2 finish in the Ladies event at Cup of Russia in Moscow on Saturday. Ashley Wagner (USA) earned the bronze medal.
Performing to Piano Concerto in A Minor by Edvard Grieg, Ando reeled off five triple jumps and got level threes and fours for her spins and footwork to soar from fifth in the Short Program to first. The 2007 World Champion pocketed 120.47 points for the Free Skating and racked up 174.47 points overall. „It is a little surprising because my back really hurts. I got injured before the competition”, Ando said. „Tonight I just decided not to think about the pain and to concentrate on each element.” Ando had crashed into another skater five days ago and pulled a muscle in her back, as she explained.
Overnight leader Suzuki put out a solid program to „Fiddler on the roof” that featured a double Axel-triple toeloop combination and four more triples, but she singled a Lutz and underrotated a Salchow. The reigning Four Continents silver medalist received 115.31 points and dropped one spot to second at 172.74 points. „I'm quite satisfied with my free skating as it was better than at the Cup of China”, Suzuki offered. „I made some errors on my jumps and I had some lower levels on my spins, so there are still a lot of things that I can improve”, she continued.
Wagner completed five clean triples in her program to „Malaguena” and also picked up a level four for all three spins, but a Lutz and a flip were underrotated. The two-time World Junior bronze medalist scored 110.85 points and remained in third place at 167.02 points. „I came to Russia planning on both performances being a learning experience for me and I got the Axel-toe (double Axel-triple toe) out there, and everything in my program was on one-footed, and that was huge for me today”, Wagner noted.
Ando and Suzuki both qualified for the Grand Prix Final. Agnes Zawadzki dropped from 2nd to 4th (153.58 points) and Valentina Marchei (ITA) came 5th (153.71 points).
Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS) harvest gold
Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev danced off with the gold medal in what was a dramatic dance competition. Nora Hoffmann/Maxim Zavozin of Hungary earned the silver and Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov of Russia took the bronze medal.
Overnight leaders Bobrova/Soloviev turned in a strong performance of their dance to “Melody of the White Nights”. They earned a level four for the twizzles, lifts and the spin and a level three for the step sequences to post a seasons best of 93.53 points. Overall they took the first Grand Prix title of their career with 154.33 points. “We are very pleased with our performance. We skated with emotion as we wanted and we wanted to captivate the audience and I think we accomplished that”, Bobrova commented.
Hoffmann/Zavozin's “Gypsy Witch” program included difficult lifts, strong twizzles and a level-four spin, only the midline step sequence was graded a level two. The Hungarian Champions scored 84.85 points and accumulated 142.09 points. “This is our first medal on the senior Grand Prix and we are very happy with our free dance tonight. We were a little nervous, because our practice today didn't go so well”, said Hoffmann. “It is an amazing feeling to be on the podium in my hometown here in Moscow”, the Russian-born Zavozin added.
Ilinykh/Katsalapov stood in sixth place following a sub-par Short Dance but delivered the second-best Free Dance of the night. Their “Don Quixote” was highlighted by intricate step sequences and difficult lifts. The current World Junior Champions earned 85.65 points and moved up to third with 134.79 points. “We made a lot of changes to our program (after the NHK Trophy), half the free dance is new”, Ilinykh revealed. “We are pleased with our free dance today, it was fine. But we still have a lot of work to do. For us, the most important competition will be Russian Nationals”, Katsalapov said.
Bobrova/Soloviev have qualified for the Grand Prix Final. Hoffmann/Zavozin still have a chance to qualify, depending on the results of the final Grand Prix event in Paris.
Kristina Gorshkova/Vitali Butikov (RUS) placed 4th (127.47 points) and Lucie Mysliveckova/Matej Novak (CZE) were ranked 5th (123.70 points).
Unexpectedly, three dance teams withdrew shortly before the Free Dance started: World bronze medalists Federica Faiella/Massimo Scali (ITA) withdrew as he suffers from lumbago. They stood in 2nd place following the Short Dance. Madison Hubbell/Keiffer Hubbell (USA), ranked 5th after the Short Dance, were forced to give up as he suffered from back pain due to an inflammation. Alexandra Paul/Mitchell Islam (CAN), who placed 8th in the Short Dance, had to quit the competition as she had sustained a muscle injury that she aggravated in the morning practice.
The Cup of Russia concludes Sunday with the Exhibition Gala. For full results, please refer to www.isu.org. The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating continues next week with the Trophee Bompard in Paris, France.
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