Skate America: The first medals awarded
Japanese skaters gold medal winner Takahiko Kozuka (center), silver medal winner Yuzuru Hanyu (left) and bronze medal winner Tatsuki Machida (right) stand atop the podium after sweeping the overall men’s competition at the Hilton HHonors Skate America in Kent, Washington October 20, 2012. This three-day competition is the first event of the 2012 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series. (REUTERS/Anthony Bolante)
Day two at 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America has completed with medals being awarded in both the men’s and pairs events and the short program and short dance completed in ladies and ice dancing. The entire competition will wrap up on Sunday with the ladies free skate and the free dance from the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash.
The first medals of Skate America were earned as a Japanese podium sweep at an exciting men’s event. The top spot went to Takahiko Kozuka, with teammates Yuzuru Hanyu and Tatsuki Machida finishing second and third, respectively.
A downgraded quad toe as his only notable mistake, Kozuka won the free skate segment with 166.12 points and finished the event nearly eight points ahead of his competitors with a combined score of 251.44 points.
The rest of the field couldn’t keep pace, including Hanyu, who led after the short program with a world-record score of 95.07 points.
Hanyu placed third in the free skate, but held onto the silver medal after a 10-point lead following yesterday’s short program. He finished the event with 229.95 points.
Machida settled for bronze, despite finishing second in the free skate segment. Although he fell on his quad, Machida completed eight triple jumps, including two triple Axels.
Reigning U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott, Armin Mahbanoozadeh and Douglas Razzano finished fifth, seventh and ninth, respectively.
Together for just their second season and their third Grand Prix Series event, reigning U.S. champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin earned their first medal together, bronze at Skate America.
Skating to music from Phantom of the Opera, Denney and Coughlin earned a positive GOE on each of their elements except one as they posted the second-best total element score of the competition. Coughlin earned bronze at Cup of China in 2010, but this was Denney’s first medal on the Grand Prix Series. The duo who trains in Colorado Springs, Colo., earned a total of 178.22 points for the event.
After posting the top score in the short program, reigning World silver medalists Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov earned the gold medal after earning the top free skate as well. They finished with 195.07 points overall. Reigning Olympic silver medalists Qing Pang and Jian Tong earned the silver medal with 185.16 points.
Making her Skate America debut, Ashley Wagner, the 2012 U.S. champion is looking to pick up where she left off last season, and that is what she has done. Skating to Music from The Red Violin, Wagner earned 60.61 points to take the lead after the short program.
“Today, since it was my first short program internationally, going out there I was really nervous,” Wagner said. “But I kept my head on my shoulders and I put out a solid performance.”
The 2011 World Junior champion, Adelina Sotnikova of Russia, is in second place with 58.93 points while American Christina Gao landed a clean triple toe-triple toe to finish the day in third with 56.63 points.
“I’m really happy with how I did today,” Gao said. “I lost a few levels on footwork and spins, but coming into the season I’m really, really happy with what I did today.”
American Rachael Flatt is currently in 10th place with 43.72 points
Looking to win their 10th straight gold medal on the Grand Prix Series, Meryl Davis and Charlie White took their first steps toward that goal with 71.39 points for their short dance, more than one point better than their performance at 2011 Skate America in Ontario, Calif.
“I think Charlie and I feel really good about our debut today,” Davis said. “As athletes and performers, we’re never completely thrilled with a performance, but we think this is a good start and we’re very excited about this program and we’re anxious to see it evolve over the season.”
Behind the Americans are Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje with 65.79 points and Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev with 62.91 points. Americans Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt finished sixth in their lone Skate America appearance in 2010 and are in fourth place with 53.89 points, while Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus, in their Grand Prix debut, are in seventh.
The competition wraps up on Sunday with the ice dancing free dance beginning at 2:40 p.m. and the ladies free skate at 4:15 p.m. The ladies free skate will be aired live on NBC beginning at 4 p.m. ET.