Courtesy of www.isu.org

The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating continued Friday at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi, Russia, with Junior Men Free Skating, Junior Free Dance, Men, Ladies and Pairs Short Programs and the Short Dance.

Mao Asada (JPN) captures Ladies Short Program
Mao Asada of Japan edged out Ashley Wagner (USA) by 0.52 points for a narrow lead in the Ladies Short Program. Akiko Suzuki of Japan came third.

Asada’s routine to “I Got Rhythm” by George Gershwin was highlighted by a triple flip-double loop combination, a triple loop and three level-four spins. The reigning Olympic silver medalist scored 66.96 points. “I’m very glad that I performed all my jumps well. While preparing for the competition I tried to get rid of negative thoughts and skate the way I always do. The main goal for me is to focus on the upcoming free program and to tackle pre-skate jitters”, the two-time World Champion told the press.

Performing to “Red Violin”, Wagner completed a triple flip-double toe, a double Axel and triple loop and earned a level four for all three spins and the footwork as well. The 2012 Four Continents Champion was rewarded with a seasons best of 66.44 points. “I wanted to mainly improve upon my spin levels from the last competition in Paris. I think it was a great program. All this Grand Prix season I’ve had solid performances and this time I was able to squeeze three more points out of that short program. I think I’m in a great place going into tomorrow”, the U.S. Champion noted.

Suzuki produced a triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple flip and two level-four spins in her program to “Kill Bill” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” to collect a seasons best with 65.00 points. “I’m happy I had no mistakes. I tried not to think that I’m in the Final, I just focused on my performance. I like my short program, it’s very dynamic and cheerful so I try to be equally energetic while skating it”, the World bronze medalist shared.

Kiira Korpi (FIN) placed fourth at 63.42 points, followed by Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS, 56.61 points) and Christina Gao (USA, 48.56 points).

Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) grab lead in Short Dance
Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) grabbed the lead in the Short Dance. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir of Canada trail the leaders by 1.93 points. France’s Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat are sitting in third.

Davis/White danced to a March, Waltz and Polka from the ballet “Giselle”. Their twizzles and rotational lift garnered a level four while the side by side circular footwork and the two Polka patterns got a level three. The 2011 World Champions posted a new seasons best with 73.20 points. “We both feel like this program was a big improvement for us over our first two competitions of the season which is something we’re aiming for”, Davis noted. “You always want to be the leader, so that’s what we’re aiming for, but we really just want to improve. Worlds is our goal this year, to become the World Champions. We’re aiming towards that and this is a good stepping stone”, White added.

Virtue/Moir’s Waltz and Polka to “The Waltz Goes On” by Anthony Hopkins was highlighted by a solid Yankee Polka (level three and four) and a level-four rotational lift. The twizzles and the side by side footwork merited a level three. The Olympic and World Champions slightly improved their seasons best with 71.27 points. “I think pretty clearly in the beginning of the piece there are certainly minor tones in the music that we wanted to take upon for my character. We have played a lot of different storylines, but there is certainly something very upsetting and emotionally disturbed about my character and Scott has been trying to cheer me up, and as the program progresses, through the polka, it starts to heal through the love of dance and it kind of becomes a love story”, Virtue explained.

Pechalat/Bourzat turned in an upbeat dance to a French CanCan and Waltz, picking up a level-four for the twizzles and lift as well as for the first Polka sequence, but the second sequence got a level two. The French scored 68.70 points. “We worked a lot with our coach Anjelika (Krylova) on the key points (of the Yankee Polka). I guess we will have to work more again on that because we did not get credit for the ones we used to get credit for at previous Grand Prix events”, Bourzat shared. “Otherwise we worked on getting the program flow better, to match the music better, we changed some steps before the Trophee Eric Bompard, so we got more time to train properly with more rhythm and energy. We performed well today for us, showed all the work we have done so far”, he concluded.

Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS) came in fourth at 66.23 points, just ahead of Anna Cappellini/ Luca Lanotte (ITA) with 66.11 points. Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) are currently ranked sixth with 63.56 points.

Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) earns lead in Men’s Short Program
Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi earned the lead in the Men’s Short Program ahead of Canadian Patrick Chan. Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan currently sits in third place.

Performing to a Rock’n’Roll medley, Takahashi reeled off a quadruple toeloop, a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a triple Axel and three level-four spins. The World silver medalist achieved a seasons best with 92.29 points. “It was the first time this season that I was able to do my quad in the short program but after another jump I kind of stumbled but nevertheless I finally landed the quad and very happy about that. For the past few days I haven’t had the best conditions but I think my overall practice has produced the outcome and I’m feeling that I’ve grown to do this”, the 26-year-old said. “I don’t want to lose to the younger guys, but I’m going to focus on my own performance. I don’t want to make any mistakes tomorrow, I want to attract the audience’s attention to my program and just do my best” ,the 2010 World Champion continued.

Chan hit his opening quad and a big triple Axel in his program to an Elegie by Sergei Rachmaninov, but he doubled the Lutz in combination with triple toe and stepped out of the second jump. The two-time and reigning World Champion pocketed a seasons best of 89.27 points. “It was a great quad toe (loop). It should have been quad toe – triple toe, which is how I train it. Sometimes you do have the best of speed coming into the first jump. I had to kind of think on my feet. The last triple jump did not have enough speed going into it and was a bit too far down the ice. But I stayed on my feet and I happy with my performance. I think this is where I want to be. Three points is not a lot in Men Singles, unlike Ice Dancing. It is really easy to make up”, the Canadian Champion noted.

Hanyu produced a triple Axel and level-four spins and footowrk, but he had to fight for the landing of the quad toe and fell on the back end of his triple Lutz-triple toe combination. On his 18th birthday, the World bronze medalist scored 87.17 points. “Up until now I had no misses at all (in the Short Program in the Grand Prix). I was quite confident going in there, but I learned today that you don’t always have no mistakes, perfect skating. I was able to nail my Axel. I learned a lot”, the teenager acknowledged. “I had relatively less speed today but that is because I’m a little bit tired. I will change my mindset tomorrow. I want to get a medal, that is what I was thinking of since last season”, he added.

Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) is not far behind in fourth place (86.39 points). Defending Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Javier Fernandez (ESP) placed fifth at 80.19 points while Tatsuki Machida (JPN) is sixth (70.58 points).

Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov win Pairs Short Program
Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov of Russia won the Pairs Short program followed by teammates Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov. China’s Qing Pang/Jian Tong finished third.

Volosozhar/Trankov gave a strong performance to “The Godfather”, pulling off a triple twist (level four), side by side triple Salchow and throw triple loop. However, the death spiral was rated a level one, while the spin and the footwork were worth a level four. The two-time and reigning World silver medalists posted a new seasons best of 73.46 points. “Naturally we wanted to set a new season’s best today, but we failed by a pretty small margin. Overall, we are pleased with our performance, but we will have to find time to sit down and figure out all the nuances, because we got some very low levels”, Volosozhar commented.

Bazarova/Larionov’s program to “Liebestraum” included a triple toeloop, throw triple loop and a level-four triple twist. The Russian Champions earned a new seasons best with 70.14 points. “We got 70 (points) for the first time in our lives. It’s amazing and we are very happy with our skating. Now it’s important to continue in this way”, Bazarova said.

Pang/Tong had to overcome a shaky start into their Paso Doble routine when he doubled the side by side toeloop and stepped out of it. The two-time World Champions recovered to complete a triple twist, throw triple loop, a difficult lift, footwork and side by side spin. The Olympic silver medalists scored 64.74 points. “The performance was not our best. I had a fever and was lacking energy. There was one mistake on the jump, but the other elements were good”, Tong said. “Because of the traffic jams, we decided to come early to the ice rink. So we had to wait for a long time and were alittle tired. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll skate better in the free skating”, his partner added.

Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) placed fourth at 64.20 points. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) came fifth (60.95) while Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS) are ranked sixth with 58.02 points