Mao Asada strikes gold in Sochi
The competition at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating concluded Saturday at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi, Russia, with the Junior Ladies and Junior Pairs Free Skating, the Ladies, Men’s and Pairs Free Skating and the Free Dance.
Mao Asada (JPN) strikes gold
Japan’s Mao Asada struck gold in the Ladies event. Ashley Wagner (USA) claimed the silver medal and the bronze went to Akiko Suzuki of Japan.
Asada opened her program to “Swan Lake” with a triple loop followed by a double Axel-triple toe combination, but she underrotated the second jump as well as the triple flip. The two-time World Champion rallied back to produce three more triple jumps as well as three level-four spins and level-four footwork to post a new seasons best of 129.84 points. The Olympic silver medalist accumulated 196.80 points overall. “I am relieved because I had some problems during the season, having not enough speed for my long program and other things that needed to improve. All of that just started to crystallize”, Asada commented. “In the warm up I did not feel quite good and I was concerned that maybe I was not in a right condition. But after the six-minute warm up I decided I have very strong will for my performance and that helped”, she added.
Wagner’s program to “Samson and Delilah” was highlighted by a triple flip-double toe-double toe combination, four more triple jumps and a level-four layback spin, but she crashed on the triple Salchow and hard on a double Axel. The reigning Four Continents Champion collected 115.49 points and 181.93 overall. “I am really proud of myself that I was able to pull myself together. After a fall like that coming into the next jump you are pretty terrified that it will happen again, but I knew that I could either give this competition away or I can continue to fight and I happy that I was able to push through”, the 21-year-old commented.
Suzuki landed a double Axel-triple toe and three more triples but fell on a triple flip and a triple loop attempt. The World bronze medalist received 115.77 points which added up to 180.77 points overall. “I made some changes to the program and that led to all of the mistakes today. I spoke with my coach that there was not enough practice for those changes. The outcome is the outcome but there are a lot of regrets about today’s performance. There is still the rest of the season remaining, so I hope that lessons learned here will be of particular use”, the 27-year-old said.
Kiira Korpi (FIN) placed fourth (174.94 points) followed by Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) at 173.75 points and Christina Gao (USA) at 154.54 points.
Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) grab Ice Dance gold
USA’s Meryl Davis/Charlie White grabbed the Ice Dance gold over Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir of Canada. Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat of France danced to the bronze medal. All three couples achieved a new seasons best score.
Davis/White turned in a strong performance of their dance to “Notre Dame de Paris”, earning a level four for the spin, lifts and twizzles while the step sequences were a level three. The 2011 World Champions scored 110.19 points and totaled 183.39 points to take their fourth consecutive Grand Prix Final title. “Some days you go out there and the performance comes really easily, some days you have to fight through. Today, we were proud of the way we fought through it and still put out a great performance. It think it’s days like that when it doesn’t come super easily that we feel we really gain the most”, Davis shared. “It is something to be proud of. These are the top skaters in the world. They had to prove themselves at their Grand Prix’s and we had to do the same. To be able to come out four years in a row it’s a big accomplishment”, White said, referring to their fourth title.
Virtue/Moir put out a dramatic “Carmen” program and picked up the same levels as Davis/White for their elements. The Canadian scored a little less for the elements and components than their main rivals. They earned 108.56 points for the Free Dance and 179.83 points overall. “It certainly felt like a season’s best. I think it is good for this point of the season. We still have to fight for this program, it’s really quite challenging. Our element were a lot stronger today than they were both in Canada or in Russia. Which we expected because we have been training quite hard. And it is nice to see it pays off in a competition like that. Technically it was a very strong skate and we still kept that emotion”, Moir told the press.
Pechalat/Bourzat’s lively Rolling Stones medley also featured level-four lifts, twizzles and spin as well as level-three step sequences. The European Champions received 101.48 points and remained in third place at 170.18 points.
Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) moved up from fifth to fourth at 165.64 points while Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS) slipped from fourth to fifth at 168.09 points. Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) came sixth at 156.36 points.
Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) skates off with gold
Daisuke Takahashi of Japan skated off with the gold medal. Teammate Yuzuru Hanyu bagged the silver while Canada’s Patrick Chan clinched the bronze medal.
Performing to “Pagliacchi”, Takahashi went down on his opening quad toe, but recovered to nail a quadruple-triple toeloop as well as six triples including two Axels. However, both triple Axels were shaky. Two spins garnered a level four and the 2010 World Champion set a new seasons best for himself with 177.11 points. Overall the Japanese racked up 269.40 points. “I am very happy after this result but my skating was not good”, Takahashi commented. “I am the champion of the Grand Prix, but there is a lot to be done. I know what my challenges are and my issues and I hope the lessons learned here make me improve further”, he added.
Hanyu landed a quad toe but doubled his planned quad Salchow. He continued without any further mistakes, pulling off two triple Axels as well as six other triple jumps and three level-four spins. The now 18-year-old scored 177.12 points and moved up from third to second at 264.29 points. “I landed the first quad but I failed the second one. I felt really tired after I landed the quad toe. Even with the good program I wasn’t number one in free (skating). I do have my regrets”, the World bronze medalist commented.
Chan produced a quadruple toeloop as well as five clean triples, but he crashed on his first quad toe. The two-time and reigning World Champion did an extra combination that didn’t count. With 169.39 points, he was ranked fourth in the Free Skating and overall edged out Javier Fernandez of Spain by just 0.04 points for the bronze medal (258.66 points). “The additional combo in the end really took some points away from me. I am a little bit disappointed in myself, especially in the first quad, which is normally pretty much automatic. But there were some good things, too. It is a learning process “, the 21-year-old explained.
Fernandez hit three quadruple jumps – one toeloop and two Salchows – in his program and won the Free Skating portion, but overall finished fourth (258.62 points). Takahiko Kozuka (JPN, 253.27 points) and Tatsuki Machida (JPN, 198.63 points) followed in fifth and sixth.
Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov (RUS) win Pairs gold
Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov of Russia won the Pairs gold. Teammates Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov skated to the silver medal and Qing Pang/Jian Tong of China claimed the bronze.
Volosozhar/Trankov started well into their program to “Violin Muse” with a level-four triple twist, a triple Salchow-double toeloop and a throw triple loop, but Trankov went down on the triple toeloop and also on the entry into the throw Salchow. The two-time World silver medalists were ranked second in the Free Skating with 131.09 points but overall remained in first place at 204.55 points. “Things can happen. We don’t understand (how it happened), but we will look into it, to try to prevent it (from happening again). But it was our choice to do this very hard long program”, Volosozhar said. “We cannot be completely happy because we skated not so good. It was my fault, I made two very big mistakes, fell two times again”, admitted Trankov.
Bazarova/Larionov produced a clean performance to “Spartacus” that was highlighted by a triple toe, triple twist, three level-four lifts and a level-four death spiral. The European silver medalists posted a new seasons best with 131.46 points and won the Free Skating portion. Overall they had 201.60 points. “For us the second place on the final of Grand-Prix is an astonishing result. We’re happy! We were practicing so strong and didn’t let ourselves relax till the very end. And today we did it! There were no mistakes”, Bazarova noted.
Skating to “Variatons on an Original Theme Enigma” by Edward Elgar, Pang/Tong produced a double Axel-double toeloop sequence, a triple twist, throw triple loop and Salchow, but both doubled the toeloop. The couple from Beijing got a new seasons best of 128.07 points which added up to 192.81 points overall. “We were a little slow today. We felt tired and we need some rest. We were lacking energy. Considering the circumstances we are pretty happy with how we performed today. Our next event will be the Four Continents Championships”, Pang commented.
Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) placed fourth with 187.09 points, ahead of teammates Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch (180.45 points) and Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS).