The Grand Prix Final day 2: Australian pair champions, solid ladies and shaky men
December 9, 2017
By Atsuko Kuryu
Photos © Keiko Kasai
Junior Short Dance
This discipline was interesting because it kind of turned into Russia versus North America, although there were twice as many Russians competing. Anastasia Skoptcova/ Kirill Aleshin won the short dance with 65.87 points. They moved very well to the music, especially during their Cha Cha Congelado, and kept in unison nicely. Christina Carreira/ Anthony Ponomarenko, the runners up from USA, delivered a vivacious performance with good ice coverage and speed. They earned 64.10 points. Sofia Polishchuk/ Alexander Vakhnov from Russia received generous applause from the audience for their dynamic short dance. They had amazing twizzles and a twist and got 63.17 points and a third place. Fourth were Marjorie Lajoie/ Zachary Lagha, Canada, receiving 60.52 for their uplifting performance.
Anastasia explained about their calm demeanor and said it felt like a practice session at home. She said, "as long as we come to each competition to win, we have to win over ourselves first of all." Anthony said they were really happy with how their performance went; that it was great and they are very excited for tomorrow. Sofia appreciated their effort and said: "By first impression, everything was well, we have good emotions and that's very important to us because we want to display emotional, strong skating."
Junior Pairs Free skating
Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya/ Harley Windsor from Australia won the junior pairs with 173.85 points. They only teamed up in 2016, so reaching this level is an amazing achievement. Their performance to The Mask was very solid. This is an all-around well balanced couple, and was awarded a total of 173.85 points and a gold medal. Yesterday's leaders Apollinariia Panfilova/ Dmitry Rylov were also fantastic. They had great speed and dynamism. This program, which totally told the story of Alice in Wonderland through costumes, choreography and the atmosphere they created, scored 112.20 and a total of 173.01. That was 0.84 points short of winning… Daria Pavliuchenko/ Denis Khodykin skated an almost flawless program and delivered very solid elements, but somehow seemed to lack some speed. Their overall score was 172.94.
Ekaterina and Harley admitted they were exhausted after this program. Harley said they were happy that they pushed through it with only one big mistake, so everything was relatively OK. Apollinariia said she was satisfied with their performance and Rylov said he did not expect a medal since all other pairs have triples, and they don't. So they declared they will work on triple jumps and add them to their program.
Junior Men Free skating
Two Americans made the podium and got gold and silver. Alexei Krasnozhon dominated the free skating just as the short program yesterday. He scored 236.35 overall which left runner-up Camden Pulkinen almost 20 points behind. Camden has outstanding jumps and included a quad loop (though it was under-rotated) and two very high triple Axels, as well as a triple Lutz-triple loop combination. He moved elegantly to the 12 Etudes and Tristesse by Chopin. In the later part of his program (to Tristesse), he expressed the feeling of this lyrical music very well. His overall score was 217.10 points. Responding to the expectations of the Japanese fans, Mitsuki Sumoto finished third and made the podium. He was third in both the short and the free with an overall score of 214.45. Despite falling on his opening triple Axel, he landed other jumps cleanly, except for stepping out of the last triple Lutz. His skating is very smooth. Unfortunately for the other three skaters it didn't seem to be their day.
Alexei said he felt great and still couldn't believe he won and became the champion! He was proud of himself and very thankful for everyone around him. Camden admitted that he was so in the zone and did not remember much of the program, but he felt really good. Mitsuki was annoyed over his fall and step-out, but when he saw "third" on the screen, he thought "I could make the podium this time". It was unexpected but he was very happy about it.
Ladies Short program
What a competition it was! All 6 skaters hit over 70 points with almost perfect executions and the margin between the first and last was only 3.45. Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond scored 77.04 and won the short program. Her Sous Le Ciel De Paris program was chic and she was stylish and elegant. While Russia's Alina Zagitova looked young, she was also balletic and powerful, which is a rare combination. Fittingly she had chosen Black Swan. Alina only stepped out of the landing of her triple flip, and was put in second place. Satoko Miyahara delivered a very elegant and beautiful short program to Memoirs of a Geisha where she represented the world of old Japan very well. Satoko said that she had not had the Grand Prix Final in mind, but now that she was here she certainly wasn't about to waste the opportunity.
Maria Sotskova of Russia delivered a graceful and smooth performance, while Japan's Wakaba Higuchi showed off her power and speed with nothing left on the table. They scored 74.00 and 73.26 respectively. Carolina Kostner from Italy popped the second triple toe in the attempted triple-triple combination. That cost many points and she finished last, but still with very high points, 72.82, for a highly artistic performance.
Kaetlyn explained that she felt in control and that this program really represented herself so she was feeling very good. Alina said she was pleased that she was able to deal with her nerves. She had also shortened her skirt some and felt better as it turned out to be more comfortable.
Men Free skating
While the ladies, juniors and seniors, mostly had it together, there were lots of mistakes among the men, especially of the top three skaters. Nathan Chen did win the title, but was not happy with his performance because of the many mistakes on his jumps. He earned 182.18 for his free skating and 286.51 overall and got the gold. Starting last, Shoma Uno piled up the mistakes on his jumps and executed only one of the combination jump passes. Despite these mistakes, he managed to win the free skating, but the overall result was second, just 0.5 points behind Nathan. If only he had landed another combination, he might have been the winner. Mikhail Kolyada made several mistakes on his jumps at the beginning of his Elvis medley free program. He fell on two quads, stepped out of the triple Axel, and later popped the attempted triple loop. Scoring 182.78 and 282.00 overall, he finished third. All these skaters were off on their jumps, but I have to say they tried their best under these conditions. For their other elements, such as spins and step sequences, they received many level 4s and delivered fantastic choreographic sequences. At the end let me mention a veteran skater who had a strong performance here. Sergei Voronov of Russia was amazing and flawless which moved the spectators deeply. When he finished they give him the biggest applause of the day. Sergei got 178.82 points for the free program and 266.59 overall. He finished fourth, just off the podium.
Nathan said he was not very happy with his performance today, but satisfied with the result; that he thought he could have a good experience skating in a big arena like this. Shoma admitted he has not been able to deliver satisfactory performances through the Grand Prix and also here. But he said he felt a sense of satisfaction without reason. Maybe one of the reasons was that he landed a quad Salchow for the first time in the competition. Mikhail Kolyada said getting on the podium meant a lot to him and he will now be able to go into the Russian Nationals with a positive feeling.
Check out more photos of the senior skaters of day 2 here and day 1 here! (the juniors follow later)