Cup of Russia 2010

November 26, 2010
By Maria Bagdasarova
Photo © Reut Golinsky

The fifth event of the ISU Grand Prix series concluded in the capital of Russia, Moscow, last weekend.

Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic won gold in the men’s event. That was the first title of the 2008 European Champion at an ISU Grand Prix event. After an almost clean short program that featured a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, a triple Axel and a triple flip out of steps; Tomas was in third place with 74.10 points. In the free skating Verner gave a very energetic and crowd-pleasing performance to a Michael Jackson medley. In his otherwise solid performance that included a triple Lutz – triple toe combination and two triple Axels, the only major glitch came when Tomas stepped out of the double Axel in the second half of the program.

“It is a big surprise that I took the gold and that I got my ticket to the Grand Prix Final,” Verner commented. When asked about the possibility of including a quadruple jump into his programs, Tomas said he can do the element separately at practice and plans to attempt it at the Grand Prix Final.

Patrick Chan of Canada started off his competition at the Cup of Russia quite well taking a convincing lead in the short program. The 2009 and 2010 World silver medalist landed a textbook quadruple toe – triple toe combination which alone earned him 16.26 points. Despite a fall on the next triple, Chan came back to land a triple flip and performed an intricate level three step sequence. At the press conference Chan pointed out that his main goal for the short program was to land a quad and he was happy to successfully accomplish that. In the free skating to A.L. Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, Chan fell on his opening, under-rotated quad. Unfortunately that was not the only major mistake made by the Canadian. Chan also fell on a separate triple Axel and on a triple Lutz. Besides, his last combination (a double Axel – triple toe) was not counted as it was the fourth in the program. That mistake cost Chan the gold. Had he landed a solo double Axel at base value he would have score enough to win.

“I felt pretty good going into the program, but sometimes the jumps don’t go the way you want. But I feel pretty confident for the Grand Prix Final,” Chan told the press.

Jeremy Abbott of the USA delivered a solid short program, but could not maintain that level in the free skating. As a result, he slipped to third place.

“I’m disappointed. I am not guaranteed a spot in the Grand Prix Final now,” shared Abbott at the post event press conference.

In the pairs event Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia took the gold. The reigning World bronze medalist delivered two almost clean performances.

“It was very hard to compete after such a long break. And it was the first time we skated our programs in front of a big audience. We are happy we managed all the major elements,” commented Smirnov referring to the training time the couple lost during the summer, first due to Kavaguti’s shoulder operation and then because of Smirnov’s injury.

The silver medal went to Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran of Japan.

“Our performances were good, but not great. We’re happy with the silver medal,” Takahashi shared.

Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig who were fourth after the short program, earned the second highest score in the free skating and moved up to bronze position overall.

“We are happy. We improved our scores from the Cup of China. Especially in the long program where we now scored 10 points better. We’ve competed in the Grand Prix for a while now and this medal is a dream come true for us,” Evora told the press.

In the ladies event Miki Ando from Japan rallied back after the disappointing short program to claim the gold for the second time in a row at the Cup of Russia. Shortly before the event Ando sustained a back injury, but in the short program she looked solid, landing a triple Lutz – double loop combination and a double Axel. But her triple flip was downgraded which put her in 5th place after the short program. In the free skate to Piano Concerto in A minor by Edward Grieg, Miki Ando landed five clean triple jumps and received all levels three and four for the non-jumping elements. That was convincingly the best performance of the night.

“My back hurt and I was worried if I could skate at all. But I didn’t make any big mistakes, I think I did a good job,” Ando commented.

Ando’s teammate Akiko Suzuki, who was in the lead after the short program, gave a very expressive performance to Fiddler on the Roof by Jerry Block. She produced a difficult double Axel – triple toe combination, but an edge call on her first Lutz, a popped second attempt and an under-rotation on the Salchow made Suzuki slip to second place overall.

“I’m satisfied with my performance. It was better than at the Cup of China. I made some mistakes on the jumps and I still can pick up the levels on my spins,” explained Suzuki.

Ashley Wagner of the USA, with five clean triple in her free skate, earned the bronze level.

The Ice dance event offered a few surprises. First, Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviev of Russia won the short dance ahead of the reigning World bronze medalists Federica Faiella/Massimo Scali from Italy. World Junior champions Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov, who were expected to challenge the top teams, delivered a rather disappointing short dance and stood in sixth place.

Prior to the free dance three teams withdrew unexpectedly, and the starting order was down to five pairs. Federica Faiella/Massimo Scali pulled out citing Scali’s lumbago. Madison Hubbell/Keiffer Hubbell, who were in 5th place after the short dance, and Alexandra Paul/Mitchell Islam (8th) were also forced to withdraw due to injuries.

A strong performance in the free dance allowed Bobrova and Soloviev to cruise to their first ISU Grand Prix title. The couple is now qualified for the Grand Prix Final.

“We were very pleased to skate like this at home. At the Grand Prix Final we will not fight for placements; we will strive for a clean skate,” commented Ekaterina Bobrova at the post-event press-conference.

Nora Hoffman and Maxim Zavozin finished second. This team representing Hungary was very excited about their first senior medal.

“We had a tough practice in the morning and therefore were very nervous. It’s an amazing feeling to win a medal, especially in my hometown,” Moscow-born Zavozin told the press.

Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov managed to recover from their poor short dance to win bronze – their first senior medal.

“We felt a lot of support from the home crowd. We are happy with our free dance, but there is a lot to do before the Russian Nationals,” Katsalapov explained.



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