2011 Eric Bompard

by Alexandra Stevenson

Trophy Bompard, fifth of the six Grand Prix events, Paris, Bercy Arena Nov 18-21, 2011

The skating order in Grand Prix events for the Short Program is done strictly on ISU ranking but this event showed that that system is far from absolute. The top ranked ice dancers were not the Olympic and 2010 world champions, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir. Because the Canadians only completed one competition in the 2011 season, placing second to Meryl Davis & Charlie White at Worlds in Moscow, their paper standing is less that the couple who were fourth at Worlds.  There was a similar situation in the pairs, in which Tatiana Volosozhar from Ukraine and Maxim Trankov from Moscow, split their previous Olympic partnerships to skate together. They could not compete for a year in international championships but emerged from exile to win the 2011 world silver for Russia. They skated prior to their Russian teammates, Vera Bazarov & Yuri Larionov, who were fifth in the last world championship.

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1. Overall 182.89 Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, Russia; 1.SP 62.04 (34.99+27.05) 2.FS 120.85 (63.66+57.19) It was a case of a very talented jumping bean facing off against two marvelously feminine 24-year old "stars". But while one could enjoyably watch the American and Italian skate for four minutes without any jumps, the 14-year-old Russianís forte is rotating quickly through the air and landing safely. Her triple Lutz to triple toe is incredibly high and the landings very obviously fully rotated and the exits solidly clean. The question is, can she continue this way when she grows?

Tuktamisheva will turn 15 on December 17, which means she is not eligible for the upcoming world championship. Although she won silver in the World Junior championships earlier this year, her lack of previous experience meant that she skated fourth of the nine women from seven countries. (The maximum entry is 10. Laura Lepisto of Finland withdrew and was replaced but Sarah Hecken of Germany, who has had family problems and is currently having surgery for a knee problem, was not.)

Tuktamisheva presented a Tango routine dressed in black with long sleeves and gloves. There were discrete silver sparkles. The back of the outfit had a long, thin vertical cutout. She said her coach, Alexei Mishin, picked the music but, "I really like it."

All seven required elements received positive GoEs. The jumps were impressive, two of her spins were Level 4 but the layback was Level 2. The World Junior silver medalist said, "I skated very well today. I did all my jumps and I tried to skate the best I could. Maybe I was helped because of my win at Skate Canada gave me more confidence." Her score in Mississauga for the SP was 59.57, a significant 2.47 points below that gained here in Paris.

Performing the FS last, she held onto the lead but was only second in this section behind US champion, Alissa Czisny. Tuktaminsheva gained 3.60 points over the American for elements but was 4.65 behind on the component score. That small winning margin of 1.05 was not enough to move Czisny out of third place. (The technical controller was Briton Vanessa Riley. The judging panel included the USís Paula Naughton, the Canadian Leanna Caron and Russian Alexander Kogan.)

Tuktamischeva presented a Latin medley for her FS, again beginning with the triple Lutz to triple toe loop, which included one vote of the maximum GoE of +3, and the rest +2 from the nine-member judging panel, a duplicate of what happened in Skate Canada. Overall, for this element which has a base value of 10.10 points, Tuktamischeva banked 11.50, 0.20 more of a point GoE than was given for this element in the SP on the previous day.

Apart from doubling her third element planned as a triple flip, there were no drastic mistakes, and she improved two other elements from her previous Grand Prix, executing a double Axel to triple toe instead of double-double, and gaining Level 2 for her final spin instead of Level 1. She said, "I didnít skate badly but there were still a few minor mistakes I could improve on."

2. Overall 179.32 Carolina Kostner, Italy; 2.SP 59.70 (29.88+30.82 -1); 3.FS 119.62 (55.97+63.65); Kostner, who has won the European title three times in the past five years, and was runner-up in 2009 and this past season, performed, as usual, to music not generally used by skaters, Shostakovichís Allegretto from Trio No.2. She began with a +1.30 combination of two triple toe loops but got half a point deducted from the base value of the following triple loop. Although two of her spins were Level 4, the layback was only Level 2 and she fell at the beginning of her circular steps, which still gained Level 3. The Italian who has twice won the bronze medal in Worlds (in 2005 and 2011, and silver in 2008) said, "I felt a little tiredness in my legs. Travelling and sleeping in hotel beds disturbs my concentration but reality clicked back in when I tripped over my toe rake in the steps. Although I am satisfied with the technical part of my skate, that fall was certainly stupid."

Even without the fall, Kostner probably would still have lain second going into the Free, which she performed to Mozart's Piano Concerto in A Major (No. 23) with music from the Adagio in the second movement and from the Allegro assal in the third movement. Her silver overall was only by a sliver (0.17) ahead of Czisny.

Kostner made only one major mistake in the FS, doubling and stumbling out of her second element meant to be a triple flip. And she gained Level 4 for her straight line steps. She and Viktoria Helgesson were the only competitors (in both the Ladies and Mens competition in Paris) to get Level 4 for their steps. (The Swede was the only person to get Level 4 for this move in both SP & FS.) Kostner said, "I am very happy to have finished today. Now I can have a couple of days rest. I think my program was not bad, but all the way through I had to push myself, telling myself, 'Just keep going!' I know I can do better and I have a lot to improve on."

This season skaters ranked in the top six may choose to compete in three instead of two Grand Prix events. Kostner, 24, won the Cup of China in Shanghai (with the substantially higher score of 182.14) and was second in Skate America with a lesser score, 177.35, to that earned here in Paris.

3. Overall 179.15 Alissa Czisny, USA, 3.SP 57.25 (27.49+29.76); 1.FS 121.90 (60.06+61.84); Czisny was also third in this event last year and, coming off her success in Skate America, with the slightly less overall total of 177.48, was obviously slightly disappointed, especially as she won the Grand Prix Final last year.

The 24-year old 2009 & 2011 US champion, who was a miserable 10th in the 2010 nationals, performed to the classic French music La Vie en Rose. Things went wrong from the start when her triple Lutz received two arrows, meaning it was downgraded to a double, and she gained only 1.24 points. (A triple Lutz has a base value of 6.0.) She also had -1.30 taken off the base value of 6.40 for her triple loop to double toe.

However, all three spins got the maximum Level 4. The flying camel was awarded +2 GoEs from all but one member of the judging panel, who punched in +1. The change foot combination spin was rewarded with six of the maximum +3 GoEs, and the three other members of the panel punched in +2. Her final layback spin got unanimous +3s. Even her Level 3 circular steps received two +3s (along with five +2s and two +1s.) Understandably, she said, "I'm not so happy with what I did, but I am still happy with the non-jumping part."

Czisny executed her FS to Sibeliusí Valse Triste. This time she began with a triple Lutz and triple flip which both earned +0.40 over their base value. Although her first double Axel, combined with a double toe turned into a single, she completed a double Axel later in the routine, when the ten percent bonus marks for jumps click in. At that point she soared through a second triple Lutz to double toe. Also included later in the routine were two triple loops, one with a double toe.

Her three spins were again Level 4. Her last two spins unanimously received the maximum +3. Her first spin, the flying camel, got two +3s and the rest +2 GoEs. Her circular steps were only Level 2 but had +0.79 GoE added to the base value. Afterwards, she said she was relieved to earn a seasonís best score. "I was much more satisfied with my performance today or most of the effort today. That wasn't my best, but we changed a lot of things since Skate America and I was pleased with how I did today." However, she was obviously disappointed that with 0.18 of a point more, she would have earned silver.

4. Overall 161.31 Kanako Murakami, Japan, 4.SP 55.77 (28.88+26.89); 4.FS 105.54 (51.66+53.88) Murakami, the world and Japanese junior champion, who turned 17 on November 7, was sixth in the Cup of China with an overall score of 150.20. She was obviously very pleased to see this improvement over her showing two weeks previously in both her finishing position and her marks for both sections. However, her performances in both sections in Paris were flawed. This is her second season in Senior GP competition. (Last season in Portland, OR, she created a sensation winning Skate America and placing third in the Japanese GP and in the Senior Final in Beijing.)

She used violin music for both sections. Her SP earned 2.68 more than in Shanghai, despite the second jump in her planned triple flip to triple toe getting a double arrow and being downgraded. Her triple loop got a minimal -0.10 removed from its base value but the double Axel was +0.71. Two of her three spins were Level 4. The layback and circular steps were Level 3. All her level moves got positive GoEs. In the FS, however, her opening element the triple Lutz got one arrow for slight under-rotation. Later she singled a flip and her planned second triple loop.

5. Overall 154.90 Viktoria Helgesson, 5.SP 54.16 (28.13+26.03); 5.FS 100.74 (48.59+52.15); The five-time 23-year-old Swedish champion, who is trained by her mother and whose younger sister, Joshi, is also a senior international competitor, was the only skater to get Level 4 for her steps in the SP, which was set to My Funny Valentine performed by the Ahn Trio. She also got Level 4 (along with Kostner) for her steps in the FS, which she performed to Andrew Lloyd Webberís music from the classic movie, Sunset Boulevard.

6. Overall 145.44 Mae Berenice Meite, France, 6.SP 50.49 (28.71+21.78); 6.FS 94.95 (51.87+44.08 -1); showed she will be a player on the international scene by dominating the Nepela Trophy in Bratislava earlier this season. Last season, she was 8th in Skate America, 9th in the Trophy Bompard and 14th in her debut in senior Worlds. The week before this event took place this year, she finished 7th in the Sapporo Grand Prix. The 17-year-old, who was born in Paris, was runner-up for the French title in the 2009 & 2010 seasons, but only 3rd in 2011.

7. Overall 136.32 Sonia Lafuente, Spain, 7.SP 49.51 (27.43+22.08); 8.FS 86.81 (42.99+43.82).

8. Overall 135.90 Yretha Silete, France, 8.SP 48.25 (26.60+21.65); 7.FS 87.65 (47.60+42.05 -2).

9. Overall 126.97; Lena MARROCCO, France, 9.SP 43.95 (22.95+21.00); 9.FS 83.02 (43.14+39.88).

Men:

Eric Bompard, the King of Cashmere, has sponsored this event for the past eight years. (The previous sponsor was Lalique.) Despite the financial crisis, and rumors that this event will not take place next season, he insists he will continue to support it. "It is true that next year the site, OmniSport Bercy, will be renovated. This will start before this event," he explained. "However, the proceedings will then be suspended for two weeks while this event and another take place. Then the workmen will come back in."

Brian Joubert, the 2007 world champion, who has revamped his famed Matrix free for this season and boasts he can still fit into his old costume, pulled out of his first Grand Prix, the Cup of China because of back injuries, but waited till the last moment to also pull out of this event.

1. Overall 240.60 Patrick Chan, Canada, 1.SP 84.16 (41.20+43.96 -1); 1.FS 156.44 (72.30+85.14 -1); This was the Canadianís third win in Paris. He also won the Trophy Bompard in 2007 and 2008. The world champion also won this seasonís Skate Canada, but Spanish newcomer Javier Fernandez beat him in the SP.

In Paris, skating his SP last of the 10 men from 7 countries, to Paul Desmondís version of Take Five, Chan presented a flawed showing that was still good enough to take the lead by a significant 7.63 points, although he was second on the element score, 3.72 lower than Nan Song of China.

The 20-year-old Chan fell on his first jump, a quad toe which was given an arrow for slight under-rotation. He bounced back, executing a good triple Axel, which he claimed was, "the best Iíve ever done." One of the nine judges, who included American Paula Naughton and Canadian Karen Howard, was moved to punch in the maximum +3 GoE for this jump.

His change foot combination spin was "only" Level 3 and, reverting to Plan B, he added a triple toe (meant to be combined with the quad) to his triple Lutz. His other two spins got Level 4. His concluding straight line steps were Level 3 and executed so well, five of the nine members of the judging panel awarded +3.

Chan said, "For me this was a positive achievement, because I did better than I did at Skate Canada and that was my goal. At Skate Canada I did a better quad, but I did a double Axel instead of a triple. Obviously I did a bad quad here, which happens sometimes, but I was proud of myself to go and get up and gather myself and go into the triple Axel and do one of the best triple Axels that I've done."

Chan, who was born in Ottawa, but whose parents now live in Toronto, has trained with Christy Krall in Colorado Springs since January 2010. He said, "The Grand Prix season is always about development and where most of your growth is achieved."

His FS is to the Adagio from the second movement of Joaquin Rodriquezís Concierto de Aranjuez choreographed by Lori Nichol. This time he soared through the quad toe and then, a few seconds later, did a second version, this one combined with a triple toe. These two moves netted him 11.59+15.83 points. But then he doubled the planned triple Axel and lost his balance in the circular steps.

There were a couple more errors. His first triple Lutz was badly landed as was his later attempt at this move which he doubled. He said, "The warm up felt really good, but the program didn't. I felt a little shaky on the quads, all week actually. I'm very happy I got them out today. They looked good, but doing them in practice every day you become very fine-tuned to the feeling of the good one and I definitely didn't feel that here today. As for the rest of the program, all I can say is that sometimes you make mistakes. In practice, when that happens, I always get up and keep going. I think most skaters train that way so in an event, you do that, reacting, without even thinking about it."

This piece is widely used in skating but most people are unaware that the composer produced it channeling his sadness after his wife suffered a miscarriage of their first child. Chan said, "This is just a wonderful piece of music. It gives me goose bumps. Emotions are so personal. So what I think about when I hear it, is probably very different from what the spectators take away. But, as long as it affects them positively, in whatever way, thatís what Iím aiming for Ė a connection. I want to create something that people will remember as worth watching.

"Iím really excited going into Quebec City (for the GP Final). Every single final Iíve done has been somewhere else, somewhere abroad, and this is the first time for me that itíll be in Canada. "Iím really so excited to be able to defend my title at home.

"The programs will pretty much stay the same. Itís just re-enforcing those movement patterns and jump patterns and everything. Just getting myself to where itís almost second nature, where thereís not even a momentary hesitation going into these jumps. Aesthetically, mostly everything will stay the same."

He had a fever in the days leading into Paris. "I didnít feel so good the first couple of days, like my balance was off on the ice. I started feeling better for the short and felt really relaxed going into the program and felt relaxed going into the long as well. But, I just didnít have the pop I wanted on the quad and on the other jumps. But, I made the best of the situation."

Chan also said he was impressed by seeing Adam Rippon trying quad Lutzes in practice here. "On practice in Colorado, I see Brandon Mroz do this jump. Itís pretty cool. It does motivate me to try something new but that wonít happen until after the season finishes."

2. Overall 224.10; Nan Song, China, 2.SP 76.53 (44.92+31.61); 2.FS 147.57 (79.93+67.64); The 21-year-old who won the FS in Cup of China, rocketing him up to take the overall bronze there, said his SP set to Requiem for a Dream was better in Paris than in Shanghai, but his FS, to Hungarian Rhapsody, was not.

He explained, "However, I am still happy that I was able to do the two quads in the FS. The first (which got -0.43 GoE) was not so good but the combination (quad-triple +1.29) was better. Itís only the second time Iíve done two quads in one routine. Iíve changed my technique and become more consistent about the quads and I have more confidence now that I can do it."

Song also said he had kept his (FS) routine for a second season because, "I like the music. It's very powerful so I decided to keep it." He explained he came into skating because he was a sickly child and his parents thought it would strengthen him. He is from Qiqihar in the very north of China. "Skating is very popular there because we have a lot of ice and snow in the winter so lots of people learn to skate outside."

3. Overall 218.60 Michal Brezina, Czech Republic, 3.SP 74.32 (36.51+37.81); 4.FS 144.28 (67.72+76.56); Brezina opened his SP set to Japanese Kodo drums with a splendid triple Axel, which gained +2 GoEs from all but one judge. However, the landing on his triple flip was not that secure and he could get airborne a second time only for a double instead of the intended triple toe. That element received a small negative. Three of the four required elements which receive Levels earned "3" but his final combination spin got only the basic Level 1. He admitted, "It was a little bit embarrassing. I usually don't have problems with the triple flip combination. I just want to forget it and do it tomorrow."

The 21-year-old from Brno, who was fourth in the past two world championships, used a modern version of the old "The Untouchables" soundtrack. The movie tells the story of Federal agent Eliot Nessí pursuit of arch criminal Al Capone. Brezina brought off two triple Axels, the second combined with a double toe, but doubled his only attempt at a quad, which was a Salchow. He obviously tired toward the end of the four minute forty second routine. His last jump was a bad double Axel and he received Level l for his combination spin and nothing at all for his change foot sit spin.

However, he was pleased. "The skating was a bit embarrassing. I have no idea what went wrong with my triple-triple. I think maybe the ice was too good. It was very fast which made the rink feel a bit short, which itís not. Maybe I went into it too fast. But I'm very happy because I think I made it to the Final. That was my goal for like three years and I finally made it. I was happy with the skating, even though I had a couple of mistakes."

4. Overall 217.89 Adam Rippon, USA, 4.SP 72.96 (36.42+36.54); 3.FS 144.93 (70.05+74.88); This was his second GP. He also finished 4th in Skate Canada and therefore did not make the Final. Rippon, who was sixth in the 2010 world championship where he was used as the second substitute, was fifth nationally national for the second straight year, in January. Since then he has changed coaches and is now taught by Jason Dungjen at the DFSC in Bloomfield Hills, MI.

His SP was set to Bondís Korobushko. He began with his remarkable triple Lutz in which he soars with both arms over head with the wrists crossed. However, his triple Axel was unsteady enough to have -0.71 removed from its base value and both jumps in his combination of triple flip to triple toe were saddled with an arrow for slight underĖrotation. All three of his spins were Level 4 with good GoEs, and his steps were +0.86 over the base value for Level 3.

He was obviously popular with the fans and one of his supporters posted a sign Go Adam, the sky is yours! His FS is to Bach's Air and Toccata and Fugue. Rippon, who turned 22 on November 11, explained, "Pasquale Camerlengo thought that I looked like an angel, so he created a story about Adam and Eve. At one point, there was a bird in the rink and he thought that was a good sign." The OmniSports arena is famous for its pigeons population and they were present again, very visible flying overhead during the event so, Rippon concluded, "that seemed like a good sign."

Rippon opened his FS with the quad Lutz but it was downgraded with two arrows. He then earned the base value for his triple Axel to double toe and +0.90 extra over the base for his triple loop. The change foot sit spin and circular steps which followed both gained Level 3 with positive GoEs. However, his second triple Axel also received nothing over its base value.

His triple flip combined with a double toe gained the base value. Then came a weak double Lutz to single toe to triple Salchow which was saddled with one arrow indicating slight under-rotation on the Salchow. He pulled himself together to execute a +0.60 triple Lutz but his final jump, a triple toe, also was penalized with an arrow. The audience cheered for his final two spins which both earned Level 4 with good GoEs.

5. Overall 201.34 Florent Amodio, France, 5.SP 71.42 (36.11+35.31); 5.FS 129.92 (60.48+70.44 -1); The European champion, who will turn 21 on December 5, just did not live up to expectations. For his SP, set to the French Classic La Vie en Rose, Gershwinís Summertime from Porgy & Bess and Jumping Jack by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, he wore grey satin with pink. The outfit had short sleeves and gloves. He opened with a very good +1.14 triple Axel and his triple Lutz to triple toe was a solid +0.50. However, his triple flip was saddled with an "e" for wrong edge takeoff. Two of his spins and the steps were Level 3 but his change foot spin got no marks at all.

Amodio explained, "The first music for the SP was changed after the Masters in Orlťans. It remains very jazzy but I wanted a more French approach (so La Vie en Rose was added). I wanted to test this style. Nikolai (Morosov) created this piece to show off my style." The FD is Brazilian. His shirt has tiger stripes although there arenít many tigers in Brazil. It also includes several bird calls.

"Itís an Amazonian routine," he said, in keeping with his birthplace. (He was born in Brazil, left on a street and adopted by a French couple who were there because of the husbandís job, when Amodio was a few weeks old. He returned for a visit three years ago.)

He was leaning in his first jump and it turned into a triple, instead of quad, Salchow. So he tried it a second time and completed the revolutions but fell heavily. After a Level 4 change foot combination spin, he executed a circular step sequence which was awarded only Level 2 by the Technical Panel. Then he singled an attempt at a triple Axel, although he did bring off this jump later in the routine.

A triple Lutz became a combination with a loop and double toe and his flying camel received only Level 1. His second triple Lutz was combined with only a double toe and his triple flip got an arrow. His final change foot sit spin earned Level 3.

About the Salchow, he said, "It is not easy. It must be understood that in this sport, this is equivalent to start from scratch with an entirely new element. It is special. But at least I'm not stagnating. I want to reach the heights. Worlds in Nice, I believe, will be one of the great moments of my career.

"My dream is that skating again will become a high-profile sport like it was when Philippe Candeloro and Surya Bonaly skated. After I got the European title, the only thing that changed is that I bought a new car and with the money I received for skating in the gala, I started to put a little aside for my future life."

The fans are still talking about his and Morosovís decision to flaunt the rules in the Worlds in Moscow by using music which contained words, which the rules clearly state are not allowed.

"That will not happen this year," Amodio emphatically states. "For Worlds, I wanted to release the horses. It was magical occasion. The audience loved it. I do not normally go against the regulations, but I had nothing to lose. I was too far behind to make the podium so what I wanted was to please the audience. My coach agreed. We were willing to accept a deduction but, in the end, that did not happen. I really want my generation to look at skating and not get turned off."

6. Overall 190.60 Alexander Majorov, Sweden, 8. SP 62.12 (32.45+30.67 -1); 6.FS 128.48 (65.78+62.70); the current world junior bronze medalist, replaced Evan Lysacek, who was withdrawn on October 18. Majorov, who was born in St. Petersburg, was 28th in his first world senior championship earlier this year. For his SP, he interpreted Soul Bossa Nova from the Austin Powersí soundtrack. His triple Axel had a bad landing but the triple Lutz to triple toe was good. However, he fell on his triple flip which was given an "e" for wrong edge takeoff. His change foot combination spin was only Level 1 but his other two spins were Level 3 and Level 4 and the straight line steps earned Level 3.

His FS, set to Ravelís Bolero, included a triple Axel to double toe and all three spins were Level 4. However four of his jumping elements, including his second triple Axel, received negatives. Nevertheless he advanced two slots up from his SP place.

7. Overall 167.20 Nobunari Oda, Japan, 7.SP 62.95 (27.52+36.53 -1); 9.FS 104.25 (46.63+60.62 -3); Oda, 24, who was sixth in the last world championships and earned silver, jumping up from fourth after the SP, in the recent Cup of China, injured his left knee this past summer. The injury is only partially healed and he feels pain some days but not others. Here, the problem was acute.

In Paris his SP set to Memphis Soul Stew began well with a terrific triple Axel which so impressed four of the nine-member judging panel, they awarded him the maximum +3 GoE. But then he fell on his triple flip meant to be his combo. His flying camel was only Level 1, his triple Lutz was saddled with an "e" for wrong edge takeoff, and he got no marks at all for his change foot sit spin.

The problem was even worse in his FS, set to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg by Legrand. He began reasonably well with a triple Axel to double toe to single loop followed by a +1.50 triple flip to triple toe. But then he doubled a flip, singled a loop and got no marks for his straight line step sequence.

8. Overall 160.45 Romain Ponsart, of France, 9.SP 50.03 (23.36+27.67-1); 8.FS 110.42 (54.94+56.48 -1); 19, was 5th in the last French championships. He was the replacement for Joubert.

9. Overall 160.39 Chafik Bresseghier, 10.SP 46.43 (19.14+27.29); 7.FS 113.96 (58.58+55.38); 22, was 4th in the last French championship. The 22 year-old got a late start in the sport. He laced up his first pair of skates in Grenoble when he was 13. However, he did not perform as well as he did last year.

Withdrew: Kevin Reynolds, Canada, took the ice for his warm-up for his FS but withdrew before skating citing a stomach virus. He had been 6th in the SP with 65.56 (32.57+32.99), despite getting credit for a quad Salchow (slightly under-rotated one arrow) combined with a triple toe and a one arrow triple Axel.

On the day after the event, the President of the French Federation, Didier Gailhaguet, held a debriefing for the entire French team and lambasted them saying that, with the exception of Pechalat and Bourzat, none of them were training hard enough and needed to crack down!

Pairs: TRYING TIMES FOR NEW RUSSIAN PAIR STARS

1. Overall 194.13 Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov, Russia, 1.FS 130.44 (64.20+66.24); 1.SP 63.69 (33.01+31.68 -1) It was hardly a surprise that this duo dominated the event. Both had considerable world level experience when they teamed together after the Olympics. They easily won both the Russian national title and the silver medal in Worlds in Moscow.

This season they gave notice that they would be a force to be reckoned with when they won the Nebelhorn Trophy (Germany), the Nepela Trophy (Slovakia) and Skate Canada (Mississauga). "We have a lot to get used to," explains Trankov, who is the spokesperson for the duo. "At first, it was very difficult for us because Tanya was trained in the Ukrainian school and I was brought up under the Russian system. We could not even match our double jumps. Finally our coach threw up his hands and said, ĎForget the doubles, letís move on to triples Ė they canít be any worse!í And, strangely, they were much better!!"

Not that all is perfect. In Paris, although they won the SP, 2.63 points ahead of the Canadian pair who rank second nationally, they were 6.73 points below the score they had posted for this section in Mississauga. That was due to a problem on the landing of their high triple twist. Somehow, he blocked her way as she went to exit from this very difficult element and she fell.

Their routine is set to unusual music, Bring Me Back to Life by Evanescence. He was at a loss to explain what went wrong on this, their initial element. "The twist is our favorite element and we do it very well usually but today something happened. We are happy that after that, we did not fall to pieces. We recovered immediately and did good side-by-side triple toes (which earned an extra 1.20)."

Not surprisingly, she looked a little flustered and was slightly off on the landing of their throw triple flip but their lift was a secure +0.71 Level 4. Their straight line steps and the final pair combination spin were awarded Level 4 with positive GoEs. Their forward inside death spiral was +1.30 Level 2.

They had an even worse shock at the start of their Black Swan FS, when they singled the twist. He looked a little shell shocked afterwards. "Our performance wasn't so perfect and again we lost the twist. I don't know what happened. Despite that, we kept going and did the jumps and a good throw in the second half of the program." Even with the omission of the twist, their FS score was only 0.55 behind that posted for their FS in Canada.

Their four-and-a-half minute routine definitely has the potential to be unbeatable. He begins acting as the evil wizard from the first note of the music when she is lying at his feet and he is hypnotizing her. He explained, "We have been working a lot with our choreographer, Alla Kapranova. Getting into the characters has been fun."

She played down the mistakes. "Of course, we were not 100% ready, but I think it's alright for the beginning of the season. We have to say we worked just for 2 weeks on the new version on the Long Program. We changed the whole second part of the program, including the order of the elements and the lift. We decided we needed another group 5 lift, i.e. a harder one, and, besides, it fits the music better.

2. Overall 184.91 Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov, Russia, 3.SP 59.06 (30.88+29.18 -1); 2.FS 125.85 (65.34+60.51); Performing their SP to "Tosca", last of the 8 pairs from 5 countries, Bazarova/Larionov, who were fifth in the last world championship, used a different version of Pucciniís beloved Tosca, this one was arranged by Maxime Rodriguez. They opened with +0.40 triple toe jumps, followed by a great +1.30 Level 2 triple twist but then she fell on their throw triple flip. Larionov, who is 25, took the blame, saying, "Today, I made an unfortunate mistake. I threw Vera too powerfully. She didn't expect it and as a result fell." Their pair combination spin and their lift gained Level 4. Their forward inside death spiral was Level 2 as were their concluding straight line steps.

They use Dr. Zhivago for their FS. Because she is so tiny, her jumps are really small. However, their size difference makes their lifts and throws look quite spectacular. The duo, who are from Perm in the Ural Mountains, used the theme music from Doctor Zhivago. Bazarova, who is 18, said, "We were calmer than at Skate America (where they finished fifth) and we are in a better shape now so we were able to put out a free skating without mistakes. Weíre very satisfied with today's performance." Overall, they were 9.44 marks behind their teammates, and 8.29 points ahead of the Canadians who had been second in the SP. They also won silver last year in this event.

3. Overall 176.62 Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford, Canada, 2.SP 61.06 (34.09+27.00); 3.FS 176.62 (61.35+57.21 -3); Skating to Concierto de Aranjuez, Duhamel, who will be 26 on December 8, and Radford, who was 26 in January, gave a promising showing earning Level 2 for their opening triple twist and the maximum Level 4 for all four other elements which are given Levels. Their side by side triple Salchows were well-coordinated. However, on their final move, the throw triple flip, she jack-knifed a little.

Radford said, "We were in the same position at this stage in Skate Canada. Weíre hoping we can hold on to second." But, as in Mississauga, they dropped a place. Interpreting Coldplayís Viva la Vida and Yellow, dressed in purple and royal blue, they began well with a Level 2 triple twist which earned an extra +1.0. Then they soared into side-by-side triple Lutzes. Those jumps were combined with two double toes, but, on the third jump, they both put two hands on the ice which counts as a fall and that jump was downgraded. Their following side-by-side triple Salchows were +0.90 but then the back outside death spiral was a slightly flawed Level 1.

The middle section was good with Level 4 change foot combination spins, nice choreographed spirals and a Level 4 Group 5 lift. But then she fell on their throw triple loop. They fought back with another Level 4 lift and throw triple flip. Duhamel was obviously surprised that they hadnít dropped further. Radford readily admitted, "I think it was pretty easy to see that was a fight for us. We did a great element and then had some problems. We did another great element and we had some more problems. Hopefully people could see the potential in that program. We're capable of going a lot higher than that so we'll be working to be sure that doesnít happen on our next outing. Weíre capable of scoring a lot higher than that." Their overall score was 2.78 higher than in Skate Canada."

4. Overall 169.58 Amanda Evora/Mark Ladwig, USA, 4.SP 57.69 (29. 83+28.86 -1); 4.FS 112 (54.04+58.85 -1); Evora, who turned 27 the day before this contest got under way, & Ladwig, 31, performed their SP to Gershwinís immortal The Man I Love. Unfortunately, Evora fell on their side-by-side triple toes, which got an arrow for slight under-rotation. Their lift and pair spin received Level 4.

Their FS was set to Daphnis & Chloe by Maurice Ravel and Reverie by Claude Debussy. This time their triple twist was a Level 2 (it got only Level 1 in the SP) and although their side-by-side triple toes were saddled with an arrow, she did not fall. However, their intended two double Axels in a row turned into just one with an arrow.

They received no marks for their pair spin because her foot came off the ice and so the move was classed as an invalid element. Ladwig readily admitted, "That was 100% my fault. I did not even realize Amanda was off the ice."

They earned Level 4 for their back outside death spiral. The only other pair to get this top Level were the winners. Evora & Ladwig have always been known to have very strong lifts. Before the event, he revealed, "At the 2010 Olympics, we hit 8.15 with our reverse lasso lift. I would like to beat that here." The base value of a Level 4 reverse Group 5 lift, executed after the point where the 10% bonus clicks in, is 7.15. They earned +1.40 Grade of Execution over that which made the total was 8.55. This type of mathematical feedback is what makes todayís figure skating a lot fairer than it was in the past. But it also makes it very complicated for the average fan to digest.

5. Overall 150.68 Jessica Dubť & Sťbastien Wolfe, Canada, 5.SP 53.24 (28.23+25.01); 6.FS 97.44 (48.04+49.38); They were added to the field on October 18. Dubť, 24, from Saint-Cyrille de Wendover, in Quebec, and Wolfe, 21, from Terrebonne, Quebec, teamed up in the spring and are still meshing. This was their third competition together. They finished sixth at the Nebelhorn Trophy and at Skate Canada.

Their SP, set to James Collinís Three Hours Past Midnight, gained positive GoEs for all seven elements which included side-by-side triple Salchows but only a Level 1 double twist. Their FS used three pieces from Phillipp Glassís Heros: Sense of Doubt, Neukoln, and VS Schneider. They had some promising high points but they got negatives on three elements and their final lift received no points. Though they were only sixth in this section, they held onto fifth place by a margin of 2.93 points.

6. Overall 147.75 Huibo Dong & Yiming Wu, China, 6.SP 49.27 (27.44+21.83); 5.FS 98.48 (53.85+45.63 -1);. They finished 14th in the last world championship .

7. Overall 137.06 Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov, Russia, 7.SP 48.81 (25.38+25.43 -2); 8.FS 88.25 (43.08+46.17 -1); Although this pair were second in the last World Junior championships, she had lost a lot of practice after being hospitalized due to illness. He fell during their death spiral in their SP bringing her down, too. In their FS, they got no marks for their final lift and she fell fell on their throw triple Salchow.

8. Overall 133.31 Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres, France, 8.SP 44.86 (21.98+22.88); 7.FS 88.45 (45.75+43.70 -1); James, 24, who was born (with twin sister Melissa) in Canada and raised in the United States, was the British singles champion in December 2005 but is now French. She and her new partner, who is 20, are still in the developmental stage, since he had not done pairs before they got together. James said, "After I split up with Yannick (Bonheur), I hadnít competed for a year and a half, so we are both just feeling our way now."

Ice Dance: WHO STOLE FABIANíS SNEAKERS?

After the Short Dance, Fabian Bourzat wandered around, along the well trafficked, gritty corridors of the Palais Omnisport de Bercy in his bare feet, winding up in the press conference room plaintively asking, "Has any one seen my shoes?" When he came off the ice, and took off his skates, they were nowhere to be found. Prankster Scott Moir denied playing a practical joke on his rivals. The footwear did not turn up and his mother ran back to the adjacent hotel where they were staying to retrieve a pair of flip-flops for him to wear for his short passage back to his bed.

His partner, Nathalie Pechalat, put up a Facebook Message asking whether anyone had seen "a pair of blue and white almost new Adidas sneakers left in the room where the skaters warm up."

1.Overall 176.93; Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, Canada; 1.SD 71.18 (34.64+36.54); 1.FD 105.75 (50.96+55.79 -1) Of course the Canadians won. There would have been a major scandal had they not. However, they were not at their best, as Moir freely admitted. After their Short Dance, which is set to a remix of last seasonís Free (a Samba to HipHip ChinChin by Club de Belugas, followed by a Rhumba, Temptation, sung by Diana Krall, and then another samba, Mujer Latina by Thalia), he explained, "Tessa and I felt like we were ready to go for it tonight. (But,) we felt that we made a couple of mistakes. I think they were just mistakes that Tessa and I would notice between each other and when we got back to the boards Marina (Zueva, their coach) was happy." Both parts of the Rhumba and the final required element, the non-touching steps, were given "only" Level 3, although the other two elements gained the maximum Level 4.

They had won their earlier Grand Prix, Skate Canada, with 0.43 more points for the SD. (The elements were judged 0.61 better in Mississauga but the components got 0.18 more in Paris). Scott, 24, continued, "Weíve tried to build the program a bit more. I think we were successful at doing that, (but we have been doing run-throughs which were) a lot stronger in training."

Bob Horen was the referee. The panel included US judge Jennifer Mast and Canadian judge Leanna Caron. Five of the nine judges awarded the maximum +3 Grade of Execution for Virtue & Moirís Level 4 curve lift. Three of the judges gave +3 for Tessa and Scottís Level 4 twizzles. One also presented a +3 (the maximum) GoE for their steps.

Coming on for their warm-up for the Free, Virtue, 22, wore elbow length white gloves, which she took off prior before their allocated five minutes had expired and laid them on the barrier. She explained, "In the movie, Funny Face, Audrey Hepburn has these glamorous gloves with the gorgeous red dress and I wanted to recreate that moment but we canít use them in the actual routine because of the hand holds."

Her partner later explained, "We went out and did exactly what we wanted to do, which is really to push the program and skate with speed. That felt really good. I think our points were good. I made a little mistake on the last lift and that cost us a timing deduction. That's why we didn't have a seasonís best, but, for us, that was a seasonís best skate and the overall feeling was good."

Their FD marks were 0.98 less than in Skate Canada. They received Level 4 for all but two of their seven elements. Their opening diagonal steps and the circular steps were Level 3. All but two of their seven elements received at least one +3 GoE and their final spectacular long lift elicited +3 from all but two members of the judging panel.

2.Overall 164.56; Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat, France; 2.SD 66.52 (33.43+33.09); 2.FD 98.04 (47.33+50.71) Pechalat, who will turn 28 on December 22, & Bourzat, who will be 31 on December 19, used three different pieces of Samba music, Mas Que Nada by Ben Jorge; Batacuda by Abacaxi; and Real in Rio by S. Mendes, J.Powell & C. Brown. This season ice dancers are permitted to perform their Pattern Dance (the steps of the old Rhumba, devised in 1938 by Walter Gregory at the Westminster rink in London), to a variety of music, not normally classed as a Rhumba but having the same rhythm. The "Gregory" rhumba was always much faster than the traditional ballroom rhumba, so Samba music fits the requirements perfectly.

Pechalat & Bourzat, whose disastrous double fall in the 2011 world championship caused them to lose the bronze medal to the Shibutanis in Moscow, had earned silver in Skate America despite his severe bronchitis. In California, their SD score was only 60.07 (29.51+31.56 -1). But, because his physical condition was devastatingly apparent, their superior score in Paris (by 6.45) was not a surprise. Bourzat, sitting shoeless in the press conference, explained, "We are happy with the performance tonight. It was way better than in America. We had a hard time there, and we lost a lot of practice (time with me recovering), but we got back on track. We still have to improve on this Short Dance, but it was a good performance tonight."

They received three Level 4s (one more than the Canadians). In addition they got Level 3 for their non-touching steps and for the second sequence of their Rhumba. They were also rewarded with two +3s for their opening element, the curve lift.

Pechalat/Bourzat's Egyptian dance, a development from an exhibition number that had received much praise some years ago, was set to Peter Gabrielís Passion and included In the Garden of Souls by Narada World; Le Retour de Punt by Bernard Becker and Alf Layla Wa Layla by Ahmad Sidqi. He explained, "I am the Pharoah and she is my dead wife, who has been mummified. In my mind, I have one last dance with her." (The workers obviously ran out of material as Pechalat bandages are pretty minimal!)

The routine begins with her lying on ice with an arm around one of his ankles and he starts moving with her quite cleverly. As was the case with the Canadians, all their elements received substantial positive GoEs, including two +3s for their opening curve lift. Their levels were the same as the Canadians. Bourzat explained, "We did a wonderful Free Dance tonight, really strong and powerful from the beginning. The audience cheered for us throughout the program. It was very inspiring. They gave us energy, and we did all the elements without even thinking."

3.Overall 153.76; Anna Cappellini & Luca LaNotte, Italy; 3.SD 64.62 (33.78+30.84); 3.FD 89.14 (42.43+46.71) Cappellini, 24, & Lanotte, 26, presented a Rhumba to Gloria Estefanís Volveras and a Samba to El Chupacapra . They were the only couple to get a level 4 for both parts of the Rhumba. She explained, "We were already happy with our performance at Skate Canada (where they also earned bronze). So tonight it was a nice confirmation that our program is very well received. We also feel like we skated nice and clean, but we still can do better. We will try to make it even stronger." They were only 1.90 points behind the French after the SD. However, overall, they finished 10.80 points behind Pechalat & Bourzat.

Their Free was set to the poignant La Strada (music originally also chosen by Davis & White before they changed to Die Fledermaus). He was dressed in an asymmetrical grey outfit. The right side of the back of the jacket had a flapping tail, which some found distracting. She wore black tights and a dress with horizontal lines on top. Cappellini admitted their FD was, "a tiny bit shaky this night. I'm not sure why. But it is very good for us to have won two bronze medals. We didn't expect this at the beginning of the season." They received only Level 2 for their curve lift and the diagonal steps.

4.Overall 140.32; Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov, Russia; 4.SD 58.17 (27.78+30.39); 4.FD 82.15 (37.65+44.50) A week ago, in Sapporo, these Russians had gained first place in the SD in the NHK Trophy. There, their SD had scored 61.83 points (29.86+31.97), a considerable 3.66 ahead of their score here in Paris. Maybe it was the comparison to Virtue & Moir, since they picked two of the same pieces used to the Canadians. They began with a Samba to HipHip ChinChin by Club de Belugas, followed by a Rhumba to Mas que Nada by Sergio Mendes and then another samba, Mujer Latina, although this was by a different artiste, Kike Satander, to that one used by Virtue & Moir. In Paris, although their twizzles and their concluding rotational lift were Level 4, the other elements were only Level 2.

Their FS is set to Ave Maria sung by Thomas Spencer-Wortley. Their first five moves were awarded two level 4s and three Level 3s. But they obviously tired and got careless and their last three required elements were only Level 2. The 20-year-old Katsalapov said, "For me and Elena it was a really good beginning of the season. Yes, our free dance was not so good, but we know our goal and we know which way to go. So next time it will be much better." He and his now 17-year-old partner had trained initially with Alexander Zhulin, when he was in the United States, but they split up in 2005. They reformed their partnership in the spring of 2008 in Moscow but changed coaches in May 2011 and are now trained by Nikolai Morosov.

5.Overall 130.94; Madison Chock & Evan Bates, USA; 5.SD 52.01 (26.15+25.86); 5.FD 78.93 (39.29+40.64 -1) This is a new partnership, but both have substantial experience. The 19-year-old Chock won the 2008 world junior title with Greg Zuerlein and, earlier this year, they placed 9th in what was their first senior world championship. Bates, 22, was the 2007 world junior champion with Emily Samuelson and they were 9th in the 2010 world senior championships (and 11th in the Olympics).

Chock & Bates have now had three competitions together, winning bronze in the Finlandia Trophy (behind their training partners in Canton, MI, Virtue & Moir and the Shibutanis), and finishing fourth overall in Skate Canada, despite Bates falling and pulling her down at the end of their SD, which meant they had to recover from a sixth place after the first section.

Their Short Program is a Samba to Chick Chick Boom and a Rhumba to Boom Diggy Diggy. They earned Level 4 for their twizzles and straight line lift. Their Pattern Dance Rhumba sequences got Level 3 for the initial one and Level 2 for the subsequent sequence. Their non-touching steps were also Level 2. They were saddled with very small negative GoEs on three of the elements.

At Skate Canada, at the end of the SD, he fell and pulled her down. This time, in the FD, he twizzled into her path causing her to fall. That was a shame because their routine, set to Chopinís Prelude in E Minor is a really gorgeous piece. Bates agreed that their FD, "is very ambitious for a first-year team. The music is subtle and, if you want to make it live, you need to establish a very strong connection between the two of you. That is exactly what we work towards every day at home."

6.Overall 126.69; Xintong Huang & Xun Zheng, China; 6.SD 50.71 (26.43+24.28) 6.FD 75.98 (38.03+37.95) are from Harbin but spend a couple of months in the summer getting choreography from Natalia Linichuk in Aston, PA. They performed a Mambo, Rhumba and Samba for their SD and presented their FD to Astor Piazzollaís LiberTango. They are both 24 and finished 17th in their third world championship in the past six years this March.

7.Overall 118.48; Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov, Russia; 7.SD 48.77 (24.72+24.05) 7.FD 69.71 (34.71+35.00) were fifth in the last Russian championships. They presented a Rhumba and a Cha Cha for the SD and a Tango for their FS. This is a rare, possibly unique situation in which Chinese ice dancers have placed above a Russian couple in international competition. The gap between the two couples was a very significant 8.21. Gorshkova is 22; her partner 24.

8.Overall 103.75; Sara Hurtado & Adria Diaz, Spain; 8.SD 45.71 (23.28+23.43 -1.0); 8.FD58.04 (26.71+33.33) The young Spanish couple (she had just turned 19 and he is 21) recently moved from Spain with their British coach, John Dunn, who has relocated from Madrid to the east end of London. They were last minute replacements for the French couple Tiffany Zahorski & Alexis Miart. He is recovering from a leg injury. Hurtado & Diaz were 23rd in their first world senior championship earlier this year. Their SD was set to two Sergio Mendes pieces, Mas Que Nada and Magdalenha.

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