by Alexandra Stevenson
Chinese Hang on for Gold
1.Overall 193.86; 1.FS 126.17 (60.00+66.17) Qing Pang & Jian Tong, China, who are romantically attached, were not in top shape. They had complained about being jet-lagged, but it was sentimentally pleasing that in this their sixth GP in France, and in their last season of competition, the 33 and 34-year-olds finally earned gold in this event. (They were sixth in 2000, then won bronze twice and silver twice, the last time in 2007.) Even their music seemed to reflect the end of their career, “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables”. She wore a red dress and her hair was let down. He had on a blue jacket.
They were supposed to start with two double Axels in a sequence but she singled hers and then they aborted the other so they ended up with only a total of 0.34 of a point for this element. This obviously was not the way they planned to open the routine, and it must have shaken them. He stepped out of their second element, solo triple toe loops, and they earned only 2.70. They recovered somewhat with their Level 3 triple twist which gained a full point over the base value of 5.8. Their back outside death spiral was only Level 2 but with +0.90.
Their flying change foot combination spin was the maximum Level 4 with +0.64. Their choreographed section received one +3, the maximum GoE, as did their first lift, a Group 5 reverse lasso, which was given the top Level 4 plus +1.10. On their throw triple Salchow, she touched her free foot down for a split second on landing and lost 0.40. But the remaining four items were good. Their throw triple loop was a solid +1.30; their Group 5 Backward Lasso lift was Level 4 with +0.80. That was followed by their third lift, from Group 4, which gained Level 4 and +0.79. Their final element, a pair spin, was Level 4 with +0.93. The components went from one judge giving four 7.50s and a 7.75 up to a high of one judge giving one 9.00.
They skated last, so, when their marks came up, they didn’t have to wait to see whether they had held on to first place and their relief was obvious. Even their coach, the famed Bin Yao, who was China’s first international pair skater ever, lit up with a huge smile. But their margin of victory was only by 2.97. The 2010 Olympic silver medalists, who competed in the world championship 15 times, 1999-2013, winning in 2006 and 2010, are obviously ready to get on with the rest of the lives. Tong said, “This is our last season, so it was important to us to get the gold medal.” They earned silver in their own Grand Prix in China two weeks ago, so they have now qualified for December’s Grand Prix Final in Japan.
2.Overall 190 89; 2.FS 124.82 (62.37+62.45)Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, Canada. Last year, Duhamel & Radford had been lying first after the Short Program and lost gold by 1.28 to Russians, Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov, so it was a little disappointing to again earn silver. This time it was by a slightly larger margin of 2.97.
They performed to the soundtrack of “Alice in Wonderland”. Radford said, “We fought for our lives out there. We’re incredibly proud of ourselves making the GP Final (the second week of December in Japan), particularly because of the pressure we put on ourselves.”
His partner added, “I now have two Trophy Bompard bronze medals, one with my previous partner (Craig Buntin in 2008), and one from two years ago (with Radford) and now we have a second silver (from last season and this). I hope we will be back to earn gold."
They opened with a Level 2, +0.90 triple twist, but he two-footed the landing of their side-by-side triple Lutzes, losing -0.50.Their Group 5 reverse lasso lift was Level 3 with +0.50. Their back outside death spiral received the maximum Level 4 from the Technical Panel and +0.70 GoE from the judges. Their pair combination spin was also Level 4 with an added 0.64 over its base value of 0.64.
But then, in their triple Salchow, planned to be combined with a double toe loop, he was unable to take off for the second jump, because of a fault in landing his first jump. That meant they only received 1.8 for this element. Their next move, a Group 5 Level 4 lift received an extra +0.80 but the following throw triple loop, was saddled with a slight -0.30. The throw triple Lutz, which was next, gained an extra half point. Their final lift, from Group 4, received the maximum Level 4 with a small positive 0.39. Their choreographed sequence got a good +0.90 and they finished on a high note, with a flying change foot combination spin which met the requirements for the top Level 4 and received +0.64 from the judges. Their components ranged from four 8.25s down to one 7.0.
3.Overall 184.01; 3.FS 120.49 (63.54+56.95) Caydee Denney & John Coughlan, USA, climbed a place, overtaking the Russians, who were third after the Short Program. Coughlin was impressed by the boisterous crowd. “I didn't realize how noisy it would be. It was like a soccer crowd out there.”
This year, the organizers implemented a new procedure, in which as each warm-up begins, the skaters in that section are introduced to the audience as they skate onto the ice to and they take a bow, which seemed a little excessive. Denney & Coughlan were first to skate in the second group. They then had a small wait while the other three pairs were individually introduced, which seems a little excessive.
Denny & Coughlan earned an extra 1.20 on each of their first two impressive elements, a Level 3 triple twist and a throw triple loop. Their side-by-side triple toe loops and double Axels to two double toe loops were less spectacular with the first gaining +0.10 and the second losing-0.50. Their first spin, a flying change foot combination spin was Level 3 with only +0.07 GoE because she finished slightly after him.
Their first lift came at the halfway point where the 10% bonus clicks in for lifts and jumps, and they earned an extra +0.50 on the Level 4 Axel Lasso. Their throw triple flip which followed was okay but gained only +0.10 extra, as did the following choreographed section.
However, their Group 5 back Lasso lift got a full half point more than its base value. Their back outside death spiral earned the base value for Level 3. Their final lift, from Group 4, got +0.79 over its base value plus 10%. Their final move was an impressive Level 4 pair combination spin which was rewarded with an extra +0.43. Their components ranged from two 8.0s from the same judge down to one 6.0.
4.Overall 180.07; 5.FS 114.40 (55.43+59.97 -1) Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov, Russia, were less impressive in the Free, and they dropped a place. Skating to Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances, they planned to open with triple toe loops but he doubled his and they got a GoE of -0.10 removed from the base value of 1.30. He fell on their following double Axels, which were given an arrow for slight under-rotation. They made a total of only 0.34 of a point on this move. It was remarkable they managed to rebound from this poor start. However, all but one of their remaining ten elements received positive GoEs. Only their second throw, a triple loop, got -0.30.
Their first throw, a triple flip received +1.10. Their forward inside death spiral received +1.20, and their level 3 flying change foot combination spin +0.50. Their Level 3 triple twist earned an extra 0.80 and their Group 5 reverse Level 4 lift received an extra +0.90. Their choreographed section received +0.90. Their Group 3 lift was Level 3 with +0.50. Their Group 5 back entrance lift was Level 3 with only +0.20, but their final move, a Level 4 pair combination spin received +0.36 and the crowd gave them substantial applause.
5.Overall 172.27; 4.FS 115.49 (60.49+56.00 -1) Vanessa James & Mogan Cipres, France, skated last of the first four pairs. They stayed where they placed in the Short Program, despite taking fourth place in the Free. He was competing with his right wrist bandaged. It was an injury which lost them a lot of training time but they are now back in full training. Skating to music from “Angels & Demons” and “Requiem for a Dream”, they opened with a Level 2 triple twist which lost -0.40 from its base value, and then completed side-by-side triple toe loops combined with two double toe loops, followed by side-by-side triple Salchows. The toe loops received +0.70 and the Salchows +0.80, which was also the Grade of Execution for their fourth move, a Level 3 forward inside death spiral.
Their Level 4 pair combination spin earned +0.21 GoE, and their Group 5 Axel Lasso lift, set at the time the 10% bonus marks click in, received Level 3 from the Tech panel, and +0.70 from the judges. Their throw triple flip soared and earned an extra +0.90. The choreographed section received +0.70 while their Level 3 flying change foot combination solo spins received +0.21. But then she fell on their throw triple Salchow, losing -1.60 and their Level 4, Group 5 back entrance lift had a nominal -0.20 removed. Their last element was a Group 3, Level 3 lift which received +0.07. Their components ranged from seven 7.50s down to one 6.25.
6.Overall 162.09; 6.FS 106.20 (56.25+49.95) Natasha Purich & Mervin Tran, Canada, skated to music from the inspiring movie, “Life is Beautiful”, with her dressed in royal blue. They had negatives on only two of their twelve moves. Their opening triple twist was Level 2 but with a slight -0.10 removed from its base value, and their side-by-side triple Salchows, set at the halfway point to get the 10% bonus, got an arrow for slight under-rotation and lost -1.20 from the base value.
They received the maximum Level 4 for five elements, which included their last three moves, which were two lifts and the pair combination spin. However, these three moves at the end, and their second element, a triple toe loop to double toe loop, received only the base value.
Six of the nine judges gave them component scores all in the 6.00-6.75 range. But one judge gave his five marks from one 4.50 up to one 5.75, while another gave three 5.75 and two 6.00s and a third had lows of two 5.75 up to one 6.00. A famous past judge said she didn’t know how, at the end of a routine, judges were able to quickly sum up and punch in the five component scores, which really needed intense overall concentration when they were already exhausted from nearly five minutes of pushing in all the element marks as the 12 required moves were executed.
7.Overall 157.62; 7.FS 103.44 (55.31+48.13) Annabelle Prolss & Ruben Blommaert, Germany, who are trained by Karel Fajfr, skated to music from the soundtrack of “Pirates of the Caribbean” in appropriate brightly colored costumes. Four of their elements received negative GoEs, - the triple toe loop to double toe loop was given an arrow for slight under-rotation on the first jump; their Level 4 flying change foot combination spin was saddled with a slight negative (-0.04); their Level 3 backward outside death spiral had 0.10 removed from the base value; and their last lift, from group 3, got -0.50 off the base value for Level 2. Their Group 5 Lasso received a positive +0.50 but the Technical Panel classed the move as only Level 1.
8.Overall 147.88; 8.FS 99.29 (50.66 + 48.63) Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise, Italy, who are trained by Oleg Vasiliev, skated to music from Verdi’s opera, “La Traviata”, had substantial negative GoEs on their first three elements: a Level 2 triple twist; a jump sequence which turned into a double Salchow to single toe loop; and a double Axel. She also nearly fell at the halfway mark on their throw triple loop. But their other elements received positives including their three Level 4 lifts and a throw triple Salchow. They finished on a high note with their two Level 4 spins.
The Technical Specialist was former U.S. champion, Todd Sand. The American judge was Robert Rosenbluth; the Canadian judge was Karen Howard. The other judges were from France, Germany, Finland, China, Italy, Russia and Sweden.
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