by Alexandra Stevenson
|11||Paul Bonifacio PARKINSON||ITA||179.25||12||11|
|1||Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Maxim TRANKOV||RUS||196.55||1||1|
|2||Caydee DENNEY / John COUGHLIN||USA||178.90||2||2|
|3||Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES||FRA||151.52||3||4|
|4||Gretchen DONLAN / Andrew SPEROFF||USA||145.35||6||3|
|5||Daria POPOVA / Bruno MASSOT||FRA||132.68||5||5|
|6||Danielle MONTALBANO / Evgeni KRASNOPOLSKI||ISR||110.31||8||6|
|7||Ronja ROLL / Gustav FORSGREN||SWE||94.48||9||7|
|WD||Vera BAZAROVA / Yuri LARIONOV||RUS|
|WD||Mari VARTMANN / Aaron VAN CLEAVE||GER|
|1||Madison CHOCK / Evan BATES||USA||147.79||2||1|
|2||Julia ZLOBINA / Alexei SITNIKOV||AZE||143.59||3||2|
|3||Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI||GER||142.00||1||5|
|4||Ksenia MONKO / Kirill KHALIAVIN||RUS||139.70||4||3|
|5||Alexandra PAUL / Mitchell ISLAM||CAN||137.92||5||4|
|6||Siobhan HEEKIN-CANEDY / Dmitri DUN||UKR||132.61||6||6|
|7||Kharis RALPH / Asher HILL||CAN||130.42||7||7|
|8||Ramona ELSENER / Florian ROOST||SUI||118.33||9||9|
|9||Sara HURTADO / Adria DIAZ||ESP||118.11||11||8|
|10||Lucie MYSLIVECKOVA / Neil BROWN||CZE||117.49||8||12|
|11||Charlotte AIKEN / Josh WHIDBORNE||GBR||116.69||10||11|
|12||Federica BERNARDI / Christopher MIOR||ITA||114.89||12||10|
|13||Allison REED / Vasili ROGOV||ISR||107.32||13||13|
|14||Emi HIRAI / Marien DE LA ASUNCION||JPN||103.50||14||14|
|WD||Zsuzsanna NAGY / Mate FEJES||HUN|
1. 147.79, 2.SD 56.97 (28.79+28.18); 1.FD 90.82 (46.28+44.54) Madison Chock & Evan Bates, the U.S. skaters teamed together at the start of the 2011 season, soared through a sophisticated, fast-paced, error-free four-minute routine to overtake the Germans, Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi, who had been in the lead after the Short Dance. They dropped to third overall, with the Russian-born couple who now represent Azebaijan, Julia Zlobina & Alexei Sitnikov, advancing from third to claim silver.
Chock & Bates’ victory was both a relief and a redemption for their coach, Igor Shpilband, who had witnessed their disappointment over their free performance in the U.S. Figure Skating Classic two weeks ago in Salt Lake. There, they dropped them from first after the initial round to fourth overall.
In Oberstdorf, however, there were smiles all around. Shpilband said, “Evan was not feeling well for six days before Salt Lake and they had a very rough Free. He battled on but he was really drained. But it’s all experience and today it is forgotten and they’ve moved on.”
Bates said, “It was good to compete again so soon and to erase the memory of that performance. I definitely made mistakes and I stumbled and almost fell. But now we can move on.”
This long-running popular summer annual event in the most south west corner of Germany saw different countries claim victory. Experienced Russians took the pairs gold; a Canadian, in her first senior international, earned the Ladies top spot, and a veteran athlete from Japan dominated the men's division.
Chock and Bates were asked about their choice of music, which was composed by a Frenchman for the extremely romantic movie version of the great Russian writer, Tolstoy’s classic story, Dr. Zhivago. With her hand on her heart, Chock explained, We have a Russian coach and Russians like skaters to express a lot of emotion on the ice. Igor chose this because it’s very powerful and moving. It gets us right here.” (Shpilband represented the Soviet Union at world level in ice dance but defected and is now a naturalized U.S. citizen.)
She is dressed in ermine trimmed plush white, while he has a Cossack top with buttons from the neck and a belt. His pants are grey. None of their 72 Grades of Execution for their eight elements was less than +1, with four maximum +3s. Two of their three lifts and their spin were awarded the highest Level, 4. Their twizzles, the circular non-touching steps, the Serpentine lift and the diagonal steps in dance hold were Level 3. The 45 component marks ranged from a low of one 6.5 up to four 8.0s.
2. 143.59; 3.SD 56.95 (29.93+27.02); 2.FD 86.64 (44.24+42.40) Julia Zlobina & Alexei Sitnikov, Azerbaijan, train in Moscow with Alexander Zhulin, who also coaches the Russian entry, Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin, who were fourth after the Short Dance and stayed there despite placing third in the free. Zlobina & Sitnikov, who were born in Kirov, and are 23 & 26, competed for Russia until 2010, placing 8th, 8th, 9th, 8th, 6th, 7th & 5th in the Russian national championships 2004-2010. Our first international for They then changed countries. Their first international was the 2010 Estonia Open. Zlobina said that the moment Zhulin suggested and played this music for their Free, they loved it. “It just makes me want to dance.” The routine comprises two pieces by Goran Bregovic: Mahalageasca begins and finishes the routine with a middle section called, Ausencia. Five of their elements gained Level 4 gained five Level 4s for their Free, three were Level 3 but their straight line lift was only Level 2.
3. 142.00; 1.SD 59.58 (31.08+28.50); 5.FD 82.42 (41.51+41.91 -1) Nellie Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi, Germany, are a “mixed” team. She is Russian and he German. “I took her,” Gazsi explained, and then a little more forcibly, to much laughter, “I stole her! We began skating together in 2005. This is our sixth season together. We did a Circus Waltz, choreographed by Max Staviski when nobody thought that would work but it was really a success. (This correspondent remembers a subsequent appearance with what looked like knives in her garters, a very controversial choice.) Then we thought we’d take a step down last season and do something quieter and try to track the ISU style. That was completely different for us. This time, Ilia Averbuch is working with us. It took us only two days to decide what to do but it was almost a week to find the music, Tore My Heart performed by Oona; El Maintenant by Jean-Marc Zelwer; and Rama Lama by Roisin Murphy. However, the judges were less than overwhelmed. They were awarded only fifth place in the Free and dropped two places out of the lead. Their Levels weren’t bad – Level 4 for their lifts and spin, Level 3 for the twizzles and diagonal steps and Level 2 for the circular steps. However, their speed was not good and that showed up on the components marks. They received four marks in the 6’s for Skating Skills.
4. 139.70; 4.SD 54.92 (27.56+28.36 -1); 3.FD 84.78 (42.16+43.62 -1 for an extended lift); Ksenia Monko & Kirill Khaliavin, Russia, were fourth after their SD, and stayed there although their Flamenco FD was ranked third best. In the SD, the difference between the fourth and the seventh placed (Kharis Khaliavin & Asher Hill) was ONLY 1.13 points. Five of their FD elements gained the maximum Level 4. Their twizzles were Level 3 and both step sequences were Level 2.
5. 137.92; 5.SD 54.50 (28.00+26.50); 4.FD 83.42 (41.62+41.80) Alexandra Paul & Michelle Islam, Canadians who had a very unfortunate last season with injuries and a lot of falls but things are going much better now they are settled at the Detroit Skating Club under the direction of Pasquale Camerlengo. They presented an interesting free using four pieces, all by Ennio Morricone, The Crisis, 1900 Madness, Danny’s Blues and Playing Love, and Edvay Bowmann’s 12th Street Rag. However, they received 5.84 marks less that when they competed two weeks earlier in Salt Lake City. In Oberstdorf, their opening element, the circular steps, and the later diagonal steps in dance hold were only Level 2. Their spin was Level 3, and the rest earned the maximum Level 4.
6. 132.61; 6.SD 54.44 (29.20+25.24); 6.FD 78.17 (39.13+40.04 -1 for an extended lift) Siobhan Heekin-Canedy & Dmitri Dun, Ukraine, reaped the benefit of their experience in Salt Lake City two weeks earlier, earning 4.21 more marks overall. They performed to Orobroy, Schubert’s Tango Serenato and Gypsy, earning four Level 4s. However, their circular steps were only the basic Level 1.
7. 130.42; 7. SD 53.79 (27.00+26.79); 76.63 (40.02+38.61 -2 for an illegal element) Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill were penalized for an illegal position during their second lift. However, even had that not occurred they would still have been 7th overall, a situation which they felt was discouraging. They performed to Barcelona by Freddy Mercury and Montserrat Caballe.
The Hungarians, Zsuzanna Nagy & MateFejes, who lay 15th and last after the Short Dance, withdrew due to his asthma.
Kaetlyn Osmond a Rising Star in Ladies Final
While Californian Carolina Zhang experienced early season problems, which put her in tenth in the Short Program and 12th in the Free Skate and 12th overall in a field of 22 competitors 18 countries, Kaetlyn Osmond, a new North American star has emerged, eclipsing the two Russians who had appeared ready for prime time; and soaring up from ninth after the Short Program, a Japanese U.S.-trained competitor showed potential earning the bronze.
There were 22 entrants from 19 countries. Next year this event will be particularly important, as it has been designated the secondary competition for countries to earn the right to send a competitor to the Olympics. Most of the countries who are allowed to send entrants to Sochi will be decided at the World championships in Canada in March. But some slots are left open to accommodate “late bloomers” or those whose top competitors could qualify at Worlds due to injury.
1. 170.19; 2.SP 55.68 (30.88+24.80); 1.FS 114.51 (59.15+56.36 -1) Kaetlyn Osmond was born in Newfoundland but her family moved to Alberta and she trains at the Ice Palace FSC in Edmonton with Ravi Walia. She turns 17 on December 5. Although she stirred things up in the 2012 Canadian senior championships, earning bronze at her first try, she was relatively unknown internationally. That has now changed with the talented newcomer making an immediate impression placing second in the Short Program here, which she performed to two pieces of music, Mambo No.8 and Gwendoline both by Perez Prado.
She lay only 2.80 points behind the Russian wunderkind, Adelina Sotnikova, who is also 16. Both girls chose to do the same jump combination, two triple toe loops, as the first of their seven required elements. Sotnikova, who skated to Capriccio Espagnol by Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov, fell on the second jump while Osmond made a less serious landing error on her second jump. However, the Canadian earned only two of the maximum Level 4s (for her layback and combination spins), while Sotnikova was rewarded with Level 4 for all three of her spins.
Osmond’s Free, set to music from the opera, Carmen, was ranked 4.76 points higher than Sotnikova’s four minute presentation set to the Blues classic, At Last, and music from the movie Burlesque. (Yes, Osmond has seen tape of both Kati Witt’s and Debi Thomas’ Carmen versions, which they presented while winning gold and bronze in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.)
2. 168.23; 1.SP 58.48 (32.91+26.57 -1); 2.FS 109.75 (54.36+56.39 -1) Adelina Sotnikova has been Russian senior champion for three of the past four years but has never competed in the world (senior) championship because her birth date, July 1, was one day too late for her to be eligible. She was the World Junior champion two years ago but only third earlier this year showing that, as she is developing into a woman, as has Zhang, it becomes far more difficult to sail through the triple jumps. Osmond, asked why this year has seen her make so much progress, replied, “I finally stopped growing.”
In the free, Sotnikova again fell on her first element, which, in this routine was a triple Lutz. The rest of her routine, which included a triple flip, double Axel to triple toe, triple loop to double toe and a triple Salchow, had only one error, when she singled her second triple flip set at the time the bonus marks click in. Her Level 3 step sequence was presented so well, one judge gave her the maximum +3 Grade of Execution.
However, Osmond beat her in the Free by 4.76 points, which meant overall she won by 1.96. Osmond also competed in the world junior championship in Belarus earlier this year and finished 10th, well behind Sotnikova who took bronze. So how has she managed to make so much progress in seven months? She put her advancement down to introducing into her routines more difficulty. “This is the first time I’ve ever attempted a double Axel to triple toe in competition.”
Osmond began her free with a triple flip to double toe combination followed by a triple Lutz which got an “e” for wrong edge take-off. Then came the double Axel to triple toe which earned +0.90 over its base value, a +0.40 triple Salchow and a second triple flip which received +0.90. Her triple toe was saddled with an arrow for slight under-rotation but she followed that with a double Axel to two double toes which got +0.43 over its base value. Her step sequence was Level 4, which was above that of her Russian rival but she got a lower Grades of Execution than Sotnikova from the nine judges. Sotnikova earned Level 4s for two of her spins while Osmond had only one spin, the combination, which earned the maximum Level 4.
Osmond was the 2010 Canadian Novice title. It was her sister, Natasha, who is three years older, who got the youngster interested in skating. “I followed her to the rink. She competed in all three disciplines, pairs, dance and singles. I only do singles. She quit after I beat her.” Natasha now works in the oil industry.
3. 153.64; 9.SP 49.70 (25.66+22.04); 3FS 105.94 (55.02+50.92) Another newcomer showing great promise is Haruka Imai. The 19-year-old from Tokyo was the 2009 Japanese Junior Champion and made a huge jump forward this past season when she placed fourth in the Japanese senior championship. In 2011, she moved to Detroit and is now trained by Jason Dungjen & Yuko Sato. She lay only 9th after the Short Program which she performed to Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words. All three jumping elements, triple Salchow to double toe, triple loop and double Axel, had small negative Grades of Execution. But her free, set to a modern arrangement of My Fair Lady, was in a different class.
Imai began with a +0.10 triple flip and a +0.70 double Axel to triple toe. Her triple Lutz and triple Salchow along with her much later second triple Salchow, which was combined with a double toe, got one arrow for under-rotation but she presented a +0.30 triple loop to double toe loop to double loop and a second triple loop after the bonus points clicked in and she finished her routine with a great Level 4 layback spin.
4. 152.36; 3.SP 54.26 (29.37+24.89); 4FS 98.10 (48.46 +49.64) Elena Glebova, the 6-time Estonian champion, who trains in Hackensack, NJ, came up short 1.28 points in her attempt to hold onto the third place she earned in the Short Program.
5. 147.59; 4.SP 53.63 (29.94+23.69); 6.FS 93.96 (44.74+48.22) Polina Shelepen, Russia, dropped from fourth because she omitted items. She had only two negative scores, both at the time the bonus marks click in. She singled a planned triple Salchow which was meant to be a combination which was a costly error, and singled a toe loop after her triple flip, which was her only combination. She did not execute the second jump on her second triple Lutz. Her final spin was only Level 1.
12. 124.13; 10.SP 45.43 (22.49+22.94); 12.FS 78.70 (39.13+42.57 -3) It was obvious Caroline Zhang was not “on” at this competition. The 5’5” 19-year-old is no longer the tiny bundle of energy who stunned us with her astonishing spinning positions and determined flight through the air when she won the World Junior Championship in 2008 that surely could stir up envy in mosquitos around the globe.
Last season she conjured up quicksilver changes from a disappointing start of the season and took fourth place nationally equaling her previous best place in that event in 2007. Undoubtedly, bets will be placed on whether she can repeat that. It probably will get harder and harder to bring off. Her Short Program is set to Rushing Wings of Dawn by Tim Janis. Right from the start it was obvious this wasn’t going to be a good day. She did the first jump, a triple loop, in the planned combo but not the second and her triple flip received an arrow for under-rotation. The double Axel got a very slight negative (-0.07) score. Her first spin, a flying camel earned Level 3 with +0.36 Grade of Execution. The two other spins were the maximum Level 4 with +0.50 and, for the layback, +1.00. One of the nine judges awarded it the top +3 GoE, one gave it “only” +1 and the rest punched in +2. It was the pearl of her early years, but it was beautifully unique. Her steps, choreographed by David Wilson, were Level 3.
Her free was set to Puccini’s dramatic Nessun Dorma (which means None Shall Sleep). In our sport, it is not unusual for skaters to fall. Zhang, who is coached by Karen Kwan (Michelle’s elder sister) and her husband Peter Oppegard, took that possibility to excess. The judges gave her straight -3 Grades of Execution for four elements, and she was penalized for three falls. The unanimous -3s were for a triple Lutz which was given one arrow for under-rotation; a triple Salchow which was given two arrows for a downgrade due to insufficient rotation; a triple flip; and a triple loop.
She may have panicked after the third element, the Salchow, because her first spin, a flying camel, received only the base value for a Level 1. For the following Level 2 straight line steps, seven judges punched in 0 which means it didn’t have any specific faults but it also didn’t present anything extra. However, two judges did see something wrong and hit the -1 key.
At the point where the bonus marks click in, she presented her combination of triple loop to double toe to double loop. The first two jumps were given single arrows for slight under-rotation. A later double Axel earned its base value. While the choreograph sequence included a superb spiral which elicited a +3 Grade of Execution from one judge, the others weren’t so impressed. Two punched in the “satisfactory” 0, and the rest +1. Her last two elements were the combination and layback spins which both earned Level 3 and GoEs from 0 to +2.
It was a performance best forgotten. However, it is memorable because it came from a skater whose early showings were exquisite. In an un-free country, like China, she would probably no longer be sent out for international competition, but as long as Zhang loves the sport, she should be encouraged to continue. After all adversity builds strength. And Zhang certainly is trying.