Evgeni Plushenko(RUS) started his second Grand Prix competition like his first one with a clear win in the short program. The 18-year old European Champion produced a flawless program that featured a quadruple toe loop - triple toe loop combination, a triple Axel, and a triple Lutz out of steps, which were incredibly quick. His performance to Maurice Ravel' s "Bolero" got him mostly 5.9s for both required elements and presentation. "The quality of the program was about the same as it was in Germany (at the Sparkassen Cup last week)", said Plushenko. "I really like to skate at home and I enjoyed the support of the audience", added the skater, who lives and trains in St. Petersburg. "My parents didn't come, they watched the competition at home, on TV. They never come to see me skating live, it's like a tradition already."
Matthew Savoie (USA) was a surprising second, upsetting his more experienced competitors. The American landed all his jumps cleanly, but lacked speed overall. "My main goal was to skate clean, and that's what I accomplished", he commented. "I feel good about how I skated and placing well makes it all the better."
Ivan Dinev (BUL) opened his program with a slightly two-footed quadruple toe loop and went on to do a triple Axel - double toe loop combination in his program to music by Afro Celt Sound System. "It wasn't perfect", He acknowledged. "I didn't land the quadruple toe loop cleanly on one foot, and I wanted to do triple Axel - triple toe. Hopefully I'll skate better tomorrow." Dinev is still skating with the new blade he got when his original blade broke during the warm up for the free skating at the Sparkassen Cup in Germany last week.
Russia's Ilia Klimkin pulled off a shaky quadruple toe loop - triple toe loop combination, but fell on triple flip later on. He finished fourth in the short program.
World Bronze medalist Michael Weiss, who had been sidelined because of a stress fracture in his left foot earlier this season, finished a disappointing sixth. The U.S. Champion fell on his quadruple toe loop attempt and singled a planned triple Axel.
Evgeni Plushenko does not often get a chance to skate at home, and he wanted to please his home crowd. When the 18-year-old took to the ice, he looked focused and then produced another fantastic performance similar to the one he did last week at the Sparkassen Cup. Plushenko, who has lived and trained in St. Petersburg for seven years, nailed a quad toe loop - triple toe loop - double loop combination, directly followed by another quad-triple toe loop. He went on to land a triple Axel and three more triples, but he doubled a Lutz. The program to soundtracks from "Once Upon a Time in America" and "Mortal Combat" featured many original moves and especially drew a lot of applause for a successful Tango interpretation. No one was able to beat this program. The European Champion even got two 6,0s for presentation - the first at this competition so far. "I prefer this program to last year's because it consists of different styles", commented Plushenko. "This program is a bit like myself." He rated his performance higher than last week's. "I did two quad combinations this time", he explained.
Below him, the standings shuffled with no one managing to skate clean. Ilia Klimkin, fourth in the short program, pulled up two spots and captured the silver medal. The 2l-year-old Russian landed a quadruple toe loop, a triple Axel and two more clean triples, but he two-footed a loop as well as a toe loop and fell on a second triple Axel. Klimkin's balletic program to "Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un Faun" featured unique elements such as a triple Salchow out of a camel spin, and a hydro-blading spread eagle move. "For me, to finish second was really the best I could expect. I'm very pleased. My programs are little dramatic pieces on the ice, and hopefully people like them."
Matthew Savoie dropped down one spot and took the bronze medal, his second of this Grand Prix series. Savoie hit a triple Axel - triple toe loop and a triple flip - triple toe loop combination, as well as a triple Salchow and Lutz, but he doubled a loop and two footed a double Axel. Savoie also impressed with a well-centered combination spin. "I'm pretty happy with this performance", he said. "It's probably the best I've done so far (this season). I'm happy that I was at least competitive in that strong group."
Bulgaria's Ivan Dinev, third after the short program, popped his quadruple toe loop attempt and made other errors to finish fourth.
World bronze medalist Michael Weiss remained in sixth place. The U.S. Champion had a disappointing skate. He looked hesitant and only managed to land cleanly a triple flip and a triple Lutz. Weiss had missed three weeks of practice because of a stress fracture in his left foot and did not look prepared for the competition.
Plushenko gained 12 points here and will be skating for points again at the NHK Trophy. Klimkin got 9 points and will also be looking to score again in Asahikawa, while Savoie is now done and has 14 points.
Return to title page