by Alexandra Stevenson
|1||Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Maxim TRANKOV||RUS||204.55||1||2|
|2||Vera BAZAROVA / Yuri LARIONOV||RUS||201.60||2||1|
|3||Qing PANG / Jian TONG||CHN||192.81||3||3|
|4||Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD||CAN||187.09||4||4|
|5||Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS / Dylan MOSCOVITCH||CAN||180.45||5||6|
|6||Yuko KAVAGUTI / Alexander SMIRNOV||RUS||178.72||6||5|
|1||Meryl DAVIS / Charlie WHITE||USA||183.39||1||1|
|2||Tessa VIRTUE / Scott MOIR||CAN||179.83||2||2|
|3||Nathalie PECHALAT / Fabian BOURZAT||FRA||170.18||3||3|
|4||Anna CAPPELLINI / Luca LANOTTE||ITA||165.64||5||4|
|5||Ekaterina BOBROVA / Dmitri SOLOVIEV||RUS||158.09||4||6|
|6||Elena ILINYKH / Nikita KATSALAPOV||RUS||156.36||6||5|
|1||Lina FEDOROVA / Maxim MIROSHKIN||RUS||161.11||1||1|
|2||Vasilisa DAVANKOVA / Andrei DEPUTAT||RUS||155.96||3||2|
|3||Maria VIGALOVA / Egor ZAKROEV||RUS||153.56||4||3|
|4||Margaret PURDY / Michael MARINARO||CAN||149.94||2||5|
|5||Xiaoyu YU / Yang JIN||CHN||149.20||5||4|
|6||Brittany JONES / Ian BEHARRY||CAN||145.89||6||6|
|1||Alexandra STEPANOVA / Ivan BUKIN||RUS||149.57||1||1|
|2||Gabriella PAPADAKIS / Guillaume CIZERON||FRA||139.21||2||2|
|3||Alexandra ALDRIDGE / Daniel EATON||USA||136.19||4||3|
|4||Anna YANOVSKAYA / Sergey MOZGOV||RUS||129.31||3||4|
|5||Valeria ZENKOVA / Valerie SINITSIN||RUS||124.19||6||5|
|6||Evgenia KOSIGINA / Nikolai MOROSHKIN||RUS||120.05||5||6|
On the evening of December 10, the day after the Exhibition for the Grand Prix Final, when most participants had left this summer resort area of Southern Russia, those who were still in the city were given an exit boost – a magnitude 4.8 earthquake struck centered not that far north. The construction chief of the nine arenas in the “ice cluster” reported the trembling earth but said that no one was injured and nothing was damaged.
But it was a fitting exit reminder for those guests who had outstayed their welcome – time to go home.
In the “Iceberg” Skating Palace everything proved to be in place, completely ready for the Games in February 2014. The arena will not be empty for long. The Russian championships will also be held here starting on Christmas Day.
While everything went splendidly with the one day of pre-event practice, the three days of competition, and the Sunday Exhibition, there were a few “cracks” in the veneer. One of the things visitors often need to do is change money upon arrival. There is nowhere to do that in the Sochi Adler airport, and although the hotel readily took credit cards, they did not appear to provide money exchange. The method of obtaining rubles under these restrictions is, apparently, to get a taxi to a supermarket which provides a great variety of cash machines, including ones for Visa cards. That certainly worked.
But where were the spectators? After all, skating is popular in Russia and this event starred top names. The ISU President, Ottavio Cinquanta, said he had been told the event was sold out, but there certainly was NOT a sold out audience. Since the arenas are in a “secure” area, where the public cannot enter without going through only one gate, the authorities may have made it difficult to get tickets to keep the traffic down. Or maybe, the event wasn’t publicized.
Certainly the Opening Ceremony, which featured, this correspondent was told, famous singers and dancers, was treated as if it were classified information. Apparently, there was no mention about it in the local press, which would have encouraged locals to buy tickets and absolutely no information given out to the press as to the identities of the anonymous performers.
(10 December 2012) Sochi, Russia.
Takahashi Wins but Hernandez Steals Limelight in Free Skate. Spain and Canada Face Onslaught by Japanese.
1. Overall 269.40; 1.SP 92.29 (49.15+43.14); 3.FS 177.1 (87.89+90.22 -1); Daisuke Takahashi, 26, is used to setting records. In 2002, he was the first Japanese man to win the World Junior Championship (a title which was later claimed by two other Japanese competitors in this GPF, Kozuka in 2006 and Hanyu in 2010). In 2010, Takahashi became the first Japanese man ever to medal in an Olympic figure skating event when he won bronze in Vancouver, and, just weeks afterwards, he also became the first Japanese man to win gold in a world championship. This is his seventh season in the Final. He has won a bronze and three silvers and now gold.
But he has suffered injuries including one in which a metal bolt had to be placed in the knee of his landing leg. Only after that bolt was removed did he have full flexibility in his knee.
Because he qualified for the event with “only” two silver medals (in the Chinese and Japanese Grand Prix events), Takahashi was only fourth ranked coming in, and therefore was second in the field of six to skate. His Short Program is set to an energetic, fun Rock’n’Roll medley of “Hard Times” by Nobel (Thin Man) Watts, “The Stroll” by Lawson Haggart’s Rockin’ Band, and “Rudy’s Rock by Bill Haley & The Comets. Sporting a red openly flapping jacket, he began with a very nice quad toe and later did a good triple Lutz to triple toe and a triple Axel, which so impressed one judge, he/she awarded the maximum +3 Grade of Execution. His three spins were all the maximum Level 4. His steps were “only” Level 3 but executed so well five of the nine judges rewarded him with +3 GoEs. His components included two 9.5s and went down to one 7.75.
“It was the first time this season I was able to do my quad in the Short Program,” said a relieved Takahashi. He is taught by Utako Nagamitsu and Nikolai Morosov. His choreography was developed by Nanami Abe and Shae-Lynn Bourne.
His Free Skate, set to music from the dramatic Italian opera, “I Pagliacci”, was not so good. He fell on his first jump, his quad toe loop and could not do the second jump in the combination. That meant he had to go to Plan B and combine a triple toe loop with his second quad toe loop. That, he did successfully, although the second jump was saddled with an “e” for slight under-rotation. He stepped out of his triple Axel, which was given a slight negative -0.29 GoE. His only other deduction was for his second triple Axel on which he was forced to put his hand on the ice to keep from falling. He was, however, able to tag on a double toe loop as planned. His triple loop, triple Salchow, triple Lutz to double toe to double loop and triple flip were all good. Two of his spins were Level 4. The “layback” and the steps were Level 3.His component score went up to a 9.75 down to one 8.25.
He said, “I am very happy that it’s a gold medal result but, as a performance, I am not satisfied. It wasn’t that good. I am happy that I was able to land the second quad for the first time since my injury. Being here was a good experience, but there are lots of challenges that remain.” Asked about the possibility of him facing Evgeni Plushenko in the Olympics, Takahashi appeared to not quite know what to say. Eventually, he said, “I will be 27 in Sochi and he’s going to be 31. He’s been at the front line for how long? He was second in the 2002 Games. He is a bit of a dark horse in this big game. It’s a bit scary. I am concerned about my stamina. How does he keep his? But, if he does compete, I’m looking forward to it if he will kindly accept me as a rival.”
2. Overall 264.29; 3.SP 87.17 (46.76+41.41 -1); 2.FS 177.12 (91.96+85.16); Yuzuru Hanyu is a fast-improving youngster who turned 18 on the day he performed his Short Program. Hanyu was practicing in his home rink in Sendai, in northern Japan, when the earthquake and tsunami struck in 2011. The rink started shaking and he fled outside, ruining his blades. Perhaps if his life had not been disrupted in this way, and he had not been forced to look for training facilities in another part of Japan, his life might have stayed on a different plateau. As it is, he is forging ahead, having won bronze in the world championship earlier this year in Nice, which led to him going to Toronto to train with Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson, and work with choreographers David Wilson and Jeff Buttle.
He opened this season with gold in both the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany and the Finlandia Trophy in Espoo. He earned his way to Sochi by taking silver in the Hilton Hhonors Skate America and gold in his own country’s NHK Grand Prix. In Sochi, he began his Short Program routine, which is set to “Parisian Walkways” by Gary Moore, with a +0.57 quad toe loop, followed by two Level 4 spins. The flying camel earned an extra +0.93 and the change foot sit spin +0.71. His triple Axel was deemed worthy of an extra +1.57 points. But then he sat down on the second jump of his combination, triple Lutz to triple toe loop. His Level 4 step sequence gained two of the maximum GoEs of +3. His final move, a Level 4 change foot combination spin earned Level 4 with +0.64. His components ranged from one 9.0 down to two 7.25s.
Hanyu said, “Up until now, I had no misses in my Short Program. I was quite confident going on to the ice. But I learned today, that you don’t always have perfect skating. The mistake made me a little bit tired. You know it is going to affect your scores greatly.
Hanyu’s Free Skate was set to “Notre Dame de Paris” by Richard Cocciante. Again he began with a quad toe loop which was SO good, it earned six of the maximum +3 GoEs with the other three judges punching in +2. But the second quad, this one a Salchow, turned into a double. That was followed by a triple flip, which received an “e” for wrong edge take-off and was penalized with a -0.20.
But then he got back on the fast track. His Level 4 flying change foot combination spin earned an extra +0.79, and the Level 3 steps gained +0.71. His triple Axel to triple toe loop, set at the halfway mark when the bonus points click in, earned all +2s and he banked 15.86 points. The next element was also a triple Axel, this one combined with a double toe loop with arms over his head. That earned 12.64. Then came a +0.90 triple loop, a +0.50 triple Lutz to double toe loop to double toe loop, and a lovely, very high +1.30 triple Lutz, which received two +3 GoEs. His choreographed sequence followed, which earned one +3 and he finished up with two Level 4 spins. The change foot combination spin earned an extra +0.79 and the flying change foot camel an extra +0.86.
Hanyu said he would now work hard to prepare for Japanese nationals. “I need to work on controlling my mental aspect as well as making sure I am getting enough rest. I partly started skating because of seeing Plushenko on television. I would love to skate against him in the Olympic Games. I hope that I will be strong enough to skate against him.”
3. Overall 258.66; 2.SP 89.27 (44.74+44.53); 4.FS 169.39 (79.75+90.64 -1); Patrick Chan, the Canadian twice world champion, kicked off his Short Program, set to Rachmaninov’s “Elegie in E-Flat Minor”, with a quad toe loop which was planned to be combined with a triple toe loop. But that didn’t happen. He still earned 11.73 points for the move. For his second element, the triple Lutz, he received five of the maximum +3 GoEs and the four other judges punched in +2. Then came a Level 3, +0.57 Change Foot Camel spin. His triple Lutz was set at the half way point for when the bonus marks click in. But because he had failed to do the second jump with the quad toe loop, he had to include it with this jump. The pressure this put on him resulted in the 21-year-old, five-time national champion executing a double Lutz. Despite that shock, he managed to attach a triple toe loop but stepped out of the landing.
“It was a great quad toe,” Chan later explained. “It should have been quad toe-triple toe, which is how I train it. You do have the best speed coming into the first jump. I had to think on my feet, but there was not enough speed coming into the Lutz.” The following flying sit spin was Level 3 with +0.79; his step sequence was Level 4 with two of the maximum +3 GoEs, and his final element, a Level 4, +0.86 change foot combination spin.
Chan, who is taught by Kathy Johnson and Eddie Shipstad, was not too distraught. Although Takahashi was 4.41 points ahead of Chan on the technical score, Chan had the advantage of 1.39 points ahead his Japanese rival on the components. Overall, the difference between them as first and second was 3.02. Chan said, “Three points is not a lot. It is really easy to make up that difference. I stayed on my feet and I’m happy with that.”
But it did not turn out that way. Chan’s Free is set to Puccini’s “La Boheme”. He opened with a quad toe loop and fell. He immediately repeated the move, this time successfully earning a total of 9.81 points, but he did not try to attach the triple toe loop which was meant to accompany the first jump. Then came a good +1.30 triple Lutz and a +1.14 Level 3 step sequence, which earned +3, the maximum GoE from three of the nine judges. After a Level 3 change foot camel spin, which gained +0.71 over its base value, he tried a triple Axel as the bonus marks clicked in but stepped out, getting -0.86 removed from the jump’s base value of 9.35.
Then came two jumping passes: an OK +0.30 triple loop, and a good +1.20 second triple Lutz combined with a double toe loop. His flying sit spin was the maximum Level 4 with +0.71. Then came an impressive triple flip to single loop to triple Salchow which earned a total of 12.10 points. Chan is known for his artistry so it was no surprise when his choreographed sequence, which has only one Level, 1, gained three +3s and the rest +2 from the judging panel.
Then he made a really foolish strategic error His next move was a double Axel. Because he had not earlier executed the triple toe loop on one of the quad toe loops, he thought he could garner a few extra points by adding a double toe loop to this final jump. But skaters are allowed to execute ONLY three combinations or sequences. Although both quad toe loops were done without a second jump, one was automatically classed as a sequence. That, and his two other combinations, meant this one was illegal and he got no points for it at all. The base value for a double Axel is 3.30, so Chan literally threw away those points.
The routine concluded with a Level 4, +0.71 change foot combination spin. “Looking at the program, there were lot of good things, - the triple Axel and the triple loop,” Chan said later. “Then I did the extra combo. I know not to do it again! It’s a learning experience.The year after the Olympics, I improved a lot and was motivated to be better than anyone else. Now a lot more skaters are doing quads, two in the program. The boundaries have been pushed forward. I’m glad I’m not going to Japanese nationals. I don’t have six men with a target on my back chasing me for a spot on the world team. I’m going back to Toronto to enjoy the holidays. I feel like a lazy bum next to these guys but this is what my body needs.” When asked what he thought about Evgeni Plushenko returning to the Olympics, Chan smiled. “He is a unique situation. Plushenko is the odd duck in the group. He always comes prepared. Plushenko is always a challenge.”
His components were seven 9.50 down to four 8.50s. They earned the top spot in this category, although not by much. However, his technical mark was only fifth best. He said, “I remember when I came last in my first Grand Prix Final. But, I thought, ‘Geezz! Who remembers who won the Grand Prix Final, anyway?’ Nobody remembers. People only remember who won the Olympic or world gold.” He did make sure he congratulated Takahashi. And he did say, he enjoyed the site. “It’s like no place I’ve ever been before. I love skating so close to the Sea, the warm temperature and still seeing the snow topped mountains.”
4. Overall 258.66; 5.SP 80.19 (42.94+38.23 -1); 1.FS 178.43 (95.93+82.50); Javier Fernandez, 21, was born in Madrid, a country known for many things but hardly on the figure skating map. Nevertheless, in his six world championships, Fernandez has steadily climbed – 35th, 30th, 19th, 12th, 10th, and, earlier this year 9th. He has Olympic experience, taking 14th in the Vancouver Games. Fernandez caused a sensation in 2011 when he nearly beat Patrick Chan in Skate Canada in 2011. He finished second overall. But this season, he beat Chan in both sections of the Skate Canada Grand Prix, and claimed gold. However, because he was only fourth in the Japanese Grand Prix, he came into this Final as the sixth qualifier and had to do his Short Program immediately after the warm-up, an unpopular position because the skater gets short-changed because he can’t go flat out in the warm-up session. His Short Program, set to “The Mask of Zorro,” was not bad but he did make two errors.
He fell on his opening move, a quad toe loop. His triple Axel was good enough for one judge to punch in the maximum +3 GoE, and seven of the others to award +2. One solitary out-of line judge gave zero, which still means adequate in every aspect. His flying upright spin was Level 4 with +0.43. His combination of triple Lutz to triple toe loop earned a total of 11.41. His change foot sit spin lost a minimal -0.09. His steps were only Level 2 with +0.79. However, he finished on a high note with a Level 4 combination spin which earned an extra +0.43. His components topped with five 8.50 and went down to three 7.0.
He said, “I think it was good. I had a mistake for some reason in the quad. (He fell.) It is a pleasure to be here with the world’s top skaters. It’s a help to see the arena where we will skate in the Olympics. It’s good that we get to have a “practice” run. When I came here and saw the (good) weather, I was actually a little bit surprised. I absolutely don’t mind the warm weather!”
Earlier in the year, he told his coach, twice Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser, that he wanted to do a Free Skate in which he played Charlie Chaplin. It is a great concept and he does it well, without being over-the-top. So well did he interprete the beloved character, he won the Free Skate although that was only good enough to raise him one place overall to fourth.
He opened with a +0.86 quad toe, followed by a +0.71 quad Salchow to triple toe loop, and then a +1.57 triple Axel. All his spins were Level 4. The change foot sit spin an extra +0.50. His Level 4 step sequence earned an extra +1.20. At the bonus point he did a quad Salchow which earned a total of 13.14 points. His triple Lutz to double toe loop had minus 0.10 subtracted and he doubled his loop. But a triple flip to single loop to triple Salchow earned a total of 11.60. His flying change foot combination spin received +0.07. His choreographed sequence gained an extra 1.10. A triple Salchow received +0.70 and his final spin got an extra +0.21. The components ranged from one 7.50 up to one 9.50.
He was the only European to make the Grand Prix Final but he doesn’t see himself as the favorite to win that title. If (Evgeni) Plushenko decides to defend his European title, he certainly will be hard to beat. He is still a star, probably forever.”
5. Overall 253.27; 4.SP 86.39 (46.64+40.75 -1); 5.FS 166.88 (85.58+82.30 -1); It was inevitable Takahiko Kozuka would become a skater. It’s in his genes. His father, Tsuguhiko Kozuka, was a figure skater in the 1968 Winter Olympics and his mother is a former ice dancer. They both partially coach the now 23-year-old in Nagoya, although Nobuo and Kumiko Sato are named as the official coaches.
David Wilson choreographed his Short Program, set to the Exodus Overture. In 2011 he won the Japanese title and was second in the world, but he was only 11th in this last world championship. In the Olympic Games, he was 8th. He also has been three times runner-up for the national gold.
He opened with a quad toe loop, which earned a full point over its base value. Then came a +0.57 Level 3 change foot camel spin and a +0.79 Level 4 flying sit spin. But then, on his triple Axel, he fell into a crouching position. His triple Lutz to triple toe loop was earned an extra 1.20, his Level 4 steps gained not only an extra +1.40, but one judge punched in the maximum +3 GoE. His concluding spin was Level 3 with +0.93. His components ranged from three 7.25s up to two 8.75s.
He explained, “I was able to land the quad but my Axel didn’t work that well. When I was in the air, I felt that my rotation was was a little bit lacking, so it ended up as a fall.”
His Free Skate was choreographed by Marina Zoueva and her son, Fedor Andreev, to Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso Op.28 by Camille Saint-Saens. He opened with a +1.86 quad toe loop but he got an arrow and fell on his second attempt which ended up with only 2.76, less the point off for the fall. And his triple Axel was a mess and earned only 6.36. Then came a +0.64, Level 4 change foot combination spin; Level 3 steps received +0.86; and a +1.29 triple Axel to double toe loop to double loop. That was followed by a +0.57 Level 4 flying sit spin. Then came a +1.20 triple flip; a +0.90 triple loop; the choreographed sequence and then a +0.90 triple Lutz to triple toe loop. Their final triple Salchow received +0.90 extra. Their final element a flying change foot combination spin received +0.71. Kozuka said, “The ice doesn’t allow you to jump you triple Axels on the very edge, and you have to watch out a little bit more.”
6. Overall 198.63; 6.SP 70.58 (34.30+37.28 -1); 6.FS 128.05 (56.41+72.64 -1);Tatsuki Machida, 22, is relatively unknown. He has been fourth twice in the Japanese championships and was second in the 2010 Four Continents championship. Born in Hiroshima, In 2011 he relocated to Lake Arrowhead, where he is now trained by Anthony Liu. His choreography has been created by Philipp Mills and Stephane Lambiel. He came into this event by earning bronze in the Hilton Hhonors Skate America and winning the Cup of China, where he set his Personal Best for both his Short Program and Overall scores.
Skating his Short Program to “F.U.Y.A.” by C2C, he fell on his opening triple Axel and jackknifed the landing of his triple flip although he still got airborne for a double toe loop, meant to be a triple with which it was combined. His triple Lutz was deemed worth of an extra +0.70 over its base value. His three spins and the footwork were all Level 4.
His long program was set to Stravinski’s music for the ballet “Firebird”. He began with a triple Axel, which one judge thought good enough for the maximum +3 GoE. However, his second jump, a quad toe loop was saddled with two arrows for under-rotation, and he earned only two points for this attempt. He also singled his second attempt at a triple Axel, doubled a planned triple loop and singled a planned triple flip. However, his steps and one spin were the maximum Level 4, and the other two spins were Level 3 all with good GoEs.He admitted, “The skill aspect has not been going very well. That might be the cause of the fall, but I tried to keep performing till the very end. I thought it might be easy to compete among such good skaters, like it was at my two Grand Prix events. But, when I came here, it was a different picture. I found it very difficult to compete. The pressure got to me.”