Meno and Sand withdrew from the event this afternoon following the last practice of the day. According to their coach John Nicks Sand aggravated his back in a practice Thursday. He was diagnosed with an inflammed sacroiliac joint and is experiencing lower back pain and muscle spasms. He expects to be back to his regular training schedule by next Wednesday or Thursday.
With the withdrawl of Meno and Sand, three teams remained to skate the long program. Eltsova and Bushkov led off with a very traditional program with nice lifts and spins but weaker jumps and throws. They landed their opening triple toes, but Eltsova turned out of double Axel, stepped out of throw triple loop and landed throw triple toe-loop on her toe.
Kazakova and Dmitriev followed with a very dramatic expressive program with good spins and lifts. They landed throw triple Salchow and throw triple toe-loop and side-by-side triple toe, with their only error Kazakova reaching on her triple toe. The program includes an unusual spiral sequence in which Kazakova is in a vertical forward split with her free leg on Dmitriev's shoulder. They separate with Kazakova holding the vertical split position, and then rejoin in the initial position - very cool. In placing second here they will now be a part of the Russian World Team.
Skating last were Woetzel and Steuer. They skated a very romantic and expressive program that drew an enthusiaistic audience response, receiving marks of 5.8/5.9 in the second mark. Their program had nice lifts and spins, but also a few minor problems with Woetzel reaching on triple toe and throw double Axel, and the catch on the triple twist a bit of a cheat.
As in previous encounters, Woetzel/Steuer and Eltsova/Bushkov tangled for the top spot, with Woetzel Steuer taking first this time in the short program. They landed side-by-side triple toes and had a good quality twist. Their lift, which was giving them problems during the warmup, worked when it counted and overall they skate will good speed and expression.
Elsova/Bushkov skated a capable program, but Bushkov stepped out of his triple toe-loop. Their twist was the best of the group but their expression was its typical bland self.
Kazakova/Dmitriev fought hard for the second place spot and took it. They landed side-by-side triple toes and also has an excellent twist. Their lift included some interesting variations in position and their presentation to "Also Sprach Zarathustra" was powerfull and dramatic. If they do well here they may yet be added to the Russian World Team.
Meno/Sand skated timidly, to end up fourth in the short. Sand put his hand down on triple toe, with the program otherwise clean. Their expression was pleasant enough but they skated cautiously and lethargicaly. They will have to start attacking their programs if they want to avoid being left in the dust here and in Lausanne.
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