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2013 Skate Canada: Ladies Free Skate

by Alexandra Stevenson

Russian, a Joy to Watch, but Can She Keep her Flexibility When She Grows?

Japanese Old Timer Ready to Quit After This Season Takes Silver; Gold Claims Bronze

The Ladies skated their Free in the reverse order to their placement in the Short Programs, in which Lipnitskaya finished second to Gracie Gold.

1.  Overall 198.23; 1.FS 131.34 (70.46+60.88) Julia Lipnitskaya, Russia, who was second after the SP, was the youngest (she turned 15 on June 5) and smallest competitor. Her routine was set to “Schindler’s List” and she was “dressed” in a red “coat” with black gloves and a gray, torn skirt underneath, based on one of the child victims in the movie, which she has seen. She made only one error. On her opening move, a triple Lutz combined with a triple toe loop, she was given an “e” for wrong edge take-off on the Lutz, which lost her -0.30 on the base value of 10.10.

Her second move, double Axel to two double toe loops, gained +0.70 over its base value of 8.70. Her flying camel spin and Straight Line Steps both received the maximum Level 4 from the Technical Panel, with +0.93 and +1.00 respectively added to those elements’ base values. Two of the judges gave the spin their maximum Grade of Execution +3, while four others punched in +2 while the remaining three gave +1s.The steps received five +1s and four +2s.

That brought the routine to the halfway stage where the 10% bonus marks click in. She did a good triple flip but then her double Axel got straight 0s, which meant nothing was added or taken away from the base value plus 10%, which was 3.63. A triple loop received +0.30, a triple Salchow +0.90, and a triple Lutz to double toe loop earned a morsel, +0.10 over its base value.

Then came the three final moves which were glorious and earned some of the rare maximum +3 Grades of Execution. The Level 4 layback spin received four +3s and the rest +2s. The choreographed section earned two 3s, five +2s and two +1s. She concluded with a change foot combination spin with “her” variation in which she finishes in a blur while holding spinning on her right leg but with her left foot above her head, and rotating so fast she becomes a blur. Eight judges gave the maximum they could, which was +3. Yet, one, who had given a +3 for her layback spin, gave only +1. I would love to know the reason. Her components ranged from a high of two 8.75s down to a low of one 6.25.

Afterwards, she sounded very mature. “I'm never really thinking about winning, when I have won something. For me, you have to go on. You have to continue to work. You cannot remain in the same place. You have to move forward all the time.”

2.  Overall 193.75; 2.FS 127.99 (61.76+66.23) Akiko Suzuki, Japan, now 28, has said this is her last season, and she seems to be savoring the experience. She wore a silver sleeveless outfit with a blue skirt. Her music was from “Phantom of the Opera”. She had planned to start with a triple flip to double toe loop to double loop, but stepped out of the first jump, and couldn’t do the two other jumps, which meant she earned only 3.80. Her second element was planned as double Axel to triple toe loop and she added a double toe loop to that. However, she was saddled with an arrow for slight under-rotation on the second jump. Still the element earned 7.36. Her triple Lutz got an “e” for wrong edge takeoff and she lost 0.60 from its base value.

Her flying camel spin and steps were both Level 4 with +0.64 and +1.70 extra on those elements’ base values. Then, at the halfway mark, where the 10% bonus for jumps clicks in, she did a triple flip to double toe loop. That gained her a total of 7.56. Her second triple Lutz again received an “e” for wrong edge take-off AND also got an arrow for slight under-rotation.

But everything else was good. Her triple loop earned +0.50; the choreographed section got +1.90, almost doubling its base value of 2.0 (because the judges gave six +3s, two +2s and one +1); and the

triple Salchow got an extra +0.70. She finished with two Level 4 combination spins. The first gained four +2s and five +1s, but the second received all +2s apart from one +3, meaning she ended on a high note appreciated by both judges and audience. Her components included two highs of 9.25 going down to one 7.0. The gap between Lipnitskaia and Suzuki was 4.48, but the difference between silver and bronze, which was won by Gold, who turned 18 in August, was 7.10.

3.  Overall 186.65; 3.FS 117.20 (56.09+62.11 -1) Gracie Gold, USA, who had beaten her personal best by seven points winning the SP, dropped out of the lead to earn the bronze. Gold, who skated last, to Tchaikovsky’s music for the ballet, “Sleeping Beauty”, in a lovely lilac outfit with, on the shoulders and top a black spider web design, said, “It was not a perfect performance. But I look forward to going back to L.A. and training even harder. I think it’s a great way to start the season and a bronze medal at a Grand Prix is something I’ll always take.”

The 18-year-old, who recently began training with Frank Carroll, opened with a +0.80 triple Lutz to triple toe loop but the following double Axel lost -0.36 from its base value and she wasn’t able to do the second jump of the planned combination, a triple toe loop. Her third element was a good, +0.70 triple loop and the fourth an excellent Level 4, +1.14 flying combination spin, which earned three of the maximum +3 GoEs with the rest of the judging panel giving +2. Her Level 3 steps received straight +2s.

However, she got an “e” for wrong edge takeoff on her triple flip, set at the halfway point where the 10% bonus for jumps clicks in, and she fell on the following triple Lutz. Then she almost sat down on her triple Salchow, which got a double arrow for a downgrade to a double, which was meant to be combined with two double toe loops. She recovered with a Level 4 change foot combination spin which earned one +3, seven +2s and a +1. Her last jumping pass was a double Axel to which she wisely added the two double toe loops which were meant to be added to the triple Salchow. She finished with a Level 3 Layback spin, which also earned a +3 from the same judge which gave this award for her ninth element, along with six +2s and two +1s. Her component scores ranged from a low of one 6.75 up to two 8.75s.

4.  Overall 173.69; 5.FS 110.87 (53.95+56.92) Christina Gao, USA, skating sixth to “Angels and Demons” maintained her fourth place from the Short Program, although she was fifth in the Free Skate. She started with a triple flip but combined it with only a single toe loop instead of the planned triple. The double Axel which followed only received its base value and the following triple Lutz to double toe loop got an “e” for wrong edge take-off and she lost -0.90. However, her steps were Level 3 with +0.50, and her flying sit spin earned Level 4 with +0.43. However, then she doubled her flip.

However, her triple loop was good with +1.10 and the Level 4 change foot combination spin earned an extra +0.50. A triple Salchow which earned just +0.10 over its base, was followed by her last jumping pass, a triple toe loop to double toe loop to double loop which got an extra +0.60 as did her choreographed section which followed. She finished with a flying camel combination spin which received Level 2 with +0.50 GoE. Her components ranged from one 6.00 up to one 0.75.

5.  Overall 163.11; 6.FS 103.98 (48.98+56.00 -1) Amelie Lacoste, the 2012 Canadian champion, was fortunate in that, although she was sixth in both sections, she was fifth overall. Skating to music from the “Amelie” soundtrack, she opened with a +1.30 triple loop but the triple flip which followed got a double arrow and lost -0.90. She sprung back with a triple Salchow to double loop earned +0.80 over its base. Then came her Level 3 steps which got +0.71 extra. A double flip to double toe loop received only +0.21 and the double Axel which followed had -0.07 removed. Then came a triple loop to two double loops which got an extra 0.50. Her layback spin was only Level 2 with +0.21. After her choreographed section, she fell on a double Axel, and finished with a change foot combination spin which was only Level 1. Her components went from six 7.50 down to one 6.00.

6.  Overall 162.00; 4.FS 111.30 (62.31+49.99 -1) Courtney Hicks, USA, improved from ninth and last place in the SP, climbing three places overall with a Free which was fourth best. She opened with a triple flip to triple toe loop which gained +0.80 over its base, followed by a +0.90 triple Salchow and a +0.57 Level 4 flying camel spin. Her straight line steps were Level 3 with +0.29 but her double Axel gained only its base value. She fell on the third jump in her combination of triple Lutz to double toe loop to double loop, and the last jump got an arrow. She repeated the triple Lutz getting an extra +0.60 GoE. Her triple loop to double Axel sequence of jumps received +0.40 over its base value plus 10%. After a Level 3 flying change foot combination spin which earned an extra 0.21, she did a triple flip, which got an extra +0.60. However, after her choreographed section, she finished with a change foot combination spin which was only the basic Level 1.

7.  Overall 145.88; 7.FS 93.53 (45.04+48.48) Natalia Popova, Ukraine, who skated to music from “La Bayadere”, in purple, was seventh throughout the event.

8.  Overall 138.13; 8.FS 87.42 (41.93+47.49 -2) Veronik Mallet, Canada, gained some great experience. The 19-year-old late bloomer, who was fourth in her first international in the recent Nebelhorn Trophy, skated to music from “Funny Girl”. She began with a good triple flip to double toe loop, and finished with a good Level 4 spin, but she had two bad falls, and got no marks for her 11th element which was an illegal repeated move.

Withdrawn, after taking fifth in the SP, was the current Canadian champion and defending Canadian Grand Prix gold medalist, Kaetlyn Osmond, who suffered a hamstring. “I was hoping it was just some sort of cramp so I showed up for practice Saturday morning hoping it would feel better with a bit of loosening. But when I got on the ice, I could barely put any weight on my leg. Trying to do any choreography was really painful. Her coach, Ravi Walia, decided there was no option but to pull out. Osmond further explained, “It’s an injury I’ve had before, several years ago and it has come back from time to time, though never this bad. It just won’t go away.”

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