by Alexandra Stevenson
Skate Canada is going for a record of holding the competitive events in a Grand Prix in the shortest possible time. The Pairs Short got underway at 3pm Friday. The proceedings finish after the scheduled two competitions in each of the four disciplines with the Mens victory ceremony at 21:55 on Saturday. Of course, that doesn’t include Sunday’s exhibition. In Skate America, the events ride over three days. Even the Trophee Bompard in Paris, which has always held their competition over two days, with the Exhibition on the Sunday, spreads the events out over a longer number of hours each day.
This “rushed process” is being done deliberately. A Skate Canada official explained, “Competition is a very stressful time for competitors. We want them to get ready and get it over with, with the least amount of waiting around. We particularly don’t want them having to compete on the Exhibition Day which can be very draining. This was definitely true of Mao Asada in Detroit. She not only had to do her Free on the Sunday, and then talk to the Press about her performance, she had to introduce the Gala for Japanese television, and then skate in one of the Final slots. “I don’t see where she got to rest, or even eat, at all,” one volunteer said.
In Saint John, New Brunswick, on the famed Bay of Fundy with its record breaking tides, on Thursday, the day of practice before the event, hoards of children were bused in to successively create an excitement in the Habour Arena, a 6,000-seat facility. It has an enclosed bridge leading to Atlantic Canada’s longest indoor, climate-controlled “pedway”, which allows pedestrians to connect virtually the entire uptown and waterfront core, without stepping outside! That is very useful in a town which receives a significant amount of rain and fog. The arena, which was built in 1993, has a cheerful atmosphere emanating from bright blue seats and surroundings, with an upper layer of emerald green.
Meanwhile the amount of Japanese media reporting on this event is overwhelming, second only to the host country’s very comprehensive coverage. The first event was the Pairs’ Short Programs.
The Press conference room was not kind to the Pairs medalists. Just after they were seated, a small waterfall came down on the gold medalists, who immediately shot out of their seats. Fortunately, it was just a small amount of water, but it certainly created a stir!
1. SP 69.57 (37.61+31.96) Meagan Duhamel, 27, & Eric Radford, 28, won bronze in the world championship earlier this year. They are also the Four Continents champions and have held the Canadian title for the past two years. With her first partner, Ryan Arnold, Duhamel became the first to be credited with landing a throw triple Lutz.
Their smiles, today, belie the black feeling both had felt independently, after the break-ups of their previous partnerships. Duhamel and Craig Buntin, who had twice competed in the world championships, were distraught at placing third in the 2010 nationals but not getting one of the two slots on the Vancouver Olympic team. Duhamel explained, “It was a dream, I had had for so many years, to go to the Olympics, and, when it was gone, it seemed like I had nothing. It was like I ran into a brick wall. I was completely lost.”
Her coach got her a tryout with Radford, who also was on the point of quitting. It was okay, but not great. But they were persuaded to keep trying, and they made small advances. Then, in 2012, they won the Canadian title by a very significant 18 points and, two months later, were fifth in the world championships. Now, after gaining bronze in the world championship in London, Ontario, they have even higher hopes.
Skating to music Radford composed in a tribute to his early coach, Paul Wirtz, who died in 2006, aged 47 of cancer, they opened with a triple twist, which earned Level 3 with an extra full point over the base value. . Their side-by-side triple Lutz solo jumps were flawed and they lost -1.40. The Axel Lasso lift was level 4 with +1.20. The pair combination spin was level 4 with +0.71. She faltered on the landing of their throw triple Lutz but did not fall and they lost only a point. They concluded with a Level 3, +1.0 back inside death spiral.
They were thrilled to be in the lead but in the press conference, a leaky pipe immediately above Radford’s head discharged a limited amount of water causing a brief panic. The Canadians were gracious about the unanticipated surprise. That might not have been the same if the water had come down on another nation’s competitors. The organizers made sure it would not happen again by moving slighting the skater’s seating arrangements.
2. SP 69.38 (39.46+29.92) Stefania Berton, 23, & Ondrej Hotarek, 29, Italy, who won bronze in the European championship in January, skated to music from the movie, “The Mask”. That bronze was the first medal Italy has ever won in an ISU pair skating championship, although he is actually from the Czech Republic. They had a great showing here in Saint John. It was an upbeat program and they looked as if they were enjoying themselves. And, yes, the bright yellow pants completely suited the music. She was in a gold outfit.
They began with triple toe loops which earned +0.90. All of their moves were well done with their lowest GoE +0.60 for their Level 2 triple twist. The four other moves, which are given Levels, were all the maximum 4.
3. SP 69.02 (39.46+29.56) Wenjing Sui, 18, & Cong Han, 21, who are from China’s northern city of Harbin, appeared in pretty outfits. They still look tiny compared to the other couples, and they work very hard. They are the three time world junior (2010-2012) gold medalists and 2010 Four Continents champions, who have competed in the world (senior) championships twice, placing 9th in Nice and 12th in London, Ontario.
Skating to “La Strada”, they opened with a throw triple flip which had great air time. Three judges rewarded them for this element with +3s and the rest gave nothing less than +2.Their solo triple toe loops were good. And their triple twist got Level 4, but just with +0.10 additional to that base value. Their reverse Lasso lift gained Level lift was a +0.50, Level 3 but their back inside death spiral was only a +0.70 Level 2.Their steps were Level 4 with +1.10 and their final element, the pair combination spin was Level 3 with +0.86.
4. SP 55.08 (31.47+24.54 -1) Mari Vartmann, 24, & Aaron van Cleave, 26, represent Germany. He was born in Comox on Vancouver Island in Canada. His family subsequently moved to the United States, but he is now applying for a German passport. He originally represented the United States in the 2007 world championship with Ameena Sheik. He and his current partner missed last season’s Grand Prix Series after he suffered a broken cheekbone in a practice accident. They skated immediately following the second warm-up to Sennen’s “Where the Light Gets In”.
Their triple twist got a “B” for basic and then he fell on the triple toe. Their throw triple Salchow gained a full point extra. Their Level 4 pair combination spin, Axel Lasso lift and step sequence, all received Level 4 with positives, but the back inside death spiral was the Basic with nothing extra.
5. SP 55.01 (31.47+24.54 -1) Haven Denney, who will turn 18 on October 28, & Brandon Frazier, who will be 21 on November 19, USA, train in Florida with John Zimmerman & Silvia Fontana. They are 2012 US and 2013 World junior champions, who were fifth in US nationals. They teamed up as roller skaters way back in 2002 and then turned to ice before breaking up. They got back together in the spring of 2011.
Performing to Malaguena, they began with a Level 2 triple twist and a superior throw triple loop, but he had a bad fall on their triple Salchows, which received a double arrow for downgrade to double. Their Axel Lasso good enough for Level 4 with +0.50 extra. But back inside death spiral was only “basic”. Their last two elements, the pair combo and the straight line steps were both Level 4.
6. SP 52.94 (27.36+26.58 -1) Paige Lawrence,23, & Rudi Swiegers, 26, Canadians who are from Manitoba and Saskatchewan teamed up initially because they both jump clockwise, while most skater rotate best anti-clockwise. Since her parents are in the rodeo business, it was initially thought she would go in that direction but she found her true calling in skating. It took a couple of years for them to completely gel but the hard work eventually paid off. They now split their training between Virden with Patricia Hole and Lyndon Johnston in Ellenton in Florida. They skated to music from “Oliver” and “I Put a Spell on You”. But they got off to a bad start. Their opening triple toe loops were messed up and their triple twist got only the Basic Level. The pair combination spin was Level 3 and the Axel Lasso lift Level 4. The back inside death spiral was only Level 2 but the step sequence was Level 4. But she sat down on the throw triple Lutz.
7. SP 52.69 (28.47+24.22) Lindsay Davis, 21, & Rockne Brubaker, 27, USA, opened this event. They train in Canton and skated to “The Little Flower” and “Skolkian African Dance” by Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong. They began with nicely matched triple Salchow jumps which earned an extra +0.60, but their triple twist received only a “B” for basic. Their throw triple Salchow lost a minimal -0.30.Their Lasso lift went up but, when they came to changing the hand hold, they lost support and she came down. They continued with their pair combo spin which was good enough to gain the maximum Level 4 as did their steps. They finished with their back inside death spiral.
8. SP 39.50 (18.64+21.86-1) Margaret Purdy, 18, & Michael Marinaro, 21, Canada, skating with her in a red dress, to “Unchained Melody” by Alex North, had an unfortunate showing. They are the 2010 Canadian Junior champions, who won silver in this past season’s World Junior championships and were fifth at senior level in the Canadian championships. Today was not their day. Skating fourth, they began with a low level 1 triple twist. Their side-by-side triple toe loops got an arrow for slight under-rotation. He didn’t get her airborne for the lift, for which they earned no points. And she stepped out of the throw triple loop. The death spiral got a “B” for basic However, the step sequence was Level 3 and the pair combination spin earned the maximum Level 4.
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