by Tatjana Flade
Anna Pogorilaya of Russia confirmed the dominance of Russian Ladies this season by striking gold at Skate Canada. Ashley Wagner (USA) looked improved over the Japan Open and took the silver medal while Satoko Miyahara of Japan earned the bronze in her senior Grand Prix debut. The Ladies event overall was at a good level and there were not many falls.
Pogorilaya took the lead in the short program. Skating to a version of Albinoni’s “Adagio” by Il Divo with lyrics, the 16-year-old completed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, triple loop, two level-four spins and a level-four step sequence. The only glitch was a shaky double Axel. The Muscovite scored 65.28 points. “I am obviously happy to be in first place now, but I am not too pleased with my performance. I would have interpreted the music better and it could have been technically stronger”, Anna said.
Her free skating to “Firebird” featured seven triple jumps including a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and a triple loop-single loop-triple Salchow as well as two level-four spins. Pogorilaya scored 126.53 points and racked up 191.81 points overall to win her second Grand Prix gold medal. “I was a little shocked about my performance, I really enjoyed it today. It felt easy, the audience was good. It is the first competition of the season and it went so well. There were just a few glitches, things that I need to work on”, Anna noted. Now she is heading to Cup of Russia for her next event. “I probably will take the emotions I had before I competed, because they were positive. I was able to focus in a way that I was able to turn in an almost ideal performance. From this event I’ll also take all problems I had in my programs and in training and I will try to improve them”, the teenager shared.
Wagner lost precious points in both programs due to under-rotated jumps. In her short to “Spartacus”, the back end of her triple flip-triple toe and the triple loop were under-rotated. Thanks to a good component score, the two-time U.S. Champion remained close to Pogorilaya with 63.86 points.”I am extremely pleased with tonight’s performance, considering that my first competition of this season was horrifying. It could have been stronger technically, but it’s early in the season and I’m really trying to teach myself to compete relaxed and not worry about what is going on around me”, Ashley said.
In her long program to three pieces from the “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack, Wagner landed four clean triples and two double Axels, but two other triples were under-rotated again. The 23-year-old earned 122.14 points and remained in second place with 186.00 points. “Today was a great thing for me. I was really happy with what I was able to accomplish and the skater I was able to turn into in two weeks of intense training. My second mark is pulling through for me, which makes me very happy. Technically I know that I have a little bit to work on, but I’m getting stronger and stronger”, the 2012 Four Continents Champion said.
“I think my mentality of the training season was that I wanted to make sure that I lasted all the way trough the season. So I was kind of pulling back a little bit in my training. I got home from Japan and was quickly told that that was not going to be an option ever again. Instead of doing one run-through a day I was pushing it to two or three and running section after section. So that way when I was nervous and got out on to the ice I was comfortable, because I knew that, no matter what, I physically could handle what I was doing”, she continued. “I think at this Grand Prix event I learned to compete calmly and to stay in control and to rely on my training to mentally back me up. I’m going to use this as a tool to build my confidence going into Trophee Bompard and hopefully for the rest of the season”, the 23-year-old explained when asked what she takes from this event.
Miyahara was ranked fourth in the short program. She under-rotated both jumps in her triple Lutz-triple toe combination, which cost her about three points. The flip got an “edge warning”, the spins and footwork were a level four. She had 60.22 points. The tiny 16-year-old then skated very well in her “Miss Saigon” free skating that included five clean triples. A triple toe and a triple Lutz were under-rotated again. The 2014 Four Continents silver medalist scored 121.53 points, a new seasons best, and pulled up from fourth to third at 181.75 points. “I was nervous at first, but as the program went on I was feeling stronger. At the end I felt the flow and I finished strong”, Satoko commented. “I will work on what I found I need to work on in these programs. I’ll be competing at NHK Trophy and I hope to do well there and to build on the confidence I got from here”, she added.
Courtney Hicks (USA) moved up four spots to finish fourth place (174.51 points). In the short she took herself out of contention when she doubled the Lutz. Doubling the solo jump is punished harder this season as there are zero points for this invalid element. In her “Anna Karenina” free program the athletic Californian produced five triple jumps and only missed the solo triple Lutz.
Rika Hongo of Japan delivered two solid performances and came fifth (171.74 points). Her short program was clean with a triple toe-triple toe combo and triple flip. In the long she skates to “Carmen” and completed five triples. However, the triple flip-triple toe was under-rotated and she put her hand on the ice on the solo triple Salchow. This rather tall Japanese skater is somehow reminiscent of two-time World Champion Miki Ando.
Russia’s Alena Leonova impressed with her cute “Charlie Chaplin” short program that was highlighted by a big triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple flip and double Axel, but the layback spin was weak. The skater from St. Petersburg noted that it is too early to say that she has come back since the free skating was still to come. Unfortunately she made many errors, most jumps were wobbly or not clean, three triples were underroated (one of them was even downgraded) and as a result Leonova dropped from third to sixth (164.15 points).
The ambitious Alaine Chartrand of Canada went for triple-triple combos but struggled with underrotations to finish seventh (156.22 points). Sweden’s Viktoria Helgesson had a costume malfunction in the free when her dress opened, but she was able to fix it quickly.
Canadian Julianne Seguin debuted on the senior Grand Prix. She is also competing in pair skating and with her partner Charlie Bilodeau is the top qualifier for the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.