by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(29 October 2017) In the press conference after the short program, Meagan Duhamel had been quite self-confident: "Mistakes like today and during my bad competition in Montreal in September will not happen tomorrow. We have focused our practice on the free program. We will perform clean elements.“ And she was right because her free program and that of partner Eric Radford was the best in three years. Therefore they won Skate Canada with 222.22. points.
In springtime 2017, they had decided to go back to their 2015 "Samson and Delilah“ and "Muse“ program because this was the most successful one in their career and helped them to become world champions for the first time. In 2017, they were only seventh at the World Championships. In Regina, they began their free program with a good triple twist, followed by a side-by- side triple Lutz, not very elegantly landed, especially by Radford, but safely. The next element was a quad throw Salchow which they had often missed, but this time it was deeply landed but on one foot. This element alone brought 9.34 points. The combination of triple Salchow and two double toe-loops was OK, the three lifts excellent, the throw triple Lutz good and everything else at least good. Their components reached 9.1, which was a bit too high, but the competition was in Canada and they made no mistake at all. The 3.000 spectators certainly gave them a standing ovation for their well-merited victory.
“We felt really good when we came into the rink tonight to perform,” Duhamel said. “We have been training the long program so well, so we had a lot of confidence in the mileage that we had put into that free program over the last few weeks at home. It’s really great for us to have that great skate here in Canada, because we’re not going to have the opportunity to perform here at home many more times. We have just our Nationals left. So to be able to have that moment one more time in Canada is a special memory for us.”
Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot from Germany were second at Worlds 2017 and therefore the favorites. But they finished only second, winning 215.66 points. They began their free program with probably the highest and best triple twist in the world, which was rewarded with a level 4 for the first time in their career and six GOEs of +3. Savchenko had learnt to raise her arm in the air in the last few weeks which is an additional level feature. Instead of the triple throw Axel, which they have mostly missed, they decided to perform only a double throw Axel, which was excellent and brought 5,50 points. But during the next two elements they lost the gold. Massot landed the second triple toe loop of their jump combination forward and made one step too many before so that the whole combination brought only 1.84 instead of eight or nine points. And then he popped the Salchow. The rest of the program was superb, the throw triple Salchow, the three lifts and the steps. Their style to the etherical music "La Terre Vue du Ciel“ ("The Earth seen from the Sky“) by the Maroccan composer Armand Amar is superior and was choreographed by Christopher Dean. They skated like ice dancers, included difficult transitions and got the highest components of the field, 9.2 on the average. They really performed a poem on ice. But the technical mistakes cost the first place.
“We were really well prepared for the long program, but some jumps were not working, but this was a sheer accident. We will keep on working but overall I am very positive,” Savchenko said. “We decided to do the throw Axel only double because last week I had a bad fall in practice and we do not want to take a high risk.” Massot added: “I was pretty secure on my jumps the past few weeks, but competition is like this. We have to control the stress and the pressure. Until our next competition at Skate America I will train jumps, jumps and jumps.”
Vanessa James & Morgan Ciprès from France won the bronze medal with 214.37 points. Since they moved from France to Florida to work with Silvia Fontana, John Zimmerman and choreogrpaher John Kerr, they have constantly improved. They skated to "Say Something” performed by Christina Aguilera and “Sense of Freedom” by Maxime Rodriguez and have developed a unique style. The first element was a very good triple twist which got GOEs of +2 by all nine judges. The combination of a triple toe-loop and two double toe-loops was clean as well, then James two-footed the landing of the quad throw Salchow. The side by side triple Salchow was excellent and all other elements at least good. “We are very happy with the result, this is our first Grand Prix podium outside France,” Ciprès said. “I think it was a great battle this week between the Germans, the Canadians and us. We still have a lot of stuff to work on and we want to keep going like this and see what is going to happen.”
Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert from the school of Nina Mozer in Russia had been twelfth at the World Championships in Helsinki and skated to a mix of Jazz and the classical version of Tchaikovsky’s ballet "Sleeping Beauty“. After a good triple twist Zabiiako under-rotated the triple toe-loop and added only two single jumps, whereas Enbert added two double jumps. Later both skaters stepped out of the triple Salchow. The other elements of their program were good, including a triple throw flip and a triple throw loop. Their style is a bit less interesting than the style of the top three pairs. Therefore the components had an average of only 7.9 and they finished fourth with 192.70 points.
Cheng Peng & Yang Jin from China could move up from the seventh place after the short program to the fifth position, earning 182.50 points. They skated almost without mistakes and with technically strong elements. In their jump combination Peng added only a single toe-loop to the triple toe-loop, whereas he jumped triple and double. Liubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch from Toronto finished sixth with 176.35 points and made several severe mistakes in their free program.
Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier who train with Rockne Brubaker in Geneva, Illinois near Chicago, are seventh, earning 172.95 points. They began their free program with a very good triple twist and a deeply landed triple throw loop. The two individual jumps did not work, but the lifts were very good. The triple throw Salchow was o.k., but Denney fell during a linking step. Sydney Kolodziej & Maxime Deschamps are a new team from Montreal and could perform many relatively good elements given their short training time together. They finished eighth with 164.03 points.