by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford
(29 October 2017) Aliona Savchenko (33 years old) & Bruno Massot (28), silver medalists at the World Championships in March 2017, won the pairs short program at Skate Canada in Regina, Saskatchewan clearly with 77.34 points.
Skating to the Flamenco „Ameksa – Fuego“ by the Taalbi Brothers and edited by Maxime Rodriguez, they began with a huge triple twist. Massot threw Savchenko so high that the technical panel could not see her on their computer screen because she flew out of the camera. But on the big screen in the rink the specialists could confirm what they had seen live: Savchenko had raised her arm in the air, which is an additional feature for a level. For the first time therefore they had a level 4 on this element. Six of the nine judges awarded them with GOEs of +3.
Next was a throw triple Axel which nobody else tried. Savchenko stumbled and stepped out of the element but did not fall. The side by side triple Salchow was O.K. and the other four elements all had a level 4 and were excellent. Massot commented: “It is still the beginning of the season, so there were small mistakes.” Savchenko added: “But I think it is a good start. We just have to work more. This season we have worked a lot on the throw triple Axel and it was very good already. We’ll keep working and one day we’ll do it. Massot said: “We chose this music because nobody else has skated to it. We looked if it fits for us and it did fit. We want to skate in the same quality as ice dancers.” The components had an average of 9.2, with ten times 9.5 as highest ones.
The 2015 and 2016 World Champions Meagan Duhamel (31) & Eric Radford (32) are second after the short program, earning 73.53 points. The students of Bruno Marcotte, who split from Richard Gauthier in springtime, skated to “With or Without You” by the group U2, with intense interpretation, but a bit slow. Their triple twist was very good, but then Duhamel performed the side by side Lutz only double and Radford triple as planned, which meant GOEs of -2. The triple throw Lutz was clean and the four other elements had a level 4 and were excellently performed. Their components were around 9.0, which was a bit of a home advantage. ”We felt really good out there, we love this short program,” Duhamel commented. “I’m really disappointed in my stupid mistake, but I will do a beautiful triple Lutz tomorrow. 90 percent of the focus in our training before this competition has been on our long program after our disastrous skate at Autumn Classics. Our main focus for this competition was to deliver a strong long program, so that’s what we’re going for tomorrow.”
Vanessa James (30) & Morgan Ciprès (26) from France, who train with John Zimmerman in Florida, sit third with 73.04 points. They began their sultry program to the Blues ‘Make It Rain’ by Ed Sheeran with a good triple twist, followed by a side by side triple Salchow in perfect harmony and a good triple throw Lutz. The other elements got plus points as well, the step sequence was even stellar. Their components were around 8.6. Ciprès said: “It is the first big competition, so we made some little mistakes, but we are happy with it.” James added about their strategy for the free program: “It is everybody’s goal to do a clean program, whether you are five points behind or 0.5. Everybody wants to win.”
Natalia Zabiiako (23) & Alexander Enbert (28) from the school of Nina Mozer in Russia, twelfth at the World Championships half a year ago, are on fourth position, winning 69.00 points. They performed a clean short program and included a side by side triple toe loop and a triple throw loop. The lift, the death spiral, the step sequence and the pair combination spin had a level 4, and the GOEs were mainly +1 and +2. Their competed to the soundtrack “Summer of 42.”
Liubov Ilyushechkina & Dylan Moscovitch from Canada finished fifth with 64.06 points. Skating to “In the air tonight” by Phil Collins, they began with a soso triple twist followed by a side by side triple toe-loop which Iliushechkina landed forward. The other five elements were good or very good. Their components had an average of 7.9. Iliushechkina who is Russian and competed for Russia until 2011, was even Junior World Champion with Nodari Maisuradze in 2009 and received Canadian citizenship in September 2017. But Canada has four very good pairs and three Olympic spots. Therefore it is not certain that they will be nominated for the Olympic Games in 2018.
Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier from the school of Rockne Brubaker in Geneva, Illinois, sit sixth, winning 63.26 points. They had been 20th at the world championships seven months ago. Their triple twist was excellent, the lift as well, the throw triple loop very good, but her triple Salchow a bit under-rotated. They skated to “All of me” by John Legend and had components with an average of 7.4. Although especially his body posture has improved with the help of their choreographer Marina Zueva, it is still far from very good.
The Chinese pair of Cheng Peng & Yang Jin, fifth at the Four Continents Championships 2017, placed seventh with 61.58 points. Peng missed the side by side triple toe-loop, whereas the other elements were good and the triple throw loop even excellent. They skated to the soundtrack of “Mr. and Mrs Smith” and Peng used an imaginary sword to kill her partner during the performance. Their components were around 7.4.
Sydney Kolodziej (24) & Maxime Deschamps (25) are a new Canadian team and train in the school of Bruno Marcotte and Richard Gauthier in Montreal. Kolodziej is American and began training again some months ago after pausing for five years. She landed the triple twist on his shoulders instead of in his arms, but the side by side triple Salchow, the triple throw loop and the other elements were clean. Nevertheless they finished eighth and last, earning 59.06 points.