2007 Skate Canada

Pairs Event

By Lynn Rutherford

Place Team Country SP FS
1 Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy GER 1 1
2 Jessica Dube & Bryce Davison CAN 2 2

Yuko Kawaguchi & Alexander Smirnov

RUS 3 3
4 Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hay CAN 4 4
5 Tiffany Vise & Derek Trent USA 6 5
6 Meagan Duhamel & Craig Buntin CAN 5 6


Short Program

Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Meagan Duhamel & Craig Buntin

  2. Tiffany Vise & Derek Trent

  3. Yuko Kawaguchi & Alexander Smirnov

  4. Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hay

  5. Jessica Dube & Bryce Davison

  6. Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy


Short Program Placements


Team Country
1 Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy GER
2 Jessica Dube & Bryce Davison CAN

Yuko Kawaguchi & Alexander Smirnov

4 Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hay CAN
5 Meagan Duhamel & Craig Buntin CAN
6 Tiffany Vise & Derek Trent USA

Jessica Dube & Bryce Davison

Germans Set High Standard

So, what are Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy’s goals this season?

"I can answer that in one easy sentence," Szolkowy said. "We want to win everything."

So far, the athletic yet creative Germans are making good on their pledge. They won the Nebelhorn Trophy in their home country in September and took the short program here at Skate Canada by 6.32 points.

Performing to music from a Bollywood movie soundtrack, Savchenko & Szolkowy outpaced the field with a unique program crammed with difficulty. They opened with a fine throw triple flip (+.98 GOE), followed by a triple twist and excellent side-by-side triple toe loops (+1.60 GOE). Their pair combination spin, though attractive, rated only Level 2, but their Axel lift was Level 4 and earned a +1.20 GOE.

The Germans closed their program with a Level 4 back inside death spiral (BIDS) in a good, low position; well-done side-by-side flying camel combination spins; and entertaining straight-line steps that rated Level 3. All eight of their elements earned positive GOEs from the ten judges.

"When the old season is over, in March or April, our coach Ingo Steuer starts to think about (new elements)," Szolkowy said. "One of the most important things for us is that our programs be different and ahead of the others."

The Germans have had to overcome not only Szolkowy’s injured right knee – he underwent arthroscopic surgery in July – but Steuer’s ongoing difficulties with his country’s sports ministry. Since it was revealed in early 2006 that Steuer, as a 19 and 20 year-old in East Germany, was a member of the Stasi secret police, the government has forbidden the German Skating Federation to use any public funds for his lessons or travel expenses. The skaters get free ice time in Chemnitz, Oberstdorf and other German rinks.

Jessica Dubé & Bryce Davison, winners of Skate America just a week ago, produced a cleaner, more energetic program here.

Skating to "Galicia Flamenco," the Canadian champions opened with side-by-side triple Salchows (-.60 GOE) and had easy sailing through the rest of their elements, despite Davison’s somewhat awkward camel position in their side-by-side flying camel combination spins. Dubé gained a lovely arch in their Axel lift (Level 3).

The couple earned 63.12 points (TES 36.88 + PCS 26.24), a new season best and 2.32 higher than at Skate America.

"We just skated with more confidence (than last week)," Davison said. "We still had a few shaky moments, there’s still room for improvement. I guess we had more fun out there because it is a home (country) crowd."

He added that they hadn’t made any adjustments to the program since Skate America.

"We have to be a little careful on the lift in both the short and long (programs), with the timing of the change of position and one-arm properly to get Level 4," he said. "Other than that, we’re happy with our Levels."

After their Skate America victory in Reading, Pa., the couple took Monday off and returned to their rink on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they made the two-hour drive from their rink to the arena here in Quebec City.

Both Dubé & Davison and Canadian bronze medalists Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hay have worked with Olympic champions (and new parents) Jamie Salé & David Pelletier going into this season. Pelletier concentrates on helping the men on lifts and throws; Sale tackles the look of the transition moves and "bringing out" the skaters’ personalities.

"We always knew that they [Dubé and Davison] were capable of doing something like (winning Skate America), but they were never able to train because of accidents and injuries," Pelletier said at a news conference here. "Now, they've been training a full year and we're just starting to see what they're capable of. They have a stage presence that is quite unmatched in the world right now."

Third place went to Yuko Kawaguchi & Alexander Smirnov of Russia, who skated a clean, elegant program to Saint-Saens’ "Rondo Capriccioso" marred only by Smirnov’s forward landing on the triple toe and a small collision on the landing of their triple twist. They placed third with 60 points (TES 36 + PCS 24).

"We made some small mistakes but for our first competition it was okay," Kawaguchi said.

The Japanese-born skater, who trains with her partner in Moscow under Tamara Moskvina, graduated from the University of St. Petersburg this summer with a degree in International Relations.

"We want it to be more fast (sic), and we have to fix the triple twist, otherwise we will only get Level 1," she added.

Langlois & Hay had a strong performance to Perez Prado’s "Historia de un amor," choreographed by Nikolai Morozov, which was marred by a few technical glitches. They opened with solid triple toes, and then had trouble with the landing of their triple twist, a new element they have just added to their repertoire this season. The Level 1 twist received just 3.60 points due to a -1.4 GOE.

Langlois also stumbled on the landing of the throw triple Lutz (-1.40 GOE), but the overall impression was good, especially I the circular steps and closing pair combination spin.

"We’ve just added the (triple) twist," Langlois said. "If we want a top spot, we have to do it. Unfortunately I smacked (Cody) with my elbow this time."

Earlier in the day, Pelletier said, "Cody just needs confidence, but this guy is the real deal. He's got the physique of a pair skater. He's got the temperament of a pair skater. I think they're a great match.

"A few years ago, Cody was finishing fifth on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. Now, he and Anabelle are 10th in the world. I think he's absolutely on the right track. (Langlois & Hay) are twice as fast over the ice as they were last year."

Performing to a tango, Meagan Duhamel & Craig Buntin opened with a well-done Level 2 double twist, followed by side-by-side triple Salchows. Buntin pitched forward on his landing, resulting in a -1.20 GOE. Duhamel had a shaky landing on the throw triple Lutz, and there were small problems on side-by-side spins and back inside death spiral, but overall the program showed promise. They earned 52.78 points for fifth place.

"We had fun they announced our names and we heard the crowd," Buntin said. "We worked hard for it, and we showed we belonged out there."

The couple began skating together in early June, after Buntin’s previous partner, Valerie Marcoux, retired.

"We struggled a little on a few elements," Buntin added. "Still, the program is about where we want it to be artistically. This was a huge step for us."

The couple’s next event will be the 2008 Canadian Championships in Vancouver this January, where Buntin – a three-time Canadian champion with Marcoux – will try to regain the podium with his new partner.

Americans Tiffany Vise & Derek Trent, who are coached in Arizona by Doug Ladret, skated a technically solid short that suffered from lackluster presentation. In addition, their side-by-side triple toe loops were downgraded to doubles. They placed sixth with 51.26 points.


Free Skating

Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Tiffany Vise & Derek Trent

  2. Meagan Duhamel & Craig Buntin

  3. Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hay

  4. Yuko Kawaguchi & Alexander Smirnov

  5. Jessica Dube & Bryce Davison

  6. Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy


Free Skating Placements
Place Team Country
1 Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy GER
2 Jessica Dube & Bryce Davison CAN

Yuko Kawaguchi & Alexander Smirnov

4 Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hay CAN
5 Tiffany Vise & Derek Trent USA
6 Meagan Duhamel & Craig Buntin CAN


Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy

Germans Head the Field

Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy made good on a bold commitment to win "everything" this season with a commanding free skate at Skate Canada.

The couple’s program to "L’Oiseau" from Cirque de Soleil’s "Nouvelle Expérience" show of the early 1990’s was intricate and inventive, a clear step above the field. They opened with a superb throw triple flip (+ 1.40 GOE), followed by a triple toe-double Axel sequence (+1 GOE). They collided on the landing of their (Level 1) triple twist – a move they began doing last season – but quickly recovered.

The couple missed their side-by-side triple Salchows (Szolkowy popped his into a messy single) and their back outside death spiral was awkward on both Savchenko’s descent and exit, and was reduced to Level 1.

Despite these flaws, the overall impression was one of spectacular lifts, striking positions and challenging steps. The couple ended their program with a throw triple Salchow, and although Savchenko appeared to touch a second foot down, they were not penalized by the judges (+.28 GOE).

"We chose this program with our coach (Ingo Steuer) because we want to be different from all the other (pairs)," Szolkowy said. "At the end of the competition, everyone has to say, ‘I remember the Germans.’"

Steuer, who won the world title in 1997 with Mandy Wötzel, said, "I was pleased today; of course, there were still some mistakes. Robin did a single Salchow, and there was a bit of a touch (down) on the last element. The twist was not so good.

"I will have to ask the technical specialist about the death spiral; to me, that was not a Level 1. Also, we will work more on the spins."

The Germans earned 119.19 points (TES 61.19 + PCS 58) in the free and 188.63 overall, taking the title by more than 14 points. They also won this event in 2005.

Canadian champions Jessica Dubé & Bryce Davison, winners of ’07 Skate America last weekend, performed another impressive free to "The Blower’s Daughter."

The first half of the program was clean and inspiring, starting with a softly landed Level 3 double twist with Dubé’s arms over head (+.7 GOE), followed by a powerful double Axel-double Axel sequence (+ 1.4 GOE) and a superb Level 3 Axel lift (+2 GOE). The program lost energy in its second half, after Dubé doubled then fell on an intended triple Salchow.

"They had one major mistake, compared to last week when there were two major mistakes, but overall I thought the program was better at Skate America," Annie Barabé, the couple’s coach, said. "There were some small mistakes on the footwork and the last lift was shaky.

"Still, with all of the factors – the 7 am practice today, the early (10:30 am) start, the home crowd – I’m very, very proud and happy they could skate this performance under pressure."

Dubé and Davison’s free took second place with 111.08 points (TES 59.92 + PCS 52.16). They won the silver medal with 174.20, assuring a spot in the Grand Prix Final in Turin this December.

Russians Yuko Kawaguchi & Alexander Smirnov had a technically ambitious program to "Love Story" that needed a bit more spark between the skaters to be considered in the same league with the German or Canadian free skates.

They opened with a good attempt at a quadruple throw Salchow (base value of 8); Kawaguchi rotated the jump, but turned out of a two-footed landing. Nevertheless, the move earned 6.24 points. Their triple toe-double toe combinations were solid, as were their triple Salchows and Level 2 double twist. Their finest lift was a Level 4 Axel; the burly Smirnov lifted and set down Kawaguchi with one arm, and the move seemed to go more than a third the distance of the rink.

The Russians earned 105.19 points for their third-place free skate (TES 58.11 + PCS 48.08) to capture the bronze medal.

"The (quad throw) was okay; I didn’t fall. We will work on it more," Kawaguchi, who has skated pairs with several partners since 1998, said. "I have been landing it in practice but the stability is not all there yet. I land it about 50% of the time.

"We have to practice all of the other elements; we can’t only concentrate on the quad. In the summer we could, but now we have to skate the programs and work on the expression, which makes everything more difficult."

"There are no big secrets to (learning) the quad throw," the couple’s coach, Tamara Moskvina, said. "We work on it the same way we work on all the other elements, slowly and safely."

Moskvina was asked to repeat her oft-told story of how Kawaguchi came to train with her.

"She watched the Olympics in 1998. She sent me a fax, saying, ‘I am Yuko Kawaguchi. I am 16 years old and want to skate pairs. I want to skate as well as Elena Berezhnaya, and I want to take (lessons) from her coach.’ Through her discipline and enthusiasm she defeated me and I started to teach her."

Moskvina added that she has long wanted to use the "Love Story" theme for a program, despite its close association with Jamie Salé & David Pelletier.

"I love this music for so many years, and I wanted it for Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze for the 2002 Olympics, but it was taken," she claimed.

"The music does not belong to a (specific) skater; it belongs to the composer, Francis Lai."

Performing their free skate to music from "Dr. Zhivago," choreographed by Nikolai Morozov, Canadian bronze medalists Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hay opened with a strong throw triple Salchow (+.84 GOE), followed by solid side-by-side triple toe-double toe combinations; a fine double twist; and triple Salchows. They were the only pair to execute two different triple jumps in the free skate.

Langlois could not hold the landing of the throw triple Lutz (-1.40 GOE), but all three lifts in the program were well done and rated Level 3 or 4.

"Kudos to the Russians for what they did out there, but I completely disagree with the placement," Pelletier, commentating for CBC, said. "I thought they had the best performance of the night, except for maybe the Germans. It goes to show that in any judging system you can have disagreements."

Langlois & Hay were fourth in the free (TES 57.97 + PCS 44.72 = 102.69 TSS) and fourth overall.

Like the Russians, Americans Tiffany Vise & Derek Trent excited the crowds by landing the throw quadruple Salchow in practice, but decided not to try the element in their free skate to "Les Miserables."

"We wanted to go for a clean program," Trent explained. "We made the decision at our early morning practice today. We’ll definitely try it at our next event (Tropheé Eric Bompard) or U.S. Nationals."

Vise & Trent climbed from sixth place in the short to fifth in the free (TES 55.62 + PCS 40.64) and fifth overall, with 96.26 points.

Performing to Puccini’s "Tosca," newly teamed Meagan Duhamel & Craig Buntin hit two high, strong triple throws, the Salchow and Lutz, after the halfway mark in their program, and showed promising lifts and spins. Unfortunately, Buntin fell on the opening triple Salchow, then doubled an intended triple toe. They placed sixth in the free with 91.38 (TES 50.22 + PCS 42.16) and sixth overall with 144.16.

"I’m disappointed in myself," Buntin said. "The Salchow is a new jump for me; I never tried it before Nebelhorn (this September) and I’m 27. After I missed it, going in to the toe, I knew we needed to hit (the toes) and I should have attacked it more."

The couple, whose only previous competition was a silver medal at Nebelhorn, still hopes for a second Grand Prix assignment.

"Who knows? A lot of pairs have pulled out (of the series)," Buntin said. "We’re planning to do Eastern Challenge (Canadian qualifying competition) just to have another event under our belts."

2007 Skate Canada Pairs Medalists


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