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2015 Trophee Eric Bompard

Bordeaux, France

Paris Terror Stops Trophee Bompard - The Pairs short program was still underway in Bordeaux when terrorists struck in Paris, killing at least 129 people in different locations. Even during the Pairs press conference everyone was still unaware of what was going on in the French capital, about 500 km (350 miles) away, but then it didn’t take long until skaters, media and officials learned the terrible news.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

By order of the French Government, all sporting events in France are cancelled today as a result of the terrorist attacks in Paris last night that killed at least 127, it was announced here by Peter Krick, ISU Sports Manager for Figure Skating and Didier Gailhaguet, president of the French Ice Sport Federation.  Both the French Federation and the ISU had wanted to complete the event, but were overruled by the French Interior Ministry.

When making the announcement, Krick said that he would recommend to the ISU council that the results after the Short Program count as the final standings for Grand Prix Final qualification.  The issue of point based tie breakers will be decided at a future time.

After the noon meeting, the ISU released the following statement.

The Minister of the Interior Affairs of France, Bernard Cazeneuve, and the Mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppe, have informed the French Figure Skating Federation (FFSG) that the competition at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating event "Trophee Eric Bompard 2015" in Bordeaux has to be cancelled due to the state of emergency and national mourning days in France.

The International Skating Union and the French Figure Skating Federation express their deepest sympathy to the victims of the despicable terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13.

We expected enhanced security at the arena today, and walking around Bordeaux this morning we noticed bag checks have been instituted at the local shopping mall.  As we arrived, skaters and officials were streaming out of the building having just been notified at the above described meeting that the event was cancelled, while several dozen fans sat on the front steps unable to enter the building.

Early this morning (Colorado Springs time) U.S. Figure Skating released the following statement concerning Trophee Bompard.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Nov. 14, 2015) – U.S. Figure Skating is deeply saddened by Friday’s tragic events in Paris. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the victims, their families and the people of France.

We fully support the decision of French authorities to cancel the remaining portion of the 2015 Trophée Bompard event in Bordeaux, France.

U.S. Figure Skating is working with the ISU, the French Federation of Ice Sports and local authorities to ensure the quick and safe return of Team USA.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Will history repeat itself for Elizaveta Tuktamysheva at Trophee Eric Bompard?  As at Skate Canada she stumbled badly in the Short Program, falling on triple Axel, and triple Lutz, and with turns in the middle of her triple triple - triple toe loop.  Nevertheless, as at Skate Canada, she has the opportunity to move up several places.  Can she move up enough to make the final?

Gracie Gold outclassed the field here, and a win (or even a second place) will secure her a place in the final.  it was a commanding clean skate in the short for Gold.

Roberta Rodeghiero (ITA) skated a clean short and lies in third place, with 58.81 points.  At least five other ladies, however, are within striking distance of the bronze medal.

Estimated Attendance: 500

Like Tuktamysheva, Patrick Chan bought his Skate Canada short program woes to Trophee Eric Bompard.  Chan popped his opening combination to double toe loop - double toe loop, which earned zero points.  He also had a hand down on triple Axel, but scored big time in components with an average component mark of 8.8.  He is off the podium at this point by about 4 points, and easy point differential to make up with a strong long.  He needs to finish at least third to secure a place in the final on his own merits (without waiting to see how the next two Grand Prixs pan out).

Shoma Uno dazzled again, as he did at Skate America.  He landed quad toe loop and had component scores in the low eights.

Maxim Kovtun skated better than we would have expected from his first two practice.  He landed quad Salchow - triple toe loop and quad toe loop, though both with hands down on the landings.  His component scores were in the low eights for his dynamic performance to "I Can't Dance,"  though from the looks of it apparently he can, and really well!

Daisuke Murakami landed quad Slachow, with four judges marking it down.  On his combination he singled the second jump, which then became worthless, this being the short program.

Estimated Attendance: 750

The Pairs Short Program consisted of Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov and then by everybody else. The Olympic gold medalists opened up a nearly nine point lead with their Bollywood program.  Behind them six teams have 62.32 to 65.75 points, so just about any podium result is possible, except we are pretty sure the Austrian couple won't be on the podium.

During the practices we had doubts about the level of training of Trankov, but he put those doubts to rest, in the Short Program at least, getting through the whole program without difficulty.  Nevertheless, if we are allowed some nit picking, we did feel at several times in the program he was waiting for Volosozhar to do something rather then doing something himself;  that is, in a few places Voloosozhar was carrying more of the burden executing transition.

The current leaders after the Russians are Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres (FRA) and Julianne Seguin & Charlie Bilodeau (CAN).  The French team had the sexiest routine skating to "I Put a Spell on You," and the Canadian team had the liveliest routine to "Monde Inverse" (music from Cirque do Soliel).  The Canadian couple, in their first year in seniors, has an outside chance to make the final if they place second or third, though probably will need some help in the split among the pairs results in the last two Grand Prixs.

Six of the eight teams earned season personal bests in the short program.

Estimated Attendance: 700

The Short Dance resulted in a grouping of the top four from 64.45 points from the American couple Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue through Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland (GBR) with 58.34 points.  Each team is hungry to place as high as possible here (or should be) if they want to reach the final, as these teams are fighting for the fifth and sixth entries in the final, which will probably not be decided until the end of the series.

Hubbell & Donehue gave a passionate performance to "Halleluiah," and earned component marks that averaged near 8.  Gilles & Poirier's LSD fueled "time trip" was as enjoyable here as it was two weeks ago at Skate America.  Both their technical and component scored moved up slightly over Skate America.  Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin sit in third, 3.3 points behind the Canadians.

For the dance couples, every place is really going to count when it comes to making the final.  Since Coomes & Buckland were assigned only one Grand Prix this season (having missed the previous season) they could well act as spoilers if they move up in the standing and deprive one of the top three teams two precious points.

Estimated Attendance: 600

Notes from the morning practices:

Morning practice began with the ladies.  Elizaveta Tuktamysheva again "won" the practice; that is, looked the strongest and most consistent.  She landed two triple Axels and was solid in her triple triple with arms over the head.  Gracie Gold gave her a run for it though with a strong practice of her own, but Tuktamysheva has the technical edge on jump points.  Julia Lipnitskaia skated well and looks improved since Skate America.  Kanako Murakami looked more together than yesterday, but her triples were not all working today, particularly struggling with the triple-triple.  Angela Wang also had a better practice than yesterday, landing her triples, but she still looked slow and heavy in her run through.

Next year Bompard will be back in Paris.  The Grand Prix Final will be held in Marseilles.

The top three in the dance practice today, in our opinion, were again Stepanova & Bukin, Hubbell & Donohue and Gilles & Poirier.  Coomes & Buckland (GBR) also have high hopes here, in their first Grand Prix of the season, after missing last season due to illness, and had a strong run through.  All four couples look prepared, and are capable of producing scores near 160 points and above, so we anticipate this will be a close competition.

Patrick Chan had a strong practice and was the only one who looked secure in the whole package. Since Skate Canada he has added four seconds to the short program, two after his opening quad-triple combination and two after triple Lutz (element 4).  He said yesterday, though only a small change to the length of the program, it greatly reduced the pressure he felt staying on time in the program.

Daisuke Murakami landed quad Salchow cleanly in his run through and was generally cleaner throughout the practice than yesterday.  Shoma Uno had perhaps the second cleanest practice among the men.  Max Aaron struggled with his jumps, but generally held on to them, but it wasn't pretty.  Denis Ten landed his quad toe loop and triple Axel, but looked a bit tentative throughout the practice.  He is the big wildcard for the competition.  Maxim Kovtun was inconsistent throughout the practice, as he was yesterday.  Choreographically, however, his short program made a better impression than the long.

Like yesterday, Castelli & Tran showed off good elements, except for their side-by-side jumps -- their Achilles heel.  Sequin & Bilodeau attacked their practice and skated securely.  Volosozhar & Trankov skated well, when they were skating.  Trankov looks like he has no stamina.  They worked the "in between" of their program more than anything else.  Tarasova & Morozov struggled through their practice, and he looked  annoyed with the way their practice went.  Peng & Zhang skated well throughout the practice.  Their run through was cleanly skated, though with the lifts walked through.  Overall, however, they seemed slow, with their program not as choreographically sophisticated as needed today.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Today is the day of practice.

Denis Ten (KAZ) was not on the flight organizers expected him to arrive on yesterday, but he has not withdrawn, and may still complete.  Men are first up to practice today, and we will soon know the answer.

An hour later, and the answer is Ten is here for the practice.  Ten did not skate well at Skate America due to injury and earned no points for the final.  He cannot earn enough points here to reach the final as even a first place, worth 15 points, does not reach the 22-24 points skaters who reach the final typically need to earn.  He can, however, act as a spoiler if he places well enough here, affecting the chances of Shoma Uno (JPN) and Jason Brown (USA) of reaching the final.

World Champions Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) have withdrawn from the competition, leaving seven in the Dance event.  The couple is next schedule to compete at NHK, but with only one event, cannot earn enough points to make the final.  This will make it likely one more Russian dance couple will make it into the final (based on projections for series final point totals)

Florent Amodio (FRA) also withdrew from the competition last month after the deadline for substitutions, leaving 11 in the Men's event.

Who Won the Practices?

Tomorrow competition begins, and it is the performances there that count, but in practice today we got a hint of the condition of the competitors.  Our general impressions on the state of their training follows.

Patrick Chan (CAN) looked the strongest of the men showing both his athletic and artistic side.  Max Aaron (USA), not surprisingly, looked strong athletically running through his "Swan Lake" program but lagged several other skaters here on the artistic side.  Shoma Uno (JPN) and Daisuke Murakami (JPN) had decent practices, and we would rank them next for the day.  Denis Ten looked stronger than at Skate America but is still not near his peak form.  Maxim Kovtun (RUS) put a lot of dedication into his run through and general practice, but his jumps were a mess.  This is his first of two Grand Prixs and he did not impress.  For me, his choreography to various Beethoven pieces bordered on parody in places, with the music overwhelming him for much of the program.

The loss of the French couple has a lot of competitors in the dance event thinking they are going to pick up some easy points now.  The top three in the dance practice from our view were Stepanova & Bukin (RUS), Hubbell & Donohue (USA) and Gilles & Poirier (CAN).  The extra points they will earn here increases the chances Stepanova & Bukin can make the final.  Gilles & Poirier, however, need at least a second place finish to have a reasonable chance of reaching the final.  Hubbell & Donohue will have tough competition in their second Grand Prix, so a win here is nearly a necessity for them to have a realistic chance of reaching the final.

Wish we could tell you about the pairs practice, but we were in a Patrick Chan press scrum and missed the top teams.  Castelli & Tran (USA) had a decent practice, but they did not show off their side-by-side jumps which is their biggest problem area.

The Ladies event has the important match up of Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) and Gracie Gold (USA), both of whom place second in their first Grand Prix, giving each one 13 points.  "King Tut" ruled the practice with power and confidence.  Gold skated strongly but we see Tuktamysheva in control of this event.  Kanako Murakami (JPN) who placed fourth at Skate Canada looked tired and worn out.  Given the results in their first events it should be an interesting fight here between Murakami, Gabrielle Daleman (CAN) and  Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS).  Angela Wang (USA) looked slow and tired.  Both American ladies are fighting nine hours of jetlag.