by Klaus Reinhold-Kany
(4 November 2019) The Men’s Free Program at the French Grand Prix did not have a high level because like very often, the majority of the skaters make too many mistakes to have a good impression of their programs.
Like at Skate America two weeks before, Nathan Chen won his Grand Prix in France to “Rocketman“ in Elton John style with a big distance to the rest of the field, this time with 297.16 points. He certainly qualified for the Final. But he was not as good as in Las Vegas. In his free program, he landed a quad Lutz very deeply, he stepped out of the quad Salchow and the second quad toe loop. And his second triple Axel was a bit shaky. His victory was merited nevertheless after competing a combination of triple Lutz and double toe loop as well as a sequence of quad toe loop, Euler and triple flip. Other very good elements were his first triple Axel, the spins and outstanding step sequences. His components had an average level of 9.2. Chen commented: “I am happy to have qualified for the Final. Placement-wise of course I’m happy with the results, both Skate America and France. Of course, both Skate America and France I made mistakes. I made a lot of silly errors, errors that I need to fix.”
Alexander Samarin from Russia won the silver medal with 265.10 points. He began his program to a strange and disharmonic music with the title „Good News“ by Apashe and a horror picture on his T-Shirt with an outstanding combination of quad Lutz and triple toe loop, for which he received 19.31 points. But then he fell on the quad flip, landed a very good quad toe loop and fell again on the triple Lutz. Two more landings on the triple Axel and on a combination were shaky. His components were around 8.3, too high like in the short program. He commented: “Overall I am happy with the result. I won’t go into details now on what worked and what didn’t work. Now I’ll forget about this competition and start to prepare for the next one.”
Kevin Aymoz from France had trained with John Zimmerman for about one year, but was not allowed to travel to Florida again because of the more and more complicated visa problems for foreigners. Meanwhile it is easier for Western European athletes to train in Russia than in the USA. Therefore he stayed in France, but planned to return as soon as possible. He won the bronze medal with 254.64 points. In his free program to the modern song “Lighthouse“ by Patrick Watson, which was the second best free program of the competition, he began with two quad toe loops, but stepped out of the first one and landed the second one on two feet, but could still add a triple toe loop. Five other triples were very good, including two triple Axel. Because of his innovative and dancy style his components were around 8.5. He commented: “I am really happy about my first Grand Prix medal at home. It is good to have done it here. It was a good competition for me and a fight with me during my programs. I put all the energy I have into this competition. Figure skating for me is to share the emotion and to fight.”
Morisi Kvitelashvili from Georgia finished on fourth place with 236.38 points. In the first two minutes of his free program, he landed a combination of quad Salchow and triple toe loop, a triple Axel, a sequence of triple flip, Euler and triple Salchow as well as a triple loop, all of them in very good quality. But later he doubled a toe loop which was planned quadruple and stepped out of another quad toe loop. Tomoki Hiwatashi of Colorado Springs skated to “Petrushka“ by Igor Stravinsky. He moved up from tenth place in the short to fifth overall, earning 227.43 points. His two quad toe loops were almost clean, seven triples as well
Sergei Voronov from Russia finished on sixth place with 220.98 points. He began with a good quad toe loop, followed by four good triples, but doubled two jumps near the end. Nicolas Nadeau from Canada finished on seventh position with 217.68 points. He landed a quad toe loop on two feet, but seven triples were more or less clean.
Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno from Japan dropped from fourth to eighth place, earning 215.84 total points after a free program full of technical mistakes. He has no coach since Juin, which is stupid. Romain Ponsart from France is ninth with 215.64 points. He cannot travel back to his main coach Rafael Arutunian in California at the moment due to similar visa problems as Kevin Aymoz. Therefore he has to stay in France although he would like to join with girlfriend Mariah Bell again who trains with Arutunian as well. He fell on the quad toe loop and two jumps were not clean, but four triples good. Daniel Samohin from Israel sits tenth with 193.66 points after a program with five serious mistakes. Anton Shulepov from Russia ended up 11th with 183.98 points.
The third Grand Prix of this season takes place in Grenoble, France and is called "Internationaux de France“. The Men’s Short Program was the first competition. In spite of many quads it did not have a very high level because of many mistakes.
Reigning World champion Nathan Chen is in the lead with 102.48 points. Skating to the French chanson "La Boheme“ by Charles Aznavour, his first element was a good combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop. But it had five GOEs of +4 which was a bit too high. Next was a touch down and step out on the triple Axel. His quad flip was very good, his three spins as well and his step sequence which received four GOEs of +5 was outstanding. His components had an average of 9.3.
He commented: “I’m happy to be in this position. However, the program was a little shaky. The Axel, I obviously did a mistake, the (first) toe a little forward on the landing, but beyond that I think it’s a good second run of the Short Program. Obviously, work has to be done, but it’s exciting to be in this position.”
Alexander Samarin from Russia, second at Europeans and 12th at Worlds 2019, is currently on second position with 98.48 points. Skating to "Blues for Clook“ by Eddy Louis, he opened his program with an excellent combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, followed by a quad flip which was a bit shaky. He stepped out of the triple Axel and his spins and steps were very good. His components were around 8.8, which was too high because he really did not interprete very much. “I really enjoyed performing here“, he said. “There were some mistakes, but overall I am satisfied, as a lot worked out as planned. The important thing for tomorrow is to keep the focus and show what I can do in training.”
Kevin Aymoz from France sits third with 82.50 points. He is an excellent show man and interpreted the evergreen “The Question of U“ by Prince with a lot of authentic and acrobatic movements including a sideward backflip. His components were only around 8.2, but it should be much higher than Alexander Samarin’s. But the judges often reward the better quad jumps with higher components, which is contrary to the rules. His second disadvantage: He had the early starting number 4, which still is bad for him although all judges know that this should not make any difference. His first element was a good quad toe loop, followed by a hard fall on the triple Lutz. Therefore he could not all any second jump. His spins were very good and his step sequence absolutely outstanding, but only two judges rewarded it with GOEs of +5. He commented: “I am happy to be in the top three because that was my goal. Even with the mistake I made I am quite happy with what I did.”
Shoma Uno from Japan placed fourth, winning 79.05 points. Since this summer, he trains without coach, but this seems no good idea. After a good quad flip, he fell on the quad toe loop, which was planned his combination and later also on the triple Axel. His spins were good and his steps excellent. He skated to “Great Spirit“ by Armin van Buuren. Morisi Kvitelashvili from Georgia, who trains in the Tutberidze school, is on fifth position with 78.79 points. His combination of quad Salchow and triple toe loop was ok, his triple Axel very good, but he fell on the quad toe loop and his spin was invalid. Romain Ponsart from France is sixth, earning 77.48 points. His quad toe loop was a bit shaky and he stepped out of the triple Axel and touched down. Sergei Voronov from Russia placed seventh with 76.60 points. His combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop was good, but his Lutz only double (zero points).
Daniel Samohin from Israel currently sits on eighth place with 70.84 points after stepping out of the triple Axel and falling on the quad Salchow, which was under-rotated. Nicolas Nadeau from Canada is ninth, earning 69.42 points. He touched down on the triple Axel and his combination was only triple Salchow and double toe loop. Reigning Junior World Champion Tomoko Hiwatashi of Colorado Springs sits tenth with 68.70 points after stepping out of the quad toe loop and popping his Axel.
Anton Shulepov from St. Petersburg in Russia ended up 11th and last with 63.67 points in his Grand Prix debut. He fell on his quad toe loop which was downgraded and touched down his hand on the triple Axel. Then he overturned his triple Lutz before adding a double toe loop for his combination. The third French skater Adrien Tesson was un-invited according to his coach Annick Dumont because he did not fulfill the minimum required points of his federation for competing at a Grand Prix.