by Alexandra Stevenson
|4||Mae Berenice MEITE||FRA||54.41||4|
|1||Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Maxim TRANKOV||RUS||195.07||1||1|
|2||Qing PANG / Jian TONG||CHN||185.16||2||2|
|3||Caydee DENNEY / John COUGHLIN||USA||178.22||3||3|
|4||Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES||FRA||167.66||4||4|
|5||Marissa CASTELLI / Simon SHNAPIR||USA||164.19||5||5|
|6||Gretchen DONLAN / Andrew SPEROFF||USA||131.26||7||6|
|7||Danielle MONTALBANO / Evgeni KRASNOPOLSKI||ISR||119.02||6||7|
|1||Meryl DAVIS / Charlie WHITE||USA||71.39||1|
|2||Kaitlyn WEAVER / Andrew POJE||CAN||65.79||2|
|3||Ekaterina BOBROVA / Dmitri SOLOVIEV||RUS||62.91||3|
|4||Lynn KRIENGKRAIRUT / Logan GIULIETTI-SCHMITT||USA||53.89||4|
|5||Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI||GER||52.30||5|
|6||Lorenza ALESSANDRINI / Simone VATURI||ITA||50.36||6|
|7||Anastasia CANNUSCIO / Colin MCMANUS||USA||47.98||7|
1. SP 60.61 (30.58+30.08) U.S. Champion Ashley Wagner, gave a clearly superior, but by no means perfect showing to music from the Red Violin, to soar into the lead after the Short Program. She is trying to build on her breakthrough last season, when she placed fourth at the 2012 World Championships, the best for a U.S. woman since 2007.
She opened with a triple flip to a double toe loop with both arms flung into the air, which received +1.28. Her level 4 layback was deemed so good, one judge gave the maximum +3 GoE and the rest punched in +2. Her combination spin was Level 3 with +0.83. The double Axel earned +0.75 over its base value. However, her triple loop was not perfect and had -0.93 removed. Her steps were Level 2 with +0.50. She wrapped up the performance with a Level 3 flying sit spin which had +0.33 added. Her component scores rose from lows of three 6.75 up to 8.50.
She explained, “The triple loop was not exactly the quality I was looking for and I’m so bummed because I think it’s one of my strongest jumps. That was my first short program out under the spotlight and the crowd so I’m pleased with how it went. I felt really nervous going out. I was thinking the entire program, which I really don’t like to do and I was able to stay on my feet and put out something that was quality. I’m happy with the day.
“First time out, I always get nervous and this season I have a little more pressure, but that’s not really what I was nervous about. It was about getting my feet wet. I was a little rusty out there but it’s been seven months since my last real competition.”
2. SP 58.93 (29.31+29.62) Adelina Sotnikova, Russia, is obviously a star of the future. The 16-year-old has won the last two Russian titles, but was not old enough to be entered into the world Senior championships. She opened with a combination of two triple toe loops but then singled her flip. All three spins were Level 4 with good GoEs. Her steps were Level 2 with a full point extra.
3. SP 56.63 (31.01+25.62) Christine Gao, USA, is an 18-year-old of Chinese descent whose home is in Cincinnati but who is now attending Harvard University. She has been fifth in the past three U.S. championships. She is making her first appearance in Skate America but this Grand Prix, but competed in two other events in this series, in Shanghai and Moscow last season. She interpreted Close Without Touching by David Arkenstone. All of her elements received positive GoEs. She opened with a combination of two triple toe loops. Her other jumps were a double Axel and triple loop. Her flying sit was Level 4, the layback spin 2as Level 3 and the combination spin and the straight line steps were Level 2.
Gao was asked if this was her best Short Program ever. She replied, “It’s hard to compare programs because each one is different. For this one, my jumps are a little different and my choreography is a bit different. It was definitely one of my better skates. I was pretty confident going into it and I just pretty much let each jump happen.
“I absolutely love living in Boston. The people train there – I train with Ross (Miner) and Harrison (Choate) each day. Training with Mark (Mitchell) and Peter (Johansson) has been amazing. The way they work really fits me well.
“I’m taking a full course load, so I’m taking four courses. I’ve been finding a pretty good balance, finding my rhythm every day. I’m taking economics, math, Chinese and a freshman seminar which is 15 freshmen with one professor which is an opportunity to get close to a professor.”
4. SP 54.41 (30.61+23.80) Mae Berenice Meite, France, is an 18-year-old competing in her second Skate America. She skated to Michael Buble’s Feeling Good. (She was 8th in the 2010 Skate America.) She opened with a combination of two triple toes which earned an extra +0.58 over its base value of 8.20. But her triple Lutz got -0.93 removed from its base value. Her layback spin was Level 3 with +0.50. Her double Axel, set at the half-way point got an extra 10% for being in the second half. Her flying camel and steps were Level 2 with +0.50 and +0.33. Her final move the combination spin was Level 4 with +0.33.
5. SP 54.01 (28.37+25.64) Valentina Marchei, Italy, 26, who is coached by Jason Dungjen and Yuka Sato at the Detroit FSC, performed to a Flamenco medley, Esperanza by Rodriguez. She began with a flawed triple Lutz to double toe, which lost -0.93. Her triple Salchow gained +0.58, and her Level 3 layback received a full point extra over the base value. Her double Axel received a slight +0.08. Her steps were Level 2 with +0.50. The flying sit spin was Level 3 with +0.58. Her final move was a Level 4 combination spin with +0.33.
6. SP 50.29 (23.58+26.71) Viktoria Helgesson, Sweden, 24, is the older of the two talented Helgesson sisters. Skating to Poinciana by Ahmad Jamal, she opened with a combination of two triple toe loops but the second jump received two arrows for under-rotation. Then she doubled her planned triple loop. Her layback and flying sit spins were Level 4 with +0.42 and +0.50. Her double Axel got an extra +0.67. Her straight line steps were also Level 4, with +1.17. Her final element, the combination spin was Level 3 with +0.25 GoE.
7. SP 49.90 (25.60+24.30) Haruka Imai, Japan, a 19-year-old from Tokyo, skating to Henri Mancini’s music from Charade, now trains at the Detroit FSC with Jason Dungjen and Yuka Sato. She began with a triple Salchow but the landing was not solid enough for her to get airborne for the planned second jump, a triple toe loop. She added a double toe loop to her triple loop so she would fulfill the combination requirement. Her double Axel got an arrow for slight under-rotation. Two of her spins were Level 4 and the other Level 3. Her steps were Level 2.
8. SP 48.11 (25.48+22.63) Sarah Hecken, Germany, 24, is taking part in her second Skate America. She placed eighth in 2009. She said she wasn’t particularly upset with her placing because she was coming back from an injury which kept her out of the the 2012 season. “I was pleased I landed my triple Salchow because I have been having trouble with it. I got good levels for my spins (two Level 4s and a 3 for her layback). It was a shame about the combination. (She did a faulty triple toe to double toe.)” Her music was Asturia by the Electric String Quartet.
9. SP 46.72 (19.65+27.07) Alena Leonova, Russia, who won silver in the world championships in March, had one of the worst showings of her career, which had her in tears afterwards. The Russian, who trains in St. Petersburg, turns 22 on Monday. She has never done that well early in the season, but this was a major meltdown. She used the music from Slumdog Millionaire. Her costume was a rather complication creation of an Indian sari.
She did not fall but she failed her first two elements. The second jump on her opening move, a planned combination of two triple toe loops, was singled and then her triple flip was doubled. That meant the first two of the seven required elements were given straight -3s, the lowest possible Grade of Execution. Her flying camel was Level 3 and that and the following double Axel were both awarded a GoE of +0.33. She executed the layback spin next and received only the base value for Level 3. Her straight line steps were Level 2 with +0.67. She finished with her best move, a Level 4 combination spin which earned an extra 0.42.
10. SP 43.72 (20.93+22.79) Rachael Flatt, USA, looked rather unprepared for this event. The 20 year-old came late, having had academic commitments. She is studying at Stanford University, which she says is her priority. Skating to Contrabajissimo, a tango by Astor Piazzolla, she had a sexy look in her eyes starting the routine and it appeared she would be presenting a fun routine. But she is far from the superb form shown when she won the U.S. title and came seventh in the Olympic Games in Vancouver.
She doubled her first element, meant to be a triple flip. She managed her combination of triple loop to double toe but the jumps were very low. Her change foot combination spin was deemed Level 3 but her Layback spin had -0.15 taken off the base value for Level 1. Her double Axel made +0.25 over the base value but the following flying camel was only Level 1 with +0.08. Her final element, the straight line steps were Level 2 with +0.42.
She did not seem particularly upset at her placing of last. “Ideally, I would have liked something a bit higher, but it wasn’t my best. I was hoping on going in doing (triple) flips and lutzes, but I’m injured again. You do what you can at this point. I’m just out having fun. I enjoyed debuting my program.” This sentiment is fine if you are entering a contest which is open to newcomers. But, in taking up one of the very limited slots, she was denying some other prospect the opportunity to get experience.
Flatt said, “I have pretty bad tendonitis in my right foot and ankle, and I have a partial tear in my calf. We’re not really sure what to do at this point. A little bit of re-use sets it off, but we’re working on it and we’re hoping for the best.” Perhaps the best is for her to hit the books and hang up her skates at least until she heals.
1. SD 71.39 (35.25+37.14 -1) Meryl Davis, 25, & Charlie White, who will turn 25 on Tuesday, USA, brought the Short Dance section to a wonderful close with a lightly, brightly presented routine to music from the first act of the ballet, Giselle. Their only fault was a point deduction for the lift running overtime.
They received the maximum Level 4 for the opening twizzles which were awarded five of the maximum +3 Grade of Execution from the panel of nine judges, who included Sharon Rogers from the U.S. and Jean Senft from Canada, as well as officials from Russia, Lithuania, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany and Japan. The other judges gave +2. For their second element, the non-touching steps which were Level 3, they received three +3s and five +2s. The first part of their Yankee Polka received only Level 2 with six +2 GoEs and +1s from the other two judges. For the second part they received Level 4 with seven +2s and one +1. For their concluding element, a Level 4 rotational lift, they received five +2s and three +3s.
The components included one 10.00. The low was one 8.50.
Davis said, “I think Charlie and I feel really good about our debut today. As athletes and performers, we’re never completely thrilled with a performance, but we think this is a good start and we’re very excited about this program and we’re anxious to see it evolve over the season.”
White said, “Meryl and I were lucky enough to compete the last time the Yankee Polka was the compulsory dance. It was always one of our strength of ours because we have quick feet. That’s a big part of it. You have to be comfortable with the timing and then layering on top of that, so it’s important to have the basics.
“As far as the amount of time we spend on it, it’s a large part of the score so we focus on the edges even though it goes by quickly. There is a concentration on how to do it correctly. We feel at this point, it’s not our job to be upset about the dance we are doing, but to focus on doing it the best we can.”
White continued, “We’ve been able to watch a lot of ballets, and Giselle’s, to get a feel for the characteristics of how they act. We’re definitely trying to make it our own, but we’re comfortable with the way we’re presenting it. No one is going to be dancing a polka unless they’re having a blast, so we want to bring the audience into it in a balletic fashion and really portray that throughout the performance.”
Davis added, “Each ballet company’s interpretation (of Giselle) is very different. We’re having fun, watching and learning from the different styles and then trying to make it ours. We definitely have our work cut out for us. It’s challenging us in a way we haven’t addressed before, but we’re happy with what we’ve put together.”
2. SD 65.79 (32.66+33.13) Kaitlyn Weaver, 23, & Andrew Poje, Canada, skated to The Sound of Music. They received the highest Levels, gaining 4 for their first and last elements, which were the first half of the Yankee Polka, and their rotational lift. They were awarded Level 3 for the other three moves.
Weaver said, “We are very happy with how we skated the short. It’s our second competition this season. (They competed in Bratislava in Slovakia a few weeks ago, so we were lucky enough to get feedback from there and improved our levels and key points of the polka. This short dance also has special meaning to use because of Andrew’s grandmother who passed away this summer. She loved Edelweiss and was Austrian so we are really proud to perform this for her and we are looking forward to it evolving throughout the season.”
Weaver added, “The Yankee Polka is a large part of the short dance score. We spend lots of time on it because it’s a difficult dance for us, personally. I like that the scores are a little more weighted, putting everyone on the same playing field. I like that it’s treated with importance, so you have to devote the same amount of time to it as everything else.”
3. SD 62.91 (31.16+31.75) Ekaterina Bobrova, 22, & Dmitri Soloviev, 23, because they are Russian, keep getting asked about Sochi, a Russian city that is not well known in the U.S. which has been chosen as the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. But, as Bobrova explained, “We haven’t been to Sochi. There was a national competition there but we didn’t go because we went to Finlandia Trophy, which was at the same time. We felt the Finnish event was more important in order to skate for an international audience. The people who did go to Sochi said the ice surface was great, but the weather was really hot, like 30 degrees Celsius, outside! People were swimming (in the Black Sea) and walking around in their towels, so that was distracting but I don’t think that will be the same at the Olympic Games (which will be in February).”
For their Short Dance they skate to SD Music: Say a Word About the Poor Hussar by Andrei Petrov and music from the Air Crew soundtrack by Alfred Schnittke. She is in a knee-length light lilac gown. He is in military dress attire with white pants and a blue top with gold epaulets.
Soloviev said, “Our goal is to bring the original dance and the compulsory dance together so it doesn’t look like two parts but looks like one organic dance.” They received two Level 4s (for the first part of the Yankee Polka and for their straight line lift. Their steps and the twizzles received Level 3 and the second half of the Yankee Level 2.
4. SD 53.89 (27.17+26.72) Lynn Kriengkrairut, 24, & Logan Giulietti-Schmidt, 27, USA, who train with Jaroslava Netchaeva & Juri Tchesnitchenko, were thrilled that they earned a Personal Best score. They presented an entertaining routine to Johnny Cash’s Burn, Burn, Burn. They earned Level 4 for their straight line lift and their twizzles. The other three elements received Level 2.
Kriengkrairut smiled and said, “The crowd was really great. They really got into our music and that really kept us in character. It was great that we got a personal best score. We felt really strong out there today. We really wanted to get the levels on the Yankee Polka section, because that’s been really hard for everyone. We did that, and we feel really great.”
Giulietti-Schmitt said, “The environment was amazing. It’s was similar to the enthusiasm that we’re going to have at the U.S. Championships, so it was great practice for that. Obviously it’s great to skate in front of your home crowd at an event like this. We were very happy with our performance, overall. There are still some things we need to improve on technically. We can always boost our components and that’s something we’ve been continuously working on, as well. For us, it was a performance goal, not a score-based goal. We achieved that and we’re very happy. Now we’re hoping to put out a good showing and improve on our performance last month in Salt Lake City. We really want to attack the program and have no regrets.”
5. SD 52.30 (24.34+27.96) Nelli Zhiganshina, 25, & Alexander Gazsi, 28, Germany, performed a rather puzzling routine which was definitely about a failed romance. (He ends up with lipstick on his cheek in the ‘kiss & ‘cry area.) They earned Level 4 for their first and last elements, the twizzles & non-touching steps.
6. SD 50.36 (24.17+26.19) Lorenza Alessandrini, 22, & Simone Vaturi, 24, Italy, who train at the Detroit FSC with Pasquale Camerlengo & Angelika Krylova, skated to the song, from Mary Poppins, A Spoonful of Sugar by The Sherman Brothers. Their twizzles were Level 3 but all their other four elements were Level 2.
7. SD 47.98 (24.17+23.81) Anastasia Cannuscio, 20, & Colin McManus, 22, USA, teamed up in 2008. Both parts of their Yankee Polka, set to the music Eljen a Magyar gained Level 2. They also used the Strauss’ Acceleration Waltz. They earned the maximum Level 4 for their twizzles and the rotational lift, but their non-touching steps were only Level 1.
Cannuscio said, “It was a lot of fun. We weren’t nervous at all, just excited to be here. I think that really helped our performance. We performed our program really well. It was probably one of our best short dances, presentation wise.” They are coached by Karen Ludington, Alexandr Kirsanov, Christie Moxley-Hutson & Kat Arbor.