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2012 Skate America - Day 2

by Alexandra Stevenson


Ladies

Pl Name Nation Points SP FS
1 Ashley WAGNER USA 60.61 1
2 Adelina SOTNIKOVA RUS 58.93 2
3 Christina GAO USA 56.63 3
4 Mae Berenice MEITE FRA 54.41 4
5 Valentina MARCHEI ITA 54.01 5
6 Viktoria HELGESSON SWE 50.29 6
7 Haruka IMAI JPN 49.90 7
8 Sarah HECKEN GER 48.11 8
9 Alena LEONOVA RUS 46.72 9
10 Rachael FLATT USA 43.72 10


Men

Pl Name Nation Points SP FS
1 Takahiko KOZUKA JPN 251.44 2 1
2 Yuzuru HANYU JPN 243.74 1 3
3 Tatsuki MACHIDA JPN 229.95 4 2
4 Konstantin MENSHOV RUS 212.53 5 5
5 Jeremy ABBOTT RUS 211.35 3 8
6 Michal BREZINA USA 209.67 6 4
7 Armin MAHBANOOZADEH CZE 203.65 7 7
8 Tomas VERNER USA 197.36 9 6
9 Douglas RAZZANO CZE 187.73 10 9
10 Alexander MAJOROV SWE 182.42 8 10


Pairs

Pl Name Nation Points SP FS
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


Dance

Pl Name Nation Points SD FD
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


Yuzuru HANYU, Takahiko KOZUKA and Tatsuki MACHIDA

Qing PANG & Jian TONG, Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR & Maxim TRANKOV and Caydee DENNEY & John COUGHLIN

(20 October 2012) Kent, Washington

Men's Free Skate

Takahiko Kozuka leads Japanese Sweep of Medals

I have seen the future of Men's Figure Skating and it is ruled by the smiling, incomprehensibly chattering Japanese jumping beans.

On Saturday evening, while U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott imploded, placing eighth in the Free and dropping from third after the SP to fifth overall, Takahiko Kozuka led his country’s competitors to a clean sweep of the medals.

Interviewed for the audience as the medal ceremony was taking place, when asked what he thought of sweeping the podium in a foreign country, Kozuka looked puzzled and then bowed slightly and apologized. How sweet!!

The bad joke was that the Zombies conjured by the Germans in their explanation of their Free Dance, with its notably ragged costumes, had taken over Abbott’s mind. Certainly the 27-year old, who has a compression in his back, looked as if he was in a trance. When the music stopped, he took ages to get off the ice looking almost as if he was about to start crying.

1. Overall 251.44; 1.FS 166.12 (81.84+81.28) Kozuka, who is 23 and is from Nagoya but trains in Yokohama, came from second to win gold skating to Saint-Saens’ famed Rondo Capriccioso Op.28. (An interesting touch implemented in Kent was to play the music which the skater used to win their medal, as they were called up to the rostrum.)

It is very unusual for one nation to sweep the medals in a Grand Prix event that is not held in that country. (The host country is allowed three entries, and Japan has had similar grand slams in the NHK Trophy in Japan.) Apart from that concession, other entries in the GP are made strictly according to ISU standing.

Kozuka, who did his FS ninth of the ten men from five countries, opened with a slightly flawed quad toe which had -0.29 removed from its base value of 10.30. His second quad toe, executed as his second element joined with a double toe, received an arrow for slight under-rotation. However, all but one of the remaining 11 elements received positive Grades of Execution. The exception was a freak mess-up on his last jump, a triple Salchow, which just stopped short of being classed as a fall.

His jumps included two great triple Axels. The second staged at the point where the bonus marks click in, was combined with a double toe to double loop. He also brought off two triple Lutzes, with the second combined with a double toe, and a triple loop. Two of his spins were the maximum Level 4, and the other, along with his steps, gained Level 3.

He won by a significant 7.70 points overtaking the Short Program leader, Yuzuru Hanyu. He said, “My performance was not so good, but I am happy that I could win. This season I’ve been able to focus on skating alone. I have been accumulating good practices so far and hopefully I will be injury free this season.”

His performance certainly deserved gold but he modestly said, “My performance was not so good, but I am happy that I could win. This season I’ve been able to focus on skating alone. I have been accumulating good practices so far and hopefully I will be injury free this season.”

Kozuka was the 2011 World silver medalist but was only 11th in Worlds this past March in Nice. He has competed in Grand Prix events since 2006. He won Skate America in 2008 and the Bompard Trophy in France and Cup of China in 2010.

2. Overall 243.74; 3.FS 148 (72.11+79.56 -3) The Short Program leader Yuzuru Hanyu had a rough outing with three falls (on his first move, a quad toe; on his next move, a quad Salchow; and on his final jump, a triple flip which received an “e” for wrong edge take-off). But his third placed for the routine, which was set to Notre Dame de Paris still was good enough for the silver medal, by an enormous margin of 13.79.

Hanyu, the reigning world bronze medalist from Sendai, presented two excellent triple Axels, the second combined with a triple toe loop set when the bonus points check in. His first attempt at a triple Lutz was doubled but the second was successful. Even after he found out he had earned the silver medal, Hanyu was extremely self critical.

He said, “Today’s performance was very close to my worst. I haven’t skated that bad even in practice. I know the importance of skating well in both my short and free skate and I have many things to work on for routines. I will practice hard and prepare for my next competition.” Asked if the pressure of being in the lead got to him, Hanyu said, “I don’t think I was feeling pressure at all. I’m not sure if I was too nervous to feel the pressure or too relaxed to feel the pressure. The mistake was the mistake and I need to look back and see what went wrong to prepare for my next competition.

“I was not able to focus well during the 6-minute warm-up. I was looking at the other skaters and was distracted. After skating such a good short program, it was important to skate a good free program. It’s a lesson I learned here.”

3. Overall Tatsuki Machida 229.95; 2.FS 154.17 (75.03+80.14 -1) The 22-year-old from Hiroshima, who trains in Lake Arrowhead in California with Antony Liu, gave an enjoyable showing to music from Stravinsky’s ballet, Firebird, dressed accordingly. Machida opened with a triple Axel which was so good it received one mark of near perfection, +3 GoE, while seven other judges in the panel of triple flip nine, gave +2 and a solitary one punched in +1.

However, he fell on his next jump, his quad toe. He rebounded from that with a triple Lutz to triple toe loop combination which earned +0.80 over its base value but then, when the bonus marks clicked in he messed up his second triple Axel. Late in the program, he executed a triple loop, a second triple Lutz, a triple flip to double toe which received an “e” for wrong edge take-off and a triple Salchow. Her Levels could have been higher. The final combination spin was Level 3 as were his steps. However, the other two spins were only Level 2.

He admitted, “In today’s performance, I was not perfect but I was able to skate quite well due to the spectators’ help. They really pushed me and I was able to get my first Grand Prix medal. It is true that Japanese nationals is a very tough competition, but that doesn’t make international competitions any easier. I wish we could ask the ISU to have more than three spots at the World Championships. We recognize I need to practice hard and get my levels higher.

“I am not as experienced as the other two Japanese skaters. Both international competitions and Japanese nationals are very difficult for me. I’d like to skate well in each competition and I’d like to build my reputation at international competitions. Selling myself to the world is very important.”

4. Overall 212.53; FS 5.139.21 (67.43+71.78) Konstantin Menshov, the 29-year-old from St. Petersburg, performed to Rene Aubrey’s Allegro, Rose and Night Run. He has been representing Russia since 2004 but has never been to the world championship despite winning the national title in 2011. He was the only skater to nail two clean quads, both toeloops, which were executed straight off the bat with the second accompanied with a double toe. Though he was fifth in both sections, he finished fourth, 17.42 points behind Machida and only 1.18 ahead of Jeremy Abbott. He accomplished a triple Axel to double toe but his first attempt at this move was doubled as was his Salchow.

5. Overall 211.35; 8.FS 133.64 (55.50+81.14 -3) Jeremy Abbott dropped from third to fifth after a seriously messed up showing which was ranked only eighth best. Two of his one-point deductions were for falls. The third was because he went over the four minutes forty second time limit. At that point he seemed to almost be in a blue funk, unable to believe he had not skated better. He did not stop moving in time to avoid the time deduction.

He readily admitted, “That was awful. We kind of retooled the way I train, on and off ice, physically and mentally. There’s obviously a disconnect somewhere. We have to really re-evaluate everything again. That was the hardest Free Skate I’ve ever done, physically. About halfway through, my body just shut down completely. I was doing everything I could to stay on my feet and keep going throught the program without giving up. I guess it’s like if I were running a marathon without training for a marathon. That’s really how I felt. The weird thing is that I’ve been training. At home I can get through this program. It’s a piece of cake. There’s no problem. Then I can go back and do half over again. I can keep going and going without feeling the pain. The conditioning is there. But something is missing. I don’t know what it is. I need to go home and look at things with my coaches and my whole team.

“The problem could be in my head. I’ve been working really hard with my sports psychologist and we’ve had a lot of breakthroughs. There’s just something that’s missing that nobody can put a finger on. It’s just something that’s missing that nobody can put a finger on. I pray that we find what it is.”

Abbott skated to Bring Him Home by Steven Jamail. He began with a triple Lutz which earned +0.90 over its base value. But then he fell on his quad toe which got an arrow for slight under-rotation. He bounced back from that with a +0.64 Level 3 change foot camel spin and a triple flip which earned an extra full point. After a Level 4, +0.79 change foot combination spin, when the bonus he brought off a triple Axel with a fairly steep landing edge which meant he only received an extra +0.29 because a couple of judges punched in -1.

That seems to have been the turning point. He immediately repeated the triple Axel and went down extremely heavily, unable to do the planned second jump in the combination. The following flying sit spin was only Level 2. And then the planned triple Lutz to triple toe to double toe turned into double-double-double. The following triple loop was also doubled. Obviously, his legs had gone.

He managed to get Level 3 for the following steps with one judge giving him the maximum +3. Four other judges gave +2 GoE, but three awarded +1 which still means superior. But then he doubled his Salchow. The routine ended with the choreographed sequence but his heart had gone out of it. It took him ages to get off the ice which reminds this writer of the occasion when John Curry skated badly and was afraid to face his stern coach, the late Arnold Gerschwiler. Curry, who was later to win the 1976 Olympic gold, ran off the other end of the ice and out the building damaging his blades. Without any money, he persuaded a cab driver to take him back to the hotel and locked himself in his room. Gerschwiler and Curry never spoke again. At least things aren’t that bad with Abbott and his coaches.

6. Overall 209.67; 4.FS 140.41 (69.11+73.30 -2) Michal Brezina, from the Czech Republic, fell on his opening move, a quad Salchow which was saddled with double arrows meaning it was under-rotated. The following triple Axel was good, earning +1.43 over its base value. But then he tried the quad Sal again. He fell again but the jump received only one arrow, which meant they banked 2.92 points as opposed to the 2.10 that were given for the first mess-up.

He did complete a second triple Axel to double toe which earned an extra full point plus the 10% bonus for jumps after the half way point. His triple flip, triple loop, triple Lutz and triple Salchow to two double toes all earned positive GoEs as did his final two Level 3 spins which were sandwiched around the choreographed steps. The earlier spin was also Level 3. The straight line steps were +0.64 on Level 2.

Brezina, who performed to the theme to the TV show The Untouchables, which is a tribute to the bravery of the first FBI agents, was fourth in the Free but that failed to advance him from his SP placing of sixth.

7. Overall 203.65; 7.FS 135.38 (68.38+68.00 -1) Armin Mahbanoozadeh, who was the last minute replacement for Olympic champion, Evan Lysacek, did not do as well as he had hoped. The 21-year-old who performed to music from the British show, Dr. Who, had sprained his right ankle. “It was an enormous factor. It was really tough. I was close to withdrawing, but I’m really glad I stuck it out. I found out a lot about myself this week. I’m disappointed I didn’t hit the quad at this competition in either program, since it’s been going really well for me in practice. I just didn’t have my feet under me in the warm-up and that kind of continued throughout the program. It’s just something to work on for later.”

Mahbanoozadeh, who now trains in Colorado Springs, fell on his opening element the quad toe which was given an arrow for slight under-rotation. However, the following triple Axel gained +0.86 over its base value. Next came a triple Lutz to triple toe (+0.40), a triple loop (+0.70) and Level 3 flying sit spin and Level 2 steps which both got an extra+0.50. However, when the bonus time came up he singled his planned second triple Axel, although he was still able to get airborne for the second jump, a triple toe. His change foot camel was Level 4 with +0.40. Then came a triple Lutz to half loop to triple Salchow which earned 12.17 points. However, a singled flip, which got an “e” for wrong edge, followed. His final jump was a double Axel which gained a marginal +0.07 GoE. After the choreographed sequence, he finished with a Level 3 combination spin which gained +0.79.

8. Overall 197.36; 6.FS 138.57 (64.63+73.94) Tomas Verner from the Czech Republic was able to climb one place but it was a disappointing showing. His opening planned quad toe became a triple, and, after a good triple Lutz, he singled his planned triple Axel attempt. He was able to bring off this jump at the half way point with +0.57. But a triple loop had -0.40 removed from its base value. After a good second triple Lutz, which was combined with a triple toe, he tried a triple flip which got an “e” for wrong edge take-off. His last jump was a triple Salchow which made its base value. His flying sit was Level 4 with +0.57. His final move was a Level 3 combination spin with +0.43. However, his change foot camel spin only made the base value for Level 1. His steps, done as his fourth element, were Level 3 with +0.71.

9. Overall 187.73; 9.FS 130.67 (68.29+62.38) Douglas Razzano, USA, was able to overtake Sweden’s Alexander Majorov but he was hoping for more. He opened with a quad toe which made its base level but then got three points deducted from his triple Axel. He immediately did a second triple Axel which he combined with a double toe which earned +0.28 over the base value. But then he doubled his Lutz and did a flying sit spin which received only Level 1.

His camel spin was Level 4 with +0.57 and his steps Level 3 with +0.29. He executed a combination of two triple toes at the halfway point which received +0.70 followed by a +0.50 triple Salchow, a base value triple loop and double Axel to double toe with +0.07.

Razzano said, “I just took today to reflect on the good programs I’ve done in the practice. That doesn’t make it too much easier. But, if you have the knowledge in your gut that you can rely on, you just have to go with it. I’m very satisfied after yesterday, knowing that I can hit the quad under pressure. I haven’t done one in the program in a while, so to do it when it counts most is very satisfying.”

About the earlier Short Program, he admitted. “I haven’t been training it as well in practice. It is very mentally tough for me, just because it has the three hardest elements that I do in it. That alone is tough. In the long, I have a lot of things I can rely on. The SP is just not ready yet. It will be. I’ve done it clean before and it’s coming along.”

Pairs Free Skate

1. Overall 195.07  1.FS 129.29 (62.47+67.82 -1)  In Grand Prix events, skaters perform in reverse order to their standing after the Short Program so Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov, Russia, appeared last. He explained he was relieved when his event was over. Sunday was a bit of a nightmare for them, they were on the ice for competition practice and then the actual event, and also for the Exhibition practice for the combined numbers and the run-through for the lighting guys, and then for the Exhibition number. Then they were up the next morning to get on the 4:40am shuttle from the Doubletree Hilton shuttle bus to the airport. He was helping his partner and the other women on the Russian team with their huge suitcases.

He said, “We won our first Grand Prix of the season. It was our goal for the event and we did it. We’re a little unhappy about our performances. In the Short, we had a mistake and we (he is too polite to say she) fell on a throw in the free. But we have time. It’s just the beginning of the season. We have time to improve the programs and get better and better. It was VERY difficult for us because we were not prepared for the schedule (which did not match that of the other Grand Prix events, which leave more time between practice and the event for the skaters to rest and eat.) It’s the first time we’ve had to practice at 6pm and then compete not that much later. We did not get to see the actual schedule until it was too late for us to practice at home using it.

“There was also the time change, 11 hours between Moscow and the Pacific Coast. So we were competing in what was morning at home, when we are never at our best. I think we have to be stronger to deal with such things. But, I think, that explains why we had problems. But we are happy that we won and that’s the most important thing.”

Their routine is set to music from Ikuko Kawai’s 2001 Album Violin Muse. Kawai is a Japanese classically trained violinist who has played Carnegie Hall. They opened with a jaw-droppingly high triple twist which earned three of the maximum +3 Grades of Execution from the nine-member judging panel. The other members all gave +2. That was followed by side-by-side triple Salchows to double toe loops which were presented with +0.90 as was their choreographed sequence which followed.

Then came their Level 4 forward inside death spiral which also received three +3s, but only four +2s along with two +1s. Next up was their Level 4 flying change foot combination spin which received an extra +0.64. That brought them to the half-way point when they executed a throw triple loop which, again, had incredible height but was not as well landed and received “only” an extra +0.20.

Their side-by-side triple toe loops, however, were wonderfully softly landed and were rewarded with three +3s and the rest +2s. (Only one judge gave +3 for all three elements which received this accolade. Three other judges gave +3 for two elements, and, interestingly, of those three judges who only gave +3s for two elements, none of these three chose the same two elements.

But then things went a little sour. Their Group 5 Reverse Axel Lasso received only a “B” for basic and they lost -1.20 from its base value of 5.5 points. The following Group 5 Backward Lasso lift gained the maximum Level 4 with +0.90 added so they banked 8.05 points for this item. Then came the throw triple Salchow. She landed on two feet and fell so they earned only 2.85 for this item and, as well, had a point deducted. Their last lift was a Group 3, Press, which earned Level 4 with +0.43. They finished with their Level 4 pair combination spin. Their lowest component scores were two 7.75, both for Performance and Execution. Their highest were two 9.0s, one for skating skills, and another, by a different judge, for choreography and composition.

2. Overall 185.16 2.FS 123.20 (57.59+65.61)  “Old timers” Qing Pang & Jian Tong, China, 32 & 33, performed to Variations on Elgar’s Enigma, and did a remarkable job considering their injuries. They started competing in the Grand Prix Series in 1999 but did not enter Skate America until 2002. They returned the following season, but then did not come back until 2007 and then not again until this year.

They began with a sequence of two double Axels, which were presented with an extra half point. Then came their amazingly high Level 2 lateral triple twist which gained +1.40 Grade of Execution. But then they doubled their side-by-side toe loops which earned only a total of 1.36 points. Their change foot camel spin was Level 4 with +0.36.

Then came an amazing moment. Until the Protopopovs came to dominate pair skating, there was only one type of death spiral, a back outside. Oleg and Ludmila, who currently live in Lake Placid, invented the other three versions. But although the back inside and forward inside death spiral soon became widely executed, the forward outside remains rarely seen. In Kent, Pang & Tong tried one. It looked forced but the Technical Panel, Steve Winkler, the Controller, David Moellenkamp, the Specialist, and Veronique Fleury, the Assistant, gave them no points whatsoever, not even giving them a “B” for basic.

The following move, a pair combination spin was awarded only a B for basic although the panel of judges gave +0.57 Grade of Execution. The couple, who are engaged, took back control with a back entry Group 5 Level 4 lift which was awarded a full point over its base value with 10% bonus for being in the second half. That meant they banked a total of 8.15 for this one element. Their choreographed sequence came next, and then a throw triple Salchow for which they acquired a total of 5.45 points. They did an even better throw triple loop which was rewarded with unanimous +2 GoEs from the judging panel. That meant 1.40 was added to the throw’s base value plus 10%. That total was 6.90 points.

They concluded with two lifts, a Group 4 Level 4 version which earned a total of 4.97 and a Group 5 Axel Level 4 with 1.10 GoE which banked for them 8.25 points. Their components ranged from a high of one 9.00 for Interpretation down to a low of two 7.50s for Transitions & Linking Footwork.

Tong explained, “My knee injury forced us to make some changes. We changed the triple toe loops to doubles. Because of the pain after the Short Program, I’ve been taking medication for it. We were really worried we could not compete in the free. We would like to say that we are really happy for our focus. We were worried because we have not been to the U.S. for a really long time and it was a very long distance for us to travel (from Beijing). I feel a little awkward after the travel. However, when I looked back to the first time that we won a Grand Prix event. It was at Skate America in 2003. That happy memory helped my attitude. We think it’s a good start to this season for us to be here.”

3. Overall 178.22  3.FS 117.47 (59.97+57.50)  U.S. Champions Caydee Denney & John Coughlin, skated to Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  For a team which has only skated together since mid 2011, they have done remarkably well, placing eighth in the world championships. It helped that each had been US champion with their former partners.

Denney, who is 19, said, “We are very happy with the way we skated today. It’s always fun competing in America. Having that support from the crowd is really awesome. We’re happy with how we did but we’re also looking forward to growing and improving at our next Grand Prix. I think we can feel the energy that everyone brings, that support out there, that’s always exciting. We like to feel that energy and feed off it.

Coughlin, 26, said, “We tell the people we run into on the concourse that we wish we could take them home with us, to have them in the stands when we are training. As competitors we really thrive off of an audience. I think our components are moving in the right directions. Obviously, we watch the teams that we aspire to compete with. We see where we need to improve, especially with our Short Program. In that program, we are looking to refine and fine tune the little nuances and characters. If that happens, the components will get higher.”

They opened with a very high Level 2 triple twist which earned an extra +1.10. Their throw triple loop gained 0.60 over its base value and their side-by-side triple toe loops received an extra +0.20. However, their sequence of two double Axels got a full point removed because they were saddled with an arrow for slight under-rotation. Their flying change foot combination spin was Level 3 with +0.50. Their Group 5 Axel lift, set at bonus time, was deemed Level 4 with +0.80. Their throw triple flip got +0.70.

The choreographed sequence earned 0.50 over its base value. Their Group 5 toe pick entrance received Level 3 with +0.57. Their forward inside death spiral was Level 3 with plus 0.57. Their forward inside death spiral was a +0.40 Level 3. Their final lift, one from Group 4, gained the maximum Level 4 with +0.63 Grade of Execution and they finished on a high note with a Level 4 pair combination spin which earned +0.43 over its base value. The components stretched from one low of 6.25 for Transitions and Linking Footwork up to one 8.0 for Interpretation.

4.Overall 167.66 4.FS 111.90 (58.87+53.03) Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres, France, skated an excellent Short in the Nebelhorn Trophy, but were not as great in the free. Here, in Skate America, they did very well in both sections. They performed to Hans Zimmer’s Pearl Harbour in blue and silver, beginning with a Level 1 triple twist for which they banked 5.10 points. They earned +1.50 over the base value for their triple Salchows and +0.90 over the base value for their triple toe loop to double toe loop jumps. Their flying change foot combination spin was Level 3 with +0.21. Their Level 4 forward inside death spiral received an extra 0.90, and their Group 5 Axel Lasso lift, set when the bonus marks click in, earned Level 4 with +0.80.

But they did not have a perfect landing on their throw triple flip, which lost -0.50. Their throw triple Salchow was even more flawed and they had -1.30 removed from its base value of 4.95. But then, with the choreographed sequence, things got better. Their Level 4 Group 5 step-in Lasso lift gained an extra +0.43. Their Level 4 combination spin received a minimal positive 0.07 and their last element, a Level 3, Group 3 Press lift gained an extra +0.36. Their components topped at three 7.50s and dropped to three 6.0s for Transitions and Linking Footwork.   

5. Overall 164.19  5.FS 108.52 (56.10+52.42)  Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir, USA, skated to a Tango, Pyadoro by Julian Plaza, with her in red and him in black. He says if he weren’t a skater, he would be a cyclist. (We hope he wasn’t an admirer of disgraced doper, Lance Armstrong.) They set a Personal Best in their first competitive outing with this routine and, overall, were only 3.47 points behind the French duo.

Asked if they felt that they were setting a Personal Best as they proceeded through the routine, she said, “It’s was not more difficult (than routines they have attempted in the past) because we didn’t try the throw triple Axel. But it’s been our most consistent program. I think today we faltered a little bit here and there. But we’re happy with the overall program. I think we’re really proud of what we put out today.”

He agreed with his partner. “It’s definitely not the most technically difficult program but, in terms of the setup and the choreography and the transitions, it’s a lot more complex than anything we’ve done in the past, so that’s definitely been a challenge to incorporate that with our elements. But I think we’ve done a really good job with it.”

She said, “It was a little nerve wracking, I think, because you really want to skate well. We have been getting a lot of nerves coming to Skate America. I really love that feeling that the home country crowd give you. We were a little stiff in sections and we’re excited to keep on growing.”

He said, “We had a couple of errors on one of the jumping side by side passes and on a spin. We’ve been working hard on the performance aspect of these program and we’re pretty satisfied with how we performed.”

They opened with a Level 1 triple twist which earned its base value. Their side-by-side triple toe loops received an extra +0.20 despite not being in perfect unison. The throw double Axel and their Level 3 Axel lift both received +0.90 over their respective base values. Their flying change foot combination spin was a little messy and, although it earned the maximum Level 4, -0.26 was taken off its 3.5 point base value. There was a problem with their side-by-side double Axels which were meant to be in sequence with double toe loops but the second jumps didn’t happen and they lost -0.86.

However, they came back with a +0.43 pair combination spin and a huge, secure throw triple Salchow which earned an extra 0.43 on top of its base value of 4.5. They put their choreographed sequence at this point and then went smoothly through their Level 3 forward inside death spiral which earned an extra +0.70. They ended with two Level 4 lifts. The Group 5 toe pick lift earned an extra while their Group 3 Press lift was rewarded with +0.64. Their components ranged from one 7.50 for Performance and Execution down to four 6.0s, all for the Transitions and Linking Footwork category.

6. Overall 131.26  6.FS 90.72 (45.54+46.18 -1)  The only change from the placings after the Short Program, were that  Gretchen Donlan & Andrew Speroff, USA, overtook the Israelis. Afterwards, Donlan said, “This was our first Grand Prix. I actually had a moment when I was out there on the ice, when I was like, ‘Man! We’re at Skate America!’ I’ve been watching this since I was a little kid. We’re never going to get our first Grand Prix back. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.

“When you are skating, you try to have a blank mind and let your body do the working, do what it’s trained so hard to prepare for. But I think this moment is a once in a lifetime experience. It felt awesome. No matter how good or bad you skate, you can always say you were a competitor. You reached that standard. For me, just to skate in the event, that’s good for me! I’m not going to forget how that felt.

“We had a rough short. That was a mental challenge - to move on and, in 24 hours, put that behind you and concentrate on the moment. I think today felt pretty good performance wise. There were good and bad elements.”

Her partner added, “We have another competition in Austria in two weeks. It’s hard to make changes in such a short time. But we will be training very hard and building on our experience here. Our free was not as bad as our Short. I think performance-wise it was pretty good although the big ticket items were not there today.”

They skate to Tchaikovsky’s immortal music for the ballet Sleeping Beauty. But music this well-known and loved seems to accentuate every little misstep. They opened with a somewhat lateral triple twist which got only the base value for the “B” (basic) move but no Level. (To earn Level 1 you must include at least one item from a list of optional additions. That meant they received 4.60 and were awarded a GoE of 0.40.)

They received only 1.03 with +0.03 for their side-by-side double toe loops. But then they earned the maximum Level 4 for their Group 3 press lift which began with a carry and which was awarded an extra +0.50 Grade of Execution. Unfortunately, she then fell and was given a double arrow for under-rotation on their double Axels. They were back in the game with their Level 4 +0.36 change foot combination spin and their Level 3 Group 5 +0.70 Axel lift. That move alone, including the 10% bonus for being scheduled in the second half, earned them 7.30 points.

But she landed on two feet from their throw triple loop which lost -1.40. Their forward inside death was Level 1 with +0.20 and their pair combination spin Level 2 with +0.07. She was forced to put both hands on the ice to keep from falling on their throw triple Salchow. But their last lift, a toe loop from Group 5 earned the base value for Level 3. They concluded with their required choreographed sequence. Their components ranged from three 5.0s up to one 6.75.

7.Overall 119.02  7.FS 78.36 (40.12+42.24 -4)  Danielle Montalbano & Evgeni Krasnopolski, Israel, who were the replacements for Canadians Dube & Davison, had a disastrous free. They were the only pair to change standing and were overtaken by Donlan & Speroff. They began with a Level 2 double twist, the only pair in the event not to try a triple for this element. She fell on a seriously under–rotated triple toe loop jump and on both throws, a triple flip and a triple loop. They had a fourth point deducted for running over-time. It was an outing best forgotten.

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