by Alexandra Stevenson
World Champions Shrug Off Breaking Their Own Record
1. 85.05 (44.99+38.06) Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov, Russia, the current world champions, who have not been beaten since the 2012 World Championships, continued to maintain their superiority. In the recent Nebelhorn Trophy they earned a score for their Short Program of 81.65 (44.59+37.06). The ISU has recognized this as the world record for the Short Program. On Saturday, in Detroit, they earned a greater score for both Elements and Components, so you would think they would be jubilant.
Trankov pooh-poohs the concept of records in his sport. The dark-haired strong man, who turned 30 on October 7, said, “We don’t care so much about the world records. We care about our personal records, about our season’s best, and about our skating. It is our pleasure to skate good, and [to have] the audience love it. When the people stand up out of their seats and are very loud and clap their hands, we feel that is the most important thing, more than actual scores. And our sport is not like athletics. We have different judges, who have different ideas, so you don’t get an exact accounting. We definitely skated this program better in Oberstdorf.”
Of course, in Germany, the ice was Olympic size, and here in Detroit, it is the ice is built to the smaller Hockey specifications. She is regal in a pale blue outfit with a neckpiece. He is gallant in a blue military outfit with gold epaulets complete with moustache and beard. They perform to Khatchaturian’s “Masquerade Waltz”. It is a brilliant concept and this was a wonderful performance, even if it wasn’t perfect.
Their breath-taking opening move, the Level 4 triple twist, gained eight of the maximum GoEs of +3. (One judge wasn’t over-whelmed and gave Level 2, which is still extremely good. Their side-by-side triple toe loops were very good but gained only one +3 and the rest +2. Their throw triple loop looked easy and done without strain. It earned +3 from seven judges, with two punching in +2. Their Level 4 back inside death spiral looked a little over-crowded with extra features which are necessary to get the top level and the judges contented themselves with six +2s and three +1s. Their Level 4 Pair combination spin received five +2s, three +1s and a zero, which still means performed with every aspect correct. Their reverse Group 5 lift also gained the top Level 4 with three +3s and six +2s.They finished with Level 4 straight line steps which earned three +3s, five +2s and a +1. Their components included two 10s (from different judges) down to four 9.00s.
Volosozhar said, “Today, we did our short program very well. There were some mistakes, but these mistakes were just (noticeable to us). We prepared for Oberstdorf in Sochi, and then went back there after the Nebelhorn Trophy.”
Trankov explained, “We have other good couples on our team who skate with us now, so it changes our team. Before we were only traveling with four people, two coaches and two athletes, but now it’s a big team: three senior couples and two junior. The two juniors just qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final, so we are a good team.
“Now the young coaches have more power. Before, a talented skater always went to the star coached, the ones who had been appointed Olympic coaches by the government. Now the skaters have more choice, which means more opportunity for coaches to advance their status.
“Sure, we have a lot of ice rinks and a lot of support. The sports people give a lot of money for all the sports and all Olympic disciplines for sure. The Olympic Games in Sochi, it’s big. It’s not only big pressure for us but the big dream, the big happiness.
“This season was different because we didn’t skate as much in the ice shows. We skated only twice, a short show in South Korea and a short show in Japan. We also had good rest. We had a good vacation after last season. We went to Mexico just after the World Team Trophy. After that we did our shows and got our programs in West Orange, N.J., with our choreographer, Nikolai Morozov. After that, we went to a camp in Sochi and we used the Olympic rink. Then we got back to the United States to clean our programs with Nikolai and take back our technical elements. After that, we trained in Italy, like every season. It’s a very nice place and they have everything for our practice.
Trankov did admit, “We felt some uncomfortable feelings on some elements, but we got all the levels we planned and we beat our season-best score. We are happy about the start of this competition. I think it’s great. Now we have to think about tomorrow and our free program.” Volosozhar agreed, “Today we did our short program very well. There were some mistakes, but we believe they were not big enough for others to notice.
2. 71.51 (39.59+31.92) Kristin Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovich, who train in Waterloo, Canada and from skated to music from the French movie, Mic Macs, played by the American heavy metal band, Motley Crew. They opened with a Level 2 and side-by-side triple toe loops which both earned an extra point over their base values. Their back inside death spiral was Level 3 with +0.70. Their throw triple loop earned an extra +0.80, and their Group 5 lift, which had two changes of direction, received the top Level 4 with +1.40. The steps were also Level 4 with +1.20 (including one +3) and they concluded with a Level 4, +0.79 pair combination spin. She wore a red skirt, with a checkered black and white top. It was a very enjoyable presentation.
They were the 2010 Canadian champions but, currently, rank only second in their country. Of their routine, Moscovitch said, “It wasn’t 100 percent perfect but a great starting point for the season. We’re very happy with that short program. It’s a great start to the season for us. We’ve been training very well, we’re very excited for this event and we skated the way we’ve been training. It wasn’t 100 percent perfect, but it’s a great start to the Grand Prix season and we’re looking forward to the long tomorrow.”
3. 64.80 (35.21+29.59) Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov, Russia, both in maroon tops, skated to a “Surrender” by Jesse Cook. The former twice Russian Junior champions, are ranked third at senior level after winner silver nationally last season. They opened with only a double twist although it was Level 3. Their throw was a good triple flip. He is 23 and she 21. Although they both were born in St. Petersburg, they have moved to train in Moscow. All their elements received positive Grades of Execution. Their Lift and the Pair combination spin were Level 4. They presented good side by side triple toe loops which earned an extra 1.0. Their back inside death spirals and their steps were Level 3.
Klimov said, “Today we did well. We did all we planned except maybe one element. We skated well.”
4. 63.85 (34.76+29.09) Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek, Italy, wore bright yellow pants with suspenders. She had on a yellow and gold outfit. They began with their side-by-side triple toe loops but she put her hand down on the landing. Their triple twist was good but was only Level 1. They earned Level 4 for their very amazing lift in which, while they are turning, she is not holding him, and he’s only holding her with a one hand on her upper leg. Their throw, a triple loop, was good as was their Level 4 back inside death spiral. They also gained Level 4 for both their pair combination spin and their steps.
5. 62.56 (34.42 +28.14) Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir, who are the current US champions, were dressed, naturally, in black, to interprete “Black Magic Woman” and “Smooth” by Santana They had a good twist but he did a double Salchow. Particularly impressive was their throw triple Salchow which earned five +3s. Castelli, who is 23, said, “We were really happy with what we put out there today. We’re not looking to be perfect now, but to be perfect at the end of the season. Every competition, every mistake, they just build us to become stronger. We had really good energy, and got the crowd going and that’s our goal.”
Her partner, Shnapir, who is 26, said, “Obviously, there was a mistake, on my jump, but beside that we tried really hard and we’ve been working hard to compete this program with a lot of energy and really sell it.” They finished extremely close to their teammates, Denney & Coughlin, who were lying only 0.32 of a point behind them.
Castelli said, “They are great competitors. We respect each other so much. We’re friends off the ice and wish each other the best. It’s fun to have that little extra drive with them. We’ve been at two competitions so far with them [this year] and it’s great for both of us to improve on our pairs. I think this is the best challenge we will ever face. We’re completely excited to go up against them at nationals. We actually were really bummed for them and for us going into last year’s nationals because we were getting revved up to have a good completion, a friendly competition to go after them head to head. This year’s going to be great. It’s going to be in our home town (Boston) and we’re looking forward to that.”
6. 62.06 (34.60+27.46 -1) Caydee Denny & John Coughlin, USA, performed to Tosca, she in a brief red dress. They began with a good triple twist, earning Level 3. Then came their side-by-side triple toe loops, and a Level 3 back inside death spiral. But she fell on their throw triple loop. It looked as if he threw her not high enough or not straight enough in the air.
In the mixed zone afterwards, Coughlin approached the journalists and said, “The first question, I’ll ask it for you, is what were we thinking going into the Throw triple loop (on which they fell). Well, It’s a new transition for us. It’s the one part in the program where the judges asked us to continue growing and the way the transition worked out it kind of led itself into the loop. We like the concept of it we just need more than a few days to for mileage on it.”
Denney added, “The newness of pattern is very key for us and our elements. I think from that pattern and the transition we’re a little off for the setup we would like to have for the loop.I think it [the program] has grown a lot and I think that even the things we did well [in the recent competition in Salt Lake] were more comfortable because we have more mileage in the program and have more time with it.”
About their rivalry with Castelli & Shnapir, who were the national champions before them, Coughlin said, “I think it makes for a great storyline, that there are multiple national champions in one event. We went through this already in Salt Lake City. They were very deserving champions last year and friends of ours. WE actually look forward to seeing them every time. The whole gang at Skate America is the same, so we’re just getting the whole band back together. Of course, nobody skates for second place. I was out there wanting to win. But for me and Caydee we just want to have fun and learn something.”
Denney said, “It would be very special, to be able to possibly have the chance to walk away with an Olympic medal and being part of the first-ever team event is an honor and would be very special.
7. 55.83 (31.71+25.12 -1) Felicia Zhang & Nathan Bartholomay, USA, had an unusual, soft start, with the soothing music not really pushing excitement into the crowd, although it did get more exciting further into the routine. She was in red. They began with a triple twist which received a plus 0.50, but it was only Level 1.Their throw triple Lutz earned its base value. Their steps gained Level 3 with a slight positive +0.07 GoE. Their Axel Lasso lift received Level 4 Their Group 5 reverse entry Lift got Level 4 with +0.40. their back inside death spiral was Level 3 with +0.80 and their final element, the Pair Combination Spin received Level 3 with +0.14.
Zhang said, “Well, the fall was just a fall on the toe. It’s really not a big deal. I’ve been landing them all week. The main thing is that after Salt Lake, we’ve been working on the quality, and even with the mistake on the toe we were still able to show everything we’ve been working on.” Bartholomay added, “For instance, in Salt Lake, we missed a toe (the jump) and I was like, ‘argh!’ But in this one, as soon as we recovered right after the jump, it’s just right back into the program.
Bartholomay - Everyone’s got the Olympics on their minds, obviously, with the Olympics and Worlds, it’s a long, long season. You try really are to focus on what we have to do and train really hard. We don’t want to wear ourselves out. We talked yesterday. We’re just on a steady climb. Unfortunately we’re on a steady climb here but we are definitely going to be peaking right around Cup of China. And then come down a little bit before the push for nationals.
Zhang - Well the toe was just a fall on the toe. It’s really not a big deal. I’ve been landing them all week. The main thing is that after Salt Lake, we’ve been working on the quality, and even with the mistake on the toe we were still able to show everything we’ve been working on.
Bartholomay explained, “For instance, in Salt Lake, we missed a triple toe (loop jump) and I was, like, ‘ARGH!’ But in this competition, as soon as we recovered right after the jump, we got right back into the program. Everyone’s got the Olympics on their minds, obviously. But, with the Olympics and Worlds, it’s a long, long season. You try really to focus on what we have to do and train really hard. We don’t want to wear ourselves out. We talked yesterday. We’re just on a steady climb. Unfortunately we’re on a steady climb here but we are definitely going to be peaking right around Cup of China. And then come down a little bit before the push for nationals.”
8. 50.26 (26.00+24.26) Margaret Purdy & Michael Marinaro from Canada are just up from Juniors. This was their first Senior international and it was something of an ordeal. They made several mistakes and finished over five and a half points behind Zhang & Bartholomay.
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