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Paris Terror Stops Trophee Bompard

by Tatjana Flade



(15 November 2015)  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.

 The next morning, during an extraordinary team leaders meeting, the president of the French Skating Federation, Didier Gailhaguet, and the ISU Sport Manager Peter Krick announced that they wanted to carry on with the competition, in accordance with the French authorities. However, about two hours later the Minister of Interior Affairs and the Mayor of Bordeaux informed the French Skating Federation that the competition had to be cancelled.

 Didier Gailhaguet called everyone who was on site to a VIP room in the ice rink to break the bad news. The pairs that had arrived for their practice, the men that just had finished their practice, coaches, officials and journalists gathered in the room.

 “We regret to inform you that due to the funeral days (national mourning days) and the state of emergency in France, the French government decided to cancel the Trophee Eric Bompard. The French Skating Federation and the ISU are completely distraught and disappointed,” Gailhaguet said, and offered his condolences to all families that have suffered from the attacks. He asked for a minute of silence and after that started to sing the French National Anthem, the Marseillaise, and everyone who knew the text, joined. It was an emotional moment and many had tears in their eyes.

Still, the French Federation and others felt that it would have been better to continue with the competition at least, and maybe just cancel the Gala. “We want to continue the event for many reasons. One is to stand up during this time of disaster,” Gailhaguet had said at the team leaders meeting in the morning. The original plan was to hold a minute of silence, play the National anthem and show the French flag on the video board.

But there was no way to carry on without the consent of the authorities that obviously feared for the safety of the participants. On the other hand, shops and restaurants remained opened and were full, as everyone could see when strolling through the city in the afternoon.

A figure skating event obviously is not important compared to what happened in Paris and the most important thing was and is that everyone was as safe as they could be. But the cancellation has some consequences for the skaters.

The ISU will have to decide in the next days how to deal with the qualification towards the Grand Prix. One proposal and probably the most logical one is to count the result of the short program as the final result, that is, the winner of the short program gets 15 points, the second placed skater 13 points and so on.

 Of course, skaters like Patrick Chan, Max Aaron, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov that had good chances to qualify for Barcelona, but didn’t skate well in the short program didn’t have a chance to catch up in the long program and now probably won’t make it to the Final.  patrick Chan still has the best shot, the chances for the others are rather slim.

 If the results of Trophee Bompard wouldn’t count at all, none of the skaters here could qualify, which doesn’t seem fair either. There won’t be any solution that everyone likes. It also doesn’t seem possible to organize a free skating event just for the participants of Bordeaux or add them to the roster of the two remaining events.  The ISU Council is anticipated to make its decision on Tuesday how to count the results from Trophee Bompard.

Now we look at the short programs.

Volosozhar & Trankov Return in Style

About one and a half months ago Olympic Champions Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov returned to competition at Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, but their short program was very shaky. This time the Russians looked much more solid and produced a nice triple twist, side by side triple Salchow and level-four lift, footwork and pair combination spin in their “Bollywood” program. The only glitch came when Tatiana two-footed the throw triple flip. The 2013 World Champions scored 74.50 points.

“We already skated better than at the first competition in Oberstdorf. Here we were more confident and also were more confident on the warm up. We are moving into the right direction. We could have done better, and we could have done worse. It was an average training run-through,” Trankov commented. “I am not very satisfied with my elements, the throw where I made a mistake. But for our second competition it is not bad,” added Volosozhar. The skaters also noted that they had lost about two weeks of training time as Tatiana had to deal with some injury, but they wouldn’t elaborate on what happened.

At the French team press conference before the event, Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres clearly stated that their goal was a medal. At least in the short program they met this goal by finishing second with a solid performance to “I Put A Spell On You.”

 The French Champions landed a triple twist, triple toe, throw triple flip and earned a level four for three elements to score 65.75 points. “The short program is usually not so good for us, we are better in the free skating, but we worked a lot in order to do a good short program,” Cipres said. Vanessa added they will try to stay focused and calm for the long program and that they learned from their experience at the past European Championships where they placed third in the short but then finished off the podium after making several errors in the free skating.

Julianne Seguin & Charlie Bilodeau continued a strong senior-level Grand Prix debut with a clean short and third place. The 2015 World Junior silver medalists’ performance to “Monde Inverse” from Cirque du Soleil included a triple twist, triple Salchow and throw triple twist. They earned 64.95 points.

 “This is big for us. We are learning from that experience and from just sitting here next to champions (like Volosozhar & Trankov). We’ve worked hard for that,” Julianne noted. “Like at Skate America, we are happy with our performance. We did our elements. At each competition we just want to do what we do at practice at home,” her partner commented.

Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang entered their first competition this season. They impressed with their triple twist (the next to last element) and throw triple loop, but Peng under-rotated the solo triple toe and fell. The Chinese team ranked fourth with 64.10 points.

Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise of Italy turned in a good performance to “Magnificat,” although they looked a bit slow. But they made no major mistakes on their elements such as triple Salchow and throw triple loop to rank fifth.

Marissa Castelli & Mervin Tran (USA) in sixth place also skated well, but Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov of Russia messed up. Their triple twist was huge as always, a level four and got +2 and +3 GOEs – they scored 8.50 points alone with this element, but then Evgenia fell on a cheated triple toe and also stepped out of the throw triple loop. The couple from Moscow came only seventh. A lot could have still happened in the free skating with the teams ranked second to seventh being separated by just about 3.5 points, but then they never got to skate the free.

Shoma Uno Wins Men’s Short

Shoma Uno of Japan competed only in his second senior Grand Prix event. After finishing second at Skate America he won the short program in France.

 The 18-year-old hit a triple Axel, quad toe and triple flip-triple toe (the latter two jumping passes were in the second half of the program) in his routine to “Legends” by Sacred Spirits. The landings of the Axel and the quad were a bit tight, but he pulled them off and also picked up a level four for the three spins. Still, the World Junior Champion was not entirely satisfied. “I think my performance was less than 70 percent today. The quality of my quad toe and triple Axel could have been better and also my steps and moves were not as good as I can do them in practice,” he pointed out.

Maxim Kovtun started his Grand Prix season in Bordeaux. The Russian Champion looked not really solid in practice, but was able to do it when it counts, hitting a shaky quad Salchow-triple toe, a quad toe ( with hand down) and a good triple Axel in his program to “I Can’t Dance” by Genesis. He was the only man to go for two quads in the short.

 Kovtun pointed out that he had worked a lot especially on his component score, for example by adding more upper body movement. “At the beginning I did a step sequence and was as tired as after the whole program last year. It is hard to work with the upper body and to skate a difficult program. But you have to develop and to overcome the discomfort. The most important thing is that everything looks nice and easy,” Kovtun shared.

Skating to “Bring Him Home,” Daisuke Murakami completed a quad Salchow and triple Axel, but then just did a triple Lutz-single toe instead of his planned triple Lutz-triple loop. So he finished third. “I was a little too overconfident, because I had my harder elements finished and my combination is one of my easier jumps. I learned a great lesson today that don’t give up until the end, because every element counts,” the Japanese skater said.

Denis Ten had returned home to Kazakhstan following Skate America in order to get treatment for his ailing hip. But he is still not in top shape. The 2015 World bronze medalist crashed on the quad toe and stumbled on the back end of his triple Lutz-double toe combination to come fourth.

Patrick Chan popped the quad toe into a double and apparently was so stunned that he also doubled the second toe in the combination. A double toe-double toe combination was obviously not what he needed, and he also touched down on the triple Axel. He placed fifth.

 “I felt a little bit of hesitation going into the quad-triple toe. They’ve been great in practice, everyone knows that. But you’re in the middle of a new environment, getting used to the competition environment again and all that plays a factor in the opening jump. I just didn’t attack the quad,” the three-time World Champion analyzed.

Alexander Petrov of Russia was sixth with a clean program without a quad attempt. Max Aaron (USA) put his hands down on the quad Salchow and then fell on the triple Axel to finish seventh.

Hubbell &Donohue Edge Gilles & Poirier

Following the withdrawal of World Champions Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron of France, the North-Americans became the favourites. Papadakis is still not fully recovered from a concussion she suffered end of August in fall in practice.

At Trophee Bompard, Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (USA) edged out Canadians Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier by just 0.51 points to win the short dance portion.

Hubbell & Donohue danced to “Hallelujah” and earned a level four for the first Waltz pattern, the twizzles and the lift and a level three for the second Waltz pattern and the step sequence. The 2014 Four Continents Champions scored 64.45 points.

“The program felt smooth and comfortable tonight. We’ve been putting in a lot of work this off-season to make sure we were in shape and we made really the best debut possible after our coaching change. It’s a program we’re really connected to and it’s really a joy to skate,” Hubbell said. Donohue added that it is a very personal program for them and his partner went on to explain that he used to sing that song to her to calm her down when she gets too nervous. The couple had switched coaches last spring and now trains in Montreal under Romain Haguenauer, Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and their team.

Gilles & Poirier set themselves apart with their Beatles & Mozart dance, but they lost 0.60 points – pretty much the difference to Hubbell & Donohue – in the Waltz. Both parts were graded a level three. “We’re definitely really happy with today’s performance. Every time this program is getting stronger and stronger and our program components are going up, which is something that we really want to be working on this year,“ Poirier said.

Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin competed in their first international this season as they had to withdraw from Finlandia Trophy due to illness. The 2015 European Champions had only a level two and three for their Ravensburg Waltz pattern and also got a little less in the component scores to place third. “For now we are in a good shape. Obviously, we still have to work a lot, but we’re ready for this competition,” Bukin commented.

Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain had a good start into the season at the Ondrej Nepala Trophy in September and had set their eyes on the podium in Bordeaux. But a level two for the twizzles and for the step sequence cost them points and so they sat only in fourth place in the short dance.

Denmark’s Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen improved over their performance from Skate Canada, this time the twizzles worked (and were even a level four) and they were ranked fifth, ahead of World Junior Champions Anna Yanovskaya & Sergey Mozgov (Russia), who got only a level one for the first part of the Ravensburg Waltz and a level two for the step sequence. Also Alissa Agafonova & Alper Ucar from Turkey had low levels and were seventh.

Gracie Gold Shines in Short Program

Gracie Gold is a very talented skater, but she tends to make silly mistakes. This time, however, she put out an excellent short program and was rewarded with a new personal best score of 73.32 points. She nailed a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple flip, double Axel and had a level four for her spins.

 "I made the improvements that I wanted to coming off Skate America. I worked really hard the past two weeks. I’m really happy that I did the program that I train every day in practice. It was strong from start to finish,” the 20-year-old said.

Russia’s Julia Lipnitskaia was also improved over Skate America. Her Elvis Presley program featured a triple toe-triple toe combination, a somewhat shaky triple flip, a double Axel and her trademark spins. The 2014 European Champion earned 65.63 points. “I really like my program, but at first I couldn’t really get into this image. It is new for me. I was happy when I heard how the audience supported me (in Bordeaux) and, more importantly, I didn’t tighten up, but on the opposite, it made me stronger. In the past two years I didn’t enjoy my skating that much. Today’s performance lifted me up and therefore I skated differently,” the 17-year-old shared.

At age 25, Roberta Rodeghiero debuted at the Grand Prix series in Bordeaux. The Italian skated clean with triple toe-triple toe, triple flip and double Axel to “Pretty Woman” and she was obviously very excited to be in third place. “This is my first senior Grand Prix and I didn’t expect this result. I’m the oldest and proud to be here. I’ve been working for many years hoping to get there and now I’m happy to have arrived at this level,” the Italian skater commented.

Kanako Murakami again fell victim to her old mistakes – she under-rotated the triple toe-triple toe and singled the Axel to finish fourth.

 Elizaveta Tuktamysheva faltered in the short program like at Skate Canada. She went for the triple Axel, but she under-rotated and fell and then she landed forward and stumbled on the triple Lutz that was downgraded. The triple toe-triple toe was wobbly as well. So the World Champion was ranked only fifth.

 “I don’t know yet why it went that way. It probably was psychologically. I thought too much about the jumps. I jumped the Axel, but I didn’t hold the landing. And the Lutz went wrong. I usually don’t miss it and I did good one in the warm up. I was confident in the jump, and then again there was this misfortune,” Tuktamysheva said.