2006-07 Grand Prix Final: Men’s Highlights
Brian Joubert of France won his first Grand Prix Final gold, while Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi and Nobunari Oda won the silver and bronze, respectively.
USA’s Evan Lysacek withdrew before the Short Program after the warm up. The two-time and current World bronze medalist took a bad fall on a triple Axel during practice, injuring his right hip.
Joubert put his hand down on the landing of a quadruple toeloop (in combination with a double toeloop), but quickly recovered to produce a solid triple Axel and a triple flip. The two-time and reigning World silver medalist commanded the audience with good level four spins and level three footwork in his powerful Die Another Day routine, earning a new personal best of 80.75 points for a first place finish.
“The mistake was actually that I was too slow going into it,” explained Joubert regarding quad. “I wasn’t confident enough, so I put my hand down. Overall, I was relaxed when I went into the triple Axel, and the spins and the footwork were good.” The French National Champion added that he would like to do two quads in the long program. “Maybe three if I feel good.”
Takahashi produced an expressive routine to Concert for Violin and Orchestra by Tchaikovski, landing a very good triple flip-triple toeloop combination, a solid triple Axel, and a triple Lutz. The 2005 Grand Prix Final bronze medalist also displayed good spins and two good level three footwork sequences, placing a close second behind Joubert with 79.99 points.
“I got tired towards the end of the program,” said the current Japanese National Champion. “Tomorrow I [will] try to show all that I learned in practice.”
Preaubert withdrew from French Nationals earlier this month due to a back injury which was evident in his routine to Night on the Bald Mountain. Despite the pain, he landed a triple Axel, a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, and a triple Lutz. There was also a problem with the CD (music) jumping during the middle of the program, but the Frenchman managed to deliver a level three circular and straight line footwork sequence, placing third with 71.63 points.
“At first I didn’t know what to do,” said Preaubert, regarding the problem with his music. “I [didn't know] if I should slow down in my footwork or not. There were no such problems in practice. This morning the music was very good, so I don’t know what happened.”
Oda fell on his opening triple Axel and later singled a triple flip in his entertaining and playful routine to Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon. Despite the mistakes, the 2005 Junior World Champion produced a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, three good level four spins, and two good level three footwork sequences, placing fourth with 69.15 points.
USA’s Johnny Weir had a disastrous practice. Despite appearing focused, the three-time and reigning US National Champion fell on a stroke and later doubled a flip. However, he produced a good triple Axel, a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and three level four spins in his routine to King of Chess by Silent Nick, placing fifth with 67.60 points.
Weir injured his hip during the fall he took and subsequently withdrew from the event.
“I landed a triple Axel and it was perfect,” said Weir. “Then I stepped forward and all of a sudden I had fallen. It started to hurt later and it got swollen. This morning [the day after] when I woke up, I felt like I couldn’t walk. I can’t pull in the leg to jump. It is hard to pull out here [of this event] as I love to skate in Russia.
Performing his powerful Metallica routine, overnight leader Joubert landed his opening quadruple toeloop-double toeloop combination, and followed up with a solid triple Salchow and triple Axel. The two-time and current European bronze medalist then stepped out of quadruple toeloop and two-footed the second jump in a triple loop-triple toeloop combination, but recovered to cleanly land a triple flip, a triple Lutz, and a double Axel-double toeloop combination. The 22-year-old also displayed good spins and footwork, earning 152.71 points for a first place finish in the long and overall (233.46 points).
“I was very tired,” said Joubert. “I gave a lot of energy at the Trophee Bompard and the Cup of Russia, but I’m learning from this experience and I will be stronger for my next event. This is my fourth competition in five weeks and I won all of them and that is very important to me.” Regarding the quad, he said: “I was nervous, because I know myself and I knew I was tired. So I made the mistake on the first quad.”
Oda opened with a good triple Axel-triple toeloop-double loop combination, followed by a solid triple loop, and a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination. Although the 2006 Four Continents Champion stepped out of the landing on a double Axel, he landed a good triple Axel, a triple Salchow-double toeloop combination, and two more triple jumps in his confident routine to Symphony No. 4 by Tchaikovski. The 19-year-old also displayed good spins and footwork, earning 147.71 points for a second place finish in the long and third overall (216.86 points).
“Today was very good,” said Oda, “especially compared to yesterday. I think I was too relaxed yesterday. I don’t remember the last time I have skated so badly. But today I pulled myself together and I did everything as I should have. I worried about my jumps and I didn’t want to fall, especially on the triple Axel.”
Takahashi landed his opening quadruple toeloop, followed by a very good triple Axel, and a solid triple Axel-double toeloop combination in his dramatic routine to Phantom of the Opera. However, the 2005 Four Continents bronze medalist cheated the second jump in a triple flip-triple toeloop combination (which was downgraded), stepped out a triple loop, fell out of a flying sit spin, and appeared to be in pain during a sub-par straight line footwork sequence. The 20-year-old was awarded a score of 144.84 points for a third place finish in the long, and with a total of 224.83 points, maintained second overall to win the silver.
“The last two days I didn’t feel well,” said Takahashi, “especially this morning in practice. I think I caught a cold and I also had stomach cramps today. I felt so bad in the middle of the program that I thought I would have to stop. But I pulled myself together. I really wanted to finish the program.”
Preaubert opened his program with a good triple flip-triple toeloop combination, followed by a triple Axel-double toeloop-double loop combination, and a triple Lutz, but then fell on a triple Axel. The 21-year-old recovered to executed a triple flip, and a double Axel-double toeloop combination, but doubled a loop. Nevertheless, the French National bronze medalist displayed good spins and footwork throughout his delightful routine to The Mask, placing fourth in the long (129.69 points) and overall (201.32 points).