Savchenko and Szolkowy first after short at NHK

Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy place first in the short program with a comfortable lead ahead of Ukrainians Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov. Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison of Canada are currently in third.

Savchenko and Szolkowy delivered a strong and intense routine to music from the Asoka soundtrack, earning a new personal best of 70.32 (39.92/30.40) points.

The German champions opened with a throw triple flip which received a +1.40 for Grade of Execution (GoE), followed by an good triple twist and solid side-by-side triple toeloops. They also produced good spins, as well as a level four Axel lift and backward-inside death spiral.

“Our program today was much better than last week in Moscow (Cup of Russia),” noted Szolkowy. “We still had a few small mistakes in the elements and there are things left to work on. For tomorrow we want to skate a clean program and want to show what we do in training.”

Volosozhar and Morozov earned a new personal best of 60.14 points (34.62/25.52) points with their routine to Peter Gabriel’s The Feeling Begins.

The Ukrainian champions produced a very good throw triple loop, a level two triple twist, and a level four lift, but judges deemed that their opening side-by-side triple toeloops were not flawless, giving them a negative GoE (-.20). The team also only received a level one on their death spiral and pair combination spin.

The team felt their skate went quite well despite a few mistakes.

“There is room for improvement,” acknowledged Volosozhar.

The team has been working with choreographer Nikolai Morozov (no relation to Stanislav) since May. “The first three months we basically worked on skating skills and footwork,” Volosozhar shared.

Dube and Davison had a nearly flawless skate, but Dube fell on a throw triple Salchow and the team lost a bit of unison on their side-by-side spin. The Canadian champions otherwise delivered a level four Axel lift and a solid throw triple loop, earning 58.16 (32.92/26.24) points for their routine to Gino D’Auri’s Galicia Flamenco.

While this is a non-scoring event for the team, they felt it was their weakest performance since competing at Skate America at the beginning of the season.

“I think we’re going to learn from that,” said Dube. “We can’t always skate perfect. It was a little bit shaky. For tomorrow we’re just looking to reverse all that and have a good performance and up our speed and our performance level.”

USA’s Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker are currently in fourth with 55.66 (31.98/24.68) points after their routine to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

The 2007 Cup of China silver medalists opened with a good level three backward-inside death spiral, but McLaughlin stepped out of (and put her hand down) on the landing of her jump in the side-by-side triple Salchows. While the team produced a good level four lift, McLaughlin fell on a throw triple loop and the team lost unison during their side-by-side combinatination spin.

Canada’s Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay are in a close fifth with 54.24 (30.80/23.44) points.

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