Golden Skate

Zhang and Zhang win Cup of Russia gold

China's Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang perform a lift during their routine to music from The Myth soundtrack.

Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang of China maintained their overnight lead to win the gold, while Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy settled for silver.

Russia’s Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov edged out teammates Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov to cinch the bronze.

Zhang and Zhang had a flawed start when the Dan doubled her second jump on what was intended to be the side-by-side double Axel-triple toeloops.

The 2006 Olympic silver medalists didn’t disappoint with their huge triple twist and difficult lifts, but Dan later had to fight for the landing on a throw triple Salchow and Hao had a tight landing on his jump in the side-by-side triple Salchows.

Although the students of Bin Yao appeared tired and untidy in the second half of their performance, they earned 122.72 (64.00/58.72) points for a first place finish in the long and overall (192.68).

“We are not so happy with this performance,” admitted Hao Zhang. “I still have a bad toothache and to compete in two events back to back was hard for us.”

Savchenko and Szolkowy once again failed to make a statement with their performance.

The team had a good chance to defeat the Chinese teams with their superior choreography and presentation skills, but Szolkowy singled his Axel and Savchenko struggled on the landing in their side-by-side triple toeloop-double Axel sequence. Szolkowy also later feel on a triple Salchow.

Despite the mistakes, their routine featured two impressive throws, and the 2007 World bronze medalists captivated the audience with their intricate choreography. They earned 119.17 (60.09/60.08) points for a second place finish in the long and overall (185.95).

“Today we didn’t do well again,” said Savchenko, “but we know what we have to work on. It was somehow very hard to skate today. We felt inspired, but for some reason the ice was slow for us.”

Kawaguchi and Smirnov pulled up to third overall (181.71 points) after placing third in the long with a new personal best of 118.77 (64.69/54.08) points.

Kawaguchi stepped out of the landing of their opening element – a throw quadruple Salchow- and later had problems on a throw triple loop. Smirnov once again had a tight landing on one of his jumps in the the side-by-side triple toeloop-triple toeloop sequence.

Nonetheless, the 2007 Skate Canada bronze medalists earned high levels on all their non-jumping elements. While their unison wasn’t perfect, their choreography nicely carried the Love Story theme throughout the performance.

“We made many little errors,” acknowledged Kawaguchi, “therefore we’re not so pleased. We have a chance to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, and if we don’t, Russian Nationals will be the next competition and it is very important.”

Teammates Mukhortova and Trankov placed fourth in the long with a new personal best of 116.72 (60.24/56.48) points, but with a total of 179.82 points, slipped from medal contention by less than two points.

The Russian champions both struggled with their side-by-side jumps, but otherwise, delivered a strong and powerful performance. The earned high levels and positive GOEs on their non-jumping elements, but the students of Oleg Vasiliev were visibly disappointed by their skating.

Ksenia Krasilnikova and Konstantin Bezmaternikh of Russia remained in fifth place overall (149.44 points) after a fifth place finish in the long.

The two-time and current World Junior bronze medalists made several mistakes in their routine to Spartacus by Aram Khachaturian. Bezmaternikh doubled his jump in the side-by-side triple toeloops, and the team had problems on the catch of a triple twist. Krasilnikova later fell on the throw triple loop.

Adeline Canac and Maximin Coia of France were sixth, followed by Estonia’s Maria Sergejeva and Ilja Glebov.

Zhang and Zhang now have a total of 30 points and have qualified for the GPF.

Savchenko and Szolkowy also qualified with total of 28 points, but will still compete again next week at the NHK Trophy (non-scoring event).

Kawaguchi and Smirnov now have a total of 22 points, while teammates Mukhortova and Trankov have 20.

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