Delobel and Schoenfelder seize NHK title
In what was a close competition, Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France seized the gold by less than a point. Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir settled for silver, while Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski of Russia took the bronze.
Virtue and Moir won the Free Dance (FD) with their stirring routine to to music from the Umbrellas of Cherbourg soundtrack, which tells a story of young love. The 2007 Skate Canada champions were awarded level fours on all elements except for a level three serpentine lift, scoring a new personal best of 100.18 (52.90/47.28) points.
Their program was highlighted by matching level four twizzles, difficult lifts, a solid diagonal (+1.40 GoE) and circular (+1.80 GoE) step sequence. With a total score of 196.89, however, the Canadian silver medalists missed the top spot on the podium by a mere 0.26 points.
“Tessa and I had a lot of fun out there on the tonight,” said Moir. “We’ve been trying to show the connection in our skating and tried to take the elements one at a time. We felt like we did everything we can do this week. We had a really good OD and Free Program and hope to build on it going into our first Grand Prix Final.”
Delobel and Schoenfelder entranced the audience with their routine to music from The Piano soundtrack, retelling the story of a mute Scottish pianist who is sold into marriage by her father to a frontiersman in New Zealand.
Their dance was highlighted by matching level four twizzles, a beautiful level four curve-rotational lift, and a level three circular step sequence which received +1.40 GoE. However, the 2007 European champions only received a level two for their dance spin and a level three for a serpentine lift, placing second in the FD with 96.91 (49.10/47.81) points.
With a total score of 197.54 points, the French champions were able to maintain first overall to win the gold.
The team was very happy with the competition as a whole.
“We just wanted to skate clean,” said Schoenfelder. “The technical level of this competition was very high. We know of course that we still need to improve our technical elements, but I think we have a good program and we’ll be able to win the Original and Free Dance once we have the technical elements.”
Khokhlova and Novitski delivered a good skate in their interpretation of A Night on the Bald Mountain, but the team received a deduction when Khokhlova fell on the final pose.
Their routine was highlighted by a straightline-rotational combination lift, a solid midline step sequence, and a very good combination dance spin. Despite the fall at the end, the Russian silver medalists were awarded level fours and positive GoEs on all elements except for a level three circular step sequence (+0.40 GoE), and earned 94.89 (50.70/45.19) points for a third place finish in the FD.
“We are satisfied with how we skated today,” said Khokhlova. “We felt strong on the ice. We just had a little mistake at the end. Overall it felt easy to skate, easier than at our first Grand Prix event.”
Sinead Kerr and John Kerr of Great Britain delivered an eclectic, yet entertaining routine to The Landing by Enigma which featured an innovative straightline lift as well as interesting footwork and choreography.
The British champions placed fourth in the FD (86.11 points) and overall (172.34 points).
Kristin Fraser and Igor Lukanin of Azerbaijan finished fifth overall, followed by USA’s Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre.
The top three dance teams in this event have now qualified for the Grand Prix Final. They will be sharing ice with USA’s Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, Russia’s Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, and France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat.