Golden Skate

Domnina and Shabalin capture Grand Prix Final title

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia rose from third to first place overall to capture the gold, while USA’s Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto and France’s Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder slipped to second and third place overall, respectively.

Domnina and Shabalin earned a new personal best of 103.26 (53.50/49.76) points for their commanding performance to Waltz from Masquerade in which all elements were awarded a level four.

“I am very happy that we were able to really do our best technically and emotionally,” said Domnina. “So we felt really pleased and happy, because if you feel that you did your best it gives you an inner satisfaction. The result is still important, but it is also very important to feel that happiness inside.”

The Russian champions moved smoothly throughout the entire routine which featured matching twizzles, difficult lifts, and an excellent circular step sequence which received a +1.80 GOE. They placed first in the Free Dance (FD), and with a total score of 165.57 points, rose to first overall.

“Yesterday we weren’t as pleased with what we did because we felt ourselves that it wasn’t the best we can do,” Domnina said. “Today wasn’t the most important victory of our career. Hopefully that one is still to come, but it was the first competition where all the top couples met and we wanted to position ourselves well.”

The team also revealed that Shabalin is currently suffering from an inflammation in his left knee that began to bother him during their last practice at home before coming to Italy.

“We weren’t even sure if we could compete,” Domnina said.

Belbin and Agosto also didn’t disappoint with their routine to selections from Chopin, however, their serpentine lift was only awarded a level three instead of the level four they received at Skate America and Cup of China.

Nevertheless, the U.S. champions produced five level four lifts, excellent twizzles, and a good level four circular step sequence which garnered a +1.40 GOE. The team placed second in the FD with 100.50 (51.50/49.00) points and overall with a total score of 165.57 points.

“We didn’t make any mistakes,” said Belbin. “We have to ask around what they didn’t like about serpentine lift as we got a level three. So many little things to think about and we have to go home and work hard.”

Agosto added that perhaps there wasn’t enough emotion their performance.

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder placed third in the FD with a new seasonal best of 100.11 (51.40/48.71) points for their routine to music from The Piano soundtrack.

The European champions received a level four on all elements except for a level three circular step sequence. The team impressed with five difficult lifts and a good twizzle sequence. Their step sequences also received a combined total of +2.80 GOE.

With a total score of 163.40 points, however, the French champions slipped from second to third place overall.

“We are disappointed,” said Schoenfelder. “We expected to skate better today. Maybe we didn’t have enough energy, but I still think that this program will be very good. Hopefully at the European and World Championships.”

“We didn’t do the best we can do,” added Delobel, “but we are satisfied, because we focused on the new steps and got high levels.”

Canada’s Tessa Virtue (18) and Scott Moir (20) placed fourth in the FD (98.26 points) and overall (159.40 points). The Skate Canada champions earned a level four for all their elements which featured an excellent diagonal and circular step sequence, as well as an innovative rotational lift.

The Canadian silver medalists earned the second highest technical element score (52.30 points), but lacked in the program component score (45.96 points) compared to that of the top three teams.

Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski of Russia placed fifth in the FD (95.28 points) and overall (153.58 points). The team, which produced interesting choreography and unique lifts, were awarded a level four for all elements except for a level three midline (non-touching) step sequence which earned a 1.20 GOE.

France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat maintained sixth place overall (140.82 points) after placing sixth in the FD (83.09 points). Bourzat fell during the diagonal step sequence, however, the team displayed good level four twizzles a a good level four curve-rotational combination lift.

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