Lambiel edges out Takahashi for gold in Torino

Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland narrowly won the Men’s event after narrowly edging out Daisuke Takahashi of Japan. USA’s Evan Lysacek maintained third overall to earn the bronze.

Lambiel had a rough start in his Flamenco routine when he stepped out of a triple Axel and then put his hand down on a quadruple toeloop, but recovered to land six more strong triple jumps. The 2006 Olympic silver medalist also impressed with excellent spins and footwork, and placed first in the long with 155.30 (76.20/79.10) points.

“My program is very strategic,” Lambiel later explained. “It is very complicated and difficult with the triple Axel and the quad. I think what made the difference today was the spirit of the Flamenco program that I had.”

With a total score of 239.10 points, the Swiss champion overcame Takahashi by just 0.16 points to win the gold.

“This comes as a big surprise to me, said the 22-year-old. “The competition was wide open, and it’s a competition with the level of a World Championship. I won the silver medal here at the Olympic Winter Games and now I win the Final here.”

Takahashi gave a nearly flawless performance to Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet which featured a quadruple toeloop and six triple jumps, however he tripled his first intended quadruple toeloop and later doubled a Salchow. The current World silver medalist also produced excellent footwork, but he only received one level four which went to his final combination change spin.

“It wasn’t so good for me,” said the 21-year-old. I missed my first quad and popped the Salchow. Just before I went out, I heard the big applause for Stephane and I thought that he had done well. But I focused on my own skating. When I made the mistake on the (first) quad, I thought that maybe I’m not going to win today.”

The Japanese champion earned 154.74 (77.34/77.40) points for a second place finish in the long and overall (238.94 points) to earn his second consecutive Grand Prix Final silver.

“I came here to win this event,” said Takahashi, “so I’m really sad that I wasn’t able to achieve my goal. This is something to work on for the next big competition.”

Lysacek had a strong opening with a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, but then the U.S. champion underrotated a triple Axel and later fell on a triple Salchow. He otherwise landed a total of seven triple jumps and received a level four on two spins as well as an expressive straightline footwork sequence.

The reigning Four Continents champion earned 150.08 (75.08/76.00) points for a third place finish in the long and overall (229.78 points).

“I didn’t feel so over my feet today,” confessed Lysacek. “I worked hard on the ice. I was a little tense, but I was excited about the quad. I’ve only done four (quad combinations) in competition, so this was a big step. It’s the first time for me to get a level four for the footwork.”

Teammate Weir maintained fourth overall (216.16 points) after placing fourth in the long with 141.36 (69.16/73.20) points. The U.S. bronze medalist landed six triple jumps in all, but fell on a triple flip and doubled a loop. Despite the mistakes, the 23-year-old otherwise earned a level four for two spins and positive GOEs for both his level three circular and straightline footwork sequences.

Patrick Chan of Canada rose from sixth place after the short to fifth overall (208.13 points), after placing fifth in the long with 139.27 (72.37/66.90) points.

The current World Junior silver medalist earned a level four on all four of his spins and produced good footwork, but stepped out the landing and put his hand down on a double Axel. He also had a bad lean on his opening triple Axel, but otherwise produced seven more clean triple jumps.

Belgium’s Kevin Van der Perren finished in sixth overall with (189.52 points) after placing sixth in the long with 116.69 (55.69/62.00) points. The 25-year-old fell on his opening quadruple toeloop, doubled a triple Axel, underrotated and two-footed the landing of a triple Lutz, and doubled a loop.

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