Golden Skate

Savchenko and Szolkowy take lead in Torino

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany are the currently leaders after the Pairs Short Program, while China’s Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang and Qing Pang and Jian Tong are in second and third place, respectively.

Savchenko and Szolkowy delivered a nearly flawless routine to music from the Asoka soundtrack, but Savchenko two-footed the landing of a throw triple flip. The team recovered and went on to produce a triple twist, good side-by-side triple toeloops, and a level four combination pair spin.

The German champions also executed a difficult one-arm Axel lift and an innovative level three straightline footwork sequence, earning a new personal best of 72.14 (40.46/31.68) points.

“It was one of the best short programs in competition this season,” said Szolkowy. “We didn’t expect this. We made a mistake which means that there are still some more points out there.”

Zhang and Zhang are in a close second with 71.40 (41.16/30.24) points. The 2006 Olympic silver medalists produced a huge lateral triple twist, a throw triple loop, and side-by-side triple Salchows. The team also executed a difficult level four lift which received a +2.00 GOE, as well as two level four spins, but their backward-inside death spiral only received a level one.

“It was not a bad performance for us,” said Hao Zhang. “Our death spiral was only a level one, but the rest was quite good.”

Teammates Pang and Tong are currently in third with 66.68 (37.60/29.08) points. The Chinese champions produced side-by-side triple toeloops, a high lateral triple twist, a very good throw triple loop, and a difficult lift. They also received a level three on their death spiral and two spins.

“It was a so-so performance,” said Tong. “We changed the circular step sequence and the order of our elements. The order of the elements is very important as they have to go with the music.”

Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison of Canada placed fourth with 57.06 (29.78/27.28) points. The team nailed their opening side-by-side triple Salchows and triple twist, but they aborted their Axel lift. The Canadian champions otherwise earned a level four on both spins, as well as a level three on their straightline footwork and death spiral.

USA’s Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker are in fifth place with 55.24 (29.92/25.32) points. The current World Junior champions also received a level four on their spins a, but McLaughlin singled her jump in the side-by-side triple Salchows and two-footed the landing of a throw triple loop.

Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov of Russia are in sixth place with 51.74 (27.46/26.28) points. The team received a two point deduction on an Axel lift (which was later deemed an illegal element) when Smirnov performed four rotations instead of three.

The event continues with the Free Dance and the Men’s, Ladies, and Pairs Free Skate.

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