Savchenko and Szolkowy win Grand Prix Final gold
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany were the gold medal winners in the Pairs event, while China’s Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang and Qing Pang and Jian Tong won silver and bronze, respectively.
Savchenko and Szolkowy delivered a strong routine to L’Oiseau by Rene Dupere which featured a solid throw triple flip and throw triple Salchow, as well as three difficult lifts. However, Szolkowy doubled his first jump in a side-by-side triple toeloop-double toeloop sequence. He also put his hand down on the side-by-side triple Salchows while Savchenko doubled hers.
Nevertheless, the 2007 European champions produced two good level four spins and a nice level four spiral sequence to earn 127.09 (62.17/65.92) points. With a total score of 199.23 points, the German champions, who were second at this event last year, maintained first overall to win the gold.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Szolkowy, “and right now, I don’t think about the mistakes. I felt some pressure because we skated last and I knew that our competitors had made mistakes and that the door was wide open.”
Zhang and Zhang had a difficult start when Hao Zhang singled the first jump and both skaters put their hands hand down on the second jump of a double Axel-triple toeloop combination. The team also prematurely aborted their their final lift, but otherwise produced a very good lateral triple twist, two level four lifts, a throw triple Salchow, and a throw triple loop.
The 2006 Olympic silver medalists placed second in the long with 119.80 (59.32/60.48) points, and with a total score of 191.20 points, finished second overall to win the silver.
“We are disappointed,” admitted Hao Zhang. “We rarely have performances like this.”
Teammates Pang and Tong finished third in the long with 118.45 (58.85/59.60) points, and overall with a total score of 185.13 points.
The Chinese champions opened with side-by-side triple toeloops, however Tong put a hand down on the landing. Pang later uncharacteristically doubled a throw triple loop. The team also experienced problems on their backward-outside death spiral (-1.26 GOE), but managed to deliver a beautiful throw triple Salchow and three difficult lifts.
“Yesterday night we went to sleep very late,” said Tong. “This evening we are very tired and with the long program, it has been hard. We’ll do better the next time.”
Canada’s Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison placed fourth in the long with a new personal best of 115.37 (60.13/56.24) points. With a total score of 172.43 points, the team maintained fourth place overall.
Their routine featured good side-by-side triple Salchows and three difficult lifts, but Dube fell on a throw triple Lutz.
Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov of Russia finished fifth in the long (110.01 points) and overall with 161.75 points. The team once again attempted a throw quadruple Salchow, but Kawaguchi fell. She also had a shaky landing on a throw triple loop, but the Skate Canada bronze medalists earned a level four for both of their spins as well as their spiral sequence.
USA’s Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker, who stood in fifth place after the short program, reluctantly withdrew from the competition. Brubaker is currently suffering from cellulitis of the left foot.