Joubert wins gold in Moscow

France’s Brian Joubert won the Men’s event despite placing fourth in the long program, while Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic took silver. Alban Preaubert of France rose from fourth to third overall to claim the bronze.

Verner won the long program with an inspired Tango routine which featured an excellent quad toe loop, a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and a triple Axel. The 2008 European Champion, however, stumbled out of a triple Salchow landing, two-footed the second triple Axel and popped a second combination into a double Lutz- double toe-single loop. In the end, he received 149.74 points for the long program and 222.94 points overall.

“I’m happy to be second here,” said the 22-year-old. “It was a better performance than at Cup of China. It’s good that I keep improving from one competition to the next, but I’m not entirely satisfied with my result and with the points I got.”

Despite the mistakes, Verner’s overall performance was one of the highlights of the event, and he presented his routine with a lot of character and good humor. His choice of music, and the dry manner in which he interprets the rhythm, seems to suit him perfectly.

“I guess I was one of the first to pick up tango music this season,” said Verner. “The idea occurred to me before the end of last season. I was just looking for a special tango – a famous one, but not one overused. I think it’s great music for me. I want to entertain the audience. After all, those people are sitting on the ice rink the whole day, freezing.”

USA’s Jeremy Abbott, who was sixth after the Short Program, skated first in the second warm up group. The 23-year-old finished second in the long program (148.68 points), but missed the podium by under two points. The 2008 Cup of China Champion delivered a nearly flawless performance, with only a couple of tight landings on his jump combinations.

The student of Tom Zakrajsek delivered excellent level three steps sequences and impressive spins, and really captured the spirit to the music of Eight Seasons. He also used his whole body to express the character of the music through complex transitions, but was unable to convince the judges to give him high enough presentation scores to win a medal. He moved up to fourth place overall with a total of 217.48 points.

Preaubert, who was fourth coming into the long program, won his second Grand Prix bronze medal in just as many weeks with a total score of 219.09 points. The French bronze medalist landed a clean quad toe loop, two triple Axels, and six more triple jumps to post the highest technical score of the night.

“I was very tired towards the end of the program,” admitted Preaubert. “It’s a second competition in a row for me. I could barely stay on my feet at the end, but fortunately the music was very powerful, so it carried me through. The audience’s support helped a lot too.”

The 2008 Trophée Eric Bompard bronze medalist gave an entertaining and powerful performance, and the crowd started to clap along as soon as they recognized his music. However, the relative lack of transitions and general lack of refinement prevented him from finishing higher. He earned 147.48 points for his routine to Kalinka and Songs of Volga Boatsmen.

“My music choice is a tribute to my first coach Irina Issachencko who unfortunately passed away two years ago,” explained the 23-year-old. “I dreamed of skating to Russian music because she was talking about it all the time. I thought about saving it till the Olympic season, but my coach Annick recently adopted a Russian girl, so all things sort of came together and I couldn’t wait any longer. I always try to pick up entertaining music – both for myself and for audience.”

Teammate Joubert won the competition on the strength of his short program, despite finishing only fourth (144.68 points) in the long. The 2008 World silver medalist underrotated and stepped out of the opening quad toe loop, but landed two triple Axels (one in combination with a double toe loop and the other in combination with a triple toe loop), and three more triple jumps.

“This quad was the first one I missed this week,” said Joubert. “Perhaps I lacked confidence. I had a lot of problems in October. I was only able to solve my problem with the boots this week, therefore I only started to train in full on Monday. I lost a lot of energy. I knew I was not physically ready to this competition, but I am glad that I was able to improve on my performance from last week at Trophée Eric Bompard.”

Even with the mistake on the opening element, the program appeared much better than it did a week ago in Paris. The improved confidence and flow allowed the Frenchman to highlight the theme of his Last of the Mohicans routine, and his circular step sequence in particular seems to go well with the music. The 24-year-old won the event with a total of 230.78 points.

“Evgeni Platov is amazing man,” said Joubert of his choreographer. “We did a lot of work with him. He gives me a lot of energy and we always try something new. He is good, especially with all those little steps, and he helps me a lot with my expression. I’m to meet him again next week to rework my long program because there are many things which can be improved.”

USA’s Adam Rippon slipped from third to fifth place overall (207.93 points) after he two-footed the landing of a triple Axel and popped a double Axel. The current World Junior Champion was otherwise clean, nailing seven triple jumps and gaining level three and fours on his non-jumping elements. While he obviously enjoyed performing his Send in the Clowns routine, and has solid basic skating skills, his overall presentation did not seem to be as strong as that of more senior competitors. Nevertheless, the 19-year-old placed fifth in the long with a new personal best of 136.31 points.

Sergei Voronov of Russia, who stood in 12th after a disappointing short, moved up to seventh overall (190.31 points) after placing sixth in the long (190.31 points). The 21-year-old attacked his tango with a lot of power and abandon, but fell out of a quad toe loop landing.

Belgium’s Kevin van der Perren slipped to sixth place overall, while Kristoffer Berntsson of Sweden finished eighth.

The event concludes with the Free Dance.

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