Kostner snags gold in Moscow

Carolina Kostner of Italy rose from second after the Short Program to capture the gold, while USA’s Rachael Flatt claimed the silver.

Overnight leader Fumie Suguri of Japan slipped from first to third overall to settle for bronze.

Kostner won the long program and the gold despite a flawed performance of last year’s free program to the music of Dumsky Trio. The skater, who cited the need ‘to feel more like herself on the ice’ for returning to the old program, opened her routine with an excellent triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a slightly flawed triple Lutz-double toe loop-double loop, and a strong triple flip. However, the current World silver medalist later fell out of a triple loop entry, underrotated and fell on a triple toe loop (in combination with a double Axel), and stepped out of her final double Axel.

The comfort of the old program allowed the two-time European Champion to relax and enjoy her performance, which was especially evident during an inspired straightline step sequence and spiral sequence, which simply flew across the ice. The Italian scored 113.70 points for her program, and with 170.72 points total, won the event with a 4-point margin.

“I was quite nervous,” confessed Kostner. “I remembered Skate Canada and I was nervous there as well, but I after I landed my first jumps here I was able to calm down. I thought ‘Ok, see? You know how to skate, you don’t just forget it overnight’. I was able to have fun.”

Flatt posted the highest technical score of the night, but the judges found her interpretation and presentation of Debussy’s Dialogue du Vent et de la Mer lacking. Once again, however, the student of Tom Zakrajsek proved to be an excellent competitor and quick thinker. When the landing of her opening triple flip turned out not secure enough to add a planned triple loop to it, she quickly switched the combination to a triple flip-triple toe loop. The 2008 World Junior Champion later landed four more triple jumps and two double Axels.

The U.S. silver medalist also displayed level four spins and complex transitions, which went well with the character of the music, but compared to Kostner she seems to lack flow across the ice as well as the ability to impress the audience with every move she makes. She placed second in the long with 110.14 points, and moved up one spot to second overall with 166.06 points.

“I feel very well about my performance,” said Flatt, “even though it wasn’t my best. There are some little things which can be improved, but I had a lot of fun. It was great skating here in front of such an audience in this incredible venue, and I’m happy to win the medal at my second Senior Grand Prix.”

Suguri, who stood in first after the Short Program, was only able to land three clean triple jumps in her routine to Raul di Blasio’s Otonal. Skating last, she opened her performance with a strong triple Lutz-double toe loop combination and a triple flip. The 2008 Skate Canada silver medalist looked well poised to win the competition, but then she fell out of an underrotated triple Salchow, doubled a toe loop, and popped a planned triple flip into a single.

The mistakes on the jumps sealed Suguri’s fate even though her non-jumping elements were as good as those of her rivals. She placed third with 103.74 points, and slipped to third overall with 162.04 points.

“I made a lot of mistakes on jumps,” admitted Suguri. “I am very disappointed with my performance, especially since the last two weeks of training went so well. I did not feel much pressure (skating last). I was prepared for any situation.”

USA’s Alissa Czisny overcame a shaky start to finish fourth in the long (97.53 points) and overall (151.03 points). The 2008 Skate Canada bronze medalist fell on her opening triple Lutz and then underrotated a triple flip, but recovered to land a triple loop. Her second triple Lutz attempt was underrotated, but both double Axels (one in combination) were clean.

The American captured the attention of the public with her delicate interpretation to the famous soundtrack tunes of Dr. Zhivago, and impressed with her phenomenal spins and spiral sequence. However, with only two clean triples, even the complexity and the quality of her non-jumping elements did not allow her to challenge for medals.

Alena Leonova of Russia also improved her standings after the long program, moving up from seventh to fifth overall (145.93 points). The 2008 Russian Junior National silver medalist delivered five fully rotated triples, however the landings on most were tight. Her non-jumping elements were also not quite as strong as those of the top skaters, but the student of Alla Pyatova attacked her program throughout and strategically placed jumps highlighted the music in her routine to Raul di Blasio’s La Leyenda del Beso. She placed fifth in the long with a new personal best of 94.97 points.

Skating to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Elena Glebova of Estonia landed a clean double Axel-triple toe loop combination in the opening seconds of her program, but the rest of the program was not as impressive. The 19-year-old was only able to deliver two clean triple Salchows and one triple toe loop. She placed sixth in the long (89.65 points) and overall (140.67 points).

Julia Sebestyen of Hungary slipped to seventh place overall the long, while USA’s Kimmie Meissner finished eighth.

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