Zhang and Zhang take pairs title at Cup of Russia

China’s Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang won the Pairs Long Program despite placing second in the long program. Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov of Russia captured the silver, while Ukrainians Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov claimed the bronze.

Kawaguchi and Smirnov ran into problems with side-by-side jumps, with Kawaguchi doubling the second jump in an intended triple toe loop-triple toe loop sequence and later falling on the double Axel. However, the team executed a nearly clean throw quad salchow, as well as a second throw triple loop in the second part of the program.

The students of Tamara Moskvina attempted some new elements, but not all of them worked as planned, and their final lift received only a level one. The choreography of their program to Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci told the story of a mime pinning after a beautiful girl who refuses him, and the 2008 Russian Champions carried the theme throughout. They scored 110.51 for first place in the long, but with a total of 169.27 points, placed second overall.

“We are satisfied with the program in general, but we made mistakes on elements,” admitted Smirnov. “Yuko landed a nice throw quad salchow with only minor mistakes. In practice this morning we had a lot of problems with it, but now it worked. We hope we will skate better in the Final. We would like to thank our coach.”

Zhang and Zhang won their second Grand Prix event this season thanks to an advantage they gained in the short program, but their performance in the long left much to be desired. The 2008 World silver medalists made mistakes on both jumping passes, with Dan doubling the second jump in a double Axel-triple toe loop combination and later popping a planned triple Salchow into a single (while Hao doubled his).

The 2008 Cup of China Champions also aborted one of their lifts, but their throws and level two triple twist were as impressive as ever. Their program to The Yangtze River featured interesting transitions, and the team showed marked improvement in overall presentation. They earned 110.36 points for the long program and 177.42 points overall.

“We are disappointed with the way we skated,” confessed Hao Zhang. “In neither programs were we able to show our best skating. We are very upset about it, but the Grand Prix Final is close and we hope to skate much better there.”

Volosozhar and Morozov began their Pearl Harbor routine with with side-by-side triple jump attempts, but Morozov popped his into doubles. Volosozhar later two-footed the landing of throw triple loop, however, the team otherwise demonstrated one of the most secure and complex lifts in competition. The 2008 Cup of China silver medalists also delivered an excellent level three triple twist and high throw triple Salchow, and their program in general moved well with the music.

The Ukrainian Champions scored 109.52 points for the long program and 167.86 points overall, and now have a chance to advance to the Grand Prix Final for the first time in their career.

“We are not satisfied,” claimed Volosozhar. “It’s a pity we missed two elements in the short program and today we made mistakes on jumps.” “Actually, Tatiana skated quite well,” countered Morozov, “but I could not pull myself together. I was completely uncoordinated today.”

Russia’s Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze moved up one spot to finish fourth overall (147.88 points) in their first Senior Grand Prix event of their career. Skating to a selection of music by Edvin Marton, the 2008 World Junior silver medalists landed a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, but Iliushechkina stepped out of a double Axel landing and stumbled on the throw triple flip.

The students of Natalia Pavlova and Alexei Sokolov otherwise performed a clean throw triple loop and solid lifts, but what really set them apart was the complex choreography and confidence which they displayed throughout the performance. They placed fourth in the long with a new personal best of 100.83 points.

Teammates Ksenia Ozerova and Alexander Enbert slipped to fifth place overall (147.88 points) after they missed both throws and a second Axel in double Axel-double Axel sequence. Despite the mistakes, the team displayed good lines and nice attack throughout their routine to Dark Eyes, and most of their non-jumping elements were graded a level four. They scored 95.62 points for fifth place in the long.

Canada’s Monica Pisotta and Michael Stewart placed sixth in the long with a new personal best of 81.47 points, and finished sixth overall. Teammates Amanda Velenosi and Mark Fernandez were seventh.

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