Lysacek captures Grand Prix Final gold
USA’s Evan Lysacek won the event after placing first in the long program with a new personal best of 159.60 points. The World Champion performed to Scheherazade which featured eight triple jumps (including two triple-triple combinations), and also displayed strong spins and footwork. His only mistake was popping his second triple Axel. His total score of 249.45 points was also a new personal best.
“I feel confident now heading into the latter part of the season,” the World Champion explained. “I’m happy with it (the performance) as far as the scores go; it reflected an improvement from Skate America.”
The 24-year-old wasn’t happy about the popped Axel. “I’ve been training this program clean every day, so to make a major error like that was disappointing – especially because I didn’t feel tired going into it. I just had a little bit of a timing issue going on there.”
Teammate Jeremy Abbott placed second in the long program with a new personal best of 159.46 points. His routine to Symphony No. 3 by Camille Saint-Saens consisted of eight solid triples, spins and footwork, however, the U.S. Champion fell on an attempted quad toeloop. With a total score of 235.38, he moved up from fifth to fourth overall.
“I’m very pleased and grateful with what I did today,” said the 24-year-old. “I didn’t feel any pressure to compete in GPF as a defending champion. Today, I wanted to have a solid performance. I skated as a good practice for the Nationals and the Olympics.”
Abbott said he put too much effort into the take off of the quad, but forgot about the mistake and moved onto the rest of the program. “I will train hard for the quad. I’ve already got good elements but I will also work hard on each element to get higher marks.”
Abbott is also enjoying his new environment with new coach Yuka Sato. “Everything fits me. I started living on my own and skating with leading ice dancers. I’ve skated with leading skaters, but I wanted to have less density. Skating with dancers is fun and it motivates me in many different ways.”
Japan’s Nobunari Oda placed third in the long (155.71 points), however with a total score of 243.36, was able to claim the silver medal.
Oda gave a strong and entertaining performance to music from Charlie Chaplin which featured eight solid triple jumps. The 2008 Japanese Champion popped a triple Axel, but otherwise delivered solid spins and footwork.
“I’m mad at myself for popping the Axel,” Oda told the press. “It’s exactly what I did in China. I was third yesterday, and in trying to pull up, maybe I tried to be too perfect. In practice, I can do it (the triple Axel) without any problems. I guess I just try too hard in competition and when I’m skating in front of the audience.”
“The total score was this season’s best,” he continued, “but I’m not at all satisfied with my performance. I made costly mistakes – especially in the latter half of the program.”
USA’s Johnny Weir gave a clean skate his “Falling Angel” routine, and earned a new personal score of 152.75 points for fourth place in the long program. His program featured eight triple jumps, however he was called for use of the wrong edge on his opening triple flip. With a total of 237.35 points, the 25-year-old was able to claim third place for the bronze.
“It’s the best long program that I’ve done so far,” said Weir. “I rotated all my jumps, so I’m happy with that. And a new career best score is excellent. I hope this competition gives me some legitimacy, because a lot of people always write me off after I make mistakes and then I have to climb my way back up.”
“There were some good moments in the program and some bad,” added Weir. “I was really panicked. Before I skated, I was like a crazy person backstage hitting chairs and trying to make myself excited for the skate. But I was very nervous. Competing in Japan is like competing in another home country, so I have a lot of pressure to make my fans happy.”
Overnight leader Daisuke Takahashi of Japan fell on his quad toe attempt and made costly errors on other jumps and his spins to plunge to fifth place.
“I can’t think of any good points of today’s elements,” lamented Takahashi, “but as a performance, I got a good flow from beginning to the end of a program. I made a mistake on my flying camel change combination spin. My head went totally blank after the spin.”
“I came to the competition in good condition,” added the 23-year-old, “but I think this is a good lesson for me to train hard and be prepared for Nationals and to medal at the Olympics. There is no complaint about the result since I didn’t do well. Since this is the third competition in a short period and I didn’t have enough time for practice. But there are other skaters who are in the same situation, so it can’t be a excuse.”
Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic remained in sixth place overall (192.32 points) after his long program (122.15 points).
“I think I have overestimated my strength and thought that I could do it,” said the 2008 European Champion. “After Skate America, I was really weak and sick with the flu. When I came back it was quite okay. I skated parts of my program in practice, but competitions are always a little bit different than practice sessions. And that is what I have underestimated.”
” I think this competition was just too much for me,” Verner summed up. “I’m little bit sad that I came here and did not let Michal Březina, the next alternate, skate instead. He most likely could have performed better than me. I’ll focus now on the training again and that it will become much better again.”