Shen and Zhao lead after Short Program
Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao of China currently lead after setting a new record score of 75.36 points. The three-time World Champions delivered an emotional performance to Queen’s Who Wants to Live Forever which featured solid side-by-side triple toeloops, a triple twist, and throw triple loop.
“Today we felt very good out there on the ice,” said a happy Zhao. “We almost felt like we were in Beijing! All our elements were beautiful today, and also our emotions were strong. So we feel this was a better performance than at our previous Grand Prix events in Beijing and in the USA.”
“We love just skating on the ice,” he continued. “The crowd was amazing. The warm hearted support helped and cheered us.”
Shen (31) and Zhao (36) are looking forward to a third go around in Vancouver. “Coming back is so hard,” said Zhao, “but we’re so happy. We enjoy the training and competing again. Training again is very tough but we love this moment. We trained so long, and we practice a lot. Practice makes perfect.”
Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are currently in second with 73.14 points. The two-time and reigning World Champions delivered a good performance to Send in the Clowns which featured a solid throw triple flip and triple twist, however, Szolkowy touched down with his hand on the side-by-side triple toes.
“The elements felt better than in the other competitions, except for my triple toe obviously,” said Szolkowy, 30. “Everything felt calm and smooth.”
“Today’s performance was not 100%,” admitted 25-year-old Savchenko. “As you know, my jumps are a bit shaky but I’ll do my best for tomorrow.”
“It was a weird feeling today,” Savchenko added. “It felt more like a practice than a competition because of the whole atmosphere. There were not so many spectators. I prefer it when the arena is full.”
The German Champions enjoy enjoy having Shen and Zhao back on the circuit. “They’re great!” said Savchenko. “I appreciate a lot that we can skate together. It’s good for me.”
Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov of Russia finished third with a new personal best of 69.78 points with their performance to Secret Garden’s Appassionata. Their routine featured solid side-by-side triple toeloops, a triple twist, and a throw triple loop. Though they delivered a clean skate with no errors, Trankov was not satisfied.
“We did some small mistakes during our program,” admitted Trankov. “Our spiral and spins are not perfect today.”
Mukhortova (24) and Trankov (26) stayed in North America after their Skate Canada event last month. “It was not easy because it’s a very big time change,” said Trankov. “We prepared for this competition in the United States and the ice rink there is smaller than this one and we didn’t feel so comfortable. But we just tried to skate and make it work and are finally happy.”
Despite coming in fourth, China’s Qing Pang (29) and Jian Tong (30) still scored a new personal best of 68.04 points with their routine to Bizet’s Je Crois Entendre Encore. The defending Grand Prix Champions lost touch during their final pair spin which didn’t receive credit, however, they delivered good side-by-side triple toeloops, a high triple twist, and triple throw loop.
Teammates Dan Zhang (24) and Hao Zhang (25) are currently fourth with 66.24 points. The 2009 World silver medalists executed a high triple twist, side-by-side triple Salchows, and a throw triple loop.
“I think we had a little mistake today,” admitted Dan, “but basically we’re quite happy. Before the Olympic Games we want work on the details.”
“The last couple of events we made some mistakes (in the short program) and practiced accordingly,” added Hao. “Therefore out preparation was quite good and we performed well today.”
Russia’s Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov sit in sixth with 62.30 points. Kavaguti struggled a bit on the landing of her jump during the opening side-by-side triple toeloops as well as the landing of her throw triple loop.
“I heard the crowd and I really thank them for their support,” said Kavaguti. “However, I am very upset that I couldn’t perform well in front of them. The injury that I got at NHK did not affect our performance today at all. The jump I missed (throw triple loop) was my mistake. Practice would not mean anything if I cannot perform well at the competition. Therefore, we will try to do our best in the free program and hope we can perform as well as in practice.”