Golden Skate

Volosozhar and Trankov take lead in pairs at Grand Prix Final

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov

Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov perform to "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence.

The 2011-12 ISU Grand Prix Final and Junior Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating continued with the Senior Pairs Short Program.

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia captured a narrow lead in the Pairs short program over Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy. Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang of China are sitting in third.

Volosozhar and Trankov completed their trademark huge triple twist, side by side triple toes, and a throw triple flip, however, the pair combination spin was only rated a level one. The World silver medalists posted a new season’s best with 71.57 points for their routine to Bring Me Back to Life by Evanescence.

“Today it was very hard to skate last,” said Trankov. “We were somewhat nervous. We made several small errors and we are not happy about that. We are very pleased with our program component score, but we don’t know yet why we received some low levels for our elements.”

“I don’t know what feature you need to get a level one,” Trankov continued, referring to the spin. “We have to ask our Russian judge. We cannot afford to lose so many points, but we are happy that we are first in the short program. Tomorrow we want to skate better. We’ll try our best, fight for free skating, and hope tomorrow we have all level fours.”

Savchenko and Szolkowy had a shaky start into their routine to Angels and Demons when Savchenko stumbled on the huge throw triple flip. Nevertheless, the team went on to reel off a triple twist, triple toe, and earned a level four for the lift, spin, death spiral, and footwork. With 69.82 points, the three-time World champions earned a season’s best score.

The German’s program was sophisticated, however, the judges gave them one point less in the component score which was not justified.

“Overall we are quite pleased,” Szolkowy commented. “The throw went wrong and I am glad that Aliona stayed on her feet. The throw was too good, it was extremely high.”

“There are seven elements in the short program,” he added, “and if the first element goes wrong, you still have six elements left you need to do.”

Zhang and Zhang were solid in their short to A Transylvanian Lullaby, and completed a throw triple loop, triple twist, and triple toe. They, too, earned a season’s best with 63.43 points.

“We had a little problem with our twist because the shoulder strap of my costume had slipped off,” explained Dan Zhang, “but all the other elements went quite well. We didn’t compete last year and we still make some errors in the performances, but we are happy to be back in the Final.”

Hao Zhang was pleased with the performance, but not so much with the score.

“I thought the score was a little low,” he commented.

Russia’s Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are currently ranked fourth with 61.37 points after Kavaguti doubled the toeloop. The triple twist in their All Alone blues program was better than usual, and the throw triple loop was fine, however, the pair combination spin only garnered a level two.

“We are preparing well no matter what, even if we are a little tired from doing three Grand Prix events,” said Kavaguti. “However, today we lacked concentration.”

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford completed a triple twist, a throw triple flip, and had a level four for the pair spin, footwork, lift, and death spiral. However, Duhamel put both hands down on the throw triple Salchow. The Canadian silver medalists picked up 61.04 points.

“We started off with a great twist and then fought until the end,” said Duhamel. “The crowd here is great and we really feel the support at home. We felt a tremendous crowd support at Skate Canada, especially during the Free Skate, so we are really looking to performing it tomorrow.

“One by one, we are achieving our goals that we wrote down on paper in the beginning of the season,” added Radford.

“This is an unknown experience for us, so we did not know during first practice here whether to feel excited or nervous,” Duhamel said, referring to their first participation in the Grand Prix Final.

Duhamel celebrated her 26th birthday two days ago. “We went out for lunch with our training teammates (Takahashi and Tran) and with my parents as it is my dad’s birthday today.”

Japan’s Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran has one of the most beautiful short programs this year with Imagine, however, Tran missed the side by side triple Salchow. The team recovered with a triple twist, throw triple Salchow, and level-four elements to score 59.54 points.

“I love this program,” said Tran. “The music is beautiful and I feel very good when we are skating.”

“Today we skated very well except for my fall of the triple Salchow,” Tran commented. “This jump is more consistent, that’s why we made the change from the triple toe loop which we had originally been planning earlier this season. We land it 9 out 10 times, but today was the unfortunate one,”

“Last year, we had two chances, both junior and senior, to come to the Grand Prix final and we made it to the Junior Final,” said Takahashi. “But this year we only had a chance to attend the Senior Grand Prix Final and we made it. It is very honorable to attend a Grand Prix Final four times in a row (including both junior and senior).”

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