Virtue and Moir golden at Skate Canada

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir at 2012 Skate Canada

Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir perform to “Carmen” at 2012 Skate Canada.

Anything else than a victory for Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir at their home Grand Prix in Windsor would have been a major surprise. In fact, it was already a big surprise that they were nearly tied in the short dance with Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy.

In the free dance, the Canadians fought back and won with 9.35 points to spare. The Italians took silver and Russia’s Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko claimed bronze.

It was the night of the “Carmens” in Windsor, with Virtue and Moir and Cappellini and Lanotte dancing to the what is probably considered the most popular music in figure skating.

It was interesting to compare the programs. Virtue and Moir went for a modern, sexy version, while Cappellini and Lanotte chose the more classical version.

The Canadians were dressed in simple and elegant black costumes. In contrast to Virtue and Moir’s previous “sweet” or “soft” programs, this free dance showed a completely different side. There were a few little wobbles in the program, but the potential is huge.

This time, the levels were much better than in the short dance the day before. The innovative lifts, twizzles and spin garnered a level four, the circular footwork a level three, and the diagonal steps a level two. The Olympic champions earned 104.32 (48.42/55.90) and had 169.41 points overall.

“Tessa and I were actually very pleased with our skate today,” said Moir. “It’s the first time that our free dance has been seen in its entirety. It was exciting for us and a little nerve-wrecking. We felt like we performed a very good free dance. There were a couple of mistakes in there, but as with any free dance, you have to work through it. We’ll be looking to build on it in Russia in a couple of weeks, and on to the worlds in spring.”

Virtue had to leave the podium briefly but returned in time for the anthem.

“I felt great going into the program and on the ice, but when I got off the ice I felt a little sick,” she explained. “There was a lot of self-inflicted pressure.”

Cappellini and Lanotte turned in a strong performance of their “Carmen”, which was highlighted by their level four lifts and fast twizzles. The combination spin merited a level three, however, the two step sequences were graded a level two. The team from Milan scored 94.98 (44.63/44.63) points for this performance, and totaled 160.06 points.

“We went out there and wanted to show our emotions,” said Cappellini. “There are some things we can improve and we are looking forward to going home and preparing for our next Grand Prix event.”

“This music is based on emotion and pushes us to use them,” Lanotte added. “There is a rainbow of emotions.”

Riazanova and Tkachenko danced to music from the The Godfather soundtrack, and displayed a lot of flow. The Russians bronze medalists picked up a level four for the lifts, a level three for the spin and the twizzles, and a level two for the footwork. They received 87.59 (41.64/45.95) for their performance, and won the bronze with a total score of 143.39 points—their second Grand Prix medal since they won silver at the Trophée Bompard in 2010.

“Yesterday we were nervous,” admitted Tkachenko. “Today, we managed to to stay concentrated and we enjoyed our performance. We are very happy to be back in the medals, and we enjoyed being on the podium.”

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada left a good impression in their Grand Prix debut. They overtook USA’s Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue to finish fourth at 136.74 points. All elements in their program were well executed, and the American-Canadian duo earned a level four for three lifts and the spin.

Hubbell and Donohue delivered a passionate Flamenco, however, they lost a few points with a level-one combo spin and a level-two straight line lift. They placed fifth with 135.16 points.

Julia Zlobina and Alexei Sitnikov of Azerbaijan produced an entertaining dance to Croatian music, and received a level four for six of their elements. They moved up to sixth at 132.80 points.

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