The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series continued with Trophée Eric Bompard, the fourth of six qualifying events. The event was held November 16-19 at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy in Paris, France. Over 60 skaters from 14 different countries competed for points and monies totaling $180,000 in U.S. dollars. The points go toward qualification for the Grand Prix Final, to which the top six competitors in points standings from each discipline will be invited to compete for a total purse of $272,000 U.S. dollars. The Grand Prix Final will be held Dec 14-17, 2006, in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov of Russia were the gold medal winners, while teammates Julia Obertas and Sergei Slavnov and USA’s Rena Inoue and John Baldwin won the bronze and silver, respectively.
Performing to Sarabande by Handel, Petrova and Tikhonov opened with a lateral triple twist, however, Petrova two-footed the landing their side-by-side triple toeloops. The two-time and current World bronze medalists went on to produce a very good throw triple loop, an excellent level four lift, and good spins, earning 61.64 points for a first place finish in the short.
“It wasn’t so bad for the first competition of the season,” said Tikhonov. “We made a mistake on the triple jump and we also made a mistake in the spiral sequence,” he continued, explaining that Petrova thought they were doing the spiral from their free skate. “We were a bit nervous. We kept the old music from last season, but we did a new program to it.”
Inoue and Baldwin delivered a good routine to Steve Fisk’s Soul of Spain, landing good side-by-side double Axels and a double twist, however, Inoue fell on the landing of the throw triple Axel. The two-time and reigning US Champions also displayed good unison in their side-by-side combination spin and produced a difficult lift, earning 57.44 points for a second place finish after the short.
“Considering the circumstances and what I’ve been going through it’s pretty good that we showed up and got through it,” said Baldwin, who was diagnosed early that morning with shingles. “I had heavy fever coming into this and walking into the arena. The doctor said you’re not skating, and I said, ‘I came this far and I’m going to do it because we’re a pair team and I owe it to Rena.'”
Obertas and Slavnov had a good start in their performance to Libertango by Bond, opening with side-by-side triple toeloops, however, Obertas fell on the throw triple loop. The team recovered to deliver a very good difficult lift, a double twist, and two level four spins. The Russian National silver medalists were awarded 55.30 points for a third place finish in the short.
“This is our first competition of the season, and I think it was very good for that,” said Slavnov. “We did have that unfortunate mistake, but it was still good.”
Canada’s Elizabeth Putnam and Sean Wirtz produced a good program which included side-by-side triple Salchows and a throw triple Salchow, but their triple twist was crashy. They placed fourth with 53.48 points, followed by Jiaqi Li and Jiankun Xu of China.
Overnight leaders Petrova and Tikhonov opened their Moonlight Sonata routine with a triple twist followed by side-by-side triple toeloops, but Tikhonov put his hand down on the landing. The team went on to execute a side-by-side double Axel-double Axel sequence, however, Tikhonov singled the first jump. The four-time and reigning European bronze medalists recovered from the mistakes to produce a throw triple loop, three good lifts, an excellent throw triple Salchow, and a good flying combination spin, earning 112.63 points for a first place finish in the long and overall (174.27 points).
“It was our first free skating in competition this season,” said Tikhonov, “and we’re not ready yet. The most important thing for us is that we enjoyed skating. We really like this program and this music.” He added that his partner Petrova wanted to skate for a long time to this music. “But I think you need to grow up for it. You can’t skate it when you’re 25-years-old. Now we’re old enough for this music,” he said jokingly.
Inoue and Baldwin were once again plagued by the throw triple Axel (she fell) and the side-by-side triple loops (Baldwin fell). However, the 2006 Four Continents Champions executed a double twist, a level four backward-outside death spiral, a throw triple loop, three good lifts, and a side-by-side double Axel-double toeloop combination. The two-time and current US National Champions were awarded 107.29 points for their routine to selections by Puccini, placing second in the long and overall (164.73 points). They were fourth at this event last year.
“Considering the circumstances that Rena and I have gone through the last couple of days, we’re very happy with how we’ve skated tonight and we’re pleased with the outcome,” said Baldwin, referring to the shingles he developed when he arrived. “It made us stronger. If we can get through the program as well as we did in that condition, I think it bodes well for the next competition.”
Obertas and Slavnov opened their routine to music by Edvin Marton with a triple twist, but the program went downhill from there. Obertas stepped out of a triple toeloop (in combination with a double toeloop sequence), singled an Axel on the side-by-side double Axels, and fell on a throw triple flip. The 2005 European silver medalists also had unison problems during the flying combination spin, but produced three good lifts and a good forward-inside death spiral, placing third in the long (98.25 points) and overall (152.55 points).
“I’m very pleased with the result,” said Obertas, “but I’m not pleased with the mistakes. Two elements didn’t work out which could have worked out. We’ll have to work on these elements and just move on. It was the first competition of the season for us, and the first one is always the hardest.”
Putnam and Wirtz maintained their fourth place overall (151.71 points) after placing fourth (98.23 points) in the long. The team experience problems in the triple twist, Putnam fell on throw triple Salchow (in sequence with a double flip), and both skaters turned out the landings on their side-by-side double Axels which were not scored.
Li and Xu maintained fifth place overall (134.95 points), followed by Poland’s Dominika Piatkowska and Dmitri Khromin (125.91 points).
Trophée Eric Bompard was a scoring event for all pair entries.
Petrova and Tikhonov earned 15 points and will compete next week at Cup of Russia.
Inoue and Baldwin added 13 points to the 15 they had from their Skate America win. They will compete in the upcoming Grand Prix Final.
Obertas and Slavnov (11 points) will compete next at NHK Trophy.