Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of St. Petersburg (SPB) prevailed over Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov (SPB) with a 3-point-lead in the Pairs Short Program.
The students of Tamara Moskvina were the next to last to skate, and gave a commanding and inspiring performance to Camille Saint Saens’ The Swan. The defending champions who kept last season’s program, were able to capitalize on the mileage and enchant the audience with their excellent flow and strong elements. The team had minor problems with a catch on the triple twist, but landed clean side-by-side triple toeloops and a throw triple loop to receive 78.01 (41.27/36.74) points.
“Our impression from the performance is very simple: we skated well,” said Smirnov. “Both me and Yuko are satisfied. However, we had not have a chance to ask Tamara Nikolaevna [Moskvina] for her opinion, so we don’t know whenever we fulfilled her goals or not. The beginning of the season was rather tough for us. I could even say that were discouraged, but we had felt strong support from our team: Tamara Nikolaevna, Igor Borisovich Moskvin, our choreographer Tatiana Druchinina, and all other people who believed in us. We will try to live up to their faith tomorrow.”
Mukhortova and Trankov, who skated first out of 12 couples, opened their Appassionata program with a strong triple twist, but Mukhortova stepped out of her triple toeloop. The current silver medalist were otherwise clean, and the overall impression from their performance was very strong. The team appeared to be relaxed on the ice and their lines and unison were the best in the field. They currently sit in second place with 74.82 (38.87/35.95) points.
“Skating first is always a lot of added pressure,” Trankov later commented. “It requires more focus than skating second, third or later. Unfortunately, some elements were not that strong today. We made a mistake on the toeloop, but overall it was one of our best performances. In terms of choreography and presentation, I felt that we skated really well. I would also like to thank the audience for their support – it was phenomenal. We are not always so well received by the public.”
Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov from Perm (PRM) made the first step towards securing a place on the Olympic team. The team made a mistake on the side-by-side triple toeloops with both skaters putting hands down on landing, but their triple twist and throw triple loop was strong, and the audience loved their lyrical style. The students of Ludmila Kalinina received 62.26 (33.23/29.03) points and are currently third.
“We wanted to skate a clean program,” said Larionov. “Unfortunately we made a mistake.”
Bazarova and Larionov had to sit out last season due to Larionov’s ban from sport. He had tested positive for Furosemide in a random off-competition test in December of 2007. The skater claimed that he had taken his father’s drug for an extremely strong headache. However, since it happened before the new anti-doping code was put into action, they are eligible for the Olympic Games.
“We never stopped skating,” said Larionov. “We tried to push the thoughts of disqualification away and just concentrate on day-to-day work. We tried new things and accepted some and rejected others. We worked on new programs and on improving our level.”
Lubov Ilushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze of Moscow (MOS) struggled with most of their elements, but finished fourth due to the strong presentation skills and complex choreography of their routine to Yesterday routine. Ilushechkina put a hand down on triple toeloop landing and stepped out of a throw triple loop, while Maisuradze did not catch his partner by her waist on triple twist. The 2009 World Junior Champions also received only a level one for their final pairs combination spin and scored 59.67 (30.97/28.70) points.
“I am rather upset with Luba today,” said Maisuradze afterwards. “She appeared uncoordinated. I thought we did not skate that well. Even with the mistakes, we still could have presented the program better. It’s past time for us to start skating clean programs.”
Tatiana Novik and Mikhail Kuznetsov (MOS) opened their performance with an original pair combination spin which earned them early applause for the creativity from the audience. They went on to perform all other elements equally well, including side-by-side triple Salchows and a throw triple Salchow, but only did a double twist. The 2009 Junior Grand Prix Final participants were upbeat and entertaining in their comic routine to The Marriage of Figaro, and received 56.86 (33.17/23.69) points for fifth place.
“Some things went well today,” commented Kuznetsov, “other things did not. We did the elements well, but we could have skated the program better. The stroking was not as strong as it should be and the presentation was lacking. We should have smiled more and had more sparkle.”
Ekaterina Petaikina and Maxim Kurdiukov (MOS) edged out former World Junior Champions Ksenia Krasilnikova and Konstantin Bezmaternykh (PRM) to finish sixth in the short program.