Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia fulfilled their roles as the favorites and outshone their rivals in the Pairs short program on Friday. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch of Canada and China’s Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang finished second and third. The couples ranked second to fourth are separated by less than one point.
Kavaguti and Smirnov put out an expressive Blues All Alone that was highlighted by a triple toeloop, a triple twist, throw triple loop, and difficult lift. The two-time World bronze medalists scored 64.45 points.
“We are satisfied with today’s performance,” said Kavaguti. “This is our very first competition this season. We decided to compete in three Grand Prix this year as we didn’t get to skate so much last year.”
Kavaguti is now sporting a new hairstyle. “I got bored with my old hairstyle and I wanted to try something new. This is my new hobby,” she said with laugh.
Moore-Towers and Moscovitch had a solid performance as well. Skating to the jazzy Borsalino, the Canadians produced a triple twist, triple toe, throw triple loop, and level-four footwork to earn 60.78 points. Her toe was a little wobbly, however, there were no other glitches.
“We feel good about today’s performance,” Moscovitch commented. “We went out and did everything we needed to do. It wasn’t our best short program that we’ve done. It wasn’t as easy and smooth as we would have liked, but we worked through it and we got everything done and we’re happy with the outcome.”
Zhang and Zhang still looked a little rusty in their second competition after sitting out the past season as he recovered from various injuries. Their program to A Transylvanian Lullaby featured a big throw triple loop and triple twist, but she doubled the Salchow. The Chinese team is nearly tied with the Canadians at 60.57 points.
“We are not so pleased as I made a mistake,” said Dan Zhang, “but the other aspects of the program were quite good. We hope to do better tomorrow.”
“Considering the circumstances, it was decent,” Hao Zhang added. “This is our second international competition only. It is not easy to come back.”
Teammates Wenjing Sui and Cong Han are within striking distance to the podium with 60.00 points. Sui fell on the triple toe, however, it was fully rotated. The two-time and reigning World Junior Champions recovered to nail a triple twist, throw triple flip, and level-four pair spin.
“It wasn’t so good,” admitted Sui. “I made a mistake and I regret that.”
“Except for the mistake, the other elements were good and we want to make up for the error in the free skating,” added her partner.
USA’s Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig are currently ranked fifth with 57.88 points. Evora also struggled with the triple toe and stepped out of it. The program to The Man I Love by George Gershwin also included a throw triple loop and an impressive lift with changes of positions.
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