Figure Skating News
Germany’s Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot rose from third to first overall to capture the gold at the 2017 Bridgestone Skate America on Saturday in Lake Placid, New York. Xiaoyu Yu and Hao Zhang of China maintained second to win the silver, while Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford settled for bronze.
All three teams have secured a spot for the 2017-18 Grand Prix Final next month in Nagoya, Japan and will join Evgeni Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS), Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS), and Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (CHN).
Duhamel and Radford skated a strong short program to “With or Without You,” which featured a solid throw triple Lutz and triple twist (level two), however, Radford two-footed the landing on the side-by-side triple Lutzes. The team scored 75.37 to place first in the short program.
There were aspects of the program that Radford was both proud of and frustrated with.
“I am really proud of how we felt the program and stayed in the moment,” he said. “I am frustrated with our levels. We lost levels on elements that we usually don’t lose points on. We don’t want to make those mistakes heading into the rest of the season.”
“Our ultimate goal this season is to reach 80 points in the short program and we’ll keep working our way up until we get those 80 points,” added Duhamel.”
Yu and Zhang skated a solid routine which was highlighted by a strong triple twist, side-by-side triple toes, and a throw triple loop. The team earned a new season’s best of 73.67 for their “Swan Lake” routine.
“Compared to Cup of China, I felt we had less energy,” Zhang said. “I was a bit tired in practice the first few days and had problems with the solo jump, but today in competition it was fine.”
Apart from a fall on the side-by-side triple Salchows, Savchenko and Massot were otherwise strong in their routine, executing a solid triple twist and throw triple Lutz. They earned 72.55 for their routine to “Ameksa,,” which was choreographed by John Kerr.
“It wasn’t our best, but we had a hard time (preparing for this competition) and we’ll do our best when we need to be at the best,” Savchenko told the post-event press conference.
Just before flying to Lake Placid, Massot learned from France had received his German citizenship.
“It was a little bit difficult,” he said regarding focusing on the short program after getting the news. “We got this very good news and we were really, really happy.”
USA’s Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim were fifth (64.27) in the short. Alexa took a fall on the side-by-side triple Salchows, while Chris underrotated his.
Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert of Russia finished in fourth place (70.15), followed by USA’s Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim (64.27) and Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier (63.04).
Scimeca Knierim and Knierim were solid except for a singled jump and fall in the side-by-side triple Lutzes. The former U.S. champions acknowledged that they left a lot of points on the table at NHK Trophy in terms of levels.
“We improved on all of them,” said Scimeca Knierim. “The footwork is still a level short, but it moved up one level, so that’s good, and we got our spin and death spiral. My throw flip was also better than in Japan. I think everything in that program was better besides the jumps.”
The 26-year-old added that it wasn’t the “end of the world” if she missed her jump and the plan is to just keep working.
“This doesn’t tear us down inside,” she said. “We know what we’re capable of. It’s just another chapter in our story—what can we build on from this program going into tomorrow, and then from there, what we can take to nationals.”
Denney and Frazier showed a good triple twist and throw triple loop, however, there was an underrotation on the side-by-side triple Salchows. Though not perfect, the U.S. champions felt the program was better than at Skate Canada.
“Haven and I have been feeling really good and confident,” said Frazier. “Some things weren’t as comfortable and relaxed as they could have been, but for the most part, I think Haven and I did a good job of selling the performance, which was the goal all along, and executing what we needed to get executed.”
“I was proud of us, that we kept our performance and our program the same like in practice,” added Denney. “Yeah, some things were a little bit tighter, we had to fight on some things, but I think our mentality and everything felt really good out there.”
The team felt they maximized their points and that they are executing the jumps just as they have trained them.
“We’re happy it’s happening in competition,” said Frazier. “We knew it would take some time, but we’re really starting to feel good with everything we’re doing, not just one element individually.”
Savchenko and Massot skated an impressive routine to “La Terre vue du ciel,,” which featured a solid triple twist and throw triple Lutz. Savchenko singled the last jump in a triple Salchow-triple toe combo, but the team was otherwise fluid and strong throughout, landing a throw triple Salchow and showing intricate level four lifts and good spins. The two-time World medalists eared a new personal best of 150.58 for a first-place finish in the long and overall (223.13).
“I feel better than yesterday actually,” said Massot, who had fallen on the triple Salchow in the Short Program. “It was a good fight. I would say that this free program is a good first job for the season. We still have to work, it’s not perfect, and there are some mistakes, but we are in a good way for the Olympics.”
Yu and Zhang also topped their personal best with 145.53 for a second place finish in the long and overall (219.20). The current Grand Prix Final silver medalists were flawless in their “Star Wars” routine which was highlighted by their trademark level four triple twist, along with side-by-side triple Salchows, triple toe-double toes, a throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow.
“We are very happy, we did our best,” said Yu. “We are very glad to go to the Grand Prix Final again.”
Duhamel and Radford had a touch down on the throw quad Salchow and Duhamel went down on her triple Lutz, however, the six-time Canadian champions rallied to land side-by-side triple Salchow-double toe-double toes and a solid throw triple Lutz. They earned 140.31 for a third-place finish for their routine to music by Muse, but were able to stay on the podium with a total score of 215.68 points.
“Today wasn’t our best skate, but it wasn’t our worst,” Duhamel said. “Overall we’re happy with our competition. This is a part of going to the Grand Prix Final, the last Grand Prix we’re competing [at] and I refuse to feel frustrated. We’re on the podium with these great teams and it was a great competition and we want to be proud.”
Zabiiako and Enbert finished fifth in the long and fourth overall with a total of 197.89 points, while Scimeca Knierim and Knierim finished fifth (189.07).
“In Osaka we did really bad spins, so it’s a huge positive to get good levels and good execution on those elements because they’re not supposed to be hard,” said Knierim of the free skate. “We have other elements that we need to work on, so we wanted to make sure that we could execute them well and not have to worry about them for nationals.”
Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro finished fourth in the long and finished in sixth overall (187.81). USA’s Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier were seventh, followed by teammates Deanna Stellato and Nathan Barthololmay.
Denney and Frazier were disappointed with their performance which they felt was more stiff than at Skate Canada.
“It’s not what we’ve been doing,” said Frazier. “Not 100 percent what we’ve been training. The movement, the attack and energy definitely slowed down a lot after the jumping passes, which is very early in the program. We had a lot of good things like the lifts, but the lifts did not execute the way they can. We went back into a little bit of comfort zone.”