Home Figure Skating News Hase and Volodin seize Grand Prix Final gold

Hase and Volodin seize Grand Prix Final gold

by Paula Slater
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Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin seize Grand Prix Final gold

Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin of Germany won the Pairs’ title at the 2023-24 Grand Prix Final in their debut season as a team.

2023-24 Grand Prix Final: Pairs

Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin of Germany seized the 2023-24 Grand Prix Final gold in the Pairs discipline on Friday in Beijing, China. Italy’s Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took the silver, while Canada’s Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps settled for bronze.

Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin

Hase and Volodin earned high grades of execution (GOE) for all their elements in their expressive routine to “Stay.” The team 2023 Grand Prix Espoo Champions were solid, delivering a level three triple twist, side-by-side triple Salchows, and throw triple loop. The lift, death spiral, spin, and footwork were also graded a level four and they picked up a new personal best of 72.56 in the short program.

It was revealed that Volodin became ill after NHK Trophy and that they did their first training since while in Beijing. In fact, Hase said it wasn’t until the last moment that they knew if they would even be able to compete.

“Also, it got even worse after we landed here,” she said, “but we wanted to try because it’s a GP Final. We didn’t expect a skate like today. We are taking the first place after the short program, but we don’t expect any placements and won’t put any extra pressure on ourselves.”

“I feel much better now,” added Volodin. “We really wanted to skate here for Germany because the other team already had to withdraw.”

The 2023 NHK Trophy champions delivered a demanding free skate to “The Path of Silence” and “Power of Mind” despite not having optimal training time. They opened with a strong level-three triple twist, but Hase turned out the last jump in a triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence. They went on to land triple Salchows, but Hase turned out and two-footed the landing of the throw triple loop. The throw triple Salchow was clean, and they displayed three good level-four lifts and pair spin to finish second in the free skate (133.87). With a total score of 206.43 they were able to maintain first place overall.

“I am overwhelmed,” said Hase. “It was very hard to skate today for both of us, but we fought until the very end. It’s amazing we were rewarded with the gold medal. I am incredibly happy right now and super proud of Nikita how well he fought despite his illness. This was our very first full run-through since NHK Trophy. We have great trust in each other, and I was never worried he would drop me.”

Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii

Conti and Macii landed a level-four triple twist, throw triple loop, and side-by-side Salchows in their short program to Pagliacci, Act 1: Intermezzo. The 2023 World bronze medalists also produced a level-four lift, death spiral, steps and pair spin, all of which earned positive GOEs. The placed third with a season’s best of 70.30 going into the free skate.

“We are so happy! Finally!” said Conti. “Our season starts right now! The two months before were preparation and now we have arrived!”

Macii admitted his Salchow was not the best but was glad he managed.

“I was absolutely sure that Sara would do perfectly,” he said. “We are very glad to have scored 70 points again!”

It’s also their first time in China.

“So many firsts this past year!” observed Macii. “First time Canada, Japan, Finland, England, now China!”

The 2023 European Champions were near flawless in their expressive free skate to music from Cinema Paradiso. While the opening level-three triple twist had a tight landing, all jumps were clean. They produced a triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence, triple Salchows, a throw triple loop, and throw triple Salchow. The latter jump received many positive GOEs, as did the level four lifts and spin, and they finished first in the free skate with a new personal best of 135.58. With a total score of 205.88, they moved up one spot to claim the second spot on the podium.

“We are happy because this was our first clean competition,” said Conti. “We worked a lot during the last weeks.”

“The tension was high, and I am very happy of what we did,” added Macii. “We leave this competition with a happy feeling as we felt very pleased coming off the ice. It was also our first major competition where we dared the triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence. We often went safe but this time it was the right time to try it. When you feel happy with yourself the placement doesn’t matter in the end.”

Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps

Skating to their Montreal tribute-based short program to “Oxygene,” Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps opened with an excellent level-four triple twist. This element awarded nearly all +4 GOEs across the board. There were two minor errors: he tapped down with his free foot on the side-by-side triple toes, and she grazed the ice with her free foot on the throw triple loop. The 2023 Four Continents bronze medalists otherwise earned positive GOEs on their level-four lift, spin, steps, and death spiral. They placed a close second with 71.22 points.

“We struggled with the short all season,” Stellato-Dudek pointed out. “Today was no different. The jumps were not good. The problem is that the short is super-fast. It requires us to be exactly on time, and that’s difficult!”

“It took us over two days to get here and we are still adjusting to the schedule,” she added.

Deschamps said the preparation was good and their goal for the free skate is to “improve their score.”

Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps placed third (133.08) in the free skate and overall (204.30). Their profound routine to Interview with a Vampire featured an excellent level-four triple twist which garnered eight +4 GOEs from the judges. The national champions also produced two level-four lifts and pair spin. Stellato-Dudek singled the last jump in the side-by-side triple toe-single Axel-double Axel sequence, and both skaters put a foot and hand down on the Salchows. She also touched down with her hand on the throw triple Salchow, but the throw triple loop was clean.

“We did some mistakes but overall, we are still proud of what we showed this weekend,” said Deschamps.

Stellato-Dudek agreed, adding that they performed well below their skates in Canada and their expectations.

“But we showed that even with big mistakes on the elements, we can score pretty high,” she said. “So, we know we can still improve from Skate Canada. My standards are higher than anyone can imagine. I was joking that the Grand Prix Final is just not my event as it also wasn’t last year. It is new for us that people are having major expectations and are expecting us to win. We need to adapt to that.”

Maria Pavlova and Alexei Sviatchenko

Maria Pavlova and Alexei Sviatchenko of Hungary had a fantastic short program to “Another One Bites the Dust.” They reeled off a level-four triple twist, very good side-by-side triple toes, and throw triple flip. The 2023 Skate Canada silver medalists appeared at ease throughout their routine which also featured a level-four lift and death spiral. The finished fourth with 65.51 points.

“We feel really good, much better than in Espoo,” said Pavlova. “We weren’t nervous. We were very excited to get a spot here and that we got a new personal best!”

The national champions earned a new personal best for fifth place in the free skate with 126.51 points. Their routine to “My Perception of Love” and “Iron 2021” opened with a fantastic level-four triple twist which garnered many +3 and +4 GOEs. Pavlova fought to hang on to the last jump in a triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence, putting a foot down, but the throw triple flip and throw triple loop were solid. Two other mistakes came when Sviatchenko fought for his triple Salchow landing and the Group 4 lift only received base value. With a total score of 192.02, they were still able to maintain fourth place overall.

“We did several mistakes today so despite the personal bests, we aren’t pleased,” said Pavlova. “During the change of position during the lift, I just somehow slipped. We are happy though that our scores are improving.”

They will compete at nationals next and then take a few days off before preparing for Europeans.

Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini

Skating to “L’Estasi Dell’Oro” and “The Ecstasy of Gold,” Italy’s Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini opened with a very good level-four triple twist. They produced side-by-side double Axels, but Ghilardi had a bit of a leg wrap resulting in negative GOEs. She also touched down with her hands on the throw triple Luz, but the steps were graded a level four. The 2023 European silver medalists scored 61.61 for fifth place in the short program.

“We worked hard on the levels recently and finally achieved the ones we aimed for,” said Ghilardi. “Still, we left some points on the table but it’s not over yet. We want to recover well now for the free skate.”

“It was hard for me with the jetlag, flying back and forth from Japan to Italy and now to China,” added Ambrosini. “We also still have Nationals ahead, so still no time to rest after today.”

The national silver medalists placed fourth in the free skate with 126.94 points after their compelling routine to music from Bram Stoker’s Dracula soundtrack. The side-by-side jump passes received a “q,” but the throw triple Lutz and throw triple loop were clean. They also showed a good level-three triple twist as well as three level-four lifts and pair spin. The team repeated for fifth (188.85) place overall at this event.

“We are really pleased about today,” said Ghilardi. “We reached the goals that we set for ourselves. We got good levels, and the jumps were okay. We felt really good about the lifts.”

“I am also happy, but still very tired,” added Ambrosini. “The air here is also really dry which makes it hard to breath well.”

The plan to take a day off to visit the Great Wall before returning home to prepare for nationals.

Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud

Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud of Canada finished sixth (61.78) in their short program to “River.” The Grand Prix de France champions showed a good level-three triple twist and side-by-side triple toes, but she took a fall on a throw triple loop.

“It had been our goal to qualify for the Final and we are so glad we did!” said Pereira. “Today I made a very untypical mistake, but these things happen and are a part of the learning process, I guess. Maybe I was a little over excited.”

“Despite skating at the earlier Grand Prixes, it still didn’t feel like a long break,” she added. “We had a pretty rough schedule at the beginning of the season.”

The national bronze medalists placed sixth (123.38) in their dramatic free skate to music from the Gladiator soundtrack. Michaud singled the last jump in a triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence, but the rest of the routine was fairly solid. They executed a throw triple loop, triple Salchows and a throw triple Salchow. Two lifts were graded a level four, but the final lift only received a level one. They finished sixth overall with 185.16 points in their first appearance at this event as a team.

“I am a bit annoyed with the mistake on the lift,” said Michaud, “but overall, we are pretty pleased. We showed a lot of good stuff today.”

Pereira said this was the first time they had to come back from a disappointing short program.

“It was a new experience for us, and we think we dealt with it pretty well,” she said. “The good communication between us was definitely the key. We put a lot of attention on each other’s mental health. For the second part of the season, we have a little bit more score and result goals. We proved now that we can compete with the best. So now we would like to accomplish 70 points in the short program and 130 in the free.”

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