Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China easily out-skated the rest of the small field of competitors at this event, taking the gold medal. USA’s Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker captured the silver in their senior debut, while Jessica Miller and Ian Moram of Canada won their first senior grand prix medal – the bronze.
The Chinese champions had difficulty in the beginning of their routine when Tong underrotated and stepped of the landing of his jump on the side-by-side triple toeloops. He then singled his second jump on their side-by-side double Axel-double Axel sequence.
The current World silver medalists quickly overcame the errors to produce a huge lateral triple twist, throw triple Salchow, and throw triple loop. The team also delivered three difficult lifts, as well as good flying camel combination spins, earning 111.27 points for a first place finish in the long and overall (176.75 points).
“This was as mediocre performance,” Pang later said at a press conference. “We’ve made a lot of changes to our free program since Skate America, and we still don’t feel so comfortable with the program.”
McLaughlin and Brubaker placed second in the long program (95.44 points) and overall (154.66 points).
“It’s wonderful that we were able to come out second and it’s great to medal,” said Brubaker.
Skating to Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, the U.S. junior champions opened with a huge lateral triple twist, but then McLaughlin fell on a throw triple Salchow. The team recovered to complete good side-by-side double Axels, however, they faltered on the side-by-side triple Salchows with Brubaker stumbling on his and McLaughlin falling on hers.
“Obviously we struggled in the free skate,” said Brubaker. “I think nerves played a little bit of a factor.”
The current Junior World champions also had problems on their first lift, but otherwise produced two more difficult lifts, two level four spins, and a good spiral sequence.
“Sometimes you learn more from the harder skates,” explained Brubaker. “I think it will be good going into NHK (their next event) knowing what to expect.”
Miller and Moram, who also had difficulty on their side-by-side jumps, placed third in the long (86.84 points) and overall (137.70 points).
“Being third after the short was definitely something new for us,” said Moram. “I think that played a little bit of a role in our skate today.”
Moram fell his jumps on the on side-by-side double Axels and the side-by-side double triple toeloops (Miller doubled hers). Miller also fell on a throw quadruple Salchow attempt, but the Canadians otherwise executed a lateral double twist, two level four lifts, and a throw triple loop.
“It may not be the free skate that we wanted,” offered Moram, “but we definitely take the result and we’re extremely happy.”
Yue Zhang and Lei Wang of China finished in fourth place overall (126.78 points), followed by teammates Jiaqi Li and Jiankun Xu (125.08 points).
Pang and Tong earned 15 points for this win, and with a total of 28 points, have qualified for the Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating in December.
McLaughlin and Brubaker (13 points) compete again later this month at NHK, while Miller and Moram (11 points) compete next week at Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris, France.
The competition continues with the Ladies Long program, the Free Dance and the Men’s Long Program.