2023 Cup of China: Pairs
Canada’s Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps scored another victory when they won their second Grand Prix gold this season at 2023 Cup of China. With this win, they now have a ticket to the Grand Prix Final in Beijing later next month. Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini of Italy surprised earned the silver, while the new Chinese team of Cheng Peng and Lei Wang pocketed the bronze in Chongqing.
Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps
Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps produced a compelling short to “Oxygene,” which is a tribute to Montreal. The 2023 Skate Canada champions showed a good level-four triple twist, lift, spin and death spiral. The only mistake came when she put a hand down on a throw triple loop. The side-by-side triple toes were clean, and the steps were graded a level three. They posted 70.39 points for first place going into the free skate.
“We knew coming in here that this was going to be the harder one of the two events,” said Stellato-Dudek. “We’ve had no day off in three weeks, but four days in between Skate Canada and here. The only day off was when we were flying to an event. This competition is going to be a test of our mental and physical toughness. We think that we succeeded in showing how strong we are at this event given the circumstances.”
There were some issues with their free skate to music from the soundtrack Interview With a Vampire. While the throw triple twist was strong and graded a level four, Deschamps stepped out of the side-by-side triple Salchows. Stellato-Dudek also stepped out of the throw triple Salchow and put a hand down on the throw triple loop. The final lift was also aborted. However, the other two lifts were graded a level four as was the pair spin. They scored 131.09, enough for first place in this segment. Their total score of 201.48 was more than enough for first overall.
“Today was a little hard,” Deschamps admitted. “We were exhausted at the start of the program, and it was fight from beginning to the end, but we are happy with the outcome.”
“Now we are looking forward to two days off before we start to prepare for the Final,” he continued.
“We are happy our three-week marathon of competitions and travel is over,” Stellato-Dudek said. “We will check the protocols to see where we can improve. This week was a test to our mental and physical strength.”
Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini
Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini of Italy finished second after their short to music from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly soundtrack. Their routine featured a level-four triple twist and throw triple flip. Both skaters put a hand down on the triple Salchows, but the lift, death spiral, steps, and spin were graded a level four. The 2023 European silver medalists posted a new season’s best of 66.33.
“We are very happy about our performance,” said Ghilardi. “We skated after such a (great) pair and there was a lot of tension. We just went through our program, and we were together from the beginning to the end.”
Ghilardi took a fall on the side-by-side triple Salchows in their free skate to music from Bram Stoker’s Dracula soundtrack. She also put a hand down on the throw triple Lutz, but the throw triple loop was clean. The twist and three lifts were graded a level four and the 2023 Finlandia Trophy silver medalists finished second with 124.67 points. However, their total score was a new personal best (191.00).
“It was hard today, and we are proud of our performance, and how we pushed until the end of the program,” Ghilardi said.
“It is interesting music,” she said when asked about their selection for this season. “We do it one way, the other teams do it in a different style.”
“We are very happy to skate like Dracula,” Ambrosini added. “We performed our program from the beginning to the end.”
They will compete next at NHK Trophy.
Cheng Peng and Lei Wang
Cheng Peng and Lei Wang placed third (62.91) in the short in their first Grand Prix together as a team. The 2023 Shanghai Trophy champions landed their side-by-side triple toes and throw triple loop. The twist was graded a level two, but the spin, lift and death spiral garnered a level four.
“This is our first Grand Prix after teaming up eight months ago,” said Wang. “We are satisfied with most of our program and hopefully tomorrow we can skate as well.”
“We have been teammates for a long time, and we knew each other,” Peng explained of their new partnership. “So, I knew he was in a good condition and when I decided I wanted to continue, I asked him.”
Wang took a fall on the side-by-side triple toes in their free skate to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, but the rest of the program was pretty solid. They went on to land double Salchows, a throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow. The Axel lift and pair combination spin was given a level four and they finished third in the free skate and overall (115.15 / 178.06)
They will compete next week at Grand Prix Espoo.
Annika Hocke and Robert Kunkel
Coming off a win at Skate America, Germany’s Annika Hocke and Robert Kunkel struggled a bit in their short program. Hocke doubled her jump in the side-by-side triple Salchows and put a hand down on the throw triple flip. The lift, steps, death spiral and spin were graded a level four, however, and they finished fourth (60.76).
Unfortunately, the team had two falls in the free skate. Hocke fell on an Axel sequence and again on a throw triple loop. They finished fourth overall (109.89 / 170.65).
Rounding out the top eight
Siyang Zhang and Yongchao Yang of China placed fifth overall (161.65) in their solo Grand Prix at this event.
Anna Valesi and Manuel Piazza of Italy, who were sixth at Grand Prix de France, placed sixth (160.65) in Chongqing as well but with all new personal bests.