Russia’s Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov didn’t have much trouble winning their first Grand Prix event as a team at Skate Canada International on Saturday, but their performance wasn’t as perfect as they would have liked it to be. China’s World Junior Champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han came from fourth to earn the silver, while Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada settled for the bronze.
Volosozhar and Trankov have chosen the popular soundtrack of the Black Swan for their powerful and dark free program. They performed their big triple twist, already a signature move for them, as well as a triple toe-double toe combination, a throw triple loop, and two level-four spins. However, Trankov stumbled on the triple Salchow while Volosozhar two-footed the throw triple Salchow. In addition, their last lift was wobbly and merited only a level two. The World silver medalists scored 130.96 points and accumulated 201.38 overall.
“Today was not perfect,” Trankov admitted. “I did a stupid mistake on the triple Salchow. We changed the second half of our program following the Nebelhorn Trophy and the competition in Bratislava, and maybe we weren’t completely ready yet. But we are very happy with our scores and winning.”
Trankov revealed why they changed elements in their routine.
“We have three new lifts and we didn’t want other teams to see our lifts so early into the season,” he said, referring to their figure skating debut at Nebelhorn Trophy in September.
Trankov pointed out that other teams copied their lifts they showed in national Russian events last year, but he denied that they will surprise with more new lifts at their next Grand Prix in Paris.
Skating to Flamenco music, Sui and Han impressed with their quadruple twist, throw triple Salchow and flip, as well as difficult lifts. However, Sui landed forward on the triple toe combination. The couple from Harbin scored 121.59 points and pulled up two spots with 180.82 points.
“We just finished the junior events and flew over here,” Han told the press. “We made a little mistake today, but we are happy with the result. We really wanted to do the quad twist. It was our plan last year, and we finally did it this year. We continue to practice the throw quadruple Salchow and might do it again in competition in the future.”
Duhamel and Radford’s routine set to Viva la Vida and Yellow by Coldplay featured a triple twist, a throw triple loop, and two level-four lifts, but Duhamel struggled with the solo jumps. The side by side triple Lutz was underrotated and the Salchow became a double. The Canadians also had to abort a lift and Duhamel stepped out of the throw triple flip. The 2011 Four Continents silver medallists collected 112.47 points for the free skating and earned a total of 174.84 points.
“To come third and to be on the podium was an amazing experience for us and we are really happy to start our season that way,” Radford noted. “We know we missed a couple of elements that we know we usually don’t miss, and we’ll be working to improve that.”
Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran of Japan once again looked sophisticated and elegant in their program to Concerto de Quebec, but too many errors marred their performance. The opening triple twist and the side by side triple Salchow were fine, but then they ran into trouble. Takahashi only did a double toe-single toe combination, and both the throw triple Salchow and toe were not clean. The two-time World Junior medalists slipped to fourth at 169.41 points.
Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze of Russia also had a few errors. Iliushechkina’s triple toe and triple Salchow were underrotated and she touched down on the throw triple loop. On the other hand, the innovative lifts were a highlight. The Muscovites remained in fifth with 165.17 points.
“I felt a little tight and I felt pressure,” Iliushechkina revealed. “The most important is that we are skating and getting some experience. Maybe we were too well prepared. We had some almost clean performances at the test skates.”
Her partner agreed. “Like yesterday, it was more or less okay, but there were some little errors. We had quite a lot of performances in Russia and we skated well there. Now our form was going down and therefore we didn’t skate as well as we should have in Slovakia and Canada.”
Jessica Dubé and new partner Sébastien Wolfe of Canada placed sixth. He doubled the side by side flip while she stumbled on a triple, but this was the only major glitch in an otherwise solid performance. The couple from Quebec picked up 158.44 points.
“We started with a little stumble, but to be able to come back and to do a good free program – we can take that back home and work towards the next competition,” said Wolfe. “We had a few competitions this year and it didn’t go the way we thought it would go, but we really worked hard and the program is starting to get better.”
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