SBS ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final
The SBS ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2008/2009 continued Saturday in Goyang City, Republic of Korea, with the Junior Free Dance and Junior Ladies Free Skating, Senior Free Dance, Ladies and Pairs Free Skating. The Finals of the two ISU Grand Prix Series were held together for the first time in the history of the two Grand Prix series. A total of 84 skaters (56 entries) from twelve ISU members were competing in the two Finals.
Junior Ice Dancing, Free Dance
The first medals today were awarded in the Junior Ice Dancing event. Madison Chock/Greg Zuerlein and Madison Hubbell/Keiffer Hubbell (USA) took the top spots on the podium while Ekaterina Riazanova/John Guerreiro of Russia earned the bronze medal.
Chock/Zuerlein gave a strong performance to “Phantom of the Opera”. They executed difficult lifts and footwork, earning a level four for the diagonal steps and two lifts. Chock only put down her second foot on the side by side twizzles. The couple was awarded 79.31 points (40.00 element score/39.31program component score) and won with 131.15 points overall. “It’s absolutely incredible. I don’t think words can describe it”, Chock said about winning the title. “It just has been such a great experience this year and last year was amazing.” Their next competition is the U.S. National Championships. “We are just going to go back and train really hard. We’ve had a few levels that were low, and were going to fix that. We want to do well at Nationals and then definitely after that hopefully at Junior Worlds”, Zuerlein said.
Hubbell/Hubbell celebrated a comeback after his fall in the Original Dance the day before yesterday and pulled up from sixth to second. The brother-and-sister team danced to the romantic song “Sognami” by Alessandro Safina and produced smooth footwork and three level-four lifts to score 76.70 points (39.20/37.50). Overall they accumulated 124.68 points.
Riazanova/Guerreiro had chosen a dynamic James Bond Medley for their Free Dance and showed fast twizzles and a level-three serpentine step sequence. But their midline steps and a curve lift were graded a level two and the couple slipped from second to third with a Free Dance score of 73.45 points (38.30/36.15) and a total of 124.30 points.
Junior Ladies, Free Skating
Becky Bereswill (USA) claimed the gold in the Junior Ladies event with Yukiko Fujisawa of Japan and Alexe Gilles (USA) finishing second and third.
Bereswill stood in fourth place after the Short Program but delivered a solid Free Skating to “Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini that included a triple Lutz, triple loop-double loop, a triple flip-double toe-double loop combination as well as a double Axel-triple toe and another triple toe late into the program. She also completed two level-four spins, and her only error came when she popped a second loop. The 18-year-old picked up 98.01 points (51.85/46.16), which was a significant improvement over her previous personal best of 83.24 points and collected 146.69 points overall. “I was very excited for the free skate. My goal was just really to perform the music and the story. I just went with that feeling and took everything just one step at a time and I just really enjoyed my time out there”, Bereswill commented. “I landed my hard combination, the double Axel-triple toe so I was really happy about that. So far it was a personal best score for me.”
Fujisawa soared from seventh to second with the best Free Skating of the Junior Ladies competition. The tiny 13-year-old landed six triple jumps including two triple Lutzes and earned a level four for all three spins in her routine to “Cinderella”. She scored a new personal best of 101.44 points (57.44/44.00) which added up to 145.92 points.
Overnight leader Gilles completed four triples but popped a Lutz and underrotated a triple Salchow that was downgraded. The U.S. Junior Champion received 90.25 points (44.17/46.08) and slipped to third at 144.49 points overall.
Senior Ice Dancing, Free Dance
The senior Ice Dancing event concluded with the Free Dance. Isabelle Delobel/Olivier Schoenfelder of France took the gold, their first title in the Grand Prix Final after having competed in the event since 2004. Russia’s Oksana Domnina/Maxim Shabalin earned the silver medal and the bronze went to Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA).
Delobel/Schoenfelder put out a flowing performance of their dance to “The Great Gig in the Sky” by Pink Floyd that featured beautiful lifts and intricate step sequences. The lifts were all graded a level four by the Technical Panel as was the circular step sequence. The midline steps got a level three. The reigning World Champions posted a new seasons best with 95.75 points (47.00/48.75) and racked up a total of 156.10 points to take home the gold. “We are definitely very pleased, especially since I have been sick the whole day. I was vomiting. I was sick this morning and during practice. Nevertheless we gave a strong performance”, Delobel said. “I think it was overall better than the previous performances”, added Schoenfelder. “True, we could have put in more energy under different circumstances, but we really were focusing on the elements. Bravo to Isabelle for making it through, many others would have withdrawn from the competition. It’s a great joy for us to win this Final for the first time.”
Domnina/Shabalin’s dramatic “Spartacus” program was highlighted by a level-four circular step sequence, a straight line-rotational lift, a curve lift and a rotational lift. The European Champions picked up a seasons best of 93.62 points (46.30/47.32) and remained in second place at 152.95 points.
Davis/White, who stood in fifth place following the Original Dance, turned in a lyrical dance to the aria “Mon Coeur s’ouvre a ta voix” and “Bacchanale” from “Samson and Dalilah”. The earned a level four for seven out of the eight elements, only the midline step sequence was a level three. Davis/White scored 92.15 points (47.70/44.45) and moved up to third with 148.04 points to take the bronze in what was the first Grand Prix Final of their career.
Tanith Belbin/Benjamin Agosto (USA) withdrew following the warm up. Agosto has been suffering from a back injury.
Senior Pairs, Free Skating
In the final competition today, Qing Pang/Jian Tong of China took the gold ahead of their teammates Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang. Defending champions Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy from Germany settled for the bronze.
Pang/Tong gave a strong performance of their Tango routine that featured a side by side double Axel-double Axel sequence, a triple toeloop, a throw triple loop and Salchow as well as a triple twist. The 2006 World Champions were awarded a level four for two lifts, their spins and the death spiral. They received a new seasons best of 125.25 points (64.93/60.32) and accumulated 191.49 points to win the first gold medal in what was their fifth appearance in the ISU Grand Prix Final.
“This comes a little surprise to us. We are very happy to have won tonight. We didn’t have so good results last year and this is a good comeback for us. We feel strong again. This is the first time for us to win the Grand Prix Final, we medalled before, but we never won. So this is the second best result for us after winning Worlds”, Tong commented.
Zhang/Zhang hit a double Axel-triple toeloop combination, a throw triple Salchow and triple twist but then Dan Zhang went down on the throw triple loop. She recovered instants later to land side by side triple Salchow. The reigning World silver medallists earned a level four for their lifts, spirals and spins and scored 119.88 points (62.16/58.72), which was a new seasons best for them. Theyhad 188.22 points overall and remained in second place.
Savchenko/Szolkowy, the overnight leaders, struggled in their routine to “Schindler’s List” and “Adagio”. Savchenko doubled the second jump in the planned triple toe-triple toe sequence, stumbled on the triple Salchow (downgraded) and fell on the throw triple loop. The reigning World Champions saved points thanks to a triple twist, their spins, and spirals and lifts that were all graded a level four. The Germans earned 114.95 points (55.35/61.60) and slipped to third at 185.09 points total.
For full results, please refer to www.isu.org.