Here’s a short recap of some of the things that happened during the past week in the world of figure skating.
Skate Canada Puts Bump In Road To Barcelona For Fernandez
All eyes were firmly fixed on the British Columbian city of Kelowna this week past as Skate Canada International, the second stop on the Grand Prix circuit rolled into town. Twelve nations were represented on the ice of the Prospera Place Arena with thirty nine entries vying for the the medals and Grand Prix points on offer.
The absence of Patrick Chan (by choice) and Kevin Reynolds (through injury) meant that Spain’s Javier Fernandez became the home favourite by default. It isn’t all about the fact that he trains in Toronto under Brian Orser either. The double European champion showed why he has so many fans with his short to “Black Betty” by Ram Jam made possible by the new rules allowing music with lyrics to be used by singles and pairs skaters. The crowd ate it up and, despite bailing out of a triple axel and turning it into a double, the Spaniard led at the halfway point and looked on course to add a second Skate Canada title.
Takahito Mura had other ideas. The 2014 Four Continents champion had been lying in second place four points behind Fernandez after the short and decided to turn the pressure up a notch in the free with a high quality routine to “Phantom of the Opera” that included two quadruple toe loops and two triple axels. Mura obliterated his old personal best free score and racked up a total of 255.81.
The pressure was on Fernandez and he crumbled. He looked tentative during his “Barber of Seville” programme and all three of his quad attempts were not cleanly landed, a final quad salchow resulting in a fall. It would not be surprising if all the expectation that he has to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona played on his mind. As it was, he had to settle for silver with Mura bagging the second Grand Prix title of his career. The Spaniard will now go to Rostelecom Cup knowing that he’ll probably need to win there to guarantee his place at the Final. It’s going to be a nerve wracking few weeks for everyone in Spanish skating.
Max Aaron moved up from fifth to claim the bronze by the slim margin of 0.10 points over his teammate Stephen Carriere.
A pattern appears to be developing in the singles events on the Grand Prix with Mura being the second Japanese man after Tatsuki Machida last week at Skate America to win gold. Russia has started its own winning streak in the ladies with Anna Pogorilaya recording her first triumph at a Grand Prix event holding off the more experienced Ashley Wagner in both the short and the free.
Wagner had jokingly referred to the new crop of young skaters as “sonograms”, despite the fact that she herself is a youthful twenty three years old. The American was hit by a couple of under rotation calls in both the short and free which is something she will need to work at correcting if she see off her younger rivals.
It was a good weekend for the new guard with Japan’s Satoko Miyahara pulling herself up from fourth after the short to a bronze medal with a crowd pleasing free to the “Miss Saigon” musical soundtrack.
The rest of the event was all about Canada with the host nation winning both the ice dance and pairs titles. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were sublime in both segments with a fiery paso doble and flamenco in the short and modern interpretation of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” (albeit minus Fall) in the free. Incredibly, this was the first Grand Prix gold medal for the team.
Silver also went to Canada. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier had been languishing down in fourth after the short dance where a mishap on a twizzle sequence cost them valuable points, but managed to pull up with a well received free to earn second place. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue had been ahead of Gilles and Poirier after the short, but a disappointing set of marks for their “Great Gatsby” routine put them behind the Canadians with two teams to go. Fortunately for the Americans, Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin who were lying in second overnight had a nightmare of a free and a sixth place in that segment dropped the Russians to fourth.
There were no surprises in the pairs event. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won their first ever Grand Prix title handily posting strong performances in both short and free and setting a personal best of 138.04 for the latter. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han took the silver medal for the second year in a row with Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov taking their first Grand Prix medal, a bronze.
The Grand Prix series next weekend moves away from North America to Asia for the Cup of China in Shanghai.
Grand Prix Assignments Updated
Kevin Reynolds (CAN) withdrew from Skate Canada and was replaced by Andrei Rogozine (CAN) in Kelowna. Reynolds has also withdrawn from NHK Trophy.
Joshua Farris (USA) has withdrawn from Cup of China.
Nathalie Weinzierl (GER) has withdrawn from Rostelecom Cup.
Peter Liebers (GER) has withdrawn from the NHK Trophy.
Nan Song (CHN) has withdrawn from Cup of China. He will be replaced by Yuhang Guan (CHN).
Elene Gedevanishvili (GEO) was added to the roster at NHK Trophy.
Eliska Brezinova (CZE) has been added to the entries at Rostelecom Cup.
Jorik Hendrickx (BEL) has been assigned to NHK Trophy.