That Was The Week That Was In Figure Skating (21-27 September 2015)

We take a quick look back at what happened in the world of skating over the course of the past week.

Volosozhar/Trankov Make Comeback, But North America Dominates At Nebelhorn Trophy

The headliners for the 47th edition of the Nebelhorn Trophy that took place over the weekend were undoubtedly Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov. The Olympic champions had not skated at an international competition since their victory in Sochi in February of last year and all eyes were on them as they began their Bollywood themed short programme. However, uncharacteristic fumbles and stumbles on the triple twist and triple flip throw gave the Russians 64.87, their lowest score in a short since the 2012 World Championships. It was still enough for them to lead going into the free skating where they gave a much more solid performance. Their “Dracula” routine netted them 137.92 for a total of 202.79. This was their fourth trip to the Nebelhorn Trophy and their fourth gold medal.

Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim had been in 4th place after the short, but the Americans moved up to 2nd overall with a very decent free to improve overall on the bronze they won in Oberstdorf last year. It was bronze for Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres who matched their achievement from 2012 in this same event, while the new German pairing of Mari Vartmann and Ruben Blommaert slipped down from 2nd after the short to wind up in 4th after a disappointing free.

The only reigning World medallists who made the journey to the Bavarian Alps were Madison Chock and Evan Bates. The U.S. champions breezed to victory convincingly with unusual music choices for both their short and free dances, “Dark Eyes” and Rachmaninoff’s “Concerto No.2” for which they racked up a total of 169.50. Chock and Bates won silver at the Nebelhorn Trophy in 2014. Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam survived a nervy free to capture silver with Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus rounding out the all North American podium despite ending up 4th in both segments of the competition.

The singles events provided Canada with double gold. Crowd favourite Elladj Balde won his first international title and senior medal of his career by laying down a full set of personal bests. He amassed a total of 242.36. Max Aaron posted a career high of 83.46 in the short, but couldn’t maintain that level in the free and had to settle for silver. Konstantin Menshov rose from 6th after the short to take home the bronze medal from the Nebelhorn Trophy for the second year in a row.

Kaetlyn Osmond was the other comeback story in Oberstdorf. The Canadian had been forced to sit out last season through injury. She botched the opening combination in her short, but was much more impressive in her free where she managed to land five triple jumps. Her combined score was 179.41 which gave her the second Nebelhorn Trophy title of her career. There was also a repeat for Alena Leonova who finished second again this year, while Courtney Hicks hung on to come in third.

There will further detailed reports on the Nebelhorn Trophy throughout the coming week.

Fifth Junior Grand Prix Concludes In Poland

After a one week hiatus, the ISU Junior Grand Prix Series rolled into Torun, Poland. It was the final stage for the pairs competitors with the last remaining places for the Junior Grand Prix Final in Barcelona on the line. Ekaterina Borisova and Dmitry Sopot of Russia came from behind to beat compatriots Amina Atakhanova and Ilia Spiridonov to gold. Anastasia Gubanova and Alexei Sintsov completed the Russian podium sweep and all three teams qualified for the final.

Polina Tsurskaya from Russia cruised to the top of the standings in the ladies event with her second win of the series. She earned a new personal best of 126.81 in the free skating in the process. Despite coming second, Ekaterina Mitrofanova will not be joining Tsurskaya in Barcelona and neither will Rin Nitaya who finished 3rd.

After a relatively poor showing in Colorado Springs, Japan’s Sota Yamamoto bounced back in Torun in the men’s event to secure himself a second trip to the final with a new personal best total of 232.42. Deniss Vassiljevs matched his second place finish from Latvia, but with two more Grand Prix events left he is going to need results to go his way to be among the top 6 qualifiers. On the other hand, Roman Sadovsky from Canada will join Yamamoto in Barcelona after coming 3rd.

Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter from the United States moved to the peak of the ice dance standings with their second victory of the series. This will be the team’s second time at the final after missing out last season. Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko who are also from the U.S. will have to wait and see if they will also have a spot after setting down a full set of personal bests in Poland to come second. Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin from Russia came third in their Junior Grand Prix debut.

The Junior Grand Prix Series continues this week in Logrono, Spain.

Grand Prix Assignments Updates

Brooklee Han (AUS) was added to the ladies’ roster at Trophee Eric Bompard. Sara Hurtado and Adria Diaz (ESP) were also awarded a second assignment in Bordeaux, while Alisa Agafonova and Alper Ucar (TUR) will become the first Turkish ice dancers to skate on the Grand Prix Series at the same competition. Mirian Ziegler and Severin Kiefer (AUT) were an addition to the pairs lineup in France.

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