Nebelhorn Trophy 2015 Review: Ladies and Ice Dance

This is the second part of our review of the Nebelhorn Trophy 2015 where we take a look back at the ladies and ice dance events.

Osmond Returns After Injury Layoff

There was another comeback kid at this year’s Nebelhorn Trophy. After winning an Olympic Team Event silver medal in Sochi, Kaetlyn Osmond was looking forward to building on that when in the autumn of last year she was forced to pull out of her Grand Prix assignments due to an ankle injury. Her rehabilitation meant she missed the entire 2014/2015 season. The two-time Canadian champion had won this title on a previous trip to Oberstdorf in 2012 and, despite her time away from competition, she was the one to watch.

However, her very first element did not go according to plan. Osmond doubled an opening triple flip and then fell on a triple toe loop that immediately followed. Strangely that seemed to settle her nerves and she completely the rest of her “La Vie en Rose” programme flawlessly landing a triple Lutz and a double Axel and garnering Level 4 for all her remaining elements. A score of 59.67 put her on top going into the free skating.

“I’m super happy to be back competing. I’ve been away from international competition for such a long time. It’s the first competition of the season so I’m just going to build on things from here.”

The Canadian’s Astor Piazzolla medley free was even better than her short and she landed five triple jumps in the routine with a doubled triple Salchow her only minor error. She achieved a new personal best free score of 119.74 to give her a total of 179.41 (another best) and her second Nebelhorn Trophy title.

A certain sense of déjà vu was brought to mind with how Alena Leonova fared in this event. The 2012 World silver medallist had kept her “Chaplin” short from last season and, apart from an under-rotated triple toe loop, things were going well for until she flubbed the entry to a layback spin and received no points for it whatsoever. The mistake left her in fourth place on 56.41 following the short.

The Russian had chosen a melange of American classics for her free with this season’s World Championships in mind, but given how she fared in Oberstdorf and how deep the Russian ladies field is it looks like it will be a struggle for her to make it to Boston. Leonova had begun with a much better triple toe/triple toe combination than her short. However, everything that came after seemed like a fight until she finally fell on two triple flips in a row. Even with those mistakes she somehow managed to finish third in the free with 109.20 to pull up to second overall on 165.61 to repeat her silver medal from Nebelhorn Trophy 2014.

For the third year in a row, an American lady won bronze. Courtney Hicks went for it in her “The Feeling Begins” short, but under-rotated the second part of triple flip/triple toe combination and then crashed to the ice on a triple Lutz to put herself in third on 57.65. Things got even scrappier in the free for the American as she once again under-rotated on a triple flip/triple toe and fell on a triple Lutz.  She also under-rotated a triple loop, bungled a triple flip and singled a double Axel. The highlight element of her “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” soundtrack routine was a very good triple Lutz/single loop/triple Salchow sequence that netted her a whopping 11.50 points. Her free score of 105.20 was well down on her personal best, but her total of 162.85 meant she hung on for bronze. Later she talked about how she was upping her technical difficulty.

“I’ve been working a lot on the triple Axel and just trying to get it consistent. I don’t know if I’ll have it ready to put in my programmes this season, but maybe next year. This season is about getting consistency on it.”

It might have been a very different story for Mirai Nagasu at this year’s Nebelhorn Trophy if her short had not gone so badly. In fairness, the 2008 U.S. champion had set herself a mighty challenge. Right off the bat, she attempted a triple Axel, but unfortunately the element got downgraded. Subsequently, the second jump of a triple toe/triple toe was called under-rotated and to top it all off Nagasu popped a triple loop into a single. She was in 11th on 48.09 after the short. The American’s “Great Gatsby” free could not have been a bigger contrast. She skated extremely well and landed six triples to finish second in the free with 111.58 to pull all the way up to fifth overall with a final total of 159.67. Even though the triple Axel didn’t come off at this event, it’s something she feels is necessary to compete with the top ladies.

“I think that if I want to challenge the world champion I will have to gain that Axel and I’m very upset with how I skated my short. It really lowered my confidence because I haven’t been skating like that. I redeemed myself in the long programme so I’m excited to get back home and work on it. After I got off the ice in the short, I knew it was good for me that I had attempted it in competition.”

North American Teams Sweep The Podium

Coming off their silver medal at Worlds earlier this year, Madison Chock and Evan Bates continued that momentum with an effortless win in Oberstdorf. The Americans made the unusual choice of “Dark Eyes” for their waltz and polka short dance music. They had no problems hitting all the key points in both sections of the Ravensburger Waltz pattern and also garned Level 4 for their twizzles and curved lift. They stood in first with 67.74 at the midway point of the event.

Two days later they were back out to compete in the free dance with a skating music warhorse, “Concerto No. 2” by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Rarely used by dance teams, Chock and Bates gave a passionate performance which included three Level 4 lifts, Level 4 twizzles and a Level 4 dance spin to score 101.76 for a total of 169.50. With the World Championships in their homeland this season, they are looking like serious contenders.

“We’re very happy to be back in Oberstdorf and it’s always such a fun place to visit,” Chock said. “We were very happy with how we skated. It was a very good outing for us at the start of a new season and we’ve a lot to work on still. We’re looking forward to competing for the rest of the season.”

There has been a whole lot of change for Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam since they finished 13th at Shanghai Worlds in March. They ended their coaching relationship with Angelika Krylova and Pasquale in Michigan and joined the great migration north to Montreal to train with Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and Romain Haguenauer. The Canadians came through the short relatively unscathed and received 60.52 to be a comfortable second. From the outset of their free to music composed by Michel Legrand, they looked unsettled and their opening straightline was untidy. Fortunately, they stayed on their feet till the end to score 87.60 for the free and bag the silver medal with a total of 148.12.

“We were a little bit disappointed with our performance in the free. We made a few costly errors,” Paul said. “But we really both love this programme and we are really excited to compete it again because we want everybody to be able to see what it truly looks like and how we practice it. We want people to see what we are made of because today was not necessarily that.”

Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus ensured that the podium was an all North American affair, but only just. The Delaware based skaters had been in fourth after laying down 54.34 in short. The Americans were the last skaters in all categories to take to the ice at the Eissportzentrum and fittingly enough their music was an arrangement of pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven. Cannuscio and McManus executed three Level 4 lifts and a Level 4 spin, but their diagonal steps and twizzles only merited a Level 1. Despite that, their score for the free of 83.04 and total of 137.38 represented new personal bests.

“We were pretty happy with both our performances here. We had a couple of level issues,” Cannuscio said. “Between now and Skate America we are going to go home and try and pull up those levels for the next competition.”

The Turkish team of Alisa Agafonova and Alper Ucar had been third after the short, but a weaker skate in the free saw them drop down to sixth in the end. There was good news for German ice dance though with new couple Kavita Lorenz and Panagiotis Polizoakis taking third in the free to rocket up the standings from eighth to fourth and only narrowly missing out on a medal.

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