The culmination of both the Grand Prix and Junior Grand Prix series took place in Vancouver, Canada over the weekend with a breakthrough performance from a French duo being the standout moment from the event.
Nathan Chen took gold for the second year in a row at the event and became the first American man to win two Grand Prix Final titles. While far from flawless in either segment of the competition, he won both the short programme and free skating to stand on the highest step of the podium. Shoma Uno medalled for the fourth consecutive year in a row with a silver, the same position he finished in 2017. There was first Grand Prix Final medal for South Korea’s Junhwan Cha. This was the first time a male skater from his country stood on the rostrum at the event.
Rika Kihira continued her winning ways this season with victory in the ladies competition. The reigning Japanese junior champion set a new world record of 82.51 in the short and, even though she fell on her opening triple Axel in the free, she still was a comfortable winner. Although she made no fatal errors during the event, Alina Zagitova had to settle for second place overall. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who was third in Vancouver, returned to the Grand Prix Final podium for the first time since she won the event back in 2014.
The highlight of the competition may perhaps have belonged to Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres. This was the first time the French pairs team had qualified for the Grand Prix Final. Errors on the side by side triple toe loops and throw triple flip in the short had them down in fourth after the short. However, the World bronze medallists rallied superbly in the free to snatch the title. Their free score of 148.37 was a new world record. It was the first time a pair from France had won gold at the Grand Prix Final. Cheng Peng and Yang Jin had been the surprise leaders after the short, but did not have the technical arsenal to hold off the French and dropped down to second. 2016 Grand Prix Final champions Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov made mistakes in both of their routines to wind up in third.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue became only the second American ice dance team to take gold at the Grand Prix Final. Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov and Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri were second and third respectively. It was the first Russian ice dance medal at the Grand Prix Final for a decade.
Junior Grand Prix Final: Russia Sweeps Three Podiums
Russian skaters dominated the Junior Grand Prix Final and picked up all but two of the medals on offer.
Stephen Gogolev became the first male singles skater from Canada to win a Junior Grand Prix Final title. Petr Gummenik from Russia came second and Koshiro Shimada from Japan was third.
There was a clean sweep for Russia in the ladies event with Alena Kostornaia and Alexandra Trusova swapping position from last year’s Junior Grand Prix Final with the former victorious this time. Alena Kanysheva nabbed bronze.
Russian pairs teams also finished 1-2-3 in Vancouver. Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galiamov took gold by just over a point from Polina Kostiukovich and Dmitrii Ialin. After winning silver last year, Apollinariia Panfilova and Dmitry Rylov ended up with bronze in 2018.
Ice dance saw the most dramatic of finishes with Sofia Shevchenko and Igor Eremenko from Russia edging out compatriots Arina Ushakova and Maxim Nekrasov for the title. Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva and Nikita Nazarov rounded out this season’s third all-Russian Junior Grand Prix Final podium.
Golden Spin of Zagreb: American Skaters Nab Singles Titles
Jason Brown saw his season continue to go from strength to strength as he took gold in Zagreb. Mikhail Kolyada and Alexander Samarin were second and third respectively.
Bradie Tennell gave the United States another singles title beating out Anastasiia Gubanova and Mariah Bell for the title.
Alisa Efimova and Alexander Korovin took their second Challenger Series pairs title of the season in the Croatian capital as they just held off Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim. Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Nathan Bartholomay came third.
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier got their season back on track with a whole new set of personal bests as they glided to victory in the ice dance event. Natalia Kaliszek and Maksym Spodyriev were second and Betina Popova and Sergey Mozgov third.