Cup of China: Highlights from Chongqing

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After last year’s hiatus, the Cup of China was back at a new venue where there were some unexpected performances. Here is what we took away from the fourth Grand Prix of the season.

Comeback Kid

China’s Han Yan sat out the entire 2018-2019 season leading many to assume he had retired entirely from competition. However, this weekend he was back with a bang and placed first in the short programme (admittedly helped by errors from other skaters). With no quadruple jumps in either of his routines, it was always going to be a struggle for him to retain that position. He still managed to skate a solid free skating programme and took home a silver medal from the event. This was Yan’s only Grand Prix assignment this season.

Boyang Jin nabbed the men’s title to give China a one-two in the category. Following a dismal sixth place at last month’s Skate America, Jin will no doubt be much more pleased with his outing here. Qualification for the Grand Prix Final is going to be a very long shot, but the men’s event is so unpredictable this year.

There was also redemption of sorts for Italy’s Matteo Rizzo who up bronze in Chongqing after his disappointing sixth place at Skate Canada.

Super Shcherbakova

Even with an under rotation on a quadruple Lutz and unclear edge warning on all four of her Lutz jumps in the free skating, there was nothing going to hold Russia’s Anna Shcherbakova back from claiming her second title of this season’s Grand Prix Series. She also became the first lady to secure her spot at next month’s Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy.

Japan’s Satoko Miyahara did her cause a lot of good by hanging on to pick up the silver medal in Chongqing. She does face a mighty scrap at NHK Trophy in two weeks time to join Shcherbakova in Turin.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva bounced back after fourth in the short to win the bronze medal at a Grand Prix for the second time this season. It is a testament to how strong the technical standard has progressed in the ladies event that, even with a triple Axel in her arsenal, the 2015 World champion is going to face an uphill battle to be named to the Russian team for the European and World Championships.

Thank You For Flying Air China

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han calmly and coolly collected pairs gold in Chongqing winning with an almost 29 point margin over the rest of the field. Judging on their performances this weekend, it is hard to see past them as the front runners for victory at the Grand Prix Final even with qualification still pending. The Chinese have never won the title before in three previous appearances.

If the reigning World champions seal their place in Turin at NHK Trophy, they will meet again with compatriots Cheng Peng and Yang Jin who earned silver to add to their gold from Skate America.

With just eight months together as a pair, Canada’s Lubov Iliushechkina and Charlie Bilodeau won bronze.

Sinitsina/Katsalapov Grab Gold

There was a positive start for Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov at their first Grand Prix assignment of the season with a new personal best rhythm dance score of 85.39 aiding them significantly to the title.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates competed for the second week in a row and repeated their silver medal performance. The Americans racked up a new personal best free dance score of 128.21 to win that segment and missed out on gold by just over a point. Unless an extraordinary set of circumstances unfolds at the remaining two Grand Prix events, the 2019 Four Continents champions will be in Turin next month.

There was another Grand Prix bronze medal for Canada’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen as they rounded out the ice dance podium in Chongqing.


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