There was plenty of fantastic skating crammed into two days at the first ever Gran Premio D’Italia in Torino/Turin. Here are some of the amazing moments we witnessed over the weekend inside the Palavela.
Yuma Kagiyama (JPN) was down and out in seventh place after a disastrous short programme in Turin. Skating last in the first warm-up group to the “Gladiator” film soundtrack, he fought back in the free skating with a vengeance to set a new personal best of 197.49 points. One by one the men ahead of him faltered until at the end Kagiyama stood at the top of the heap winning by a margin of just under five points. It was one of the great comebacks we have ever witnessed at a Grand Prix event.
2. Quad Goals
While not having the same deficit as Kagiyama, Anna Shcherbakova (RUS) found herself in third place after a short programme which saw her only complete a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination. The reigning World champion came roaring back in the free skating with an opening quadruple flip and she was flawless from there on to earn a new personal best score of 165.05 points. With so many of her fellow countrywomen snapping at her heels in the fight for one of those three Russian Olympic spots in Beijing, never count Shcherbakova out.
3. Hendrickx Bags Bronze
Proving that her fifth place at the 2021 World Championships was no flash in the pan, Loena Hendrickx (BEL) stunned her more fancied Russian rivals by deservedly finishing ahead of them in the short programme in Turin. Even with knowing that her competitors had more in their technical arsenal in the free skating, the Belgian was assured and foot perfect in her routine and nabbed herself a brand new set of personal bests as well as a bronze medal. It was the first time a female skater from Belgium finished in one of the podium places at a Grand Prix event and from Hendrickx’s tears when she heard the result you could tell how much it meant to her.
4. Sui and Han Book Ticket to Final
Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (CHN) have had a busy but successful two weeks on the Grand Prix circuit. The two-time World champions followed their victory at Skate Canada with another gold medal this weekend at the Gran Premio D’Italia. The Chinese were close to their best in the short programme and, while they were a couple of minor issues in their free skating, they stood head and shoulders above the rest of the field. They became the first pair to book themselves a place at next month’s Grand Prix Final in Osaka, Japan.
5. Guess Who’s Back?
For the first time in two years Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) were back on Grand Prix ice and it was like they had never left. It was fitting that their return was at the same venue as their last Grand Prix related victory at the 2019 Grand Prix Final. This time in Turin they decimated the rest of the field with an almost thirteen point gap between the four-time World champions and 2021 World silver medallists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (USA) in second place. Barring accident or injury, it is hard to look past the French when it comes to an Olympic title in Beijing next February.