Wednesday, 17/1/2018 | : : UTC-8
Skate Today

Survival of the Fittest

The skater’s told the media that the conversation in the locker room was not about who was going to win the event. It was more about who would survive the event in the ice dance portion of the Grand Prix Final.

First Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski withdrew after the warm-up stating Novitski was suffering from food poisoning. That left five couples.

The next morning Belbin appeared without Agosto citing he had reinjured his back.

Then there were the Italians who fell in practice causing Faiella to cut her finger. A cut which required six stitches to close.

Then Isabelle Delobel had been vomiting. Would the French also withdraw?

Late afternoon the announcement came of Belbin and Agosto’s withdrawal and the withdrawal of Joubert from the men’s event as well. The press officer Paul Peret told the media this is just the beginning — there may be more.

However, when the time came Delobel forged forward with longtime partner Olivier Schoenfelder — and they won gold. The couple skated a intimate and powerful dance to “The Great Gig in the Sky” by Pink Floyd. The dance seemed more complete now than that what I remembered from Skate America six weeks ago. The dance is a self portrayal of the duo’s struggle of whether to stay or not after winning the World Title last March.

“If we came back, we wanted to come back on our terms and do something meaningful to us,” Schoenfelder stated earlier in the season.

The Lyon based duo highlighted their dance with great edging on their footwork and complicated and unique lift positions. They performed all level four elements except for a level two combination spin and a level three midline step sequence.

“We are definitely very pleased, especially since I have been sick the whole day. I was vomiting. I was sick this morning and during practice,” Delobel told the media.

“Nevertheless we gave a strong performance. I think it was overall better than the previous performances,” Schoenfelder added. “True, we could have put in more energy under different circumstances, but we really were focusing on the elements. Bravo to Isabelle for making it through, many others would have withdrawn from the competition. It’s a great joy for us to win this Final for the first time.”

They received 95.75 points for the free dance and gathered an event total of 156.18 points to gain the title.

Russians Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin are the reigning Grand Prix Champions. However, on this day, in this rink they earned silver with 93.62 points for their free dance and an event total of 152.95 points. Their “Spartacus” free dance included near-perfect synchronized twizzles and six level four elements. The duo displayed amazing strength on the serpentine lift but the dance spin appeared a bit slow.

“We’re pleased with our skating today, and we are happy with our second mark and with the way we expressed the character of the program,” Shabalin told the press. “Technically, of course, we could have higher levels on some elements. We went out in a fighting mood. For me it was easier to skate than before, The most important thing is that I feel much better with my (knee) injury, now we can work at 100.”

Newcomers to the Senior Grand Prix Final, Meryl Davis and Charlie White did themselves proud with a bronze medal performance to “Samson and Dalila” by Camille Saint-Saens. The American silver medalists displayed blazing fast twizzles and technical content like no other. They skated with attack and did not hold back. They opened with a strong combination spin but then the next element a curve lift into a rotational lift was even stronger. Their program contained all level four elements except for the midline steps which were level three.

“It’s great to be able to come here and medal,” White shared. Obviously, two of the top teams withdrew, but we are happy with the way we skated which is the most important thing. We feel we have put out everything we could. It was one of the best performances we’ve put out in practices or competition. It’s been a good progression, and we feel like topped it off here. I think it was a good learning experience being out here with the top teams, seeing what makes them so competitive. We’re going back and will work on a lot of little things. In our programs they do so well, and that we want to achieve as well. “

Despite injury Frederica Faiella and Massimo Scali continued to compete. Slight modifications were made to accommodate the injury on her right hand. The duo slid to fourth place with a free dance worth 87.23 points. They only received a level one on their combination the element Faiella injured herself on, and a level two on their opening curve lift.

“We were a little upset about the technical mark, because it’s very low,” Scali said with disappointment. We are upset but also happy at the same time because of the accident that happened with the finger and the stitches. We were afraid that the ligament was affected, because the cut was pretty deep. We had to keep going and be strong and compete as we did.”

In regards to how it affected the performance, Scali added, “We were more afraid of the spin, because she has to hold me and of the twizzles, because she had to grab her blade, but in the end it was fine. We are a little upset, because we lost a medal, but sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”

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Skate Today was created in November 2004 to showcase the people of the skating world, skaters and coaches and others, who make figure skating and ice dancing a pleasure to watch for fans from around the world. The goal was to create a site that would give viewers an insight into the personalities of the people involved in this sport and to give you a more personal connection when watching them live at an event or on the television. Our staff knows how much time and dedication is put into this sport and that's why Skate Today was created.

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