Friday, 19/1/2018 | : : UTC-8
Skate Today

Pang and Tong Produce Top Skate on Olympic Ice

In what was a prelude to next February’s Olympic outing, Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China captured their fourth Four Continents title with a magical program which earned the duo a new personal best score of 194.94 points — on Olympic Ice. The duo won the event in 2002, 2004, and 2008 and captured the silver medal in 2006 and 2007. Two-time Canadian Champions Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison took silver on home ice with an event total of 185.52 points and Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang captured third despite injury with 174.98 points.

The 2006 World Champions have met their match with this music and now hit the elements as well. Their tango program was exquisitely constructed and highlighted the teams’ elegant style and explosive elements.

The technically demanding free skate was jam-packed with difficulty.

Despite a slight loss of unison on the combination spin the program was near-flawless. The height on the triple twist was spectacular, and they skated with such power and sophistication that it commanded your attention. The throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow were highlights, as were their effortless lifts and footwork all which earned high levels and Grades of Execution.

“Last year there were problems with my jumps,” Pang stated about how they improved so much this season. “I went home and worked on them, and so now I am pleased that it has paid off.”

“We worked on two things last summer,” Tong explained. “The first thing was to strengthen (Pang’s) leg muscles so that she would jump better, and the second part was to increase her weight so that she could do better.”

It was a special day and a special program that claimed gold with 125.25 points for the free skate and a combined score of 194.94 points.

“We really like being in Canada,” Tong stated. “In one year the Olympic Games will be here, and we hope we can come back and skate as well as we did today.”

World bronze medalists Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison had a strong skate which had many fine elements as well.

Dube and Davison who have amazing chemistry between them looked intense as they took to the ice in Vancouver. They opened with their nemeses the throw triple Lutz which had a slight collision on the landing, and they struggled on the triple Lutz as well.

The duo continued to build speed in their dramatic presentation to “Carmen” by Bizet. The program was intense and highlighted by spectacular triple Salchows and a throw triple Loop. Their lifts appeared effortless and the duo used the nuances in the music to highlight their step sequences. Their ice coverage, stroking, speed, passion, and attention to detail are what set them apart from those below them.

“We’re really happy with how it went, I am pretty sure there were a couple of errors in the long, like hitting the boards on the first lift,” Davison chuckled about Dube catching her toe on the boards just before entering an overhead lift. “But other than that it was solid. We feel we achieved our goal.”

The two-time Canadian Champions picked up the silver medal with a free skate worth 121.26 points and a grand total of 185.62 points.

Olympic silver medalists Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang looked lackluster in their free skate to “The Yangtze River Piano Concerto” that earned a segment score of 111.78 points.

The couple admitted they were not in top shape for this competition as Dan has been struggling with a knee injury, and they have had little time for practice of the program.

Dan doubled the back-end of their opening jump a planned double Axel/triple toe combination, but the duo quickly recovered quickly with a strong throw triple Salchow and a huge triple twist.

The couple displayed a new and different lyrical style in the free skate. It was soft and gentle yet explosive at the same time. The throw triple loop was also well done, but then they ran into problems when they popped a planned triple Salchow into a single and struggled with one of their lifts.

“My partner hurt her knee a year ago. She couldn’t practice before this event. We started skating just a few days before coming here,” he admitted.

“It is true that my knee injury affected me a lot during the program”, Dan Zhang added. “I couldn’t practice the jumps and throws much, but we really wanted to come here to get some experience because of the Olympic Games 2010 (are here). We think this competition was a good practice for us.”

They won the bronze medal with a total of 174.98 points.

It was not the day for Canadian silver medalist Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin who struggled placing a disappointing sixth in the free skate but hung onto fourth with the strength of the short program.

They struggled on their opening jump a triple toe + triple toe sequence and later Meagan fell on the side-by-side triple Salchows and two-footed the throw triple loop also. They did manage a solid throw triple flip and solid lifts and picked up a segment score of 106.35 points and an overall score of 168.43 points.

“It just felt like more of a fight here,” Buntin stated. “We did the best we could. I think we got most of our levels, but it just wasn’t happening tonight.”

American Champions Keauna Mc Laughlin and Rockne Brubaker pulled up two spots to finish an overall fifth with 164.01 points.

Skating to “West Side Story” the duo delivered a nice program but marred the performance with some botched elements. They singled the back-end of a planned triple Salchow/triple toe combination, and she fell on the triple toe as well.

The team is usually oozes charisma but seemed to be missing their usual spark today. The 2007 Junior World Champions pocketed 109.85 points which placed them fourth in the free skate and in fifth place overall.

“Our big goal was to perform well through the whole program,” Mc Laughlin stated. “All we have to do now is to train hard. We were committed to attacking the program and (I) feel we did.”

Americans Caydee Denny and Jeremy Barrett recouped from their disappointing short program and produced a solid free skate to “Spartacus” by A. Khachaturian which earned them 108.09 points. The duo rose to sixth place overall with an event total of 161.69 points.

“We really learned a lot here,” Denny said smiling. “It was a lot of fun. We learned how to handle ourselves. Between now and worlds we’ll be refining things. We’ll go back and find things in our skating and polish it up.”

The National silver medalists are skating in their first international event after joining forces last summer. They highlighted their high energy program with a throw triple Lutz, a throw triple loop, and a triple toe + double toe sequence.

The 2006 Four Continents Champions Rena Inoue and John Baldwin tumbled two places after an error-prone free skate worth 103.60 points.

“Mistakes happen. It’s unfortunate,” Rena said with disappointment. But since we are just human, it does happen.”

Mylene Brodeur and John Mattatall of Canada finished eighth overall with an event total of 149.85 points.

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