US OLYMPIC TEAM: A DREAM COME TRUE

US FIGURE SKATING ANNOUNCES 2014 OLYMPIC TEAM…

 PAIRS

Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir
Castelli:  “Simon and I are speechless.  We’ve worked so hard for the last years together, and it really paid off. We’re so excited to go to Sochi.  We’re thrilled.”
Shnapir: “Мы на в Сочи! That means ‘We’re on to Sochi’ in Russian.  I know it’s a cliché, but this is a dream come true. We’re still a little bit shocked.  We’re just trying to enjoy these moments.”

Felicia Zhang/Nate Bartholomay
Bartholomay: “We’re absolutely thrilled that we were able to put everything together here. This is truly a magical moment.  It was an amazing event with fantastic competitors.”

DANCE

Madison Chock/Evan Bates
Chock: “I’m so over the moon and completely thrilled.  This has been a lifelong dream.  We’re so happy, and we couldn’t be in better company.  We’re just so thrilled.”

Meryl Davis/Charlie White
White: “We’re so lucky to be part of an amazing team…friends and training mates. We’re going into these games with very high expectations.

Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani
Alex: This has been the craziest and most amazing journey. Moments like this you don’t prepare for, you only dream of.”

LADIES

Polina Edmonds
“I’m just so happy right now.  It’s a huge honor to be representing the US at the Olympics in Sochi.”

 Gracie Gold
“I’m so excited to be going to Sochi, representing the US.  The Olympics aren’t just another competition.  It’s the ultimate dream.  It’s a life experience that I’ll never forget, and I’m so excited to be going.”

Ashley Wagner
“I’m at a loss for words right now.  It’s been a really rough four years, and I’ve been working really hard.  It wasn’t my night last night. I’m happy my federation was able to see beyond one bad skate.  I can’t believe I’m going to represent the US in Sochi.”

MEN

Jeremy Abbott
“I feel shockingly calm. I came here to get the business done and go to Sochi and I got it done.”

Jason Brown
“I’m not as calm as Jeremy. I’m so excited to represent my country.”

2014 US NATIONALS FREE SKATE RECAP

PAIRS

Marissa Castelli + Simon Shnapir, 2013 US National Champions, placed third in the long program, but won the event. “It wasn’t our best. We made a few mistakes. We’re happy with what we put out.  We performed the heck out of that program.  Great score. We’re thrilled with the end result,” smiled Castelli.  Their anticipated 4S throw ended with a fall. Skating to music from Skyfall, the 6’4” Shnapir was an intimidating James Bond. Their Level 4 triple twist + his height had Castelli reaching for the Garden rafter banners. The Boston trained duo scored 135.58 points (205.71 total). Felicia Zhang + Nathan Bartholomay, 2013 bronze medalists,  dazzled the audience with their clean skate to Les Miserables and scored a personal best 135.22 points (201.72 total) and placed second. Both their short and long programs received all positive marks. “We felt like we didn’t leave anything on the table and skated as hard and as passionate as we could,” said Bartholomay. One of their Florida based coaches is former US medalist and 2010 Olympian, Amanda Evora. Caydee Denney + John Coughlin won the long program with 136.03 points (201.43 total) but placed third over all. Like in the short program, it was a jump that was their nemesis.  “I want that Axel a little bit,” said Coughlin.  Their strong skate to The Phantom of the Opera had the audience cheering with support. After missing the 2013 Nationals due to Coughlin’s injury, the Colorado team wanted to savor this experience. “We were thrilled to be here no matter what considering a year ago I had a bike pedaling my leg for me, “ smiled Coughlin.

 

LADIES

Gracie Gold is the newest US Ladies Champion. In 2013 she won silver; in 2014 she won gold. Skating to Sleeping Beauty, the 2013 Skate Canada bronze medalist, mesmerized the audience with her Level 4 spins. “It was like a fairytale,” smiled Gold. After scoring 11.30 points for her opening 3Lz/3T combination, the Frank Carroll coached teenager slowly and methodically skated her program with poise and power.  Commenting on being the last to skate, Gold said, “The nerves are something I’ve battled with and let them get into my head, but tonight, I felt strangely calm.”  Her score was 139.57 (211.69 total). In second place was Polina Edmonds. “It felt pretty good.  I’m happy with how it turned out.  I thought it was a pretty good score, “ smiled the fifteen year old Californian. Her spins were all Level 4, but the 3F was called for a wrong edge take off. Edmonds won gold medals at both her 2013 Junior Grand Prix competitions. Edmonds’ lyrical and whimsical presentation of “Solveig’s Song” and “Morning” from Peer Gynt showed maturity beyond her years and earned 126.88 points (193.63 total). Marai Nagasu was the bronze medalist with 125.30 points (190.74 total).  She skated to James Bond. Nagasu, who came to the event without a coach received a one-point music deduction. Responding to questions about the thunderous applause from the audience, she paused to dry her tears before speaking, “ I’m so happy. I’m really at a loss for words. It’s how I wanted to skate. I’m a little bit speechless after hearing the crowd like that.”  Ashley Wagner, 2013 US National Champion, fell twice and landed in fourth place. “They called my name and I felt like lead.  I felt heavy. I felt nervous.  I’m just in shock that that’s what I put out at Nationals.  I’m embarrassed that I got so much attention for the skater that I am, and then that skater doesn’t even show up on the day it counts, ” quipped Wagner.  The program received a 118.03 mark. The 182.84 total was almost 30 points behind the gold medalist.

 

DANCE

Ice Dancers, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, have skated together for 16 years.  In 2014 they won a record sixth US Championship. “It’s such an honor for us, not only because it’s something we’ve worked hard to accomplish, but we feel there’s such greatness in American ice dance in the building (TD Garden).  With all those American ice dancing greats being here, it really feels like a collective effort, and we feel proud to be part of it.” Skating to Scheherazade by Russian composer, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, the Michigan team demonstrated why they’re medal favorites with Level 4 for all executed elements and perfect 10’s for each program component.  The program score was 119.50 (200.19 total). Madison Chock and Evan Bates, 2013 silver medalists, placed a distant second with 108.03 (181.33 total).  Both scores were a personal best.  The former World Junior Champions with different partners skated to selections from Les Miserables.  They received a Level 4 for each executed element, except their diagonal step sequence, which was Level 3.  “We skated a great free dance today.  It’s the best we’ve ever skated.  This has been the best competition we’ve ever had together,” smiled Bates. Maia and Alex Shibutani were third, skating to a crowd-pleasing Michael Jackson medley. “A program like this one begins and ends with such high energy.  We’ve never had a program where people are screaming when the first note hits. The music carries weight. For us it’s challenging, but also so fulfilling,” commented Alex. Their elements were marked Level 4 for lifts and Level 3 for step sequences. The program received 102.44 (170.44 total).  Rounding out the podium were Madison Hubbell and Zack Donohoe, 2013 Skate Canada bronze medalists. The team skated to “Nocturne/Bohemian Rhapsody” and earned 101.58 points (168.27 total).

Commenting on Hubbell’s injury riddled season, Donohoe said, “I’m so proud of my partner, she’s gone through a lot this season: concussions, torn body parts, bruises, cuts, scrapes. She really pulled through and I think we had the best skate of our lives so far. We are really thrilled with our program”.  Hubbell added, “The crowd’s energy really helped us perform all the way through the four minutes”.

 

MEN

Jeremy Abbott threw down the gauntlet in Boston and took back his US Championship title. The four-time gold winner barely escaped being disqualified for a time violation The TD Garden audience jolted him into reality with their loud countdown just before time ran out. Opening with a strong 4T, he received Level 4 for his spins and step sequence. The under rotated 3A marred a clean skate. He earned 174.71 for the revised version of his 2011-12 skate to “Exogenesis Symphony Part III (Redemption)” by Muse. His total score was 274.27.Jason Brown, two-time Jr. World silver medalist, won the long program with 182.61 points and took home silver. Brown’s lack of a quad was more than compensated for with his high artistry and transition scores. The audience cheered when his name was called and clapped to the end of his “Reel Around the Sun”. “I enjoyed every moment. I enjoyed the crowd. They could not have been more responsive, more generous, more exciting. I can’t thank them enough”, smiled Brown. Ironically, the shamrocks on the Celtics’ banners hanging from the rafters unintentially coordinated with the Irish step-dancing program. Brown’s total score was 270.08.  The 2013 US National Champion, Max Aaron, placed third with 173.49 points for his performance to Carmen.  The Colorado trained skater opened with a 13.80-point 4S/2T combination, but then struggled with the single 4S and 3F.  “I had two flaws, but I feel satisfied that I gave it a good attack”, said the disappointed Aaron. Six of his jump passes were after the halfway mark and received an increased base value.  Aaron finished 10 points behind the silver medalist with a total score of 260.44.

TIDBITS FROM 2014 US NATIONALS

  • Men’s champion, Jeremy Abbott thanked the audience for not being disqualified.  He was circling the ice, soaking up the ambiance of the moment and thinking about his final US Nationals’ skate.  Suddenly he heard the countdown: 5…. 4…. 3…. 2….  He darted to center ice, struck his opening pose and beat the buzzer.
  •  Polina Edmunds attends school with her friends in California, rather than being home schooled.  Her favorite subject is history.
  •  At the Olympic team press conference, Pairs gold medalist, Simon Shnapir announced, “Мы на в Сочи! That means, We’re on to Sochi” in Russian.”
  •  Pair’s silver medalist, Nate Bartholomay, had a scare after his short program when his mother was rushed to a nearby hospital suffering from low blood pressure.  After a night’s stay, she was released and watched her son in person win a silver medal,
  •  DWTS dancers assisted in the choreography of two short dances.  Derek Hough helped Davis & White and Corky Ballas worked with Maia and Alex Shibutani.
  •  Michele Kwan was a member of the press corps covering the 2014 US Nationals.
  •  Alex Shibutani, born in Boston and a fan of its sports teams, celebrated his bronze medal by watching and cheering the Patriots victory on television.
  •  The Boston audience sang along with the playing of “Sweet Caroline” during Ross Miner’s warm-up before his Boston Strong long program tribute to the victims of the Marathon bombings. The Fenway Park eighth inning tradition had rallied the locals during the days following the tragedy.
  •  Charlie White played hockey until he was 18 and is currently highlighted in a Visa video shot at Joe Louis Arena.
  • Meryl Davis & Charlie White received the highest score they could possibly get for their free program to Scheherazade.
  •  The13,980-person crowd for the championship ladies free skate Saturday night was the largest single-session crowd at a U.S. Championships since the ladies free skate at the 2002 U.S. Championships in Los Angeles. The total attendance was 108,946.

 

US NATIONALS SENIOR SHORT PROGRAMS RECAP

PAIRS

The 2014 Senior US Nationals opened with the Pairs’ Short Programs on January 9, 2014, to a crowded, supportive audience at TD Garden in Boston, MA. The Ladies followed.

 

Hometown favorites, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, reigning US Pairs Champions, wove their “Black Magic” and won the short program with a score of 73.13. Their high- flying triple twist and explosive 3S throw had the crowd on their feet before the final pose. “It was a sentimental moment skating before our friends and family, “ smiled Castelli, who along with Schnapir represents the host Skating Club of Boston. Only 2.08 points separate the next four teams. In second place are Felicia Zang and Nate Bartholomay, current US Pairs bronze medalists. Their program skated to “Carousel Waltz “by Rogers and Hammerstein was lyrical and showed a mature side of the skaters. They reworked the choreography after a disappointing fall debut and “it showed up in the component score”, grinned a very happy Bartholomay. Their total score was 66.50. The Indianapolis duo of Dee Dee Lang and Timothy LeDuc were a very close third with 66.40. They are the only team of the top five not to have participated in the Grand Prix Series this season. Their program, “The Feeling Begins” reflected their reaction of awe when the marks were announced. “ We turned to each other during our bow and said that’s the most fun we’ve had competing so far,” said Iowa native, LeDuc. Their signature ice dance twizzles placed strategically at the end of the Step Sequence was a choreographic addition to the program. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, Trophee Bombard bronze medalists, are in fourth place with a 65.40 score, 7.73 points behind the leaders. The 2012 US Champions were sidelined last year due to Coughlin’s injury. The difference in not being in the top three was the negative GOE received for doing a 2T side-by-side jump instead of a planned 3T. Both Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, reigning US Pairs silver medalists, fell on their 3S and landed in fifth place with a 64.68 score.

 

 

LADIES

Familiar faces and a teenager fresh off the Junior GPF led the ladies after their short programs. Reining US silver medalist, Gracie Gold, stood in first place with 72.12 points. Gold proved her daring change of coaches, program, and choreographer a few months before Nationals was a positive move. Her new style from opening pose through the 3L/3T combination and Level 4 Spins and Step Sequence captivated the audience. Reflecting on the change, Gold said, “Last year at competitions when maybe I hadn’t skated as well, I wasn’t focused on me and my training. I’ve turned off all the texting, twitter, and all the social media. It’s just my headphones warming up, and then skating the program I trained in practice. “ Fifteen year old Polina Edmunds skated last but not least. The Californian dazzled the TD Garden crowd with a 3L/3T combination, 3F, 2A and Level 4 Spins. She received a 66.75 score for second place. Edmunds confidence surpassed her young age. “My triple-triple I’ve been doing it since my second year as a junior. I was 13, so I knew I could go out there because I’ve been training it for two or three years now. It wasn’t a big surprise to hit it. I’ve been training this program all year, so I know what happens and what I needed to do”, smiled Edmunds. The youngster isn’t intimidated by the older and more experienced ladies. “I think my long should get a high score because I have the highest technical elements of all the ladies. I have two triple-triples in my program and a 3F and 3Lz. I just need to go out and skate like I’ve been training, “ quipped the confident teen. 2010 Olympian, Mirai Nagasu, received 66.44 points for third place. Looking ahead to her next skate, the shy former US Champion said, “Going into the long, I’d like to stay focused. I trust myself to do the best I can.” Reigning US Champion, Ashley Wagner, struggled with her 3F/3T combination and stood in fourth place with 64.71 points. “Going into the long program, I feel I’m exactly where I want to be. I really like being the fighter. I like going after the top prize and not being one who has to fend everybody off. I’m ready to fight,” defended Wagner.

 

DANCE

Michigan trained skaters ruled the Short Dance with the top six places. Five time US Champions, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Finn stepped and twizzled their way into first place with all Level 4 marks and a score of 80.69. Their musical selections from Frederick Loewe’s, My Fair Lady, had the audience involved from the first to the last beat. “Today we reached a comfort level with this program that we haven’t necessarily reached in competition so far. We can now focus on just having fun with the program, which is what the program is all about, “ commented Davis. Madison Chock and Evan Bates, reining US silver medalist, danced to Irving Berlin’s, “No Business Like Show Business”, and earned 73.41 points, a distant 7.28 behind the leaders. Chock commented on the hard fall she had taken the previous day in practice, “I’m okay, but the boards are definitely in worse shape than I am. My shoulders are a little sore from the impact.” Third place belonged to Maia and Alex Shibutani. Their mixture of Level 3’s and 4’s and a break in form on one twizzle scored the 2013 US bronze medalists 68.00 points. “We left some points on the table. It’s fair to say we’re disappointed with that, but we’re very excited about how we’re performing the program as a whole” said Alex. The music is a Michael Buble medley. Madison Hubbell and Zack Donohoe, 2013 Skate Canada bronze medalists, danced to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and finished in fourth place with 66.69 points. “There were a few stumbles that took away our levels. Our strength is our free dance and we’re ready to go kick some ice”, quipped Donohoe. 2012 and 2013 US Junior Champions, Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton used “The Mask” music for their Finn step Level 3’s skate and earned 63.71 and fifth place. Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulleti-Schmitt, placed sixth with a 61.22 score.

 

MEN

Jeremy Abbott, 2013 US bronze medalist, set a short program record with his 99.88 score. Opening with a 4T+3T combination for 16.84 points, followed with a 3Lz and 3A, Abbott captivated the audience with his light and lyrical presentation of the Robin Cousins and Yuka Sato choreographed program to “Lilies of the Valley” by Jun Miyake. Abbott received all Level 4’s for his spins and Step Sequence. “I could hear people behind me saying ‘100’! I guess 99.86 is pretty darn close. Considering my previous highest score was 90, I’m pretty darn happy. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks”, laughed Abbott. Richard Dornbush captured second place with his Personal Best score of 92.04. His 4S opened the program skated to Henry Mancini’s, “Sons of Italy”. The Californian said, “This is a night that I’m never going to forget. This event is magical and it’s special especially for me. What a great way to end by US career short programs.” Third place belonged to Jason Brown, 2013-14 World Junior silver medalist, who skated to the music, “The Question of U” by Prince. An audience favorite, Brown was greeted by loud cheers before he reached center ice and struck his opening pose to the Rohene Ward choreographed program. He received 87.47 points. Commenting on the jiggle at the ending pose, Brown said, “I end facing toward the judges and I come straight out of a spin, but I knew that I was facing the audience if I stopped. I tried to spin and jump at the same time and I kind of fell a little backwards. I didn’t want to risk a time violation at all, so I got out and tried to stay still as much as I could. “ Reining US Champion, Max Aaron, stands in fourth place. The former Arizona hockey player, opened with a strong 4S/2T. His Latin program skated to “Historia de un Amor”, by Perez Prado and choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo scored 88.95 points.

 

PREVIEW: GRAND PRIX FINAL IN FUKUOKA, JAPAN

The ISU Grand Prix Final (GPF) of Figure Skating will be held in Fukuoka, Japan December 5-8, 2013. The event closes the fall Grand Prix (GP) circuit: Skate America (USA), Skate Canada International (CAN), Cup of China (CHN), NHK Trophy (JPN), Trophee Eric Bombard (FRA) and the Rostelecom Cup (RUS).

The 2013 GPF of Figure Skating is the first and only event where most of the World’s current top skaters will meet before the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (RUS).

The event features reigning World Champions Patrick Chan (CAN), Tatiana Volosozhan/Maxim Trankov (RUS) and Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA). Also competing are five reigning World medalitst.

Patrick Chan (CAN) and Tatsuki Machida (JPN) won both their events and lead the Men’s GP standings. The 2012 World bronze medalist, Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN), and 2012 GPF Junior Champion, Maxim Kovtun (RUS), advance to the Final after winning two silver medals at their events. The 2012 World Junior Champion, Han Yan (CHN), qualified with a gold and fourth place finish. Defending GPF Champion, Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) withdrew and was replaced by Nobunari Oda (JPN). Kovtun and Han compete at the Final in their debut on the senior GP circuit.

World silver medalist and defending GPF Champion, Mao Asada (JPN) and 2012 World Junior Champion, Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS) lead the Ladies. Both struck gold in their two events. Reigning GPF silver medalist, Ashley Wagner (USA) returns to the event after earning silver in Detroit and Paris. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS), Adelina Sotnikova (RUS) and Elena Radionova (RUS) round out the Ladies’ list. The four Russian teenagers will compete in their first GPF.

The reigning GPF and World Champions, Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov (RUS) and World silver medalists, Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (GER) won gold at both their events. The remaining pair teams include: Qing Pang/Jian Tong (CHN), Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN), Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN), and Cheng Peng/Hao Zhang (CHN). Peng/Zhang are the only first timers, but Zhang competed several times with his previous partner.

World Champions, Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) and World silver medalists, Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) qualified by winning gold at both their events. The remaining ice dancers are: Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS), Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA), Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN), and Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA). All these dancers are strong favorites for the Olympic podium.

The Junior GPF and Senior GPF will be held at the same venue on the same dates.

Results and competitors information: www.isu.org / www.gpf2013japan.jp/eng/

NHK Trophy: VOLOSOZHAR/TRANKOV, TAKASHI, ASADA, DAVIS/WHITE TAKE GOLD AT NHK TROPHY.

The second day of the NHK Trophy in Tokyo, Japan was jam-packed with the Free Skating of Pairs, Men and Ladies. The Free Dance was skated on the third day. Volosozhar/Trankov, Davis/White, and Mao Asada with gold medal wins at NHK Trophy qualified for the Grand Prix Final.

PAIRS: Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov (RUS) claim second 2013 Grand Prix gold medal.

  1. Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov (RUS) – Jesus Christ, Superstar
  2. Cheng Peng/Hao Zhang (CHN) – “Yellow River Concerto”
  3. Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (CHN) – “Kalinka”

Volosozhar/Trankov scored a level-four on five elements. They also received a GOE 2 or 3 for their throws and jumps. “We feel very comfortable and happy about our free skating. We skated very well today and got good points”, Volosozhar told the press. The reigning World Champions scored 154.46 points and totaled 236.49.

Peng/Zhang scored extra points with their lifts and throws, but lost them with poor solo jumps. “We are happy with today’s results, but not 100% happy with the performance itself”, Zhang said. The new team received 117.09 points and moved up to second from third with a 182.18 total.

Sui/Han’s program included a quadruple twist and two level-four lifts. Sui had difficulty holding on and fell out of the Axel lasso lift. “It was not a good competition for us. Yesterday I started having a headache and a fever”, explained Han. The three-time Junior Champions fell from second to third with 101.19 points and a total of 171.32.

Castelli/Shnapir (USA) tried the throw 4Salchow, but she stepped out of the landing. The US Champions moved up to fourth place with 168.89 points. Denny/Frazier (USA), World Junior Champions, slipped to fifth with 167.85.

MEN: Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) wins gold medal.

  1. Daiuske Takahashi (JPN) – Beatles medley
  2. Nobunari Oda (JPN) – Rossini’s Wilhelm Tell
  3. Jeremy Abbott (USA) – Exogenesis Symphony by Muse

Takahashi nailed his 4Toe and 3Axel, but stumbled on the 3Toe and second 3Axel. His footwork and two of the three spins garnered level-fours. The 27 year old scored positive GOE marks on five of seven triple jumps. “It was my second GP and third competition and I’m thinking that I’m finally prepared going to the Olympic Games”, commented the reigning GP Champion. Takahashi scored a season’s best 172.76 and totaled 268.31.

Oda completed a 4Toe, 3A+3Toe combination, six more triple jumps, and two level four spins. His footwork and third spin were each level three. “I still have margin to improve for the next competition”, said Oda. He moved up one spot to second place with170.46 points and a total of 253.16.

Jeremy Abbot jumped from seventh place to the podium with his seven triple jumps, three level four spins and step sequence. He tripled his 4Toe. “Again today the quad was missing, but everything else was there. I wanted to skate a solid program which I did”, said the three time US Champion. He scored 158.63 points and totaled 237.41.

Adam Rippon (USA) was fourth with 233.71 points. Javier Fernandez (ESP) dropped to fifth with 230.45 points.

LADIES: Mao Asada (JPN) wins second 2013 Grand Prix gold medal.

  1. Mao Asada (JPN) – Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2
  2. Elena Radionova (RUS) – “Frida”
  3. Akiko Suzuki (JPN) – Phantom of the Opera

Asada landed five triple jumps and a level-four step sequence. She two-footed and under rotated her 3Axel. “Since Skate America I am climbing up step by step, and I want to be at a higher level at my next event”, said the Japanese skater. The two-time World Champion received a season best 136.33 points and totaled 207.59.

Radionova attempted seven triples, with her Flip called for an edge error. She included two combinations – 3Lutz+3T and a 3Loop+1Loop+3Salchow. The Russian teenager’s three spins and footwork were all level-fours. “I am very, very happy with today’s performance because I skated clean, and I really wanted to do that”, smiled Radionova. The 14 year old scored a personal best 128.98 points and totaled 191.81.

Suzuki was fourth in the Free Skate after Gracie Gold (USA). Her scores slipped her down to third place behind Radionova. The 29 year old completed two combinations, a 3Flip, 3Salchow, and 2Loop. Both her Lutz jumps were under-rotated. Her footwork and one spin gained a level-four. “There were a lot of mistakes. I was quite anxious before I skated, and I wasn’t able to recover. I have lots of regrets now”, said the 2012 World bronze medalist. Suzuki scored 179.32 and totaled 179.32.

Gracie Gold (USA) scored 177.81 and missed the podium by 1.51 points.

DANCE: Davis/White (USA) repeat as Grand Prix gold medalists.

  1. Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) – Scheherazade
  2. Anna Capellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) – Barber of Seville
  3. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) – Michael Jackson medley

Davis/White received level-fours for their twizzles, lifts, spins, and circular footwork. “We’ve been working hard all season, and we are really excited the direction our free dance is taking. We certainly feed off the energy of the Japanese audiences and can’t thank them enough for their support, enthusiasm and appreciation for what we put out on the ice”, Davis commented. The 112.95 points is a personal best score. The reigning World Champions totaled 186.65 points.

Cappellini/Lanotte recorded five level-four elements, but the combination spin and diagonal step sequence only received level-two. “We had some tough skates this week. It was a little hard, maybe we had jet lag problems or the tiredness was catching up with us. Of course, we are happy with the result”, Cappellini said. The reigning European bronze medalists scored 95.48 points and totaled 160.06.

The Shibutanis received level-fours in all their elements except the diagonal and circular step sequences which scored level-threes. “We are very happy with our performance today. It felt great to build on what we did at Skate America. We have two programs we really love, so that makes a world of difference. This has been a successful Grand Prix season for us”, said Maia Shibutani. The Shibs achieved a new season best with 94.49 points and totaled 157.58.

Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) received 94.02 points for Swan Lake and totaled 155.37. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirer (CAN) received a standing ovation for their Hitchcock performance and finished fifth with 144.07 points.

 

NHK Trophy: VOLOSOZHAR/TRANKOV, DAISKE TAKAHASHI, MAO ASADA, MERYL DAVIS/CHARLIE WHITE TAKE LEAD IN SHORT PROGRAMS

The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating made its fourth stop at the NHK Trophy in Tokyo, Japan. Headliners included 2013 World medalists: Dance: (Gold) Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA), Pairs (Gold) Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov (RUS), Men: (Bronze) Javier Fernandez (ESP), Ladies: (Bronze) Mao Asada (JPN)

PAIRS: Volosozhar/Trankov (RUS) ahead after short program…

  1. Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov (RUS) – “Masquerade Waltz”
  2. Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (CHN) – La Strada
  3. Cheng Peng/Hao Zhang (CHN) – “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”

Volosozhar/Trankov earned level-fours for the death spiral, pair spin and footwork. “Today we did a good short program, although the feeling maybe wasn’t so comfortable in the last three elements. We got a high score, and we’re happy with it”, commented Volosozhar. The World Champions scored 82.03.

Sui/ Han received level-fours for their triple twist, reverse lasso lift and step sequence. “It was a good short program for us and we did our best”, said Han. The 2010, 2011, 2012 World Junior Champions scored 70.13.

Peng/Zhang (CHN) scored a level-four for their backward Lasso Lift and the backward inside Death Spiral. Peng’s hand touched down on the throw triple loop. “We had an error today, but we are in third place and got our highest score, so we are happy with that” smiled Zhang. The 65.09 points was a personal best score.

Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) with 58.67 points just squeaked by Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir (USA) with a 58.60 score.

MEN: Daisuke Takashi (JPN) skates to lead in Men’s Short Program…

  1. Daisuke Takashi (JPN) – “Sonatino for Violin” by Mamoru Samuragochi
  2. Javier Fernandes (ESP) – Satan Takes a Holiday
  3. Nobunari Oda (JPN) – Cotton Club

Takahashi zipped off a 4Toe and 3Axel. The 3 Lutz+3Toe combination in the second half of the program received 11.61 points, just .12 less than the Quad Toe Loop. His footwork scored level- four and the spins were levels 2, 3, 4. “Today I am extremely happy with my performance and I haven’t been that happy in a while. I never expected my score to be that high. It wasn’t about the score, I wanted to regain my confidence”, said Takahashi. The 95.55 score was a new personal best for the 2010 World Champion.

Fernandez missed his 4Salchow, but received positive GOEs on his 3Axel and 3Lutz+3Toe combination. His three spins each garnered a level-four. “I had a little mistake in my quad, but I think it’s a great start for me”, commented the 2013 World bronze medalist. He scored 84.78 points.

Oda under-rotated his Quad Toe+ 3Toe at the entry to the combination. His 3Lutz received an edge call deduction. The spins were level-three and the footwork level-four. “I definitely wanted to avoid the same mistakes I made at Skate Canada. I need to correct the under-rotation and edge calls”, Oda noted. He earned 82.70 points.

Adam Rippon (USA) is a close fourth with 82.25 points. Jeremy Abbott (USA) and Max Aaron (USA) trail behind in seventh and eighth place respectively.

LADIES: Mao Asada (JPN) wins Ladies’ Short Program in home country.

  1. Mao Asada (JPN) A Nocturne by Chopin
  2. Akiko Suzuki (JPN) “Hymne a l’amour”
  3. Elena Radionova (RUS) – Anna Karenina (Two Steps from Hell)

Asada’s jumps included a shaky 3Axel, 3Flip and a 3Loop+2Loop under-rotated combination. Her spins and footwork were all level-fours. “I really focused to skate like in practice, and I think I improved from Skate America. After SA, I was able to work on my transitions and spins”, said the 2013 World bronze medalist. She scored 71.26

Suzuki also received level-fours for her spins and footwork. Her 3Flip received negative GOEs. “My Toe loop combination and Flip were not so clean, but I’m happy with my interpretation”, said the 2012 World Bronze Medalist. She scored 66.03 points.

Radionova’s (RUS) opening 3Lutz lost points when her hand touched the ice. Her 2Axel and 3Loop+3 Toe combination skated in the second half of the program scored higher because their base value was multiplied by 1.1. The level four spins and level three footwork added points. “Overall I’m pleased with my performance although not everything worked out today as planned”, explained the reigning World Junior Champion. Her routine scored 62.83 points

Gracie Gold (USA) tied Radionova with 62.83 points, but the Russian teenager had a higher technical score.

DANCE: Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) score lower than Skate America, but lead after Short Dance…

  1. Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) My Fair Lady
  2. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) 42nd Street and “Lullaby of Broadway”
  3. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) Michael Buble medley

Reigning World Champions, Davis/White danced Foxtrot, Quickstep, Foxtrot. The second part of the Finnstep and their rotational lift scored level-fours. The other technical elements were graded level three, lower marks than Skate America. “Since Skate America we’ve really grown into the presentation of this program, which is really what we were aiming for”, Davis commented. The University of Michigan students scored 73.70.

Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte skated Quickstep, Foxtrot, Quickstep and scored level-fours for their twizzles, rotational lift, and first Finnstep pattern. Lanotte lost his balance at a key point in the second section of the Finnstep resulting in a level-two. “There were a couple of mistakes; we left a few points on the ice. In general, we’re proud of our short dance”, Cappallini said. The Italian champions cored 64.58.

Shibutani/Shibutani did the Quickstep, Foxtrot, Quickstep. Their twizzles and rotational lift received level-fours. The Finn step pattern gained a level three up from level two at Skate America. “Going into this week our goal was to show improvement from Skate America. The performance felt really good; our Finnstep levels got better”, Maia Shibutani told the media. The brother/sister team scored 63.09.

Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) 61.35 and Piper Gilles/Paul Poirer (CAN) 55.20 are in fourth and fifth place.