Cancer.Net Skate America continued Saturday in Lake Placid with the Original Dance, the Ladies Short Program, the Pairs and Men Free Skating. Cancer.Net Skate America is the fifth of six events in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series. The skaters compete for a global prize money of US $ 180, 000 per individual event of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and receive points according to their placements. The top six skaters/couples in each discipline advance to the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Tokyo, Japan, in December. Some skaters hope to assure their spot in the Final here in Lake Placid.
Ice Dance, Original Dance
The Original Dance for the 2009/10 season is the Folk/Country Dance. The couples at Cancer.Net Skate America chose a variety of dances such as Chinese, Italian, Russian, Brazilian and Moldavian dances.
Tanith Belbin/Benjamin Agosto (USA) strengthened their lead in the Original Dance ahead of Russia’s Jana Khokhlova/Sergei Novitski and Italians Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte.
Belbin/Agosto chose a Moldavian dance and gave an energetic performance that was highlighted by a straight-line lift with changes of position, fast twizzles and smooth footwork. The World silver medalists were awarded a level four for the lift, and the twizzles and a level three for the step sequences to earn a new seasons best of 60.95 points (29.90 element score/31.05 program component score). So far they have accumulated 100.23 points. “Today’s Original dance felt really good. We really had a great time out there today. We felt like we were able to improve on our performance a little bit from China. We only had a week, but we really wanted to keep the energy up a little bit higher and to make it more of a dance”, Agosto told the press.
Khokhlova/Novitski’s Russian dance to the folk song “Along the Road to Piter” featured a difficult straight line lift, but Khokhlova put her foot down in the twizzles that were graded a level one. The circular step sequence also got only a level one, while the side by side footwork was a level two. The European Champions scored 49.53 points (21.90/27.63) and were ranked fifth in the OD, but held on to second place overall at 86.47 points. “Although not everything went the way we would have liked it, it still was a positive day”, Novitski offered. “The audience was great and received us very well in spite of the errors we made and some low levels we got. We were not quite together on the twizzles and also the levels of our step sequences were rather low. We’ll watch the video replay and we’ll make some corrections”, he continued.
Cappellini/Lanotte completed a level-four straight line lift and level-four twizzles in their Italian Dance to “La Danza” and “Tarantella”. Their side by side footwork was graded a level three, while the circular was a level two. The Italians picked up 54.09 points (27.80/26.29), setting a new seasons best for themselves and were ranked second in this portion of the event. They have now 86.13 points. “We are very happy with our performance. It was very strong, very clean and the crowd was amazing”, commented Lanotte.
Alexandra Zaretski/Roman Zaretski (ISR) are currently ranked fourth at 83.83 points. They produced a nice dance to “Havah Nagila”. Kimberly Navarro/Brent Bommentre (USA) finished fifth with an entertaining Brazilian dance (81.47 points).
Pairs, Free Skating
Xue Shen/Hongbo Zhao of China continued their successful comeback this season and won their second Grand Prix event at Cancer.Net Skate America. Ukraine’s Tatiana Volosozhar/Stanislav Morozov took the silver medal while Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang of China moved up from fifth place to clinch the bronze medal.
Shen/Zhao completed a side by side triple toeloop, a triple twist, throw triple Salchow and difficult lifts in their their romantic “Adagio” routine. The couple received a level four for the spins, the spiral sequence and a level three for the rarely seen forward outside death spiral. However, Zhao stumbled badly on the second jump in the double Axel-double Axel sequence and Shen put down her hand on the throw triple loop. The husband-and-wife team collected 127.04 points (62.20 Element score/65.84 program component score), which added up to 201.40 points overall. “It wasn’t such a good performance today, because we felt tired. Some elements weren’t so good and we hope to skate better in the Grand Prix Final”, Zhao commented. “We skated our free program better at the Cup of China. We are now looking at the protocol to see what we need to improve in our elements. There is something still lacking in some elements”, he added.
Volosozhar/Morozov’s powerful program to “Pearl Harbour” included a big triple twist, throw triple loop and Salchow as well as level-four spins. The Ukrainians also picked up a level four for their impressive one-armed lifts, but Morozov struggled with the side by side jumps. He stepped out of the first jump of the triple toe-triple toe sequence and the second jump didn’t receive credit. He also doubled the side by side Salchow. Volosozhar/Morozov earned a seasons best of 110.12 points (56.40/54.72) and were ranked third in the Free Skating, but overall they remained in second place at 171.82 points. “Today we didn’t do the first two elements. Overall it was a bit difficult to skate, but after the errors on the jumps we did all the other elements very well and were rewarded for it. We’ve fought and tried to give our best, so we are quite satisfied overall”, Morozov said.
Zhang/Zhang stood in fifth place after the Short Program as she had doubled the Salchow, but they rallied back in the Free Skating. Performing to “Sheherazade”, the current World silver medalists reeled off a double Axel-triple toeloop combination, a side by side triple Salchow, high triple twist as well as a throw triple loop and Salchow. The only major glitch came in the side by side combination spin where he was off balance. Zhang/Zhang scored 111.35 points (58.47/52.88) and moved up two spots with a total score of 168.19 points. “Today I’m very happy”, a smiling Hao Zhang told the press. “Yesterday we made errors. Today wasn’t our best either. We almost didn’t sleep last night and felt tired”, he explained. The Chinese teams both said that they felt affected by the time difference of 13 hours and their 24-hours-trip from Beijing to Lake Placid.
Keauna McLaughlin/Rockne Brubaker (USA) came in fourth at 165.37 points. They completed a triple Salchow-double toe combination, a triple twist and level-four spins, but both stepped out of the double Axel and she two-footed the throw triple Salchow and loop. Amanda Evora/Mark Ladwig (USA) placed fifth. Their routine included a throw triple Lutz, a triple twist and difficult lifts and spins, but both the solo jumps were underrotated and downgraded (148.33 points).
Meagan Duhamel/Craig Buntin (CAN) withdrew during the Free Skating as Duhamel had injured her right ankle in the warm up and then took a bad fall on the throw triple loop in the program. They stood in third place following the Short Program.
Shen/Zhao got 15 points from their win and are now qualified for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final with the maximum of 30 points. Volosozhar/Morozov (13 points) and Zhang/Zhang (11 points) both collected 24 points overall and will have to wait and see if they make it to the Final.
Ladies, Short Program
Yu-Na Kim of Korea captured the Ladies Short Program and established a new record score en route. Rachael Flatt (USA) and Hungary’s Julia Sebestyen came in second and third.
World Champion Kim skated last and put out another splendid performance of her cool James Bond program. She nailed an effortless triple Lutz-triple toe combination, the triple flip and a double Axel out of a spiral move. The 19-year-old was awarded a level four for two spins and the spiral sequence and a level three for the footwork and the combination spin. She earned 76.28 points (44.00/32.28), which is not only a new personal best but a new record score as well. Kim’s old Short Program record of 76.12 points dated from the 2009 ISU World Championships. “My short program is very special to me. It makes me enjoy the competition. I was very nervous, because my short program in Paris (at the Trophée Bompard) was perfect and I felt the pressure. But as soon as my music started, I felt comfortable on the ice”, Kim said. “My footwork and the last spin were a little slow. When I saw my score, I didn’t realize at first that it was a new world record score”, she added.
Flatt risked a triple flip-triple toeloop combination right out of the gate, but fell on the second jump. The 2008 World Junior Champion recovered to land a triple Lutz, a double Axel and produced two level-four spins. Flatt earned a new seasons best of 58.80 points (33.40/26.40) for her performance to “Sing Sing Sing”. “I’m very happy about the fact that I did get credit for it (the triple-triple combination)”, Flatt explained. “It was a little bit of a slip up. I don’t remembering falling even in training. My choreographer Lori Nichol said, ‘just bounce if you have a mistake’, so this is kind of something what I’ve been taking into account. I’ve been training just to forget about it (a mistake) and move on, continue with a clean program. This is kind of what I did today.”
Skating to “Song from a Secret Garden”, Sebestyen landed a high triple Lutz-double toe combination, a double Axel and picked up a level four for her flying camel spin and the spiral sequence, while the combination spin and the footwork were graded a level three. But the 2004 European Champion got some deductions for the wrong-edge take-off of the triple flip. She received 58.54 points (32.10/26.44), setting a new seasons best for herself. “I was very happy at the end of my program, because it was one of my goals to skate a clean short program. This was better than in Moscow (at Rostelecom Cup). The jumps were the same, but the spins and the footwork were better. A clean short program was the first step for me”, Sebestyen commented.
Fumie Suguri (JPN) finished fourth at 56.05 points. She got a deduction for the wrong edge on her triple Lutz in the combination and her triple flip was downgraded, but the earned a level four for all three spins and landed the double Axel. Elena Glebova (EST) is currently ranked fifth. She hit the triple toe-triple toe combination and a triple Salchow, but the flying sit spin received no credit as the requirements were not fulfilled (52.28 points).
Men, Free Skating
Evan Lysacek (USA) skated to the gold medal in a Men’s event with a lot of movement in the standings. Shawn Sawyer of Canada pulled up from fifth to claim the silver medal and Ryan Bradley (USA) vaulted from 8th to capture the bronze medal.
Lysacek’s program to “Sheherazade” featured a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, two triple Axels (one in combination with a double toe), a triple loop, triple flip-doule toe-double loop, a triple Lutz and strong spins. He only stepped out of the triple Salchow. The reigning World Champion posted a seasons best of 158.55 points (77.55 element score/81.00 program component score) and racked up a total of 237.72 points. Lysacek won his first gold at Skate America. “My goal of this season was just to take one step forward at each event, and tonight was obviously a much better score than China and I think I had no technical deductions tonight, so that was an accomplishment for me. From a personal standpoint, I really wanted to do a good job in my home country. I’ve been to Skate America I think five times now and I have a lot of silvers and really wanted to win gold this year”, Lysacek noted.
Sawyer put out a playful routine to “Amadeus”, a medley of music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and landed a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, three more triples and showed off his flexibility in his spins that were all graded a level four. He only stumbled on a cheated triple Axel and on the back end of his double Axel-triple toe combination. The Canadian scored 137.96 points (68.86/69.10), which was a new seasons best and moved up to third with a total score of 203.91 points to take the first Grand Prix medal of his career. “This is my first medal at a Grand Prix, so I’m extremely proud of myself. I put so much passion into my training and when I come to compete and it doesn’t work out, I get really mad at myself. Today, I gave a real performance, I gave a show. My jumps were not all perfect, but they are not always perfect in practice”, Sawyer pointed out.
Bradley stood in 8th place after a faulty Short Program but made up for it with the second-best Free Skating of the night. The American also skated to a Mozart Medley from 'Amadeus' and hit a quadruple toe and a quadruple-double toe combination as well as four clean triples and had two level-four spins. He only stumbled on a triple flip and popped a Salchow. Bradley earned 138.88 points (70.38/68.50), setting a new seasons best for himself and jumped on to the podium with 198.12 points. “I’ve been out three times this year internationally and I’ve been training so hard and so well, but the first two times (competitions) were really disappointing for me. Today was just about putting everything together at the right time. It wasn’t perfect, but I’m excited to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel”, Bradley said.
Florent Amodio (FRA) slipped from second to fourth at 197.58 points, edged out by less than one point by Bradley. He hit a good triple Axel and loop, but most of his other jumps were not clean. Tomas Verner (CZE) moved up from 11th to fifth place. He fell on a quad toeloop but landed six triple jumps (194.06 points). Brandon Mroz (USA), who was ranked third in the Short Program, plummeted to 8th after several errors.
Lysacek pocketed 15 points and proceeds to the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final with 28 points. Sawyer (13) points now has 16 points and Bradley (11) got 11 points (he finished out of the points in Paris). Verner (7) has 20 points from his two events and still a chance to qualify for the Final, depending on what will happen next week at HomeSense Skate Canada.
Cancer.Net Skate America continues Sunday with the Free Dance, the Ladies Free Skating and the Exhibition Gala.