Hilton HHonors Skate America concluded Sunday in Ontario, California with the Pairs and Ladies Free Skating. Skate America was the first of six events of the 2011/2012 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series.

Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER) strike Pairs gold
Germany's Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy surged from fifth after the Short Program to strike gold in the Pairs event at Hilton HHonors Skate America on Sunday. Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang of China claimed the silver and Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch took the bronze medal.
Performing to the Pina soundtrack, Savchenko/Szolkowy produced a big throw triple flip and Salchow as well as double Axels and difficult lifts. The only glitch in the otherwise smooth program came when Szolkowy doubled the first jump in the triple toe-triple toe sequence. The Germans scored 124.53 points and accumulated 183.98 points overall. Today's performance was quite ok. We tried to skate like in practice. This is our first competition this year. We're not as far as other teams in competition, but we showed in the end that yesterday was a result of trying new things. We are still working, Szolkowy explained.
Zhang/Zhang's routine to Totentanz by Franz Liszt included a triple toe-double toe-double toe combination, a throw triple loop and a triple twist, but she doubled the Salchow and stepped out of the throw triple Salchow. The three-time World silver medalists were ranked third in the Free Skating with 115.81 points and slipped to second overall at 178.66 points. I think today's performance was quite good, especially considering that we only a short time to prepare. We had three run throughs of the program. My endurance is still lacking so we can improve, Hao Zhang commented.
Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch turned in a solid program to the Henry V soundtrack that was highlighted by a triple toe-triple toe sequence, a throw triple loop and level-four lifts. The Canadians earned 117.83 points to move up one spot from fourth at 177.43 points. We are thrilled to be here. I find that competing with such established teams pushes us and shows us what the future holds and how we can push. We are still building in our third year, Moore-Towers told the press.

Caydee Denney/John Coughlin (USA) dropped from second to fourth at 175.40 points and Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov slipped from third to fifth (173.94 points).

Alissa Czisny (USA) claims Ladies title
Alissa Czisny (USA) edged out Italy's Carolina Kostner for the Ladies title at Hilton HHonors Skate America Sunday. Viktoria Helgesson of Sweden earned the bronze, the first Grand Prix medal for her country.
Czisny landed three triples and showed excellent spins in her routine to Valse Triste, but struggled with some jumps. She was second in the Free Skating with 113.28 points but overall held on to first place with 177.48 points, just 0.13 points ahead of Kostner.
That wasn't my best out there. I tried to fight for everything. Some went well, some didn't. It's the first competition of the season so I can build upon that performance, Czisny noted. It's always an honor to come here and represent the United States. To win here was special. I have been here on the podium but never on top, she continued.
Skating to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Concerto No. 21, Kostner hit four clean triples but the two last spins were only a level one. The three-time European Champion won the Free Skating portion with 117.12 points and totaled 177.48 points.
I was very surprised that it went so well since it was my first competition, I didn't expect it. I'm usually a roller coaster at the beginning of the season. This gives me confidence and I need to work on the jumps and go step by step and have a good feeling, the Italian skater said.
Helgesson's program to Sunset Boulevard included a triple loop, triple toe-double toe-double loop combination and two level-four spins. The Swede merited 94.62 points to move up from fifth to third at 145.75 points. It's a really big thing for me. I'm really, really happy to be here. I have improved my programs a lot from last season. I think that was what made me come this far, the 23-year-old commented.

The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating continues next week with Skate Canada International in Mississauga, Ontario.