World Championship silver medalists Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot, of Germany, skated into the lead in the Pairs Short Program as the first competition day at Skate Canada International concluded. Canada’s two-time World Champions Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford and Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres, of France, the 2017 European bronze medalists, are almost tied in second and third place, respectively.
Savchenko/Massot’s crisp flamenco routine to ‘Ameksa - Fuego’ featured a huge triple twist, side by side triple Salchow and a spectacular level-four lift. However, Savchenko stumbled on landing from the throw triple Axel. The pair, who are also European championship silver medalists, achieved a season’s best with 77.34 points. “It is still the beginning of the season, so there were small mistakes,” Massot said. “But I think it is a good start. We just have to work more. This season we have worked a lot on the throw triple Axel and it was very good already. We’ll keep working and one day we’ll do it,” Savchenko added.
Skating to U2’s ‘With Or Without You’, Duhamel/Radford produced a triple twist and throw triple Lutz, but Duhamel doubled the side-by-side solo Lutz jump. The 2017 Four Continents silver medalists scored 73.53 points. “We felt really good out there, we love this short program,” Duhamel said. “I’m really disappointed in my stupid mistake, but I will do a beautiful triple Lutz tomorrow. 90 percent of the focus in our training before this competition has been on our long program after our disastrous skate at Autumn Classics. Our main focus for this competition was to deliver a strong long program, so that’s what we’re going for tomorrow.”
James/Cipres put on a sultry blues program to ‘Make It Rain’ by Ed Sheeran, landing a triple twist, side-by-side triple Salchow and throw triple Lutz to earn 73.04 points. “It is the first big competition, so we made some little mistakes, but we are happy with it,” Cipres told the press. “It is everybody’s goal to do a clean program, whether you are five points behind or 0.5. Everybody wants to win,” James said when asked about the strategy heading into the long program.
Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert (RUS) placed fourth with a clean program and 69.00 points. 2017 Four Continents bronze medalists Liubov Ilyushechkina/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) finished fifth (64.06 points) followed by Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) on 63.26 points.
Skate Canada International is the second of six events in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series. The top six skaters/couples in each discipline qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya (JPN) in December. The global prize money for the Grand Prix is US$272,000.
Full entry lists and results of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2017/18 are available here. Follow the discussion on social media by using #GPFigure #FigureSkating.