Regina / Canada

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Canada’s two-time World Champions Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford soared to gold with an impressive performance as the competition at Skate Canada International concluded Saturday with the Pairs Free Skating. World silver medalists Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot, of Germany, took the silver medal while France’s Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres earned the bronze.

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Duhamel/Radford put out a dynamic and technically demanding program to ‘Samson and Delilah’ and ‘Uprising’ by Muse that was highlighted by a triple twist, side-by-side triple Lutz, quadruple throw Salchow and difficult lifts. When the pair hit their final pose, the crowd at Regina’s Brandt Center erupted in cheers and rose for a standing ovation. The Canadian Champions scored a season’s best of 148.69 points and totaled 222.22 points. “We felt really good when we came into the rink tonight to perform,” Duhamel said. “We have been training the long program so well, so we had a lot of confidence in the mileage that we had put into that Free Program over the last few weeks at home.

“It’s really great for us to have that great skate here in Canada, because we’re not going to have the opportunity to perform here at home many more times. We have just our Nationals left. So to be able to have that moment one more time in Canada is a special memory for us.”

Savchenko/Massot’s exquisite program to ‘La Terre Vue du Ciel’ featured a huge triple twist, a throw triple Salchow and throw double Axel as well as impressive lifts and unique transitions. However, Massot struggled with the solo jumps, popping the side-by-side Salchow into a single and landing forward on a triple toeloop. The Germans were ranked third in the Free Skating with 138.32 points, a season’s best, and remained in second place overall at 215.66 points. “We were really well prepared for the long program, but some jumps were not working. We will keep on working but overall I am very positive,” Savchenko said. Massot added: “I was pretty secure on my jumps the past few weeks, but competition is like this. We have to control the stress and the pressure.”

Skating to ‘Say Something’ and ‘Sense of Freedom’ James/Cipres delivered, hitting a triple twist, triple toe-double toe-double toe combination, triple Salchow and throw triple Lutz. James two-footed only the throw quadruple Salchow. The French Champions earned 141.33 points for their Free Skating which gave them 214.37 points overall. “We are very happy with the result, this is our first Grand Prix podium outside France,” Cipres said. “I think it was a great battle this week between the Germans, the Canadians and us. We still have a lot of stuff to work on and we want to keep going like this and see what is going to happen.”

Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert (RUS) remained in fourth place with 192.70 points. Cheng Peng/Yang Jin (CHN) moved up from seventh to fifth (182.50 points) and Liubov Ilyushechkina/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) finished sixth (176.35 points).

Skate Canada International concludes Sunday with the Exhibition Gala and 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. The series continues next week with the Audi Cup of China in Beijing.

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