Sergei Voronov of Russia might have been the oldest man in the competition but he was the strongest and claimed the first Grand Prix gold medal of his long career. USA’s Adam Rippon pulled up from fourth to earn the silver and Israel’s Alexei Bychenko took home the bronze. Voronov, 30, Rippon, who turned 28 today and Bychenko, 29, completed a podium of experienced competitors.
Voronov put out an emotional and powerful performance to 'Sarabande Suite', nailing a quad-triple toe, two big triple Axels as well as three more triple jumps and solid spins and footwork. The only glitch came when he two-footed his second quad toe. The crowd rose to give the Muscovite a standing ovation and his face lit up with a big smile. The two-time European medallist set a new personal best with 181.06 points in the Free Skating and racked up 271.12 points overall.
“Right now, I just feel tiredness," Voronov said. "Without any doubts, I am happy to have won this competition. There were some questions today in practice, and it was not easy, but when I stepped on to the ice, thanks to the support of the crowd, I was able to pull myself together and skate almost without any mistake.”
Rippon under-rotated his opening quad Lutz in his ‘Bird Program’ to ‘Arrival of the Birds’ and ‘O’, then went on to hit eight triple jumps including two Axels. His spins and footwork all merited a level four. The American picked up a season’s best of 177.04 points and accumulated 261.99 points overall.
“First, this competition means a lot to me, because 10 months ago I was lying in bed, wearing a cast, with a broken foot. From that moment to this moment, it feels great to have skated so well tonight in my first Grand Prix of the season in the Olympic year,” Rippon said. “Second, I think it is really cool that the three oldest guys in the competition are on the podium. I’d also like to point out that I am the youngest one.”
Skating to the opera 'Pagliacci', Bychenko completed a quad toe and four clean triples, but stepped out of the back end of his quad toe-triple toe combo and a triple Axel. He still managed a season’s best of 166.55 points for 252.07 overall and claimed the second Grand Prix medal of his career.
“It was not my best today, I made a few big mistakes, like popping a jump, and I almost fell on another jump," he said. "But I started the season late and for my second competition it was not so bad. It was a good experience and we know what we have to work on.”
Voronov and Rippon will meet again in two weeks at Bridgestone Skate America, the last event of the series where they can fight for a spot in the Grand Prix Final. Bychenko will travel directly to Grenoble for his second Grand Prix Internationaux de France.
Jason Brown (USA) fell on both his triple Axels and slipped from third to fourth on 245.95 points. Keegan Messing (CAN) came fifth with 235.80 points and Deniss Vasiljevs (LAT) ranked sixth (234.80 points).
Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) had dropped out on Friday before the Short Program due to injury.
The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series consists of six events and culminates in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya, Japan, in December. The top six skaters/couples in each discipline qualify for the final. 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.