2010 Grand Prix: Skate America

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy

The young guns once again served notice to their seasoned counterparts in Portland, Ore., that the future has arrived.

For the second time in a week, Japanese skaters captured both of the singles titles.

Kanako Murakami, 16, pulled the upset of the competition by capturing the ladies title over Rachael Flatt and Carolina Kostner.

When the final results were announced, it took a few moments for Murakami to understand she had won. “I didn’t even expect to be here, so I’m surprised and shocked right now,” she said through an interpreter. The rising star earned 164.93 points and a Grand Prix Final berth.

Flatt, fourth after the short, won the free skate but placed second overall with 162.86. The reigning U.S. champ-ion received two jumping downgrades. “It was a good effort for me under the circumstances,” she said, explaining that she was recuperating from a strained a calf muscle suffered at NHK.

Kostner could not find her feet in the free skate and placed third overall with 154.87 points. Sweden’s Joshi Helgesson, a last-minute addition to the roster, skated into fourth with 146.90.

Daisuke Takahashi claimed his second gold medal of the series, but it was not his finest moment. “I couldn’t skate so well today, but my presentation was better than at the NHK Trophy,” the reigning World champion admitted. He earned 227.07 points and punched his ticket to the Grand Prix Final.

Nobunari Oda, who led after short program, skated into second with 226.09. “When I fell on the quad, I lost my concentration. I am very disappointed,” he later said.

America’s Armin Mahbanoozadeh had the skate of his life, earning a standing ovation and claiming the bronze medal, the first of his senior Grand Prix career (211.17 points).

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy mined gold in the pairs event. The German team scored 197.70 points to win the seventh Grand Prix medal of their career.

Savchenko donned a hot pink bodysuit for the duo’s “Pink Panther” free skating performance. At the post-event press conference a reporter light-heartedly asked if she planned to add a tail to her costume.

Two new teams competing on the senior Grand Prix circuit for the first time claimed the second and third steps of the podium.

Canada’s Kirsten-Moore Towers and Dylan Moscovitch proved they were not a one-hit Skate Canada wonder by claiming their second silver medal in as many weeks and earning a trip to the final. “We are thrilled to be where we are in our second season together,” Moscovitch said. The duo scored 175.48 points.

China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han twirled into third with 170.07 points. Sui and Han, who had already qual-ified for the Junior Grand Prix Final, made history by also qualifying for the senior final.

Ice dance proved to be a risky bus-iness in Portland.

Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White claimed gold with 156.68 points, but it was not an ideal competition for the experienced twizzlers. The duo crashed to the ice during a transit-ion in the free dance and were further penalized for an extended lift.

“It wasn’t our best skate ever. We had a fall and I had a mistake on the circular step, but we were really going for expression and attack,” White said.

Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier waltzed into second place with 149.08 points and earned a trip to the final.

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani from the U.S. claimed the bronze with a score of 144.81.

Originally published in February 2011