The second-to-last Grand Prix event in Moscow had its own twists and turns.
Tomáš Verner continued his stride back to the top of his game, claiming the first Grand Prix title of his career.
The Czech star leapt from third after the short to claim gold with 230.31 points. “It is a big surprise that I took the gold and that I got my ticket to the Grand Prix Final. I didn’t expect that after all the changes I’ve made,” Verner admitted.
Canadian Patrick Chan fell on three jumping passes in his long program, and slipped from first to second with 227.21 points. “Sometimes the jumps don’t come the way you want,” he said.
Verner and Chan both qualified for the Grand Prix Final.
American Jeremy Abbott who said his training had been sporadic due to boot issues also struggled in the jumping department, placing third with 217.21 points. “Ice is slippery and sometimes we fall,” he observed.
Italy’s Samuel Contesti made a quantum leap from ninth to finish in fourth place (207.30).
For the second time in the series, Japan’s Miki Ando came from behind to claim the ladies title.
Days prior to the competition Ando collided with another skater in training and pulled a muscle in her back. Nonetheless, she recorded the highest free skating score of the series (120.07). “My back really hurts, but I just decided not to think about the pain and concentrate on each element,” said Ando, who scored 174.47 points.
Team mate Akiko Suzuki, who led after the short, skated into second with 172.74 points.
Ando and Suzuki also qualified for the Grand Prix Final. It will be Ando’s sixth trip to the final, an event she has never won.
America’s Ashley Wagner scooped the bronze with 167.02 points.
Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov captured the pairs title on home soil with a score of 182.70 points. “We are very happy to have skated well at the competition in Russia and on Yuko’s birthday,” Smirnov said. Kavaguti turned 29 on Nov. 20.
Japan’s rising stars Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran punched their ticket to the final with a second-place finish (165.47).
Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig from the U.S. scored 162.85 points and captured their first Grand Prix medal (bronze).
The dance event took a hit when three of the eight pairs withdrew
following the short dance.
Italy’s Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali, the 2010 World bronze medalists, withdrew due to Scali’s lumbago.
Back problems forced Keiffer Hubbell and his partner, Madison Hubbell, to withdraw, and a rib injury that was aggravated in practice sidelined Canada’s Alexandra Paul and partner Mitchell Islam.
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev danced away with Russia’s second gold medal at the compet-ition and qualified for the final (154.33 points). “We skated with emotion as we wanted and to captivate the audience. I think we accomplished that,” Bobrova said.
Silver went to Nora Hoffmann and Maxim Zavozin from Hungary (142.09). It was their first medal at a senior Grand Prix event. “It is an amazing feeling to be on the podium in my hometown here in Moscow,” Zavozin said.
Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov delivered the second-best free dance of the event and placed third overall with 134.79 points.
Originally published in February 2011