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Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov Take Pairs Crown

Golden Dances for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir

Trophée Eric Bompard set the 2009-10 Grand Prix of Figure Skating wheels in motion yesterday in Paris, France. The first of the six events in the series provided a number of surprises.

The host nation suffered a blow winning its only medal (silver) in the ice dance competition.

THE PAIRS

It was a disappointing start to the Olympic season for two-time and reigning World champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy. After winning the short program over Russia’s Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov and Canada’s Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison, the German duo came undone in the long and ended up in third place overall.

Mukhortova and Trankov earned 66.88 points for their lyrical short program to “Appassionata” by Secret Garden. “This was our first competition of the season and it was important for us to skate a clean short program. Last season we skated good short programs, but not so good free programs,” Trankov said.

Mukhortova and Trankov delivered a near-flawless performance in their free skate to the “Love Story” soundtrack The European bronze medalists executed three difficult lifts that earned level four’s as did their spins and the death spiral. The duo scored 126.05 points for the long program and 192.93 points overall and claimed the title. It was the first Grand Prix gold medal for the St. Petersburg natives.

“We skated very well today. Our coach (Oleg Vasiliev) told us that we shouldn’t fight with anybody, we just should skate like we do in practice,” Trankov said. “We have been practicing very well the past three weeks in St. Petersburg and so we were confident that we could skate well here.”

Canada rejoiced when two-time national champions Dubé and Davison skated into second place. The duo put down a stirring performance to “Requiem for a Dream” in the short to earn 64.54 points and skated into third place. “Bryce and I are very happy with our performance. It was very important to us to have a good skate for the first competition of the season,” Dubé said. “There was a little of a stumble here and there, but overall this is our first Grand Prix event and we are very pleased with it.”

The Quebec pair kept the momentum going in the long. Skating to music from the movie “The Way We Were,” the 2008 World bronze medalists scored 116.43 points and pulled up to second with a combined total of 180.97 points.

Savchenko and Szolkowy’s short program to “Send in the Clowns,” is replete with clown costumes and make-up. The two time and reigning World Champions earned 72.98 points for their innovative performance. “This is our second competition of the season and it was better than at Nebelhorn Trophy,” Szolkowy said. “It wasn’t a 100 percent as we do it sometimes in practice, but it was still good.”

The free skate qualified as a disaster for the normally technical proficient duo. The problems began at the beginning of their program to “You’ll Never Walk Alone” when Savchenko under-rotated the second jump in the triple toe-triple toe sequence. Savchenko then slipped during the spiral sequence and Szolkowy went down on the side-by-side triple Salchow. The couple also missed the death spiral and singled the throw Salchow. They scored 101.44 for the free skate and their overall point tally of 174.42 dropped them into third.

America’s Rena Inoue and John Baldwin placed fourth with 158.36. Adeline Canac and Maximin Coia from France skated into fifth with 150.18.

LET’S DANCE!

Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir waltzed to the lead in the compulsory dance and never looked back, winning all three segments.

Virtue and Moir earned 38.41 points for the compulsory dance and held on to the lead with a strong performance in the original dance that earned 61.91 points. “Tessa and I are pretty pleased with our day. It is interesting to have the compulsory and the original dance on the same day,” Moir said.

Performing to “Adagietto” from Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony for their free dance the Canadian duo put down an exquisite performance. The romantic dance scored 97.39 points but received a two-point deduction for extended lifts. “Tessa and I are extremely pleased with our result and we’re happy with how we skated today,” Moir said. “We love the program that Marina (Zoueva) and Igor (Shpilband) have made for us, and I really think it’s going to take us to great places.”

Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat placed third in the compulsory segment but danced into second place after the original portion, with an energetic American country dance. The French Champions picked up 56.34 points. “It was difficult to skate two events in one day, especially with the Golden Waltz being a difficult dance. But I think we managed to do well in both programs today,” Bourzat said.

The French duo selected “Time” as the theme for their dance, set primarily to “Requiem for a Dream.” The couple earned 89.77 points and their combined score of 181.64 points assured them the silver.

Great Britain’s Sinead Kerr and John Kerr placed second in the compulsory portion with 54.73 points. “We are pleased to feel like we skated better than at the event we did last week (at Finlandia Trophy) in Finland,” Sinead Kerr said.

The brother and sister duo scored fell to third after the original dance. Their free dance routine to “Krwlng” by Linkin Park tells the story of a troubled man who receives guidance from a spirit. The reigning European bronze medalists scored 86.25 points and collected the bronze medal with 177.11 points.

Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates from the U.S. placed fourth place with 158.07 points ahead of teammates Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre who were sixth with 150.29 points.


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