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Chan and Rochette Golden in Paris

Canadians ruled the singles events at Trophée Eric Bompard, which concluded Saturday in Paris. Joannie Rochette and Patrick Chan each won their second titles in the series and guaranteed themselves spots in the Grand Prix Final.

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany skated to the gold in the pairs competition while France’s Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder danced their way to the top of the ice dance podium

THE MEN'S LONG PROGRAM

While Chan of Canada claimed victory in the men’s event, Takahiko Kozuka of Japan took the silver medal and France’s Alban Préaubert captured the bronze.

Brian Joubert finished off the podium in fourth place.

Chan earned 156.70 points (79.80 element score/76.90 program component score), surpassing his previous personal best of 145.86 points significantly. He won the title with a total score of 238.09 points, which was also a personal best total score for him (his previous personal best was 215.45 points).

The Canadian won Skate Canada two weeks ago. “I’m happy with how I skated even though I made two mistakes,” Chan said. “It’s a big jump from the long program I did at Skate Canada. It’s a big difference. I felt much better performance-wise and really good on the ice. I didn’t feel too loose or too tight. The personal best is just icing on the cake.”

Skating to a "Cello Sonata" and "Piano Concerto No. 2" by Sergei Rachmaninov, Chan hit a triple Axel, triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a triple Lutz, a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop combination and two double Axels.The 17-year-old stepped out of his second triple Axel and the triple Salchow.

Chan's spins and footwork were superb. The three spins and the circular steps were graded a level four, while the straight line steps earned a level three.

Kozuka gave a strong performance as well. His routine to “Romeo and Juliet” by Nino Rota featured a triple Axel-triple toe loop combination, a triple flip, triple Salchow-double toe loop, a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop, a triple loop as well as triple Axel and a triple Lutz in the last minute of the routine. However, he fell on a quad toe loop attempt.

His flying sit spin and flying combination spin were awarded a level four, while his combination spin and footwork earned a level three.

The 19-year-old scored 153.78 points (82.68/72.10) and improved his previous personal best score of 146.08 points. Overall he racked up 230.78 points. “I made a mistake on the quad toe loop. I fell and it was downgraded, so it was zero points, but after that I recovered very well, similar to Skate America,” said Kozuka who won the gold medal in Everett, Wash.

Préaubert turned in an entertaining performance to the popular Russian folk songs “Kalinka” and the “Volga Boatmen. “I’m proud to be back in top shape. I was sad that I couldn’t compete at Worlds. I couldn’t skate for one month, and I couldn’t do jumps for two months. I didn’t waste my time and I worked with the Lyon ice dancing team,” he said, referring to his back injury that forced him to withdraw from the World Championships in March.

Préaubert reeled off a slightly two-footed quadruple toe loop, a triple Axel-triple toe loop, triple flip-double toe loop, another triple Axel, triple Lutz, loop, triple flip-double toe-double loop as well as a triple Salchow.

The Frenchman earned a level four for his three spins and a level three for the step sequences to receive 149.20 points (81.30/67.90), setting a personal best. Overall he compiled a mark of 222.44 points, and Préaubert moved up from fourth after the short program to third place overall.

“I’m very happy with my performance, [and] like at the National Masters I did two clean programs,” Préaubert said.

Joubert (FRA) slipped from third to fourth and was edged out by Préaubert by just 1.31 points. Joubert landed two triple Axels and a quadruple toe loop but did a three turn out of it. The 2008 World silver medalist fell on a triple loop, and this error cost him the medal as he compiled an overall score of 221.13 points.

Brandon Mroz (USA) finished fifth (189.46 points) and Peter Liebers (GER) placed sixth (176.88).

Kozuka earned 13 points in Paris and also earned a spot in the final for the first time with 28 points. Préaubert has 11 points and will compete again next week in Moscow at the Cup of Russia.

LADIES FREE SKATE

Rochette of Canada won the ladies event ahead of Japan’s Mao Asada and Caroline Zhang (USA), who placed second and third, respectively. “I’m pleased, although it wasn’t perfect,” Rochette said. “My goal here was to be able to go on the ice and not feeling any nervousness. I was able to be relaxed.”

Rochette delivered a solid performance of her program to “Concierto de Aranjuez,” completing a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop combination, a triple flip, triple Lutz, triple toe-triple Salchow sequence and another triple Salchow at the end of the program. The only major error came when she popped a loop.

The four-time Canadian champion was awarded a level four for her flying sit spin and the change foot upright spin and a level three for the straight line step sequence.

Rochette earned 121.19 points (60.87/60.32) and racked up a total score of 180.73 to upset Asada, the 2008 World champion, and to take her second gold medal on the Grand Prix circuit this season. “There were a couple of things, like landing ... I couldn’t do all my exits and entries (from and into jumps), but overall I thought I gave a good fight and I stayed in the program,” Rochette said. “I didn’t take my time, and I didn’t have the rhythm."

Skating to “Waltz Masquerade” by Aram Khatchaturian, Asada went for a rare triple Axel, but two-footed the jump and she doubled the following loop jump.

“Today’s performance was far from my 100 percent and for the next competition I’d like to do better,” Asada said. “The triple Axel is my weapon. To do a triple Axel in competition, I need concentration and energy. I [will] keep training and later in the season I hope I can do better.”

The Japanese star went on to hit a triple flip-double loop-double loop and a triple toe, but missed a Salchow and did a triple flip-single loop combination instead of the planned triple-triple. Asada’s three spins were graded a level four and her footwork a level three. The World and Four Continents champion scored 109.47 points (51.59/58.88) and had 167.59 points overall.

Zhang opened her program to “Sleeping Beauty” by Peter Tchaikovski with a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, but both jumps were cheated and downgraded.

Zhang rallied to land a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, but the judges gave her minus degree of execution for the take-off from the wrong edge. After that, Zhang had no further problems with her jumps and hit four clean triples. She also performed excellent spins that were all graded a level four.

“I was happy with how I skated,” she said. “I think it was a lot better than the short program. I could do all my jumps. I think that the flip-toe could have been better, but other than that I think I got most of the levels I wanted and I just want to improve on the program component score.”

Candice Didier (FRA) finished fourth with 135.25 points. She landed four triple jumps. Beatrisa Liang was ranked fifth (134.29 points).

Asada has 13 points and is scheduled to compete again in her home event NHK Trophy. Zhang earned 11 points in Paris and now has 18 overall.

PAIRS FREE SKATE

Savchenko and Szolkowy of Germany won their second Grand Prix title of the season. They also won gold at Skate America. “There is a lot of room left for improvement and luckily this isn’t yet the end of the season, ” Szolkowy commented as the duo had several mistakes in their free skate.

Russia’s Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov captured the silver medal and Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin earned the bronze.

Overnight leaders Savchenko and Szolkowy skated last and opened their lyrical routine to “Schindler’s List” and “Adagio” with a side-by-side triple toe loop-triple toe loop sequence, followed by a triple twist and an excellent triple Salchow.

Their difficult lifts were graded a level four as was their pair combination spin. Their side-by-side spins, death spiral and circular footwork were graded a level three.

The 2008 World champions struggled with their throws. Savchenko fell on the throw triple flip and the throw Salchow turned into a single.

Despite their problems, the Germans picked up a season-best score of 120.32 points (60.20 element score/61.12 program component score) and accumulated a total of 188.50 points to win their second Grand Prix event of the season.

“A couple of people came to us and told us that it wasn’t so bad as we felt it was. Indeed, it wasn’t so bad; otherwise we wouldn’t have had more points than at Skate America. But again we missed the throw Salchow and we made a mistake on the throw flip.”

Skating to “The Lady and the Hooligan” by Dmitri Shostakovitch, Mukhortova and Trankov landed a triple twist, a side-by-side triple toe-double toe combination, a throw triple Salchow and strong lifts, but she went down on the triple Salchow attempt and touched down with both hands on the throw triple loop.

The Russians earned a level four for their spins and lifts and a level three for their footwork and death spiral. They scored 106.03 points (53.03/54.00). They were ranked third in the free skating but remained in second place overall with 170.87 points.

“We are not very satisfied with the performance, but this program is getting better with each competition and it was a lot better here than it was at Skate America,” Mukhortova said. “It’s difficult to skate this program, but we still have time before the European and World Championships. The program has difficult elements and difficult choreography, which we have to show to the judges and the audience.”

Dumahel and Buntin opened their powerful program to “Tosca” with a side-by-side triple toe-triple toe sequence and an Axel Lasso, but Duhamel doubled the side-by-side Salchow while he did a triple but stepped out of it.

Then, while skating side by side, Duhamel kicked her partner in the right hand with her blade and Buntin suffered a laceration. The wound started to bleed heavily and the couple had to interrupt the performance at 1.28 minutes into it.

Buntin used a medical break to have his hand bandaged, and then the Canadians continued their program, encouraged by the crowd in the Palais Omnisports, as if nothing had happened.

Dumahel and Buntin nailed the double twist, which was awarded a rare level four, a throw triple loop and Lutz. The couple also got a level four for their spins and the death spiral. They got a deduction of two points for the interruption and earned 107.97 points (58.37/51.60).

They were ranked second in the free skating and third overall with a total score of 166.63 points. “Craig and I just went off pattern after the Salchow. We both made different mistakes, so we took a different turn on the exit, and unfortunately I just happened to kick him with my heel or toepick. It was a pretty scary moment, but at that time we knew we’re going to keep going and Craig just told me ‘I’m not in pain,'” Duhamel said.

Buntin later received stitches on his hand.

Reigning World junior bronze medalists Huibo Dong and Yiming Wu (CHN) finished fourth at 140.58 points. The produced a side by side triple toe loop-double toe loop combination and two triple throws, but he fell on the side-by-side triple Salchow. Tiffany Vise and Derek Trent (USA) were fifth (140.00 points) and Adeline Canac and Maximin Coia (FRA) came in sixth (135.64 points).

Savchenko and Szolkowy have now qualified with the maximum of 30 points for the Grand Prix Final. Mukhortova andTrankov have 24 points and will have to wait and see if that is enough to get them to Korea. Duhamel and Buntin have 20 points from their two events.

ICE DANCE RESULTS

France’s Isabelle Delobel/Olivier Schoenfelder danced to the gold medal in the last event of the day with Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy and Sinead Kerr and John Kerr (GBR) coming in second and third, respectively.

Delobel and Schoenfelder skated to “The Great Gig in the Sky” by Pink Floyd and completed innovative lifts such as a rotational lift in which he first held his partner high and then lowered her almost to ice level and a curve-rotational lift with changes of position.

However, both their circular and midline step sequences were graded only a level two. The 2008 World champions received 91.60 points (43.50 element score/48.10 program component score), which is a season-best for them. Overall they accumulated 184.81 points and won their second gold medal on the Grand Prix circuit this year.

“It was hard to skate today after yesterday. We wanted to save the competition and wanted to show that we are ready to fight again for the World title,” Schoenfelder told the press. “The step sequences are not ready yet, maybe we have to change something and we have to skate cleaner. The way we built is it OK, and we just have to work and it will be good for the Grand Prix Final.”

Faiella and Scali’s romantic dance to “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven included intricate footwork sequences that were both graded a level four as well as well synchronized twizzles and a level-four combination spin. The Italian champions also were awarded a level four for three of their lifts.

They collected 89.33 points (44.30/45.03) for this performance and earned a total score of 179.58 points.

“We are very happy about our performance tonight. The hard thing about our free dance is to get into it and to skate it with feelings and strong emotions. The free dance we are doing is about Pierrot, who is in love with the moon. That’s the reason why we chose Moonlight Sonata for that program,” Scali said. “This is our first silver medal on the Grand Prix. Our next competition is in Japan and we won to win there, of course.”

The Kerrs gave a strong performance with their intense dance to “Ruled by Secrecy” by Muse that featured a straight line-curve lift with her in a handstand, a straight line lift and a rotational lift that were awarded a level four. The brother-and-sister team also produced smooth step sequences, both of which earned a level three. The couple earned 89.12 points (44.60/44.52) and took their second Grand Prix medal with 176.96 points overall.

“I think we felt like we performed our routine better than at Skate America or Finlandia (Trophy). It has developed and grown and just become better and better. I think one of the important things for us today was just to feel a connection between each other and coach told us not just to think about the elements, but just to go out and skate the routine and feel the music and show how much our skating has developed this season,” Sinead Kerr said.

World junior silver medalists Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier (CAN) came in fourth with a charming routine the named “The Perfect Day.” The couple achieved the highest technical score with 45.20 points and accumulated a total score of 171.49 points.

Pernelle Carron and Matthieu Jost (FRA) finished fifth (166.84 points). They skated to “Butterflies and Hurricanes” by Muse. Kristin Fraser and Igor Lukanin (AZE) were ranked sixth with a new arrangement of “Spartacus” with lyrics (158.53 points).

Delobel and Schoenfelder earned 15 points and have qualified for the Grand Prix Final in Korea with the maximum of 30 points. Faiella and Scali picked up 13 points and will compete again in two weeks at the NHK Trophy. The Kerrs collected 22 points from the two Grand Prix events.


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