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Skate America Day 2: Takahashi is Golden

Meissner, Ando and Zhang in 1-2-3 After SP

Japan’s Daisuke Takahasi held on to win the gold medal at Skate America in Reading, PA. last night at the Sovereign Center. The Japanese star fell twice in his long program but he still walked away golden, thanks to the huge lead he built up in the short program.

Reigning U.S. champion Evan Lysacek claimed silver and Canadian Patrick Chan of Canada earned the bronze, his first Grand Prix medal as a senior.

Reigning Canadian pairs champions Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davidson pulled off a major upset yesterday by defeating the 2006 World champions Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China, who had to settle for silver. Vera Bararova and Yuri Larionov of Russia were third.

In the ladies, 2006 World champion Kimmie Meissner took first place in the short program, followed by 2007 World champion Miki Ando. 2007 World junior champion Caroline Zhang opened her first season as a senior successfully, finishing third in that portion of the event.

THE MEN’S COMPETITION

Overnight leader Takahashi skated last as the skaters competed in the reverse order of the short program result. The reigning World silver medalist opened his routine to “Romeo and Juliet” by Peter Tchaikovski with a quadruple toe loop, but then had to overcome a fall on the triple Axel. He recovered to hit a triple loop, triple Axel-double toe loop, triple flip-triple toe loop, a triple Salchow and another triple flip, but he missed his triple Lutz.

Takahashi also completed fast paced footwork to earn 148.93 points (74.83 element score/76.10 program component score), but he had some difficulties with his spins. He was ranked second in the free skating but overall remained in first place with a total of 228.97 points. “I am happy with the result, but I am not so happy with my performance,” Takahashi said.

Putting out a dramatic performance to “Tosca” by Giacomo Puccini, Lysacek went for the quadruple toe loop right out of the gate but he two-footed the jump. The two-time (2005-06) World bronze medalist then nailed a triple Axel and six more triple jumps, including another triple Axel (in combination with double toe) and a triple flip-triple toe loop combination. He received a level four for three of his four spins and scored 152.38 points (78.58/73.80) for a total of 220.08.

Lysacek won the free skating portion but remained in second place overall. “I was coming into it (the free skating) with quite a large deficit so I wasn’t really looking at the win per se, I just wanted to continue to fight and to make the whole event a success overall, which I think it was,” Lysacek explained. “Debuting two new programs here was a kind of first for me in quite a while.”

Chan, 16, delivered a solid performance to “Four Seasons” that featured a triple Axle, a triple flip-triple toe loop combination as well as four more triples and two level-four spins. His only major error came when he fell on the last jump, a triple flip. The 2007 World junior silver medalist was awarded 145.86 points (76.36/70.50) and accumulated a total score of 213.33 points. “Coming to Skate America being the first Grand Prix I definitely wanted to make a good impression. I trained really hard,” he said. “I wanted to make sure to be ready, and the results showed. … Overall the program was excellent.”

Takahashi pocketed 15 points and returns to the Grand Prix Series in Japan for the NHK Trophy in December. Lysacek collected 13 points. His next event is the Cup of China. Chan has 11 points and will compete at the Trophee Bompard in Paris, France in three weeks.

THE PAIRS EVENT

Dubé and Davison’s romantic program to “The Blower’s Daughter” included a double twist, a double Axel-double Axel sequence, difficult lifts with changes of positions, a big throw triple Salchow as well as a level four side-by-side combination spin. Dubé fell on an attempted throw triple loop and doubled the couple’s side-by-side Salchows.

The reigning Canadian champions received 112.46 points (57.38 element score/56.08 program component score) and accumulated a total score of 173.26 points. “To beat our personal best was our goal and win or no win, we achieved our goal,” Davison said.

Skating to the “Romeo and Juliet” soundtrack by Nino Rota, Pang and Tong landed side-by-side triple toe loops, a high triple twist, a throw triple Salchow and a difficult Axel lasso lift that was graded a level four.

The Chinese pairs team also had some mistakes that cost them dearly. Tong singled their planned side-by-side double Axel and she went down on the throw triple loop. She also singled the toe loop in (in combination with the Axel). Their pair combination spin received no level as the skaters didn’t hold any of the positions for the minimum of two revolutions. The Chinese scored 104.87 points and an overall competition mark of 165.19 point.

Bazarova and Larionov’s routine featured a triple twist, a throw triple flip, a double Axel-double Axel sequence as well as strong lifts and two level-four spins. Their only major error came when Bazarova touched down with her hand on the landing of the throw triple loop. The 2007 World junior champions posted a score of 102.82 (55.30/47.52) and took the bronze medal with a total of 159.58 points.

“We are very happy with our performance and with today’s result. It is really good for us, considering that this is our very first senior level competition,” the 14-year-old pair skater said.

Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig (USA) came in fourth. They produced beautiful lifts, a triple twist and a throw triple loop, but she missed the throw triple Lutz, and the side-by- side triple Salchow was under-rotated (140.40 points).

Dubé and Davison now have 15 points for the Grand Prix Standings and will compete again next week at Skate Canada in Quebec City. Pang and Tong have 13 points and are scheduled for the Cup of China in Harbin in two weeks. Bazarova and Larionov don’t have a second Grand Prix assignment and will return to junior competition for the rest of the season.

THE LADIES SHORT PROGRAM

Meissner opened her routine to “Passion” by Peter Gabriel with a spiral sequence followed by a triple flip and triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, but the second jump was under-rotated and downgraded. She also hit the double Axel and got a level three for her flying sit spin and a level three for the combination spin. Meissner was awarded 59.24 points (30.40/28.84).

“My performance was pretty good, especially considering (it was) the first time out (with a new program). I have a lot of things to work on. It was a pretty solid start to this competition and to the season,” Meissner said. “I’m just going in (to the program) to do what I can do.”

Skating to “Samson and Dalilah” by Camille Saint-Saens, Ando landed a triple Lutz-double loop, a triple flip and a double Axel but then fell on her straight line footwork. Her flying sit spin was graded a level three, but the only earned a level one for her layback spin. Ando felt handicapped in her spins by a shoulder injury, which was visibly wrapped in practice where she seemed to have no trouble landing her jumps. The 19-year-old Japanese star scored 56.58 points (30.10/27.48).

“My jumps today were not so good, and I was not fully trained, but I started feeling better and better today,” Ando explained.

Zhang was the audience darling at this event. The audience gave the 14-year-old a standing ovation when she completed her “Spanish Gypsy” program, which contained a triple Lutz, a double Axel and beautiful spins. She opened the program by attempting a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, but under-rotated the first jump. The 14-year-old young American scored 56.48 points (30.20/26.28). “I felt my program was pretty good. It could have been better in terms of holding (the positions in) my spins, but overall I think it was good, “she said.

Emily Hughes (USA) is currently ranked fourth at 47.66 points. Both her triple flip and triple Lutz were not landed backwards and subsequently downgraded. Mai Asada (JPN) finished fourth (46.82 points).

ICE DANCE

Yesterday’s competition at the Sovereign Center started with the Original Dance. The original dance of the 2007-208 season is the folk/country dance. The couples chose a wide variety of different dances from North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

World bronze medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto of the United States strengthened their lead ahead of Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France and Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy.

Belbin and Agosto put out an entertaining western dance to “Appalachean Hoedown” and “Country Waltz” that featured a dance combination spin, a curve lift and a rotational lift with changes of position for her. The waltz section was highlighted by the circular footwork. Belbin and Agosto were awarded a level four for all their elements in the dance. The reigning Olympic silver medalists scored 59.24 points (31.50/27.74) for the original dance and so far have 95.27 points.

“We tried to find as many videos of hoedowns and square dancing which is actually much harder than you think,” Agosto said. “As we were digging into it, we found it was almost an evolution of folk dance where you have immigrants coming from all over the world to the U.S. throughout history and they are bringing their own folk dancing and it melds together so you have a lot of Polish Polka, Clogging from Ireland, so it’s very interesting to look back at the American Folk Dance and see where it’s come from.”

Pechala and Bourzat opted for a Spanish Flamenco. The French received 56.95 points (29.90/27.05) and remained in second place with 91.51 points. “We really like the Flamenco and we did a very clean performance today,” Pechala said.

Faiella and Scali produced a very characteristic dance from southern Italy. They earned a level four for all their elements but for the circular step sequence (level three) and scored 54.56 points (29.90/24.66). They stand in third place at 85.99 points. “We did a great job today and we are very happy with our skate,” Scali said.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA) moved up from fifth to fourth place with a Russian Folk Dance to “Kalinka” (83.00 points). Kristin Fraser and Igor Lukanin (AZE), who chose a Russian Gypsy Dance are not far behind at 82.42 points.

Skate America concludes Sunday with the free dance, the ladies free skating and the Exhibition Gala.


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