The 2018 edition of Skate America drew to a close on a typically foggy day in Everett. While the weather may have been chilly outside, the ice dancers and the ladies heated things up in the arena with some great skating for early in the season.
Japan’s Satoko Miyahara captured her second consecutive title today, ahead of her teammate Kaori Sakamoto who claimed silver and bronze medalist Sofia Samodurova of Russia.
Miyahara was poised and confident throughout her Astor Piazzolla Tango program, nary making a sound with her blades on the ice. She landed seven triples in all, including an easy triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, but it was the component scores that propelled Miyahara to the title. She scored 145.85 points for her efforts, and a competition total of 219.71.
“I’m very happy to skate very clean today, but I was a little bit nervous so I would like to be more confident at the next competition,” said Miyahara. “I was really nervous until the very, very end because I have jumps until the end. But when I landed the last flip, I was very happy.
“I am focusing on each competition to do my best — on each year to do my best. This way is the same as the last four years. I just try to do my best.”
Sakamoto also landed seven triple jumps in her program set to “The Piano” soundtrack. She actually outscored Miyahara on the technical component score by 0.41 points. Despite world-class edgework and perhaps the softest knees in the competition, Sakamoto had to settle for silver behind her more experienced teammate.
She earned 142.61 points for the free and 213.90 overall — both just a hair off her career best. “I was very satisfied with the performance today, and this will definitely bring me encouragement for the future,” Sakamoto said.
Rounding out the podium was Russia’s Sofia Samodurova, who flirted her way through her program to the “Burlesque” soundtrack. The 16-year-old from Krasnoyarsk, who trains with Alexei Mishin in St. Petersburg, captured the bronze medal in only her third competition at the senior level. Like the gold and silver medalists, Samodurova landed seven triple jumps in her frees kate, earning a career-high 134.29 points. Her competition total of 198.70 is also a new personal best.
“I am so happy that I could skate clean today,” said the bronze medalist. “Obviously my coach is very happy, and I am very happy, too. It was a pleasure to skate today.”
Samodurova, who finished in 11th place at the 2018 Russian national championships, was emotional when her scores came up and realized she would be on the podium. “I was shocked because it was my debut (on the Grand Prix),” she said. “I think that (the Russian championships) are the most difficult competition, but I am more confident this season so I hope that I do better this year.”
Bradie Tennell of the U.S. moved up from fifth to finish just off the podium in fourth —place with 192.89 points. Tennell suffered from under-rotations on three of her seven triple jumps, which squashed her hopes of winning her second Grand Prix medal in as many years.
Laurene Lecavelier of France had a solid outing in the free and moved up from seventh to finish in fifth place with 172.41 points.
The ice dancers were the first to take the ice on Sunday, less than 12 hours after the rhythm dance competition ended late last night.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were the clear winners of the competition. From the moment they took the ice, skating to the painfully romantic soundtrack from the 1996 film “Romeo + Juliet,” they transformed into the lovesick characters from Shakespeare’s work of art. And somehow, Hubbell and Donohue told the story as if it was being shared with us for the first time.
“When I watched Clare Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio, it wasn’t like I thought ‘Aw, they are such cute little kids’ … they had created quite a lust for each other,” Hubbell explained. “I think that there have been a million beautiful Romeo and Juliet interpretations, but I feel that there is something special that Zach and I can bring to this piece with the raw emotion and intensity that goes into this music we love.”
Though the performance was top notch, the U.S. champions still have some work to do on the technical side. Hubbell earned a Level 3on the straight-line steps while Donohue managed a Level 2. Additionally, their stationary lift received just a Level 3.“We’re satisfied with how we skated our free today,” Donohue said. “As strong as it was, there are still some points to be found — actually, I know where they are, I just have to perform the elements. So this program still has a long way to go with mistakes like that, but the reaction we received is really reaffirming.”
Hubbell and Donohue earned a career best 122.39 points for their free dance, and now hold the season best total score of 200.82 points in the ISU Standings.
Finishing in second place were Italy’s Charlène Guinard and Marco Fabbri, who earned the first Grand Prix medal of their long career. Skating a romantic and playful routine to music from the soundtrack “La La Land,” the Italians were silky smooth throughout.
“For us this is a great reward. When we started skating together, we started from zero basically because I was a singles skater before and only had a little bit of experience with another partner,” Fabbri said. “Charlene didn’t have really any international experience when we started, so we are really proud of what we achieved from starting at zero.”
The silver medalists were almost on par with Hubbell and Donohue on the technical mark, but faded a little in the program components portion. They earned 117.29 points for the free dance and 192.30 overall.
“We felt much better than yesterday even if our legs were a bit more tired,” Fabbri said. “We ‘re happy with our performance, but there is still room to grow on some elements. It was a good performance for us today.”
Russia’s Tiffany Zagorski and Jonathan Guerreiro held off a charge by up-and-coming U.S. team of Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, to take the final step on the podium by less than one point. “Our main goal for our first competition was to show our new style,” Zagorski said. “Hopefully for our next competition we can add on to what we did today.”
Skating a provocative program to “Blues for Klook” by Eddie Louis, Russian duo was happy to get through the program, one of just a few full run-throughs they have been able to complete since coming back from injury. They earned 108.08 points in the free dance and claimed the bronze medal with 181.38.
“We didn’t really know what was going to happen today,” Guerreiro admitted. “We haven’t really had that many run-throughs, so we were just kind of praying that things would go well today. We didn’t fall, which is good, and overall I think that it was a good start.”
McNamara and Carpenter, third in the free dance, had to settle for fourth place overall. They earned a career best score of 180.57 points. Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson finished in fifth place with 170.70 points.