by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(6 Nov 2019) Last year, the Chinese skating federation had given back the Grand Prix (and other figure and speed skating events) to the ISU in June, saying they were technically unable to hold these competitions. But this was a diplomatic way of not willing to hold it as a protest against the ISU. After the Olympic Games of 2018, the ISU had officially banned two Chinese judges for one and two years because of biased judging in the Olympic pairs and men’s competition. The ISU also banned a short track judge. These bans were not accepted by the Chinese Ministry of Sport. The ISU asked other federations and gave this Grand Prix to the Finnish federation which organized it with a lot of success in the capital of Helsinki.
This year, the Chinese federation decided to hold their Grand Prix again, which is the fourth Grand Prix of this season. The rink in Beijing which they have usually used, however, is under renovation for the Olympic Winter Games of 2022. Therefore the federation had to find another place and decided to hold it in a new rink in Chongqing, a huge and modern city with 32 million residents. This city has a surface as large as the whole State of South Carolina in the USA. The center is situated about 1,000 miles southwest of Beijing. The competition is called Shiseido Cup of China, named after a Japanese cosmetic company which sells their products worldwide.
In the ladies event, the favorite is Anna Shcherbakova from Russia who won Skate America in Las Vegas three weeks ago and hopes to secure a spot for the Grand Prix Final. In order to reach his goal, even a third place would be enough, but she certainly is very ambitious and wants to win again. She will probably try again two quad Lutzes in her free program and maybe another quad. Another Russian lady in Chongqing, who had won the World Championships in 2015 in Shanghai and therefore certainly has good memories of China, is Elizaveta Tuktamysheva who was third at Skate America. She needs probably a better placement at the Cup of China to get a ticket to the Final in Torino. The third Russian lady is Sofia Samodurova, training mate of Tuktamysheva and China is her first Senior Grand Prix of this season.
One of two medal candidates from Asia is Japanese lady Satoko Miyahara, who had been sixth at the World Championships 2019 in her home country. She had won the "International Classics“ in Salt Lake City in September, her only international competition up to now in this season. The other candidate is Young You from South Korea who was third at Skate Canada and has a chance to qualify for the Final. She was invited in the early fall as an alternate for Mai Mihara from Japan who has an injury and has to skip the whole fall season. Three other ladies (Kailani Craine from Australia, Yuin Choi from South Korea and Amber Glenn from the USA) were invited only last week for injured or sick other skaters.
In the men’s competition, there is no clear favorite. Boyang Jin from the host country had been very successful until the Olympic Games of 2018 where he finished fourth. But he has not been very consistent since and was sixth at Skate America. Keegan Messing from Canada also can hope for a medal after placing fourth at Skate America. Keji Tanaka from Japan can still qualify for the Final if he gets a better result than the third place at Skate Canada.
Junhwan Cha from South Korea can also be expected to get a top position if he skates better than at Skate America where he was eighth. The second Chinese skater Han Yan skipped the whole last season and returns to competition now. The third Chinese skater He Zhang has not competed in any excellent events yet. Matteo Rizzo from Italy hopes to come back strongly after being unusually weak at Skate America, where he finished only sixth. Camden Pulkinen of Colorado Springs competes at his second Grand Prix after being fourth at Skate America. Conrad Orzel from Canada was invited as an alternate for U.S. skater Vincent Zhou who skipped his two Grand Prix because of his work at university. St. Petersburg skater Andrei Lazukin hopes to be stronger than at Skate Canada where is placed eighth.
In ice dance Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov from Russia will fight for the gold and Madison Chock & Evan Bates hope to be at least second. The Russians, silver medalists at Worlds, won two smaller competitions this season, skate at their first Grand Prix in this season and hope to continue as strong as last season. Chock & Bates come directly from the Grand Prix in France where they won the silver medal. If they are second again, it is probable but not sure that they reach the Final. A candidate for the bronze medal is the rising Canadian couple of Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen. Outsider chances for a medal has the second U.S. team of Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker. The two other Russian dance couples are not expected to win a medal, neither Sodfia Evdokimova & Egor Bazin nor Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin. China sends three dance teams, the best of them are Shiyue Wang & Xinyi Liu.
World Champions Wenjing Sui & Cong Han are the favorites among the eight pairs. The Cup of China is their first international competition of this season. Their countrymen Cheng Peng & Yang Jin won Skate America and hope to win silver. Several pairs might fight for the third place: Canadians Liubov Iliushechkina & Charlie Bilodeau were fifth at Skate America, Tae Ok Ryom & Ju Sik Kim from North Korea placed 11th at Worlds. Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise from Italy were not yet in very good shape at a small test competition after she had been injured for three months. Alisa Efimova & Alexander Korovin from Russia were second at the Finlandia Trophy one months ago and the U.S. team of Tarah Kayne & Danny O’Shea compete at their first Grand Prix of this season.
The level of the ladies competition was mixed. Three top skaters were very good, but there were extremely many under-rotated jumps.
Three weeks after winning Skate America, Anna Shcherbakova from the phenomenal Moscow school of Eteri Tutberidze repeated this success and also took the gold medal at the Cup of China, winning 226.04 overall points. Therefore the 15-year-old skater is qualified for the Grand Prix Final in Torino in December. Skating to the soundtrack of the German thriller “The Perfume“ from 2006, she opened her short program (73.51 points) with a good double Axel, followed by an excellent triple flip and a combination of triple Lutz (which got a deduction for a small edge mistake) and triple loop. A quad jump is not yet allowed in a ladies short program. But the ISU might change this rule at the next congress in the summer of 2020 because several female skaters (including Junior Alysa Liu from the USA) are capable of doing it. Shcherbakova‘s three spins, all level 4, were outstanding and her step sequence (level 3) very good as well. She has a charming style and got components of around 8.4. She commented in good English thanks to a private tutor at home: “The performance was good, I did all my jumps and elements, but I want more quality for all my elements. It was better (than at Skate America), because I did all elements clean. After Skate America we worked a lot on the short program, on the jumps and step sequence.“
Her two music pieces for the free program were Erik Satie’s “Gnossienne No.1“ and Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird“. She opened her program with a combination of quad Lutz and triple toe loop, but the Lutz was under-rotated. Her second quad Lutz also had a small deduction for an edge call, followed by two very good double Axels. Then she dazzled the spectators by the same quick costume change from blue to red as at Skate America, according to the “Firebird“ music which requires a red costume. Five triple jumps followed, among them two Lutzes with a small deduction, plus very good spins and steps.
“The Free program was good, but not perfect, there were some mistakes,” she said. “I am very happy that I can go to the Grand Prix Final, that was my goal. I don’t know yet what my (program) content will be, but my goal will be as always to skate clean.”
21-year-old Satoko Miyahara from Japan, sixth at the World Championships 2019 and winner of the Salt Lake City competition this September, took the silver medal with 211.18 points. The student of Mie Hamada skated with more speed and energy than in the years before, in the short to an Egyptian disco dance which French choreographer Benoit Richaud prepared with her. Her first element was a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, but the toe loop was under-rotated. The double Axel was very good, but the triple loop also under-rotated. Two of her spins were very good, the steps as well, and the layback spin even outstanding. Her components were around 8.8. She said: “It was not my best, but I enjoyed skating. I wanted to challenge a new style (in the short program) and it is still a tough program for me. I need to work on the step sequence and the last part of the program. But the dancing part is really fun for me.”
She began her free skating with three very good elements: a double Axel, a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop as well as a triple loop. After a good triple Salchow she under-rotated three more triples in the second half of the program. Her spins and steps were outstanding, she even got a few GOEs of +5 for them. She skated to the soundtrack of “Schindler’s List“ by John Williams and to Sergei Rakhmaninov’s famous “Prelude in C sharp minor“ which is often used to underline dramatic performances. Her components were around 9.0, much higher than Shcherbakova’s. Although being third in the free program, she could keep her second overall place. She explained: “Today I felt my body very good, better than yesterday. But I was still trying too hard at the end of the program. My next Grand Prix is in Russia next week. This is the first time for me to do two Grand Prix in a row and I am excited about that, but also need to take care of my body.”
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva from the school of Alexei Mishin in St. Petersburg won the bronze medal with 209.10 points after performing the fourth best short and the second best free program. In the short to a drumming song by “Florence and the Machine“, the 22-year-old skater fell on the triple Axel and added only a double toe loop to the triple flip of her combination. Her triple Lutz, the spins and steps were very good, but she was a bit slow. Her components were around 8.0. In the free program however, she landed a very good triple Axel, combined with a double toe loop, and another good triple Axel, followed by four excellent other triple jumps. She only stepped out of a triple Lutz. Her spins were good, the steps excellent. She had chosen the music pieces of “You Don't Love Me“ by Caro Emerald, “Petite Fleur“ by The Hot Sardines and “Cat Groove“ by Parov Stelar and her components had an average of 8.3. Later she said: “I feel much better today than yesterday and I’m happy with my skate. I have only a small chance to go to the Grand Prix Final. Maybe I will go to the (Golden Spin) Challenger event in Zagreb instead.”
Having been nominated as alternate for Japanese skater Mai Mihara, Young You from South Korea placed fourth, earning 191.81 points. In her short, she was only seventh after falling on the triple Axel and on the triple flip. In the free, however, she could move up three spots because of three good and three under-rotated triple jumps, she only fell again on the triple Axel. The reigning European Champion Sofia Samodurova from Russia finished on fifth position, earning 185.29 points. Her short program was almost faultless with a combination of triple flip and (under-rotated) triple toe loop, a good triple loop and a very good double Axel. In the free program, five triples were good, but three jumps under-rotated and she had relatively low components of 7.7.
Amber Glenn of Euless, Texas, was a last-minute alternate for Gabrielle Daleman from Canada who has new health problems after Skate Canada. After a flawless short program with a good combination of triple flip and triple toe loop, a very good double Axel, a good triple loop, level 4 spins and steps and a speedy skating style to “Scars“ by U.S. singer Madilyn Bailey, Glenn was even third with 67.69 points. She said: “I felt I had a pretty good skate considering I found out five days before I was leaving I was coming here. I had a great time, I felt really good out there. It’s a great opportunity.” But in the free skate to “Gravity“ by U.S. singer Sarah Bareilles, she dropped to sixth place, earning 178.35 points. Three triple jumps were good, but three others under-rotated and she singled the triple Lutz, but again, she did not fall.
Marin Honda from Japan, student of Rafael Arutunian, sits seventh with 168.09 points. In her opening combination the triple toe loop after the triple loop was under-rotated. She fell on the under-rotated triple flip, but the other five elements of her short program were good. In her free program, only two triple jumps were good, three others under-rotated. She fell twice and stepped out of one more jump and singled the first Axel. Yi Christy Leung from Hongkong is on eighth position with 157.47 points. All her four jumps in her short program were under-rotated. In the free, two triples were good, but three under-rotated and she popped her Axel.
Hongyi Chen from China finished on ninth place with 155.12 points. In her short program, she fell on the triple Lutz and her triple flip was under-rotated. After a good combination of two triple toe loops in the free program, five jumps were downgraded or under-rotated, only a triple loop was good. Kailani Craine from Australia, a last-minute alternate for Kazakh skater Elizabet Tursynbaeva, took tenth place, winning 149.83 points. She mainly trains in the Toyota Center in El Segundo near the airport of Los Angeles with Tiffany Chin. In her short program, the double Axel and the triple loop were good, but her triple Lutz under-rotated and she could add only a single toe loop. In her long program, the loop was the only clean triple jump, five others had deductions.
The second Chinese skater Yi Zhu is eleventh with 139.63 points. In the short program, her triple loop and her triple Salchow were clean, but not very high, her double Axel under-rotated. In her free program, two triple loops were clean, but she fell on the triple toe loop and popped two more jumps. Yujin Choi from South Korea came as a last-minute alternate for Viveca Lindfors from Finland. She ended up 12th with 131.48 points. In the short program she doubled the loop after performing a relatively clean combination of triple flip and double toe loop. None of her jumps in the free program was clean.
The men‘s competition of the Cup of China, which was held in the “Huaxi Culture and Sport Center“ of the huge, but in North America quite unknown city of Chongqing, had a mixed level. Like usual, there were many mistakes on jumps.
Boyang Jin from the home country, who had won bronze medals at the World Championships in 2016 and 2017, took gold with 261.53 points after being only sixth at his first Grand Prix at Skate America three weeks.ago. Therefore his chances to reach the final are small, but not totally impossible. In China the 22-year-old skater with golden blades was more consistent. In the short program to “First Light“ by English musician Spencer Jones, he crashed on the quad Lutz, but later added a combination of quad toe loop and double toe loop, which was a bit shaky. He also performed a very good triple Axel and a fast step sequence with predominantly GOEs of +3, two excellent spins and a slower one. His components were around 8.1, which was a bit too high, and he collected 85.43 points and was second. Later he explained: “I had too much power going into my first jump, I lost control and fell. Overall I felt very positive, but I did not quite show my training level today.”
He began his free program to “Path of Silence“ and “Yellow Moon“ with a very good quad Lutz followed by a good combination of quad toe loop and double toe loop, but doubled the next toe loop which was planned quad again. His two triple Axels and four more triple jumps were impressive, his three level 4 spins good and his step sequences as well. He did not fall at all. His components had an average of 8.4 which was again a bit too high again because he does not interpret much throughout the program. “My performance was OK, but still not as good as I have been training,” Jin commented. “Last year there was no Cup of China and I am very happy that the event came back. The main colour of the rink is red, like the spicy colour of Chongqing and that motivated me a lot.”
The silver medal for his 23-year-old teammate Han Yan from the Northern Chinese city of Harbin with 249.45 points was a little surprise. He had taken a break of more than a year from skating after bad Olympic Games in 2018 where he finished only 23rd. This Cup of China was his first international competition again. He won the short program with 86.46 points after performing no quad, but a good triple Axel, an excellent combination of triple flip and triple toeloop plus a good triple Lutz. His music was “A Thousand Years“ by U.S. songwriter and singer Christina Perri. Lori Nichol had been in China to choreograph his and other programs of Chinese skaters. He commented: “I am just very happy to be here. I said I wanted to come back, and I wanted to fulfil my promise. The short program was not perfect, there were some small mistakes, but it was exciting for me to perform in competition again and I enjoyed the welcome of the spectators and the judges.”
In the free program to the soundtrack of La La Land,which was choreographed by Yuka Sato, he had seven clean or even very good triple jumps, among them an outstanding combination of triple Axel and triple toe loop. Only the second flip was not completely correct. His components were around 8.6. He said: “I want to thank the Chinese team that they gave me the chance to come back. My performance was normal, but I didn’t have the highest degree of difficulty. I am a bit surprised that I can be on the podium with triple jumps. I came here like a rookie skater.”
The bronze medal winner Matteo Rizzo from Italy, sixth at Skate Canada, had 241.88 total points. His first elements in the short program to “Start a Fire“ by John Legend were very good: a quad toe loop and a triple Axel. But later he fell on the triple Lutz and could not add a second jump for his combination. “It is great to be back in China, it is already the second time for me this season, “ he said referring to his gold medal at the Shanghai Trophy in early October. “As for my performance today, obviously I am not happy with what I’ve done. I made a huge mistake. But I’m happy with the beginning of the program, it was quite strong.“
In the flamenco free program, which Shae-Lynn Bourne had choreographed, his quad toe loop, the first triple Axel and three more triples were convincing, but he fell on the second triple Axel and both triple Lutzes got a small edge call. His components were around 8.2. “It was like yesterday – I had a good start and then a huge mistake in the second half of the program,“ he said. “I need to go home and practice a lot the second part of my short and free programs.”
Keegan Messing from Canada finished on fourth place, winning 237.36 points after being fifth in the short program. Skating there to British songwriter Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect“, he fell on the opening quad toe loop and performed his Axel for safety reasons only double. His combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop was O.K., two spins good, the third one outstanding and his components around 8.3. In his free program to “November Rain“ by the U.S. hardrock band "Guns n‘ Roses“, his first elements were an excellent triple Lutz (which is planned quadruple later in the season), a quad toe loop which was not a hundred per cent clean and a good combination of triple Axel and double toe loop. Later he almost fell on a combination of triple Axel and double toe loop, but added an excellent combination of triple Salchow and triple toe loop and fell on the second triple Axel. The quality of his spins was high.
Teiji Tanaka from Japan came fifth with 233.62 points after being seventh in the short program. Skating to “Hip Hip Chin, Chin“ by the German band "Club des Belugas“, he began his short with a good triple Axel, followed by a shaky combination of triple toe loop and double toe loop. His triple Lutz was good, his spins soso. His opening jump in his free program to the soundtrack of “Sherlock Holmes“ was a good combination of quad Salchow and double toe loop, followed by a triple Salchow and an excellent combination of triple Axel and triple toe loop. Later he fell on the quad toe loop which was under-rotated.
Junhwan Cha from South Korea sits six with 222.26 points. He still has not regained the stability of the past. In the short program he had two fall deductions for the quad Salchow and for the triple Axel, both of which were also under-rotated. The other elements were good and his components around 7.5, lower than one and two years ago. In the free program he could move up from 11th to sixth place in spite of stepping out of a quad Salchow and a triple loop and under-rotating four jumps.
Brendan Kerry from Australia finished on seventh position, earning 220.31 points. He was coached in China by Torontonian Lee Barkell, but said his main coach will remain Nikolai Morozov. In the short he stepped out of the quad toe loop. His combination was only a triple Lutz and a double toe loop, but his triple Axel very good. In the free, he had a good quad toe loop and two triple Axel, but he doubled the Salchow.
Camden Pulkinen of Colorado Springs placed eighth with 218.67 points. Although he missed the quad toe loop in the short, he placed fourth there because of an excellent triple Axel and a clean combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. But in the first minute of the free program he tripled the toe loop which was planned quadruple, fell on the triple Axel and doubled the loop. He Zhang from China finished on ninth place with 217.42 points after being sixth in a clean short program with four triple jumps. Due to only four clean triple jumps in the free he dropped.
Andrei Lazukun from Russia is tenth with 210.01 points. He is still far away from the good shape he had at Worlds 2019 where he finished tenth. Only three triples and none of the two quad jumps were clean. Conrad Orzel from Canada placed 11th with 192.60 points. His short had a quad toe loop, a quad Salchow and a triple Axel, all of them a bit shaky, but he did not fall. In the long however, he more or less missed four jumps. Chih-I Zhao from Chinese Taipeh ended up 12th with 186.82 points in his very first Grand Prix. After a good triple Axel in the short, he missed the two other jumping elements. In the free program, he had five clean triples, but low components.
The pair skating competition at the 2019 Cup of China in Chongqing had a relatively low level, with the exception of the gold medal winners. In the short program, six of the eight pairs missed the individual jump, and in the free there were many mistakes on these elements again. This has rarely happened at a Grand Prix, if at all.
To the delight of the home crowd in Chongqing the favorites and World Champions Wenjing Sui & Cong Han won the pairs competition easily and collected 228.37 overall points. They were 12 points ahead in the short program (80.90 points). Skating to "Blues Deluxe“, performed by U.S. singer and composer Joe Bonamassa, they opened with a good side by side triple toe loop, followed by an excellent triple throw flip and an outstanding triple twist with level 4. The step sequence was stellar as well, the required Backward Inward Death Spiral very good (level 3), the combination spin and the Reverse Lasso Lift as well. Their flow was excellent and their interpretation very emotional. Their components had an average of 9.1 with some 9.75 as highest ones. They train with former Olympic Gold medalist Hongbo Zhao. Lori Nichol from Toronto, who travelled to China more than once this year and was with them in Chongqing, made their choreography (and the programs of several other Chinese skaters). Han explained: “It was a good performance, we skated like we do in training. This is our first competition of the season and we were a bit tight. That affected the quality of some of the elements.”
In the smooth and elegant free program to “Rain, In Your Black Eyes“ by Ezio Bosso they proved their class again, winning with a distance of more than 28 points to the rest of the field. After an outstanding triple twist, their combination of triple toe loop and double toe loop had a very good harmony. The triple throw Salchow was huge receiving five GOEs of +5 and the triple throw flip even had seven GOEs of +5. The three lifts were excellent as well. Their only mistake came when Han doubled the side by side Salchow which Sui tripled. Their components were around 9.5, with two 10.0 from the Japanese judge. Han said: “The Salchow was not so consistent after my injury, but when we came here it was at 90 percent in practice. I think I lost concentration and therefore made a mistake. We have now one week before our next event, the NHK Trophy and I think it is important to organize our training in this time. Our choreographer Lori Nichol will come with us to Beijing and we’ll mainly work on the short program.”
Their teammates Cheng Peng & Yan Jin, who were first at Skate America three weeks before and fourth at the World Championships 2019, won the silver medal with 199.97 points and are qualified for the Grand Prix Final. Skating to “Alegria“ by the Cirque du Soleil, they began their short program with the side by side triple toe loop, but Peng fell on the under-rotated jump. Their triple twist was very good, the triple throw loop outstanding, four other elements good and the spin a bit wobbly. Jin said: “Except for the mistake on the jump we are quite pleased and I feel we have improved the performance aspect since our last Grand Prix. My partner got injured at Skate America and we have not practiced the jumps much.”
In their free program they used the soundtrack of “Cloud Atlas“, which came out in 2012. After a double Salchow which both skaters performed intentionally, due to their problems with this jump, Jin almost fell and stepped out of the triple toe loop and Pang stumbled as well. The twist, throws and lifts were excellent and their components around 8.5. “We had some problems at Skate America and Cup of China in our programs with the solo jumps and the throw jumps“, Jin commented. “The quality was not so good. We also need more speed in the second half. These are the things we want to work on before the Final.”
Liubov Ilyushechkina & Charlie Bilodeau from Canada won their first Grand Prix medal, a bronze with 190.73 points after being fifth at Skate Canada two weeks before. They opened their short program to “My Funny Valentine“ by Michael Buble with a good triple twist, but Iliushechkina landed the side by side triple toe loop forward and stumbled. Therefore they had only .67 points for this element. The other elements were good, the Axel Lasso Lift even excellent. Their components had an average of 7.9. “We really like the feeling we’ve developed for this short program and it was quite stable. There were some mistakes, but we got our lucky 68 (score), and it was a season’s best,” Ilyushechkina said.
In their free program, they used the song “Je voudrais voir la mer“ (I would like to see the ocean) by Quebec composer and singer Michel Rivard. After a good triple twist, Ilyushechkina stumbled on the double toe loop (under-rotated) after the triple toe loop and later stepped out of the triple Salchow. Later she also stepped out of the triple throw flip and went down on the triple throw loop. Their lifts, however, were good, including an innovative one during which she makes a handstand on his hands. Bilodeau said: “It means a lot to us to have won a medal in only our second Grand Prix together. It shows that it was a good decision to come back and to skate together. We have been skating together only for eight months. When we get home, we’ll work on many things to continue the season with good programs and to improve,”
Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise from Italy, who had been in the Grand Prix Final last year, finished fourth with 182.88 points. Della Monica suffered from a shoulder injury all summer and they started carefully practising only in mid-September. Therefore they were not yet in very good shape. In their short program to “Crazy in Love“ by U.S. pop singer Beyonce, they both fell on the side by side triple Salchow and therefore had two points of deduction. The other six elements were good and their components had an average of 7.9.
In their free program they use “Pilgrims on a Long Journey“ by Canadian singer Coeur de Pirate and “Saturn“ by the Indie Rockband “Sleeping at Last“. Guarise stepped out of the opening side by side triple Salchow. Their twist was very good, but Della Monica touched down on the triple throw loop and later went down on the triple throw Salchow. Their jump combination was only double toe loop and double toe loop, but the lifts and spin were excellent.
Ta Ok Ryom & Ju Sik Kim from North Korea landed in fifth position, winning 179.55 points. They had been eighth in the short program to “We Will Never Forget“ by Om Ha Jin (which reminds of the 9/11 attack) because Ryom fell on the side by side triple toe loop which was downgraded because she landed forward. The triple twist and the triple throw Lutz were good, the Axel Lasso lift as well, but the step sequence had only a level1. Their components were around 7.4. In the free to “Fly High, Doves“ by Choe Hong Nam they could move up three spots. Their twist and combination of one triple toe loop and two double toe loops were good, the lifts and the triple throw Lutz as well. Ryom’s double Axel was landed forward and downgraded. Kim seemed to have injured his shoulder, because at the end he rubbed it in pain.
Tarah Kayne & Danny O’Shea of Colorado Springs finished on sixth position, earning 178.79 points. Their twist in the short program was not landed correctly, but they had a clean side by side triple Salchow. Four other elements were good, but the spin got only a basic level. They skaterd to the Evergreen “Sweet Dreams“ from 1983. In their long program to the French musical “Les Miserables“, they opened with a relatively clean triple twist, followed by a combination of one triple Salchow and two double toe loops. But these two jumps were downgraded because Kayne did not land them backwards. Later she went down on the triple throw Lutz, but most other elements were good.
Feiyao Tang & Yongchao Yang from China are seventh with 172.53 points. Tang fell on the triple toe loop in the short, the other elements were relatively good. In the free, they bumped into each other after a shaky triple toe loop and Tang missed the double Axel. The other elements were clean, but they had no convincing presentation. Alisa Efimova & Alexander Korovin from Russia ended up on eighth and last place with 170.19 points, an unusual placement for a Russian pair. They are coached by Olympic Champion Oleg Vasiliev. Their only mistake in the short came when Efimova fell on the triple Salchow. But in the free program, she fell on the triple toe loop, again on the triple Salchow and again before the triple throw loop.
Ice Dance Event
The ice dance competition at the 2019 Cup of China had a good level. There was only one fall. No less than six and a half of the ten couples came from the Ice Academy of Montreal (IAM), and landed on the positions 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 10, and doing choreography on 9.
The expected gold medal winners are Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov from Russia who had taken silver at the 2019 World Championships in Saitama, Japan. In Chongqing they collected 209.90 overall points. Their five elements in the Rhythm Dance were excellent, twizzles and lift had the usual level 4 and the other three a level 3. GOEs of +4 dominated and their components were around 9.4 with one perfect 10.0 for composition from the Russian judge. They danced to a Quickstep and a Foxtrot from the film musical “Singing in the Rain“ from 1952 and were more than five points ahead of the rest of the field. Katsalapov commented: “We’re happy with our skating today, but as always there is lot of space to improve the dance. Indeed, we were missing competitions a lot, we had a quite big break, almost a month and we’ve worked very hard and trained every day and we couldn’t wait to come here and show what we’ve worked on.”
In their free dance they interpreted "I Giorni“ (The Days) by Ludovico Einaudi (from 2002) and "Songs My Mother Taught me“ by Antonin Dvorak (from 1880). Five of the six level elements got a level 4, the One Foot Step Sequence a level 3 for her and 4 for him. The Serpentine Step Sequence had a level 3 and the curve lift was longer than seven seconds. But all elements were executed in an outstanding manner and had many GOEs of +4 and some +5. Their components had an average of 9.4, with one 10.0 again for interpretation from the Russian judge. All together they had four points less in the free dance than Chock & Bates. “We are not pleased with our performance today, not everything worked out. It was hard, but we fought to the end and were together,” Katsalapov commented. “We hope that next week (at Rostelecom Cup) we’ll put out the kind of performance that we’ve been training.”
Madison Chock & Evan Bates, who train in Montreal, won a close silver medal with 208.55 points, one week after their first second place in France. Therefore they have probably reached the Final, but it is not 100 per cent sure yet. After having to skip last year’s Grand Prix due to a long rehabilitation period after her ankle surgery, they were very happy to be back in the circuit. They danced to a Quickstep and a Blues from "Too Darn Hot“ from “Kiss me Kate“ in high speed. The levels were mixed: The Finnstep sequence had only a level 1, the diagonal step sequence a level 3. The GOEs for all elements were mainly +3, the components around 9.1. “We performed our program very well, the best so far I’d say, in our competitions. There are some technical things that we need to go back and check on when we get home,” Chock commented.
The next day they performed the best free dance of the competition, performing an entertaining Egyptian snake dance to three Middle Eastern music pieces. She portrays a snake and he is a dehydrated traveler in the desert who does not know at first if she is a Fata Morgana or real. All elements were outstanding, four of them had a level 4, including both parts of the lift combination which some couples do instead of two short lifts. The One Foot Step Sequence and the Circular Step Sequence had a level 3. Four elements had a few GOEs of +5, the big majority were GOEs of +4. The components were around 9.4, with one perfect 10.0 for composition from the German judge. Bates explained: "We skated really well today, we’re super happy with how things went. We felt like we’re growing and building on each performance.” Chock added: “I actually found that back-to-back Grand Prix were beneficial. It’s easy to stay in competition mode. You really stay focused and in the right headspace.“
The new Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorenson from IAM and tenth at Worlds in Japan, won 190.74 points for their second bronze medal after the first one at Skate America. This is likely not enough for the Grand Prix Final, but they have to wait and see. They had good levels in the Rhythm Dance to Blues, Slowfox and Quickstep from the film musical "Bonnie and Clyde“. GOEs of +3 dominated and the components had an average of 8.6. “It is our first time at Cup of China and it was very nice to break the ice with the short dance we love to do,” Fournier Beaudry said. “It was our first Grand Prix medal at Skate America and we were extremely excited. I think it really opened some doors, some new possibilities for us and brought us more together. We want to skate as well as we can in this competition and I think we did our job today.”
In their free dance, they used “Summertime“ by Chris Botti and the two songs "Georgia on My Mind“ and "Cry Me a River“ by Michael Buble. GOEs of +3 dominated again, only the One Foot Sequence was not ideal and the components were around 8.6. Sorenson said: “I think our performance today is a testimony to our training. I injured my (right) knee last week and had to spend the week off the ice. We’re really happy we ended up in third place with good skates.”
Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu from China, also train in the IAM and were 15th at Worlds, finished fourth with 186.45 points. In their Rhythm Dance, they interpreted two pieces by Christopher Curtis‘ musical “Chaplin“ and one piece of the soundtrack from Charles Chapin‘s film “Modern Times“. The levels were very good and GOEs of +2 and +3 dominated, the components were around 8.0. In their classical free dance to “Swan Lake“, they had quite good levels, GOEs of mainly +3 and components of around 8.2.
Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker, ninth at Worlds 2019, finished on fifth place in China, earning 179.96 points. After being fourth at Skate Canada two weeks before, this might be their second little deception because three couples (British, Canadian and Chinese) who were behind them at Worlds, were ahead now at their Grand Prix. In their Rhythm Dance, they interpreted two pieces by the British Pop Group Bee Gees and a bit of other disco pieces. Their levels were relatively low, but the GOEs mainly +2 and +3 and the components around 8.5. In their free dance to a Flamenco version of Beethoven’s famous Fifth Symphony and a Caprice, both performed by Polish guitarist Marcin Patrzalek, some levels were good, but the spin had only a basic level and the one foot step sequence had a level 1 (for the lady) and 2 for the man. This was costful.
Sofia Evdokimova & Egor Bazin from Russia placed sixth with 169.27 points. In their Rhythm Dance they used a Blues and a Quickstep from the film musical “42nd Street“. Their levels were relatively low (Finnstep and Midline levels 1, Partial Sequence level 2) and their components around 7.4. In the free dance to the soundtrack of “Schindler’s List“ and to "La Terre vue du Ciel“ (The Earth seen from the Sky), their levels were better and they could move up one spot. The third Russian couple of Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin train in the Moscow dance school of Svetlana Alexeeva and Elena Kustarova and placed seventh with 169.24 points, just three hundredth less than their teammates. Skoptcova & Aleshin had relatively good levels in the Rhythm dance to “Bonnie and Clyde“, but their GOEs were mainly +2 and +1 and the components had an average of 7.5. Their free dance to “Never Tear Us Apart“ from the soundtrack of “50 Shades Freed“ had relatively good levels, but the execution was only good and Skoptcova fell for a second in the choreo step sequence right in front of the referee.
Hong Chen & Zhuoming Sun from China, also students of Dubreuil, Lauzon and Haguenauer, are on eighth place, earning 162.91 points. Lately they have made remarkable progress in Montreal. In their free dance they interprete “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now“ by U.S. singer Meat Loaf.
The third Chinese couple Yuzhu Guo & Pengkun Zhao, which trains mainly in Harbin in China, finished on ninth place with 150.91 points. But Pascal Denis from IAM did their choreography. They danced in the free to “One Thousand Years“ by Christina Perri and to “Dance for me Wallis“ (from the W:E: soundtrack) by Abel Korzeniowski.
Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto skate for Japan and are also from the Montreal school. But they mainly train and live in Japan now in order to get Japanese citizenship for Koleto, who is American and married with Komatsubara, until the next Olympic Games in 2022. They ended up tenth with 145.35 points, performing in the free dance to the Irish music “River Dance“ and “Lord of the Dance“.
Gold Medallists: Anna Shcherbakova, Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov, Wenjing Sui & Cong Han, Boyang Jin