by Alexandra Stevenson
|12||Paul Bonifacio PARKINSON||ITA||58.93||12|
|1||Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Maxim TRANKOV||RUS||196.55||1||1|
|2||Caydee DENNEY / John COUGHLIN||USA||178.90||2||2|
|3||Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES||FRA||151.52||3||4|
|4||Gretchen DONLAN / Andrew SPEROFF||USA||145.35||6||3|
|5||Daria POPOVA / Bruno MASSOT||FRA||132.68||5||5|
|6||Danielle MONTALBANO / Evgeni KRASNOPOLSKI||ISR||110.31||8||6|
|7||Ronja ROLL / Gustav FORSGREN||SWE||94.48||9||7|
|WD||Vera BAZAROVA / Yuri LARIONOV||RUS|
|WD||Mari VARTMANN / Aaron VAN CLEAVE||GER|
|1||Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI||GER||59.58||1|
|2||Madison CHOCK / Evan BATES||USA||56.97||2|
|3||Julia ZLOBINA / Alexei SITNIKOV||AZE||56.95||3|
|4||Ksenia MONKO / Kirill KHALIAVIN||RUS||54.92||4|
|5||Alexandra PAUL / Mitchell ISLAM||CAN||54.50||5|
|6||Siobhan HEEKIN-CANEDY / Dmitri DUN||UKR||54.44||6|
|7||Kharis RALPH / Asher HILL||CAN||53.79||7|
|8||Lucie MYSLIVECKOVA / Neil BROWN||CZE||47.73||8|
|9||Ramona ELSENER / Florian ROOST||SUI||46.62||9|
|10||Charlotte AIKEN / Josh WHIDBORNE||GBR||46.12||10|
|11||Sara HURTADO / Adria DIAZ||ESP||45.68||11|
|12||Federica BERNARDI / Christopher MIOR||ITA||43.90||12|
|13||Allison REED / Vasili ROGOV||ISR||42.54||13|
|14||Emi HIRAI / Marien DE LA ASUNCION||JPN||41.82||14|
|15||Zsuzsanna NAGY / Mate FEJES||HUN||41.73||15|
The recipients of the gold medals in the first event completed in the 44th running of the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany spoke out Friday, decrying the changes in the sport being rushed into effect. U.S. Champions Caydee Denney & John Coughlin placed second to take the silver and Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres, who represent France took home the bronze in the pairs event.
Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov, Russia, who have been runners-up for the world title for the past two years, won gold here in Oberstdorf for the second straight year. Trankov said he believes the continual changes the International Skating Union enforces are too radical and dangerous, and that too many pairs leave the sport because of injury. He continues to compete, winning today (Friday) by 17.65 points overall although he admitted they made too many mistakes in the Short Program. After leaving the ice after their Free Skate, he was nursing his left knee.
This year, two of the nine pairs entered in the Nebelhorn Trophy pairs division dropped out during the event due to injury. The Russians who were fifth and sixth in the last two World Championships, Vera Bazarov & Yuri Larionov, withdrew after an uncharacteristically poor showing in the initial round. Apparently, she now has an on-going problem with her right hip, due to a number of falls. The other couple to withdraw, Mari Vartimann, who is a 23-year-old Army soldier, and her partner, Aaron van Cleave, who represent the host country, Germany, were forced out after she slashed the back of one of her skating blades into her other foot while falling from a throw move in the Short Program in Oberstdorf.
The falls can be pretty spectacular in pair skating in which among the required moves are “throws” where the man literally throws his female partner away from him. He has little control over her landing. Current U.S. Champions Caydee Denney & John Coughlin, who earned silver (a slot up from the bronze they earned the previous year in their first international event together) excel in these spectacular moves. On Friday, one of the nine judges forming the panel awarded them a +3, the highest possible Grade of Execution for their throw triple loop.
The bronze medalists, Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres, who represent France, stayed above the U.S. second ranked pair, Grechan Donlan & Andrew Speroff, mainly because the Americans lost too much ground in the Short Program. James, who was born in Canada and brought up in the United States, won the British Ladies singles title but then sought more excitement, teaming up with a French man.
“I love doing thows,” says James. They are so spectacular but you do fall. I had an injury on one recently and had to have a week off. And they are very hard to learn. I do agree with Maxim that the sport is getting more dangerous. The International Skating Union wants us to keep developing the sport so it keeps pressing us to try more and more complicated moves.”
Trankov, who has competed in pair skating for many years, says he doesn’t mind change. “But I don’t think they should be pushing the technical requirements all the time. In skating we try to skate beautifully to entertain the audience but falls aren’t entertaining. There is one Czech couple now out of the sport because his accident was so bad -- he had injuries all over.”
A radical new system of judging figure skating was instigated following the scandal in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. A Technical Panel determines the level of difficulty of a move while the Judges decide how well the move was done. To win, skaters have to add difficulty to get extra marks, so everyone is striving to show something new and difficult, which is often something they haven’t completely mastered. There are far more falls than there used to be. Although the added difficulty has made it easier to reward innovation and ability, sometimes a thing of beauty is not a complex move, but just a flowing movement done with great line.
Trankov agrees. “We used to do wonderful lifts with great speed charging over the ice with the girl high above your head. Now that isn’t enough. Now we have to add extra features to get higher levels. We have to slow down the rotation and then turn the other way. And we have to get her into different positions above our heads so it definitely is getting more dangerous because the center of gravity changes. I don’t think that is pretty. It certainly is harder."
“I would like to see more stress on the beauty. I’m sure that’s what the audience wants to see, not someone struggling upside down to get legs in complete splits,” he added.
Canadian pairs have won this event 14 times since the Trophy was instigated in 1969. However, this time there were no entries from that country. Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada High Performance Director, who was the team leader this year, explained, “We’ve had a lot of break-ups so we’ve had less skaters to assign this season.”
Oda Unbeatable; Menshov Annoyed; Carriere Disappointed, Beats Messing in Free but is Only Able to Climb to Fourth
1.Overall 233.33 1.FS 153.69 (75.25+78.44) Nobunari Oda dominated the Free Skate to win gold late Friday night, outclassing the field of 28 competitors from 18 countries. Despite leading in both the short and the long, Oda expressed dissappointment.
“I’m not happy with my performance, especially the free,” said Oda, 25, who won both sections of the 44th Nebelhorn Trophy, scoring a total of 233.33. His overall lead of 20.39 points over Konstantin Menshov, Russia, who was second in both sections, comprised 10.56 gained in the initial round and 10.64 in the Free Skate.
So why was the 5’5” Oda so displeased with a showing which put him well above the rest of the field? He said, “I’m not satisfied with my performance. I made many mistakes. It’s almost a year since I competed. I want better marks. I’m very happy to come back on the ice but I must do better. I was very sleepy this morning and my body didn’t work well so that’s why I didn’t try the two quads. I did try them in the six minute warm-up. I’m going to compete in Skate Canada and Cup of Russia and I want to do better there.”
In his Free Skate, to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Oda immediately showed his superiority with a +1.57 quad toe loop, a +0.60 combination of two triple toe loops, a +1.14 triple Axel, +0.30 triple Lutz and +1.0 triple Axel to double toe. His flying sit spin was Level 4 with +0.64. At bonus time he did a triple Salchow and triple loop, both of which earned their base value. His second spin, a flying camel combination was only Level 2 with +0.29, which was the same Grade of Execution given to for his Level 3 straight line steps. Then he singled an Axel which had -0.11 removed from its base value, and finished with the choreographed steps.
Oda was unable to compete in the last Japanese championship, due to injury. He has only won that title once, in 2009. He was second in the 2010 & 2011 season. Oda is possibly most famous for his meltdown at the 2010 Worlds when, after earning 7th in the Vancouver Olympic Games, his disastrous 23rd place in the 2010 Worlds Short Program disqualified him from taking part in the free. And for his arrest in July 2007 for driving his moped having drunk a beer, which got him suspended by his own Association.
He appears to have settled down now and is the proud father of Shintaro, who turns 2 on October 1. Oda missed the birthday because of this event, but plans to travel back to Japan to see him for a week before returning to his training site in Barrie, Ontario, to prepare for the Skate Canada Grand Prix.
Konstantin Menshov is even older, 29, and has also only won his national title once (in 2011). He has never competed in Worlds. In 2011, he was replaced on that world team by his countryman who finished higher than he did in Europeans. In the press conference he muttered something about “politics” but would not elaborate. Last season he was only 7th nationally last year. But he showed promise in Oberstdorf performing a cowboy number to music by Rene Aubry, Allegro, Rose, and Night Run.
He said, “I’m happy with this competition, especially the free, although I didn’t do the second quad.” (He substituted a triple toe to triple toe as his second element.) “And I popped the second triple Axel (his 11th move and his only negative GoE) because I didn’t have enough strength. My preparation time was short. I planned to skate in Slovakia next week but now I’m going to Skate America instead, so I decided to take a small break after the Russian test skate. I’m going to U.S. on 10th. My goal is the same as always to skate clean.” His flying sit spin was Level 4 with +0.64 but his other two spins, executed late in the routine were only Level 2. His steps, executed between the two spins, were Level 3.
The 20-year-old Keegan Messing, from Anchorage, Alaska, who took 7th place early this year in US nationals, said, “I’m pretty happy with the (bronze) medal. I had a couple of small mistakes.” He had a fall going into a triple flip. “That caught me by surprise and let the wind out of me. I thought I could try it somewhere else but I was afraid I’d run out of music.” That left him with only 12 elements. “I’d be happy to get at least one more competition. My goal is to just skate clean and keep improving.” He performed to Clubbed to Death by Rob Dougan from the Matrix soundtrack.
Messing opened with a triple Axel which earned +0.43 over base. Although he messed up his quad toe, he still banked 8.16 for the jump. His third move, the triple Lutz had -0.70 removed, but he accomplished a base level triple loop, a second triple Axel to triple toe when the bonus marks clicked in which was rewarded with an extra +0.71. He also brought off a base value triple Salchow to double toe to double loop and a second triple Lutz teamed with a double toe. His camel spin, straight line steps and final combination spin were Level 3. However, he earned Level 4 with an extra +0.50 for his flying sit spin.
Last year’s bronze medalist, Stephen Carriere, was third in the FS, beating his teammate in this section by 1.21, but his fall on his triple Axel and messed up triple loop in the Short Program, lost him too much ground to claim a medal again but he finished fourth, just 1.67 overall behind his teammate. A former World Junior Champion (2007) who finished third in the U.S. Championships in 2008 and 10th in the subsequent World Champions, the now 23-year-old has gone through a tough period missing the 2010 & 2012 U.S. championships due to injury, and finished sixth in January. He is coached by Suna Murray. His free, set to an unusual version of Swan Lake, was choreographed by Scott Brown.
Carriere was first to skate after the ice resurfacing. His opening move was surprising, only a triple Salchow, although it was a well done with a GoE score of +0.60. That was followed with a +1.43 for his triple Axel to double toe loop and a +0.50 for a double Axel. His spins and steps were the maximum Level 4, all with positive GoEs. At the half way stage when the bonus marks click in, he soared through a +0.20 triple Lutz to triple toe but then fell on his second triple Axel although he still banked 6.35 for it. He put a hand down on the landing of his triple flip and lost -0.70 but the subsequent three jump combo, triple Lutz to two double toes earned an extra +0.20. His last jump was a +0.30 triple loop. He had some very interesting positions in his spins including a “headless” position where the speed of rotation turns the skater into a blur and his head seems to vanish.
Carriere did pull up to pass the American-trained Denis Ten from Kazahstan who had been fourth after the SP but dropped to seventh overall with an eighth rated free. He also overtook Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic who stayed fifth despite his seventh in the free.
Peter Liebers, of Germany, dropped from sixth to tenth overall with a tenth ranked free; and Andrei Rogozine of Canada dropped from seventh to ninth with a ninth ranked free.
Tomas Verner, who had a dreadful short in which he was only tenth, was fifth in the Free which pulled him up to sixth overall. This was his worst position since his first entry in 2002 when he was 11th. He won in 2006, and took bronze in 2005 and 2007.