by Alexandra Stevenson
(PARIS, November 15) Trophy Bompard opened with all four Short Programs. US champion Ashley Wagner took the lead in the Ladies event, which was the last to be skated, earning 66.75. Second and third was a near tie between two Russians, with Anna Pogorilya in second place with 60.03 and her teammate, Adelina Sotnikova scoring 60.01. Americans Christine Goa and Samantha Cesario lie 4th & 5th going into Saturday’s Free.
As is always the case with this event, the kiss & cry area was a unique design in an arena which is famous for its shape. It is a pyramid with the outside covered with grass. (They even have a special type of lawn mower to cut the growing grass on the steep slope.)
However, the management has explained this event will almost certainly NOT be in Bercy next season because the Arena will be being completely refurbished. This event started as Trophee Lalique in 1987 and became Trophee Bompard in 2004. It was elevated to a Grand Prix when the Series began in 1995. (Initially, one of the six countries hosting was Germany, but that was replaced by China. The situation is currently unclear, because the Chinese television contract has finished this season.
There is no draw. The order of skating for the short program is strictly on points accumulated in ISU events. For the Free Skate the order of performance is in reverse order to the finish in the Short Programs.
PAIRS SHORT PROGRAM
1 SP 67.69 (36.46+32.23 -1) Qing Pang & Jian Tong, China, performing to Ennio Morricone’s version of “Lady Caliph”, skated sixth in very lovely black and silver outfits. But the initial good impression was spoiled when he fell on their first element, the triple toe loop jumps. Their triple twist didn’t seem quite as high as previously and received Level 2 with only+0.30. But she landed their throw triple loop very softly and they earned 1.60 GoE to add to the move’s 5.00 base value.
Their remaining four moves, back inside death spiral, Group 5 backward lasso lift, straight line steps and pair combination spin, were all given the maximum Level 4 by the Technical Panel and good GoEs from the judges. The first two of those moves gained an extra +0.70 each, the steps were rewards with a full point more than the base value, and the spin got an additional 0.85. Their component marks ranged from lows of two 6.50s up to a 9.0.
They have amazing longevity. She will turn 34 on December 12. He was 34 on August 15.Their first Grand Prix event was in 1999. This is their 32nd Grand Prix event and 6th time competing in the French contest. The first time was in 2000 when they were sixth. They came back to France, winning bronze in 2002 & 2004 and silver in 2005 & 2007. Their first win came in 2003 in Skate America, but they have never won here in France.
“We feel a bit jetlagged,” Tong explained. “This will be our last chance to win, and the crowd is always very welcoming. I’m a little nostalgic. The crowd is always welcoming here.” It was their first fall this season in the Short Program.
2.SP 66.07 (35.24+31.83 -1) Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, Canada, who are both 28, skated last of the eight pairs from seven countries to music he composed as a “Tribute”, which he wrote to honor his first coach, Paul Wirtz.He and Duhamel teamed together for the 2010-11 season and gained silver in their first nationals together. The partnership survived even though she elbowed and badly broke his nose in a twist lift in the world championship in Moscow. Duhamel said, “We continued skating but every time I looked at him, there was more blood. At the end, I was really proud of him. I think that was a good testament to his willingness to succeed.”
They subsequently won the Canadian championship twice. On the same move in Paris on Saturday, their twist was Level 2 but with 0.40 taken off the base value, and she fell on their side-by-side triple Lutz jumps. But their throw triple Lutz was excellent and received an extra +0.80 over its base value. The other four elements all received the maximum Level 4 with good grades of execution. The Group 5 Axel Lasso lift received an extra +0.90, the pair combination spin got +0.64. Their steps earned an extra +).90 and their closing move, the back inside death spiral received +1.0 over its base value of 3.50. Their components comprised one 6.75 up to three 8.75s.
Duhamel said, “We felt that we skated the program better than we did at Skate Canada. Obviously I made a big mistake and that’s three years in a row where we find ourselves second after the Short Program so I guess that’s our place. We will do better in the long program and I WILL land the Lutz.”
3 SP 65.67 (35.70+30.97 -1) Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov, Russia, performed seventh of the eight pairs to “Titine” from the soundtrack of “Modern Times”, a Charlie Chaplin movie.Bazarova is 20, and Larionov, 27. They were 11th in the last Olympic Games and have been 8th, 5th, 6th & 7th in the last four world championships.
They moved from Perm to train in Moscow two years ago. Early in their career, he failed a doping test because he had taken a diuretic to lose weight. He was initially suspended for two years, but that term was reduced so they could take part in the Olympic Games, where they finished 11th. When the suspension was initially announced, several other partners were suggested for Bazarova, and continued practicing with her partner waiting reinstatement.
In Paris Bazarova fell on their first move, side-by-side triple toe loop jumps. Hers just didn’t seem anywhere near making the three rotations. Their triple twist was a Level 3 with +0.90, and their throw triple flip gained a full point extra. Their Group 5 reverse lift was Level 4 with +1.30 and their steps were Level 4 with +1.20. Their back inside death spiral was Level 2 with plus 0.80 and their pair combination spin received Level 3 with +0.50. The components ranged from a low of one 6.75 from a judge whose other four marks were two 7.00 and two 7.25s up to a 9.50 from a judge who also gave two 9.25s and two 8.75s.
4 SP 63.52 (36.00+27.52) Caydee Denney & John Coughlin, USA, skated fourth, to music from Puccini’s opera, “Tosca”. Denney & Coughlin are the 2012 US champions. She was also the 2010 champion with Jeremy Barrett while he was the 2011 champion with Caitlin Yankowski. He and Denney were unable to defend their US title earlier this year, due to his left hip surgery. Coughlin, who turns 28 on December 1, said, “We are so grateful to be back on the ice this year, after the injury (I) sustained last December. We all tend to take what we have for granted. When something has been taken away from you for a while, then you understand that that is NOT the case. That does reflect on our skating. Caydee and I really enjoy skating together, both in practice and at competitions, because we understand the uncertainty of life. We want to give back as much as possible of what skating gives us and let people join in our joy. We enjoy having a crowd when we skate. We draw from their energy.”
Denney, who is 20, said, “At the end of August, we had our U.S. Figure Skating summer camp in Colorado Springs. Scott Hamilton was the speaker. He told us that when he was skating, what he loved most was the standing ovation he received. I really feel the same way. Figure skating is a sport and we like to compete, but we like to do so hoping for a standing ovation we may get at the end.”
They began well with a Level 3 triple twist which earned seven +2 GoEs and two +1s, which gave them an overall extra 1.30 over the base value of 5.80. Their side-by-side triple toe loop earned an extra marginal +0.10. Their Level 3 back inside death spiral earned an extra +0.30. Their throw triple flip was given an extra +0.20. However, their Axel lift got +0.90 and the Level 2 steps an additional +0.50, as did their final move, the Level 3 pair spin. Their components ranged from a low of one out of place 5.00 up to one 8.0.
5 SP 56.78 (31.49+26.29 -1) Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres, France, suffered a setback earlier this year when he injured his right hand. James, who was born in Canada, but lived in the United States, until she got a British passport because of her father’s nationality. After competing in the British championship, she went to France and is now competing with her second French partner, a 6 foot lad, who is 22, four years younger than she is. He is still wearing a bandage but, explained James, “The doctor said the injury won’t get any worse, although he still has pain when he does certain lifts.”
They skated to Cab Calloway’s “Minnie, the Moocher”. She fell on their throw triple flip and they are lying less than a point ahead of the Canadians.
6 SP 55.89 (31.87+24.02); Natasha Purich & Mervin Tran, Canada, skated to Tiny Dancer, by Elton John. As first to skate in the first event, they had the honor of opening this Grand Prix. Tran, 22, has a fascinating story. His parents emigrated to Canada from Vietnam and Cambodia and he was born in Saskachewan. He was recruited by coaches Richard Gautier & Bruno Marcotte, who thought he would make a good partner for a Japanese girl who had approached Gautier when he was at an event in China and asked if he could find her a partner. Tran explained the pairing, “was the coach’s decision, not mine.”
They progressed and earned bronze medals in the 2012 world championships in Nice and Tran revealed, “I was ready to sign the papers to become Japanese, so we could go to the Olympics. But the Japanese requirements are extremely strict. I do not speak Japanese, and we train in Montreal so there was no chance.”
When his partner, Narume Takahashi sustained a further shoulder injury and had to have surgery, she decided to break up the partnership, and try for a Japanese partner. Recently, the two new pairs competed in Oberstdorf with Purich & Tran coming out on top. Tran said his Japanese partner was small, but Purich is even smaller. The 18-year old Purich has had experience, winning the Canadian Junior championship with one partner and then taking silver in the same event, so it was an easy transition.
Tran explained, “I could not skate in international competition last season because I was changing countries back to Canada, but I took the opportunity to resume my studies in mechanical engineering, at McGill University, and work in the gym. I am now stronger, more solid to carry my partner. And I still have only 22 years old and I see myself very much skating in 2018 or even 2022. "
7. SP 54.15 (30.35+23.83) Annabelle Prolss & Ruben Bloomaert Lommaert are a promising German couple, who were replacements for the French pair Daria Popova & Bruno Nassot, who pulled out due to injury. Prolss is 14 and he 21 so this season they are at an awkward point in which she is too young for Seniors and he too old for Juniors. They were seventh in the last World Junior championships, fourth in the Nebelhorn Trophy and they are fresh off a win in the recent Cup of Nice.
They skated to Puccini’s “Oh! My Beloved Father.”
8 SP 48.59 (27.13+23.46 -2) Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise, Italy, skated to music from “Samson & Delilah” by Camille Saint-Saens. They teamed up in 2011. He was a world champion roller-skater in 2008 before switching to ice in 2010. She is 24 and he 25 and they were second in the last Italian championship.
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