By Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(14 November 2016) The ladies competition at the ISU Grand Prix Trophée de France in Paris had a good level in spite of two big names with bad performances. Reigning World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva from Russia confirmed her favorite role and won the competition with a difference of 21 points to the rest of the field, and 221.54 overall points. All of her seven elements in the short program were excellent.
The 17-year-old began with a flying combination spin (level 4 and mainly GOEs of +2), followed by a long and intricate step sequence (level 4 as well). Her three jump elements came in the second half of the program and therefore were rewarded with a bonus of 10 per cent: The combination of triple flip (with one arm over her head) and triple toe loop, the triple loop and the double Axel (again in the Boitano version with one arm over her head).
Skating to "The River Flows in you“ by Lorenzo di Luca and "The Winter“ by Balmorhea, she performed very nice transitions and a used lot of mimics like an actress. Therefore her components had an average level of 9.1, with one 9.75 for Interpretation of the music from the Austrian judge as highest one. The majority of the spectators awarded her a standing ovation
"I am pleased with today’s performance“, she commented, "but this is still not the limit. I think I can improve my second score, because I think it’s not enough for senior skating. I have to work harder on it. These themes are difficult. My coaches, my choreographers and I want to find some different ways to open my inner world."
In the free program to the soundtrack "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close“, she dealt with the subject of terrorism and played with strong facial expression someone whose close friend or parent does not come home again because he or she was killed in a terror attack. After a stellar combination of triple flip and triple toe loop she fell on the triple Lutz. But the rest of program, including four more triple jumps and two double Axels was faultless again, the layback spin at the end even outstanding. Her components had an average of 9.0.
"I am very pleased to have qualified for the Grand Prix Final again, this is a step forward for me. However, with my performance today I am absolutely not satisfied. But mistakes push you further and make you work harder”, she commented.
Medvedeva‘s countrywoman Maria Sotskova won the silver medal with 200.35 points at her senior Grand Prix debut. The World Junior silver medalist began her short program with a big combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, followed by a triple flip and other good elements. Her music was set to "Butterflies are Free“ by late-romantic composer Alfred Schnittke and her dress underlined the butterfly image. She commented: “I took pleasure in my performance today, but there is still a lot of work for me to do to get better every time, but for today I did a good result. At the beginning, the butterfly is not free, and I am trapped in a small box from which I want to escape. In the second part, I am free, and I just fly."
In her free program the 16-year-old skater could move up from the third position to second place. She continued her story and again skated to music by Alfred Schnittke, this time to an "Adagio,“ much to the delight of Tatiana Tarasova who commented for Russian TV and was sitting next to the kiss and cry area and waved to Sotskova when she was sitting in this area. Tarasova‘s late husband was a music professor, had written his thesis about Alfred Schnittke and was regarded as one of the leading Schnittke experts in the world.
Sotskova began with her short program combination, followed by four more clean triple jumps and an under-rotated second triple Lutz, excellent steps and spins. Her components were around 8.0. "I am happy with my medal, but it was very difficult for me today. My performance wasn’t so good. I want to work harder to improve“, she commented. "Today I was concentrating on my jumps too much, and I forgot about performance. But one day my butterflies will be free."
Wakaba Higuchi from Japan, who had been third at the Junior World Championships seven month ago and also gave her senior Grand Prix debut, won a surprising bronze medal, earning 194.48 points. In her short program to the soundtrack of La Califfa by Ennio Morricone, everything else was very good, but she doubled the flip out of steps which is required triple. This cost her at least six points and she was fifth in the short.
With her free program in high speed to "Sheherezade“ by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov she could move up to third place, thanks especially to the second highest components with an average of 8.2. The free program had no fall and contained five good triple jumps, including a huge combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop as her first element, but also an under-rotated triple toe loop and a popped second Lutz. “This is my first senior Grand Prix. I was aiming for the podium and I also was more expressive this year. I am happy that I achieved that”, she commented.
Gabrielle Daleman from Toronto skated an excellent short program to "Herodiade“ by Jules Massenet with a superb and high combination of triple toe loop - triple toe loop which was rewarded with GOEs of +3 by all nine judges. The triple Lutz, the three level 4 spins and the level 3 step sequence were excellent as well. Therefore she had a personal best-ever with more than 70 points for the first time and was second (72.70 points) in this section.
Later she commented: “I felt very happy about the score. Going into the program I felt very confident and relaxed and I just did my job like I do every day in practice, and just took one element at a time. I train all triples in combination with triple toe, and I feel comfortable with any of them, but triple toe - triple toe is my favorite.“
But in the long program, she was not as good and slipped from second to fourth place with 192.10 overall points. She began with a hard fall on her belly on the opening triple toe loop, which was planned as a combination of triple toe loop – triple toe loop again. Then she touched down her hand on the triple Lutz and popped the triple flip. IN the second half oft he program, she pulled together and landed three clean triple jumps and dynamic steps again.
So Youn Park from South Korea finished on fifth place, winning 185.19 points. Her short program was flawless with an impressive combination of triple Salchow and triple toe loop, a clean triple loop and an excellent change foot combination spin. In her long program to the music of the "Concierto de Aranjuez," she fell on her opening triple Lutz, but later could land five clean triple jumps and an under-rotated triple loop.
Laurine Lecavelier was the better of the two French ladies and was sixth with 184.65 points. Her very feminine short program to "Experience“ by Ludvico Einaudi was flawless, containing an impressive combination of triple toe loop – triple toe loop, a good triple Lutz and good spins. The beginning of her long program to "Grease“ was good again with the same combination as in the short program but a bit less impressive. Her triple Lutz was clean again and a combination of double Axel, single loop and triple Salchow as well. But later she fell on a triple flip and the second triple Lutz.
Mae-Berenice Meite who trains with Shanetta Folle in the Chicago area, made two big mistakes in the short program: First she touched down her hand on the landing of the (under-rotated) triple toe loop which she performed in combination with the triple loop and then she fell on the triple Lutz. Her free program, however, to "Tristan and Isolde“ by Maxim Rodriguez was faultless and contained six good triple jumps. She ended up seventh, earning 172.65 points.
Gracie Gold, who had been fourth at the World championships in Boston, had a bad competition and finished eighth with only 165.89 points. After a shaky combination of triple Lutz and an under-rotated triple toe loop and two very good spins she doubled her flip out of steps which has to be a triple (and therefore zero points) and then popped the Axel (again zero points). She also looked uninspired and frustrated, as if she did not like to skate any more.
In her long program to "Daphnis and Chloe“ by Maurice Ravel she struggled again in the jumps. After an excellently choreographed opening step sequence and a good double Axel she fell on the triple Lutz which was planned in combination with a triple toe loop. Later she also missed the triple flip, and singled the second Lutz. She commented: "I had a really slow start of the season, which started August 1, instead of May 15. There is nothing wrong with this program, and I am progressing. I have to speed up my timeframe and now have to get ready rapidly."
The other famous skater in the event, Mao Asada from Japan, also had a bad competition and ended up only ninth with 161.39 points. She suffered under heavy knee pain and might only have competed because Japanese TV asked her to do so.
In her short program, the triple flip was under-rotated, but the triple loop clean. In her long program, she doubled most of her jumps except for a downgraded toe loop and a shaky loop. Only her good components saved her from being even lower. After the event she said that she suffered from several injuries. The third Japanese lady Yuka Nagai was tenth with 159.49 points and the Armenian skater Anastasia Galustyan eleventh, earning 155.49 points.
Alena Leonova from Russia finished twelfth and last with 141.36 points. Her short program was quite good with a big combination of triple toe loop – triple toe loop, an under-rotated triple flip and a very dynamic step sequence. But the long program was a complete disaster with no less than five falls and other mistakes.
According to the new rules you get one point of deduction for the first and one for the second fall, but two points for the third and two points for the fourth fall and even three points of deduction for the fifth and every more fall. Therefore she had nine points of deduction in her free program. In the middle of the program a pigeon in the rink flew over the rink and came quite near to her. She laughed, but maybe this disturbed her even more, but she had fallen before