By Klaus-Reinhold Kany
Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov
(20 November 2017) The free program of the eight pairs at the French Grand Prix in Grenoble had a good level. The reigning European champions and world bronze medalists Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov from Russia won their second Grand Prix after the Cup of Russia, this time with 218.20 points although they had only the second best free program.
Skating to a boogie-woogie medley by Christina Aguilera (which seems no ideal choice for them), they began their free program with a quad twist which was a bit shaky, therefore the GOE +3 of the Georgian judge is totally wrong. After a good side by side triple Salchow and an excellent triple throw Salchow Tarasova singled two toe loops of their jump combination which was planned triple-double-double. This mistake cost them around seven points. The rest of the program was very good, including three excellent lifts. She only two-footed a bit the landing of the triple throw loop. The components were around 9.2.
Morozov later commented, “It was not our best performance, we made one-and-a-half mistakes, We lost concentration for the second jump and missed it. Overall, I think this program was better and we’ll keep in mind what we need to do better.”
Vanessa James & Morgan Ciprès from France won the free program and are second overall, winning 214.32 points. They have improved a lot since they work with John Zimmerman, Silvia Fontana and John Kerr in Florida. Their first element in the free program to "Say Something“ performed by A Great Big World feat was a triple twist. But it had only the basic level because she landed more on his shoulders than in his arms. The jump sequence of triple toe loop – double toe loop – double toe loop was clean and in very good harmony and brought them 8.39 points. The quad Salchow throw was landed on two feet, the side by side triple Salchow almost clean. The three lifts were excellent and had mainly GOEs of +2, the choreographic step sequence even some GOEs of +3. Their components had an average of 8.8 and went up to 9.5.
Ciprès commented, “It was amazing to skate at home, It was not easy because they pushed a lot before we skated and we were nervous. Again we missed some points on the levels, but we will work on this.”
Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise from Italy won their first Grand Prix medal after being fourth at the Cup of Russia four weeks before. In Grenoble, they finished third with 197.59 points. They skated to the "Tree of Life Suite“ by Roberto Cacciapaglia which was the main music of the World Exhibition in their hometown of Milan some years ago.
Their side by side triple Salchow was clean, the triple twist as well, but then Guarise stumbled on the toe-loop and performed it only double. Most other elements were good, the three lift even excellent, but Della Monica landed the triple throw loop with a touch-down and the triple throw Salchow on two feet. Their components had an average of 8.2. “It was a hard competition, I felt the tension in the long program, my legs were shaking from the beginning,” Guarise explained. “But we finished with a smile. This is our first medal in the Grand Prix and we need to be happy with that.”
Liubov Iliushechkina & Dylan Moscovitch finished on fourth position, earning 193.07 points. After a good triple twist Iliushechkina stepped out of the double toe-loop after the triple toe-loop of their combination, and then doubled the side by side Salchow which he tripled. The two triple throws and the three lifts (including a carry lift in which he is standing up from one knee on the ice while carrying her) were very good.
They had also trained a quad throw Salchow, but decided to execute a triple instead. During their choreographic steps they performed a dance lift which would probably be a level 4 lift. They skated to "At this Moment“ performed by Billy Vera & the Beaters and received components of around 8.0. The Chinese team of Cheng Peng & Yang Jin finished on fifth position, earning 188.14 points. Except for a fall of both partners on the side by side triple Salchow, all elements were good, the two triple throws even excellent.
None of the three pairs on sixth, seventh and eighth place has a chance to skate at the Olympic Games, so their motto is "Olympics is not everything.“ Marissa Castelli & Mervin Tran who compete for the USA, but train in Montreal, Canada, finished on sixth position, winning 177.15 points. Tran is Canadian and won’t receive U.S. citizenship in the near future. But U.S. figure skating could send them to Four Continents or the World Championships. They came as alternates for the injured Czech couple Duskova & Bidar.
After a clean triple twist both skaters stepped out of the side-by-side triple toe loop (which was under-rotated) and later also both stepped out of the triple Salchow which was downgraded. Their three lifts were very good, the other elements at least good. Their music was "Woman“ by Shawn Philipps and their components had an average level of 7.4.
Lola Esbrat & Andrei Novoselov, the second French pair, sits seventh with 177.15 points. She is French but he is Russian and won’t get a French passport soon. But as France has two spots at Europeans and Worlds they will probably go there. They skated better than in the previous two years and admitted that they have trained really professionally only for the last three months.
They began with a relatively clean side-by-side triple loop, but the triple twist was a bit shaky and then Esbrat stepped out of the side by side triple Salchow which was downgraded. Two lifts were good but he could not lift her properly for the third time and this element therefore got no points. They skated to the soundtrack of "The Great Gatsby“ and had components of around 6.2.
Zoe Jones & Christopher Boyadji from Britain ended up on eighth and last place with 130.43 points. They had been invited as alternates of the injured Chinese pair Xuehan Wang & Lei Wang and had missed the qualification for the Olympic Games at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany in September. 37-year old Jones arrived with the flu, but they fought through their competition because Grenoble might be their only Grand Prix in their career. Jones fell on the side-by-side triple toe loop and on the triple throw flip, but the other elements were more or less clean. Their components were around 5.7.