Germans Take Gold in Pairs, Overtake Duhamel & Radford in Free Skate
By Liz Leamy
Aljona Savchenko & Bruno Massot
This is what a +3 looks like!
(26 November 2017) Aljona Savchenko & Bruno Massot of Germany pulled up from third in the short to first overall with a firecracker free skate to "La Terre Vue du Ciel" by Armand Amar, for which they earned 150.58 points in the Free Skate, and 223.13 total points. It was a season's best for the team.
Dressed in lavender-hued costumes, Savchenko & Massot performed a superior program laden with gorgeous lifts, huge throw triple jumps and what has become their signature move, a split triple twist in which she goes and two arm's length over his head while rotating horizontally in the air. This element earned seven +3 GoEs of three +2s.
This team, looking ahead to the Olympics, were pleased with their results as it not only meant they took home gold, but qualified for the International Skating Union Championship Grand Prix Finals, which will be held in Nagoya, Japan December 7th-10th.
“It was a good fight,” said Massot. “It was a good fight, [it’s] still not perfect and there were some mistakes, but we are in a good way for the Olympics.”
Aside from the fact that the team had a few slight missteps such as a two-footed landing on their throw triple flip and Savchenko singling two double toe loops on the triple Salchow-double toe loop-double toe loop combination, they were exceptional in terms of the overall quality of their technique, artistry and skating.
Savchenko, in particular, seems to be just part of the ice in terms of her edges, turns, steps and moves and consistently exhibits the reason as to why she is a two-time Olympic bronze medalist (in 2010 and 2014 with former partner Robin Szolkowy).
Xiaoyu Yu & Hao Zhang of China, who were second in the short, held onto their placement with a dynamic rendition of "Star War" for which they earned 145.53 points and a 219.20 total score.
This electric team reeled off a high throw triple loop and triple Salchow, synchronized triple toe loops and triple Salchows, terrific lifts and other elements in their portrayal of the iconic Princess Leia and her fellow comrades from the classic Star Wars film series.
“I [am portraying] Princess Leia, he’s a warrior and together, [we’re fighting] the evil,” said Yu who added that the team “was very happy” with how they finished.
Their performance was a season's best for the team, and the most solid skate of their partnership thus far.
Meaghan Duhamel & Eric Radford, the 2015 Canadian Champions and the 2016 World Champions, took home bronze with their powerful rendition to "Neutron Star Collision" by Uprising by Muse. After a seventh pace finish at the 2017 World Championships, which was the culmination of a disappointing season during which Radford was injured, making the Final is an important step, telling the world this team ready this season to content for the gold in PyeongChang.
Opening up with a huge split triple twist lift, they knocked off side-by-side triple Salchows-double toe loops-double toe loops, a terrific combination spin and incredible lifts, for which they were awarded 140.31 points and a 215.68 total score. Duhamel, however, did miss her side-by-side triple Lutz, with an under-rotation and a fall, and had a step out on the landing of the throw quad Salchow.
“Today wasn’t our best but overall we’re happy with this competition,” said Duhamel. “We’re on the podium with these great teams and we’re really proud.”
The Russian team of Natali Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert trailed the medalist by nearly 18 points with a fourth place finish.
Alexa Scimeca Knierim & Chris Knierim, the 2015 U.S. champions, were fifth with 124.80 points for their free skate to "Ghost-the Musical," which earned them a 223.13 total score. This talented team executed a huge throw triple Salchow and throw triple Lutz, split triple twist and gorgeous lifts.
The second Canadian pair here, Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro placed sixth with 187.81 total score.
The two other U.S. entries. Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier placed seventh with 109.12 points in the free skate and a 172.16 total score, while Deanna Stellato & Nathan Bartholomay were eighth with 107.82 points in the free skate, which gave them a 172.16 total score.
The U.S. can send only one team to the Olympic Winter Games. Throughout the Grand Pix, Knierim & Knierem have bested their American rivals, giving them good momentum going into U.S. Nationals at the end of December, to earn that one spot to Pyeong Chang.