Duhamel & Radford Lead Contingent of Entries
By Liz Leamy
(25 November 2017) Eight world-class pair teams hailing from the U.S., Canada, Russia, Germany and China were the leadoff event at the 2017 Bridgestone Skate America competition, held at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York. Overall, the teams performed at a high level in their pursuit of achieving a spot in the Grand Prix Final to be held in early December..
The teams executed high-flying, fluid lifts, electric split twists, amazing throw triple jumps, death spirals and intricate, fresh footwork sequences with ease and aptitude. Moreover, the quality and intricacy of their footwork and connecting steps was at a higher level than ever and resonated with the same feel as a dance program, which is an interesting development in pair skating.
Canadians Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, the 2015 and 2016 World champions, took home top honors for their superb emotional program to "With Or Without You" by April Meservy (and also featuring Aaron Edson), for which they earned 74.37 points.
Being the last team to skate, Duhamel & Radford, who train with Bruno Marcotte in Quebec City, were in top form, executing a triple twist lift, a throw triple Lutz and a magnificent star lift in which they rotated both ways while covering the full ice length. There only significant error, was a poor landing on of triple Lutz by Radford. There components averaged 9.06.
According to the duo, they felt they could’ve performed at an even higher level than they did. “We had a better short than at Skate Canada and we will be working toward 80 points in the short,” said Duhamel and Radford.
Xiaoyu Yu & Hao Zhang of China were second, earning 73.67 points for their graceful and dynamic portrayal of Tchaikovsky’s "Swan Lake," which was choreographed by Lori Nichol.
This team, coached by the 2003 World pair champion, Hongbo Zhao as well as Bing Han and Jinlin Guan, skated a beautiful program that featured a huge throw triple loop that covered nearly the entire rink width, a lightning-quick split triple twist lift and side by side triple toes, among other elements. The vast majority of their GoEs were 2s. Where they fell short was in the program components which averaged 8.45, significantly below the Canadian and Gereman teams.
The German team, Aljona Savchenko & Bruno Massot, were third with their stunning program to ‘Ameksa-Fuego’ by the Taalbi Brothers for which they earned 72.55 points.
This program, designed by John Kerr, the former British world ice dancer, was riveting, as Savchenko & Massot executed a gorgeous death spiral, a solid throw triple Lutz, a stunning stag lift and a split triple twist in which she appeared to be more than a foot above her partner as she rotated in the air.
They did, however, run into a bit of trouble on their triple Salchows, on which Massot fell. Still, the overall quality of their skating was excellent and they both seemed to be really, a part of the ice with their deep knees and terrific body lean. They had the highest component scores of the group, averaging 9.27. The fall in the triple Salchow coast the team the lead, and even had Radford landed the Lutz, a clean Salchow by Massot would have given the Germans the lead.
“I always love skating at Skate America,” said Savchenko, who was the 2010 and 2014 Olympic bronze medalist with former partner, Robin Szolkowy. “I want to [just] enjoy being here.” The day of the short program Massot learned he had finally received German citizenship that will allow him to compete for Germany at the 2918 Olympic Winter Games.
The three U.S. teams placed fifth, sixth and eighth, with Alexa Scimeca Knierim & Chris Knierim leading the three at 64.27 points. They skated well, except for triple Salchow which Alexa landed poorly and Chris doubled. Haven Denny & Brandon Fraiser trailed Knierim & Knierim by only 1.23, placing sixth, while Deanna Stellato & Nathan Bartholomay trailed Knierim & Knierim by 7.09 points to place eighth. Canadians Kirsten Moor-Towers & Michael Marinaro placed seventh with 59.97 points.