So far this season I’ve been doing in-depth recaps of individual disciplines, but since I was able to catch all four disciplines at Trophee Eric Bombard I’m going to do a little wrap up on the whole event.
Russia’s Elena Radionova earned her second Grand Prix victory in very similar fashion to her first: with insanely great height and rotation on her jumps and confidence in spades throughout both performances. Radionova’s components scores were the highest in the competition, which I really can’t agree with. I felt like her toe pointing has improved since Skate America, but she is still not as polished as an Ashley Wagner or Carolina Kostner, or even her countrywoman Julia Lipnitskaia. Lipnitskaia improved upon her disastrous showing at Cup of China for the silver medal, but still had some mistakes. Her flip entrance is really wonky, and that is often the spot in the program where she makes a mistake. I think she needs to make an adjustment. Beyond the flip, it also almost seems like she is going through the motions when she competes. Johnny Weir went so far as to call her “cold” in the broadcast, and word on the street is that she is struggling under intense scrutiny from the Russian media and fans. Lipnitskaia reminds me so much of Sasha Cohen, from her beautiful extensions and pointed toes to her use of the same “Romeo and Juliet” piece of music that Sasha used for her 2006 long program, and I hope this season improves for Lipnitskaia. Wagner showed her fighting spirit and hung on for her second bronze of the season here. She missed her triple flip (another entrance that looks really wonky and problematic to me…though she landed it in the short program, so who knows), which would have been the triple-triple. But showing some quick thinking and guts, she threw in a triple lutz-triple toe in the second half of her program. It was slightly underrotated (as Ashley’s triple-triples often can be), but still, what guts! Awesome.
The top four women’s qualifiers for the Grand Prix Final are now Russian ladies; it will be interesting to see who scoops up the final two spots. I feel like Ashley is a long shot with her two bronzes, but would love to see her there. Hopefully Gracie Gold can earn a spot with a good showing at NHK this weekend.
Underwhelming all around, is all I can say. I continue to love Richard Dornbush’s style, but he was showing the effects of a bad case of food poisoning that he picked up on the plane ride to France. He only managed a 7th place finish. Fellow American Adam Rippon improved dramatically on a bad showing at Skate Canada and finished in fourth. His wally entrance in to the triple axel looks so cool—and is really difficult to execute judging from the fact that he fell on the axel. But he pulled it off in the short, and just looked more confident overall throughout both performances. Gold medalist and Russian Maxim Kovtun joined the ranks of skaters using music by the British band Muse this season. I find it interesting that so many skaters are using Muse songs. The lyrics in Kovtun’s are kind of hard to understand and distracting—I preferred Jeremy Abbott’s instrumental version of this song from his long program last season. Olympic bronze medalist from Kazakhstan Denis Ten has unmatched posture and skating skills—which showed in his 81+ program components score. His technical elements were all a little rough and he only managed 3rd place, though it was his first-ever Grand Prix medal. I haven’t followed Ten’s career too closely, but Tara and Johnny noted that he can be inconsistent—hence how he has an Olympic medal but not Grand Prix medal.
Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia won this event by 9 points and were really without peers in the competition. They are so confident—their attack and precision on each movement is unmatched. They also really make time for choreography and beautiful moments between elements. In terms of technique, their elements are not only solid but also really interesting. The cartwheel entrance into one of their lifts is my favorite! You have to watch their program, if only to see the superb throw triple sal and fantastic passion at the end of the program:
Both Chinese teams have incredibly solid pairs skills and also both use unique sit spin variations. There is a ten-year age difference between Wang & Wang, which was blowing my mind a little bit, but they were also fun to watch. Her smile was infectious and they claimed the bronze. Their countrymen Sui and Han set themselves apart for the silver medal with the passion in their program. Americans Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim were only two points from the podium with a nearly-clean showing to “An American in Paris.” Their excitement showed in the kiss and cry when the season’s best scores came up. The balance in their lifts really stood out—they execute two where she is balanced on her back on only one of his hands and the speed that they manage with that difficulty was impressive.
The French team of Gabriella Papadakis and Gillaume Cizeron scooped up their second gold of this Grand Prix season at home. This is really becoming a breakout year for them, considering they were 13th at Worlds and 15th at Europeans last season, and didn’t skate at the Olympics. They were 5th and 7th on the Grand Prix last year, so they are really bringing it this season. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier were in second and I love the pizzaz in their free dance to the soundtrack of “Gentleman Prefer Blondes.” Americans Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue looked better than at Skate Canada—especially the costumes. The hooded vest was gone in favor of a black sparkly look, which fit the tone of this modern take on Gatsby much better. According to icenetwork, they were disappointed not to meet their goal of making the Grand Prix Final.
It’s all on the line this weekend at NHK Trophy in Japan, with skaters looking to earn the remaining spots in the Grand Prix Final and skaters on the bubble waiting at home to see if they will make it.