Monday, December 03, 2007

Grand Prix is complete...on to the Final!

NHK Trophy wrapped up this week and what an unusual turn of events it was!

As I reported Friday...U.S. Pair Skaters McLaughlin and Brubaker won the silver, edging Skate America Champions Dube and Davison, and secured a spot in the final. They also made sure that the U.S. was represented in all disciplines at the Grand Prix Final. That hasn't happened since 1997 (Kwan, Kwiatkowski, Lipinski, Eldridge, Meno and Sand, Punsalun and Swallow). Germans Savchenko and Szolkowy skated to an easy victory.

The ladies event was the huge shocker! Miki Ando who was supposed to qualify easily had a complete meltdown and finished 4th...and failed to make the Grand Prix Final (which gave Caroline Zhang the final spot in Torino). To her credit she injured herself in the warm-up but didn't use that as an excuse for her poor performance. Her freeskate was judged 7th best on the night...ouch! Japanese up and comer Nana Takeda was the highest Japanese finisher winning the bronze medal. Switzerland's Sarah Meier bettered her 4th place finish in Paris with by winning the silver medal. Top honors went to Italy's Carolina Kostner who benefited from the win by earning a spot at the Grand Prix Final.

In Ice Dance the crunch was really on with 5 teams attempting to make the final. 3 competing and two at home biting their nails! Russians Khoklova and Novitski skated to the bronze and earned the final spot in Torino. In a very close showdown, Canadians Virtue and Moir were barely edged by France's Delobel and Schoenfelder. Virtue and Moir won both the OD and Free Dance but Delobel and Schoenfelder's lead after the compulsories held them to the title by less than a point. All three teams that medaled made the final making both Italian teams of Cappellini and LaNotte and Faiella and Scali the end losers. Both teams were edged for the final. Shame given the Grand Prix Final is in Italy.

The men's event was very exciting. First off, how about Jeremy Abbott's 12th place to 4th place jump. Those are the times when it is really easy to get behind current (we can't call it new anymore!) judging system. The men skated great. Stephen Carriere from the U.S. had a shot to make the final if he could win the silver. He skated well but was only good enough for the bronze. He did, however, become the first alternate to the Grand Prix Final. Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic had a great free skate to the Japanese themed "Kodo Drums" to win the silver. He showed strong triple jumps and a beautiful quad toeloop. His only flaw came when he singled a planned triple axel...he did a turn around the ice and attempted the jump again and nailed it! But the clear winner was Japan's Daisuke Takahashi. He stumbled out of his opening quad but it was smooth sailing from that point. He went on to land 8 clean, beautiful triples...most of which came in the back half of the program earning a bonus. He also earned solid component scores for his program set to Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet."

So this is how it looks for the Grand Prix Final (barring any withdrawals):

1. Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
2. Johnny Weir (USA)
3. Patrick Chan (CAN)
4. Evan Lysacek (USA)
5. Stephane Lambiel (SUI)
6. Kevin Van Der Perren (BEL)

1. Yu-Na Kim (KOR)
2. Mao Asada (JPN)
3. Kimmie Meissner (USA)
4. Carolina Kostner (ITA)
5. Yukari Nakano (JPN)
6. Caroline Zhang (USA)

1. Zhang and Zhang (CHN)
2. Savchenko and Szolkowy (GER)
3. Dube and Davison (CAN)
4. Pang and Tong (CHN)
5. McLauglin and Brubaker (USA)
6. Kawaguchi and Smirnov (RUS)

1. Delobel and Schoenfelder (FRA)
2. Belbin and Agosto (USA)
3. Virtue and Moir (CAN)
4. Domnina and Shabalin (RUS)
5. Pechalat and Bourzat (FRA)
6. Khokhlova and Novitski (RUS)

There you have it...some of the best skaters in the world...may the best ones win!

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