Yan, Pogorilaya snag surprise victories in BeijingMainstays Péchalat and Bourzat, Savchenko and Szolkowy rally for golds
Competition concluded Saturday at the 2013 Cup of China in Beijing, as skaters competed in the free dance, ladies free skate, men's free skate and pairs free skate.
Péchalat, Bourzat dance away with title
France's Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat overtook overnight leaders Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia to dance off with the gold medal. Madison Chock and Evan Bates of Team USA earned the bronze.
Péchalat and Bourzat's dance to "Le Petit Prince et Sa Rose" was highlighted by difficult lifts and smooth footwork. The French team got a Level 4 for the twizzles, lifts and the spin, while the step sequences garnered a Level 3. The two-time European champions scored 102.08 points and totaled 165.68 points.
"We are really happy to have won the third gold medal at the Cup of China, but at the same time, we feel a little sad because this is our last season and the last Cup of China we will do," Bourzat said. "So, it was a great pleasure for us to compete here."
Bobrova and Soloviev put out a strong performance to "Four Seasons" and "Lacrimosa," with four elements registering a Level 4, though a rotational lift received a Level 2. The reigning world bronze medalists earned 97.72 points, which added up to 163.42 points overall, pushing them into second place.
"As for our free dance, we probably just don't have enough mileage on this program and we are not in top shape yet," Soloviev said. "We now will have some time to work before the next Grand Prix in Moscow (Rostelecom Cup)."
Chock and Bates produced Level 4 lifts and Level 3 footwork in their routine to Les Misérables to pick up 93.76 points. At 150.53 points overall, they remained in third place.
"We are very pleased with our performance," Chock said. "We went in with a plan of attack and just to enjoy and put our best skate, and I think that we did that. We are so excited about our first medal at the Grand Prix."
Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones of France pulled up from fifth to fourth with 134.12 points, switching places with Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton of the U.S. (132.06 points).
Pogorilaya pulls off ladies upset
Anna Pogorilaya of Russia upset teammate Adelina Sotnikova to claim the gold medal, with Carolina Kostner of Italy settling for the bronze.
Pogorilaya's program to "Mermaids" from the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack featured a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, a triple loop-single loop-triple Salchow combination as well as three more triple jumps and three Level 4 spins. However, she popped an Axel. The 15-year-old from Moscow scored a personal-best 118.38 points for the segment and racked up a total of 178.62 points to win the title in her first senior-level Grand Prix event.
"This was quite unexpected," Pogorilaya said. "I would have been very happy if I had been third. Today, I showed everything I can do, and the judges apparently appreciated it."
Skating to "Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso" by Camille Saint-Saëns, Sotnikova landed four triple jumps including a double Axel-triple toe combination, but crashed on both flips. The Muscovite earned 108.67 points, and with 174.70 points overall, she slipped from first to second.
"Maybe I just got too nervous, as I had to skate last and I had the chance to win," Sotnikova said. "I tried not to think about it and I don't know why the performance went wrong. But I don't give up. I still have another Grand Prix and I will try very hard."
Kostner landed a triple flip-double toe and a triple Salchow-double toe-double loop combination but made errors on other jumps. She collected 110.65 points in the free skate, which added up to 173.70 points.
"I actually enjoyed performing tonight, although I had quite a bit of mistakes," Kostner said. "Usually, I make mistakes when I am nervous, but today I was not nervous. But that is how I learn every time I compete. Of course, not very pleased about performance, but in the end I am in third place and I can go home with a smile."
Kanako Murakami of Japan remained in fourth place with 165.95 points.
Nikol Gosviani of Russia moved up from sixth to fifth (152.04 points), while Haruka Imai of Japan dropped one spot to sixth at 150.30 points.
Yan claims men's crown for home crowd
Han Yan of China won the men's event in his Grand Prix debut. Russia's Maxim Kovtun, another fresh face on the Grand Prix, earned the silver medal, and the bronze went to Takahiko Kozuka of Japan.
Yan reeled off a quad toe-triple toe combination and four more clean triples as well as three Level 4 spins in his waltz program. However, he stepped out of the triple Axel and doubled the loop. The 2012 world junior champion placed second for the segment with 155.48 points but remained in first place overall with 245.62 points.
"I was nervous in my free skating today, maybe because I didn't skate so late," Yan said. "I didn't perform the complete program. It is very hard, and I didn't show all the difficulty yet. But I am very happy that the judges appreciated my program."
Kovtun's routine to Peter Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto No. 1" included two quadruple Salchows, two triple Axels as well as three more triples, but he doubled an intended quad toe loop. Kovtun was awarded 156.81 points and totaled 238.65 points for the week.
"To win the silver medal in my first senior Grand Prix is very valuable for me and a motivation to train harder and to win more competitions," Kovtun said. "I learned for myself that I have to work more on my second mark. Today, it was already higher than yesterday, and I skated more freely."
Kozuka fell on his opening quad toe (under-rotated) and also on a triple flip, but he recovered to land five triple jumps. He scored 145.30 points and accumulated 226.92 points overall.
"Today's performance was the worst in my skating life," Kozuka said. "I am not injured or sick, but I need to concentrate more on my next competition."
Reigning world silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan finished fourth with 224.80 points.
Richard Dornbush of Team USA wound up fifth with 218.57 points, and Florent Amodio of France slipped from fifth to sixth with 213.39 points.
Savchenko, Szolkowy strike back for pairs gold
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany struck gold, while China's Qing Pang and Jian Tong, and Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang picked up the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Performing to Nutcracker by Peter Tchaikovsky, Savchenko and Szolkowy completed a throw triple flip, a triple toe-triple toe sequence, triple twist and earned a Level 4 for the death spiral, the side-by-side spin and the Axel lasso lift. But Savchenko fell on the last element, the throw triple Axel, and both made a mistake on the side-by-side double Axel. The four-time world champions scored 132.14 points and overtook Pang and Tong with 201.21 points overall.
"Today's program was a little better than the short program," Szolkowy said. "This is our first competition, and it is just one step to Sochi. After all, we are satisfied, but we still can get a lot more points."
Pang and Tong 's program to "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables featured a triple twist, a throw triple loop and Salchow, but Tong struggled with the solo jumps, singling an Axel and doubling the toe loop. The reigning Olympic silver medalists received 124 points and slipped to second with 194.38 points overall.
"We skated like in training, but we had a few problems and we lacked energy," Pang said. "We didn't feel so confident before the competition, as it is our first one, and this is hard for everybody."
"We are not at a 100 percent yet," Tong added.
Peng and Zhang's routine to "Yellow River Concerto" was highlighted by a quadruple twist, triple throws and Level 4 lifts. The Chinese team earned 122.95 points for the free skate and 187.19 points overall.
"We are glad to have won our first Grand [Prix] medal," Zhang said. "We have been skating together for a little over a year only."
Xuehan Wang and Lei Wang completed a strong showing of the Chinese pairs teams by finishing fourth with 172.35 points.
Americans Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim came in fifth with 161.72 points. Their teammates, Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, moved up to sixth with 155.52 points.