Seventh time proves to be a charm for Korean LeeLoboda, Drozd rally to win dance; Americans Lewis, Bye pull up to fifth
June Hyoung Lee of Korea captured the gold medal Saturday at JGP France. Russians Alla Loboda and Pavel Drozd claimed victory in dance.
Lee had won just one medal in six previous appearances in the JGP Series before Saturday, a bronze at JGP Italy in 2011, but he was the class of the field in Courchevel. He landed eight triples in his Phantom of the Opera free skate, four of which were part of impressive combinations: triple flip-triple toe, double Axel-triple toe and triple Lutz-double toe-double toe. His score of 203.81 was eight points better than that of runner-up Sota Yamamoto.
Yamamoto fell on his opening triple Axel but followed that with a beautiful triple Lutz-triple toe. He received Level 4s for all his spins and steps, the only competitor to accomplish that feat. His free skate, set to Raul di Blasio's "Lorelei," netted the Japanese skater 130.14 points, and he came away with the silver.
Alexander Samarin copped the bronze despite producing just the fourth-best free skate of the day. It was the Russian's third such medal in four career appearances in the series.
Sitting 11th after the short, U.S. novice champion Paolo Borromeo turrned in a sixth-place showing in the free, moving him up to seventh overall.
The other American in the event, Chase Belmontes, placed ninth in both phases of the competition and finished ninth overall.
In ice dance, Loboda and Drozd overtook Canadians Madeline Edwards and Zhao Kai Pang to earn the top prize. Skating to music from the ballet Giselle, the Russians performed a superlative diagonal step sequence (1.32 Grade of Execution), and their combination spin was also very good (1.08 GOE). Although Edwards and Pang had a higher program components mark than the victors -- 43.44 to 42.18 -- Loboda and Drozd were awarded almost six more points for their elements (40.16) than were the silver medalists (34.34).
The bronze medal went to Anastasia Shpilevaya and Grigory Smirnov. Ukrainians Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin nearly snuck in ahead of the Russians, defeating them by more than four points in the free dance, but their effort wasn't quite enough, and they fell 0.54 points short of the podium.
The U.S. charge was led by Chloe Lewis and Logan Bye, who placed fifth in the free and fifth overall.
Making their international debut, Americans Emily Day and Kevin Leahy wound up eighth.