Savchenko, Szolkowy take pairs gold in Canada
Skate America champs Dube, Davison take silver
|World bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy won gold at Skate Canada. (Getty Images)|
With a total of 188.63 points, they were miles ahead of their nearest challengers. Canada's Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison collected 174.20 points to take silver. With the gold they won last week at Skate America, the Canadians will qualify for their first Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, in December.
The bronze medal (165.19 points) went to the Japanese-Russian pairing of Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov, who represent Russia, and ranked ninth at the 2007 world championships, two spots behind Dube and Davison.
Savchenko enjoyed some serious hang-time on their opening move, the throw triple flip. Considering her aptitude for flight, it is appropriate the couple chose a Cirque du Soleil piece entitled "Oiseau", the French word for "bird", as their free skate music.
Szolkowy botched his triple Salchow, which was counted only as a single, costing the couple big points, but their lifts and spins were top notch.
This past summer, Szolkowy had arthroscopic surgery to repair an injured knee. Their coach, Ingo Steuer, the 1997 world pairs champion with Mandy Woetzel, noted that the same doctor had performed seven surgeries on his knees during his lengthy competitive career.
"I'm happy. It was a good result. A good short. A good long," assessed Steuer, whose students will compete again at the final two Grand Prix events in Russia and Japan.
Dube also had problems with the Salchow, crashing to the ice on her underrotated attempt, but that was the Canadian champions' only major error in their romantic "Blower's Daughter" program.
"We did some stupid mistakes, but it happens... Overall, we are pleased with our performances," Dube said.
"It was awesome for us. Our goals were to medal on the Grand Prix circuit, just one medal anywhere," Davison noted. "We're a little bit ahead of schedule."
Kawaguchi and Smirnov almost made history by becoming the first pair to land a rarely-attempted throw quadruple Salchow. It looked good in the air, but she flipped off her landing edge and had to put a hand down to keep from hitting the ice.
With 2002 Olympic champs Jamie Sale and David Pelletier looking on from their commentators post in the CBC broadcast booth, it was ironic that the Russians performed to "Love Story" -- the signature routine of Canada's sweetheart couple. To add to the irony, Kawaguchi and Smirnov are coached by Tamara Moskvina, who was also the coach of Russian duo Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. They became reluctant co-winners of the Olympic gold in the wake of the Salt Lake City judging scandal uproar.
U.S. pair Tiffany Vise and Derek Trent finished in fifth among six couples with 147.52 points. Gold medals here come with $18,000 in prize money, while silver earns $13,000 and bronze $9,000.