Pang, Tong win pairs; Takahashi leads men
Savchenko, Szolkowy win silver medal
|Qing Pang and Jian Tong won their second world championship title in Torino. (Getty Images)|
Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) grabs men's short program
Daisuke Takahashi of Japan skated to the lead in what was an exciting men's short program. Canada's Patrick Chan and Brian Joubert of France are following not far behind in second and third.
Takahashi was on fire in his passionate Tango routine to "Eye" by Cobe. The Olympic bronze medalist nailed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a triple Axel, a triple Lutz and two Level 4 spins to earn 89.30 points (47.40/41.90).
"I'm very pleased to have achieved a high score in the short program without the quad, but my goal is to include the quad, especially for next season. I believe I can have an even higher score. Tomorrow I'll decide at the last minute if I'm going to do a quad toe or a quad flip or no quad at all," Takahashi said.
"I love not only Tango, but all Latin music and the character. I cannot judge how good I'm at interpreting it, but I enjoy performing it and maybe my joy is translating."
Skating to "Tango de los Exilados" Patrick Chan landed a triple Axel, a triple flip-triple toe loop, a triple Lutz and like Takahashi got a Level 4 for two spins and the circular step sequence. The current world silver medalist picked up a seasons best of 87.80 points (47.40/40.40).
"I felt really comfortable after the warm-up and then after off the ice waiting for my turn to skate. I think the program went very well, just the way I wanted to. And I'm glad that the last time I'm doing my short program was good one. I can get this off my chest," Chan commented. "Finally a kind of a redemption after the Olympics disappointing short program, so I'm mostly relieved and I am happy with the result of course."
Joubert gave an energetic performance of his routine to "Rise" by Safri Duo that was highlighted by a quadruple-triple toe loop combination, a triple Axel and a triple Lutz. The 2007 World Champion scored 87.70 points (47.90/39.80).
"I'm very proud. It was very difficult for me after the Olympic Games. The six minutes warm up wasn't so good, but I did m job. It was great to skate and I had a lot of fun with the audience. That's my goal for this competition," Joubert offered. "I don't care about the place today; I just care about my performance. I did a quad-triple and I think I didn't get as lot of points for this combination like the ones with a triple-triple combination, maybe it wasn't as clean. I probably made some mistakes on the spins or footwork, because I didn't care about the levels; I was on the ice to have fun with the audience. I wanted to get 90 points, it wasn't for today. I will try for the next season."
The competitors ranked fourth to ninth also turned in strong performances. Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) came fourth at 84.20 points; Michal Brezina (CZE) is sitting in fifth (81.75 points) and Jeremy Abbott (USA) rounds up the top six with 81.05 points.
Pang/Tong (CHN) claim pairs gold
Olympic silver medalists Qing Pang/Jian Tong of China claimed the gold in a high-level Pairs Free Skating. Germany's Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy took the silver medal and the bronze went to Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov of Russia.
Pang/Tong skated last out of the 16 couples in the Final and opened their dramatic program "The Impossible Dream" with a double Axel-double Axel sequence, but then Pang doubled the toe loop. The Chinese went on as if nothing happened, reeling off difficult lifts and their trademark high triple throws to score 136.11 points (65.55 element score/70.56 program component score). Overall they accumulated 211.39 points.
"We are very happy to be back here in this place (Torino) and to have won our second world title here. The audience was very supportive and helped us to perform as well as we did," Tong told the post-event press conference.
"When we started out so skate it was our dream to become champions. So many skaters start out, all of them dream to become champions but only few achieve this dream. We kept our dream alive. It is very hard but it is also the beauty of figure skating" he answered when asked about their music choice.
Savchenko/Szolkowy turned in a beautiful performance to the romantic Out of Africa soundtrack that featured a throw triple flip, side by side double Axel and a throw triple Salchow at the very end. The only glitch came when she doubled the first jump in the planned triple toe-triple toe sequence. The Olympic bronze medalists earned 135.22 points (65.86/69.36) and moved up from third to second to take the first world silver medal in their career after two gold and one bronze. They totaled 204.74 points.
"We feel better tonight. We are happy that our long program was the way we skated it. We wanted to show the elements. There was a little, little mistake. It has been a long season, a hard season, there were good programs and bad programs and it is important to finish with a good program," Szolkowy said. "This wasn't our last competition. We will continue to compete. Our big goal is Sochi (2014 Olympic Winter Games)," he revealed.
Kavaguti/Smirnov went for the throw quadruple Salchow right at the beginning of their program to "Sentimental Waltz" and "On the Blue Danube," but she crashed. The team recovered to nail a side by side triple toe loop, double Axel-double Axel sequence and triple twist, but she fell again on the throw triple loop. The European Champions earned 130.67 points (65.39/67.28) and slipped to third at 203.79 overall to take the bronze like they had last year.
"It was risky to try the quad throw Salchow after not going for it in Vancouver but we challenged, we took that risk: we missed it, but we are satisfied of our performance," Kavaguti said. "Each competition is different. We tried to do our best here, finally tried to perform a quad throw in competition. Not everything was perfect, but we are pleased with the result and with each other," Smirnov added.
Maria Mukhortova/Maxim Trankov (RUS) finished fourth at 197.39 points. Their performance was highlighted by a triple twist, side by side triple Salchow and throw triple loop, but he stumbled badly when throwing her for the throw triple Salchow while she landed perfectly. Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang came fifth with a strong performance that earned the highest technical score of the night (195.78 points). Jessica Dubé/Bryce Davison (CAN) also skated very well and were ranked sixth (177.07 points).