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Russian skaters shine at Coupe de Nice

Team Russia claims three of four gold medals

Russia's Alena Leonva took home the gold medal at the Coupe de Nice.
Russia's Alena Leonva took home the gold medal at the Coupe de Nice. (Getty Images)

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By Mickey Brown, special to icenetwork.com
(10/17/2010) - Russian skaters claimed three of the four gold medals at this week's Coupe de Nice in Nice, France. Alena Leonova, Artur Gachinski and pairs team Katarina Gerboldt and Alexander Enbert won the titles in their respective disciplines, while France's Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones took the top spot in ice dancing.

Ladies
Leonova won the short program and the free skate by slim margins over Valentina Marchei of Italy to skate away with a 2.60-point victory. Skating to a polka by Alfred Schnittke and music from "La Strada" by Nino Rota, Leonova put out a clean short program that included a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple flip and double Axel. She performed her free skate to music from The Witches of Eastwick, landing five triples (two in combination) and two double Axels (one in combination). This was her third gold medal at this event; the first two came in the junior division in 2006 and 2007.

Marchei landed two triples in her short program but had a little trouble with her double Axel (-0.7 Grade of Execution). She opened her free skate with a beautiful triple Lutz-double toe and landed four more triples in the program, although she had a wrong-edge takeoff on her triple flip, and the last part of her double Axel-double toe-double loop was downgraded. The silver was her second this season (Ondrej Nepela Memorial) and her second in as many years at this competition.

France's Maé Bérénice Méité took the bronze, her first-ever medal as a senior at an ISU competition.

Karen Zhou of the United States placed 11th.

Men
Gachinski took the title in Nice for the second year in a row and finished first at an ISU competition for the second time in two weeks. This was actually the fourth time he has taken the top prize at Coupe de Nice, as he won the novice gold medal in 2004 and the junior crown in 2007.

Gachinski landed an opening quad toe-triple toe (-1.5 GOE) in his Pink Floyd short program en route to a segment score of 77.91 points, four more than country mate Konstantin Menshov. He landed a clean quad toe to start his free skate, performed to a piece of music called "The Bolt" by Dmitri Shostakovich, and added six clean triples (one in combination). His free skate score of 156.25 was the best in the segment by almost 10 points, and he beat silver medalist Menshov by more than 13.

Menshov nearly fell on the opening triple Axel in his short program (-2.5 GOE) but followed it with a clean quad toe-double toe combo and put up the second-best score in the segment (73.23). He landed two quads in the free skate-one in his opening quad toe-double toe combination, the other a quad toe (-1.0 GOE)-and three clean triples (he again stumbled on his triple Axel, accruing a -2.0 GOE on the element) to amass a segment score of 147.60 and a competition total of 220.83. It was his second silver medal this season (Nebelhorn) and his second at this event (2007).

France's Alban Préaubert edged Germany's Peter Liebers by a point to win the bronze, adding to his silver medals from this competition in 2008 and 2009. He skated two relatively clean programs, but his lack of a quad relegated him to third place.

U.S. skater William Brewster pulled up from 13th in the short program to eighth in the free skate and eighth overall.

Pairs
Gerboldt and Enbert won the short program by less than a point ahead of country mates Tatiana Novik and Mikhail Kuznetsov in the short program, and then placed second in the free skate behind Italy's Nicole della Monica and Yannick Kocon to win their first international competition together.

Gerboldt fell on the opening side-by-side triple Salchows in the Russians' short program, but the rest of their skate was clean. They had big problems on three of their first four elements in the free skate-receiving -1.93 GOEs on each of their first two jump elements and her falling on their throw triple Salchow-but just like in the short, they got stronger as the program went on. Their free skate score of 102.92 points was second best in the segment and gave them 157.02 for the competition, earning them a six-point win.

Della Monica and Kocon, and Novik and Kuznetsov were separated by just 0.22 points, with the Italians earning the silver and the Russians the bronze. This was the fourth international medal for della Monica and Kocon, to go along with their gold at each of the last two NRW Trophies and their silver at the 2008 Golden Spin. Novik and Kuznetsov add a bronze to the silver they won last season at JGP Poland.

Ice Dancing
Carron and Jones won the short dance by more than eight points over Italians Lorenza Alessandrini and Simone Vaturi and hung onto the gold despite placing fourth in the free dance. It was their third gold medal at an ISU competition, following their titles at the 2009 NRW Trophy and the 2010 Mont Blanc Trophy.

Carron and Jones had trouble with their twizzles in both programs, receiving -0.5 GOEs on both sequences, and their curve lift in the free dance earned just a Level 1 and a -0.57 GOE. Their competition score of 120.87 was only 2.68 points better than that of Alessandrini and Vaturi, who made up a lot of ground in the free dance thanks in part to their lifts, all four of which garnered Level 4 and positive GOEs. The silver medal is the Italians' first as seniors at an ISU competition.

The bronze went to Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain. They placed second in the free dance, which included a Level 4 lift combination that earned 9.1 points, the most of any element in the segment. The medal was their second at an ISU competition, their first (also a bronze) coming at the 2009 Golden Spin.

American ice dancers Katharine Zeigler and Baxter Burnak placed ninth.