Press Release

Kozuka, Nagasu hold early leads in Beijing

Pechalat, Bourzat lead dance; Pang, Tong top pairs

Takahiko Kozuka leads the men heading into Saturday's free skate.
Takahiko Kozuka leads the men heading into Saturday's free skate. (Getty Images)

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By International Skating Union
(11/05/2010) - Day one at the Cup of China.

Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat dance to lead
Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France won the short dance ahead of Italy's Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali and Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia.

Pechalat/Bourzat debuted a new program in competition, set to music from the Dr. Zhivago soundtrack. The routine was highlighted by difficult footwork and a one-armed rotational lift. The French received a Level 4 and a Level 2 for the two sequences of the Golden Waltz and scored 64.12 points.

"We've changed our program two weeks ago and we only did it about eight times in practice," Pechalat explained. "It was okay, but I'm not so happy with it as we can skate much better than that."

Performing to My Fair Lady, Faiella/Scali started off strongly with level-four twizzles and a well skated first sequence of the Golden Waltz, but then he caught his blade in the skirt of his partner in the second sequence of the Waltz and stumbled. The world bronze medalists received 57.21 points.

"I got stuck in her skirt," said Scali. "It was disappointing as we were skating very well. We lost many points, we lost two key points in the Waltz. It is the first competition of the season for us, which is always a little hard, but tomorrow is a new day."

Bobrova/Soloviev chose the song "Delilah" by Tom Jones for their short dance, their twizzles were a little wobbly but they recovered to produced a good Golden Waltz part with both sequences garnering a level three. The Muscovites picked up 55.85 points.

"It wasn't our best performance," admitted Soloviev. "The twizzles and the side by side footwork were not so good, the Waltz part was fine, but then we got only a Level 2 for our lift. We will analyze everything and draw our conclusions."

Nora Hoffmann/Maxim Zavozin (HUN) came fourth at 52.69 points and Xintong Huang/Xun Zheng (CHN) are sitting in fifth with 49.70 points.

Mirai Nagasu captures ladies short program
Mirai Nagasu captured the ladies short program with Japan's Akiko Suzuki and Miki Ando following in second and third.

Nagasu put out a solid performance to the music from The Witches of Eastwick and "Un Sospiro" by Franz Liszt that featured a triple Lutz-double toe combination, a double Axel and three Level 4 spins, but the triple flip was a little shaky. The American earned 58.76 points.

"Today felt lika deja vu because last year I was in the same position. I didn't really attack today in my short program. I did last year. That's a good thing, because I don't want to repeat what I did last year," the 17-year-old said.

Last year, she dropped from first to fifth at this event.

"For tomorrow, I just take what I learned today and put it into my long program and hopefully do my best."

Suzuki opened her routine to "Tango Jalousie" with a triple flip-double toe combination, but stepped out of her triple Lutz. She scored 57.97 points.

"I made a mistake today on the triple Lutz," said Suzuki. "But, I still got a higher score than at the Finlandia Trophy last month. Last year, I won my first Grand Prix title here in Beijing and I was able to go to the Grand Prix Final, so China is a lucky place for me."

Ando went for a triple Lutz-triple loop combination, but the second jump was under-roated. She also stepped out of the double Axel and her layback spin had only a Level 1. "I was happy when I landed my triple-triple," said Ando. "But the judges deducted from it. I stepped out of the double Axel, which was a stupid mistake, and I only had a level two for my combination spin and a Level 1 for my layback spin. I know why, I was tired. I think I have to work harder for my spins and steps."

Bingwa Geng finished fourth (51.06 points) and Alena Leonova is currently ranked fifth (50.79 points).

Takahiko Kozuka wins men's short program
Japan's Takahiko Kozuka won the men's short program. Brian Joubert of France came second and Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic is currently ranked third.

Kozuka's routine to a Soul Medley featured a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple Axel and a triple flip as well as Level 4 spins. He earned 77.40 points.

"I competed this program for the first time and I think it was quite good. This is my first time to compete at the Grand Prix in China and I hope that I will perform in the free skating as well as I can skate in practice," Kozuka told the press.

Joubert nailed the quad-triple toe loop combination in his Spanish-themed routine, but he stumbled on the triple Axel and had only Level 1 and 2s on his spins and footwork to score 74.80 points.

"I did a good quad-triple, which was the most important to me. It makes me confident for my next short program and for tomorrow," said Joubert. "I need to change my spins and footwork. I got Level 1 and 2 on them, and that is not enough for being on the top."

Verner's playful program to Singin' in the Rain included a triple flip-triple toe combination, and a triple Lutz, but he, too, struggled with the triple Axel. The 2008 European Champion collected 70.31 points.

"I'm enjoying my first Grand Prix of the season," said Verner. "It is my first competition after a long break, my last competition were the Olympic Games (in February 2010). I made no major mistakes and I feel good to be in this position."

Brandon Mroz came fourth (69.84 points), ahead of Sergei Voronov, who has 68.70 points.

Qing Pang/Jian Tong grab the lead in the pairs short program
Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China grabbed the lead in the Pairs Short Program, but it was a close call with teammates Wenjing Sui/Cong Han being just 1.04 points behind. Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin came in third.

Pang/Tong produced a triple twist and throw triple loop in their program to "Nocturne" by Federic Chopin, but she doubled the side by side toe loop while he stumbled on a triple. The World Champions earned 60.62 points.

"Today's performance wasn't very good and we hope to do better in the free skating tomorrow," Pang commented.

Sui/Han put out a lively routine to Western Banjo music that was highlighted by a big throw triple flip, a double Axel and a triple twist, but he slipped towards the end and took her down with him. The World Junior Champions still posted a new seasons best at 59.58 points.

"This was the first time for us to skate in a senior competition. We wanted to skate our very best so much, but we both were so nervous and made a mistake. We hope to learn from this experience at a senior competition," Han explained.

Skating to "Oblivion" by Astor Piazzolla, Yankowskas/Coughlin landed a triple twist, throw triple Salchow and a side-by-side triple toe loop to earn a new seasons best of 57.86 points.

"We are very excited to be here at Cup of China. Obviously there are very strong teams here. We can't control our scores or the scores of our competitors, so we're trying to have a lot of fun in our performance and really interact with each other so we have a strong component score each time," Coughlin noted.

"It's very exciting [to sit in third place], but we just focused on each other and it's not over yet," added Yankowskas.

Skate Canada Champions Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze are ranked fourth (55.85 points) and Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig came sixth at 51.46 points.