Pechalat, Bourzat take the day in Paris
Russians win silver; Americans capture bronze
|Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat won handily over the rest of the field in France. (Getty Images)|
In a bit of an upset, Russians Ekaterina Riazonova and Ilia Tkachenko, fifth at Skate America, won silver. Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein took bronze, their second of the Grand Prix season.
Pechalat and Bourzat, who train in Moscow under Alexander Zhulin, captured the crowd with a feel-good program full of sprightly steps, creative lifts -- including a "no hands" curve lift -- and impish expression. All four of their lifts gained Level 4s from the technical panel, as did their spin. They earned a season best 96.34 for 161.82, several points under the mark set by Olympic and world silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White at NHK Trophy.
With this win, the French qualify for the Grand Prix Final, where they will face off against Davis and White plus Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dimitry Soloviev, Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje and Nora Hoffmann and Max Zavozin of Hungary.
Riazanova and Tkachenko skated a passionate program to "Mexico" full of speed and emotion but lacking polish in spots. Their season best 85.98 gave them 146.79 points overall.
Chock and Zuerlein, fifth in the U.S. last season, lost ground in their entertaining Cabaret routine when Chock slipped during a transition move. In addition, although their technical scores were comparable, their program components were more than three points less than the Russians'. They earned 80.39, well off their season best, and ended with 138.48.
Americans Isabella Cannuscio and Ian Lorello had trouble on a lift in their free dance to West Side Story and dropped from fifth after the short dance to seventh overall.