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Volosozhar and Trankov bag another gold medal

Russians notch fourth gold medal of the season, lock up spot in Grand Prix Final

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won the gold at Trophee Bompard by almost 10 points.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won the gold at Trophee Bompard by almost 10 points. (AFP)

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By Jean-Christophe Berlot, special to icenetwork.com
(11/19/2011) - Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov added another gold medal to their collection (which so far knows only one silver: the one they won at the 2011 world championships), as they outclassed all their competitors to win the 2011 Trophée Eric Bompard in Paris. Their Russian teammates, Vera Barazova and Yuri Larionov, grabbed the silver medal, 10 points behind. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada finished third, seven points ahead of Americans Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig.

Volosozhar and Trankov did not make the easiest choice when they decided to skate their free program to Swan Lake. Even though their musical choice comes from the soundtrack of Black Swan, an ever-lasting "hit" of skating rinks all over the world and throughout the ages like Swan Lake requires no less than perfection to create emotion.

From the moment Trankov's play with his fingers opened like feathers, their unison on the ice and the strength that emerges from their skating gave a new dimension to the music itself. The French audience behaved the same way a Russian audience would have: They remained completely silent throughout their program.

They strangely started by singling their opening triple twist, but the rest of their program was flawless. The couple even managed to connect elements together to create even more density: They started their lasso lift with a spread eagle and went right from their throw triple Salchow to their group 3 lift, which ended also in an eagle. They scored 130.44 points for their free program (.5 points less than their season's best) and 194.13 overall.

"We did good jumps, good throws, our three lifts gained Level 4," Trankov said. "Yet we need to be better technically, especially in our twist, which is our best element usually. I am grateful that Tatiana can win a gold medal in Paris, as I did myself [in 2009 with previous partner Maria Murkhotova]."

Bazarova and Larionov skated a clean and impressive program to Doctor Zhivago. They scored 125.85 points and won their fourth career Grand Prix medal, and their third silver.

"Finally, we were able to put up our free program without any mistake," Bazarova said.

"Also, we are happy that people appreciated the emotion we tried to put in it," Larionov added.

Duhamel and Radford had a less than stellar performance.

"We missed our simplest parts," Duhamel said.

Their triple Lutz-double toe combination was perfect ... until they added a double toe, after which they ended on their knees and in the boards.

"Tonight's program was a fight for us," Radford admitted. "We did a couple of good elements and then had a problem, then another couple of good elements and then a problem again. Still, we could see how much potential this program has."

The team will await the results from next week's Rostelecom Cup to learn if it will qualify for the Grand Prix Final."

Evora and Ladwig continued the tradition of strong U.S. pairs showings in Paris, after Rena Inoue and John Baldwin hit their throw triple Axel at this event in 2005, a few weeks before the 2006 Olympics, and Tiffany Vise and Derek Trent landed the first ever quad throw Salchow in competition.

Evora and Ladwig's free program, appropriately set to Maurice Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloé" and Claude Debussy's "Rêverie" for a French afternoon, received a warm applause from the audience, so consistent was their choreography.

"We are dressed like peasants." Evora said. "We got inspired by the original ballet costumes."

Their expression thrilled the audience, but their technical elements were spectacular, too. Their throw triple Lutz was rotated so fast, and their reverse lasso lift covered half the rink.

"Our strongest elements are the lifts," Ladwig said before the event. "At the 2010 Olympics, we hit 8.15 with our reverse lasso lift. I would like to beat that here." The duo did, scoring 8.55 points for that element in today's program. All their lifts gained Level 4.

"Their lifts have always been their thing," their coach, Lyndon Johnston, said. "Each year we try to be a bit more creative. We also try to make more points every year."

Evora fell on their side-by-side double Axels, and they got no credit for their final pairs combination spin.

"It's 100 percent my fault." Ladwig admitted. "I had not even realized that Amanda was off the ice."

The new Canadian team of Jessica Dubé and Sébastien Wolfe took a creditable fifth-place finish after a beautifully choreographed program to Philipp Glass' "Heroes."