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Error-prone Volosozhar, Trankov still claim victory

Russian pairs finish 1-2 in Sochi; Pang, Tong capture bronze

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov took their first Grand Prix Final title.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov took their first Grand Prix Final title. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(12/08/2012) - Despite several major mistakes, including a fall on the entrance to a throw triple Salchow, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia won their first Grand Prix final title in Sochi on Saturday, defeating teammates Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov by 2.95 points. Chinese veterans Qing Pang and Jian Tong won bronze.

Volosozhar and Trankov, the world silver medalists, began their free skate at the 2012 Grand Prix Final well with a stunning Level 4 triple twist, side-by-side triple Salchow combinations and a huge throw triple loop.

The good start was counterbalanced by an error-filled second half, including Trankov's fall on a triple toe followed by his disruptive wipeout on the entrance to a throw triple Salchow.

Despite these errors -- plus a shaky closing pair combination spin -- the top Russians' program component marks ranged into the high 8s, and they earned 131.09 points to win gold with 204.55.

"It was my fault; I made two very big mistakes, fell two times again," Trankov said. "When we did run-throughs of this program in our practices before the Grand Prix, I never fell on a triple toe, and now it is already the second competition in a row that I fell on that toe.

"When I fell [on the toe], it was very bad on my hip. I hurt my leg and [it did not work well afterward], so then I fell again. It is good that we are safe, that Tania [Volosozhar] did not fall."

Volosozhar and Trankov's program was in sharp contrast to Bazarova and Larionov's clean free to music from Spartacus, which opened with side-by-side double Axel-double Axel sequences and triple toes, and included superb lifts and two solid triple throws: the flip and loop.

The Russian silver medalists narrowly won the free skate with a season-high 131.46, but it was not enough to overcome their countrymen, who led by 3.32 points after the short.

"For us, the second place in the Final is an astonishing result. We're happy," Bazarova said. "There were no mistakes. We're very glad.

"We're in our normal shape now. I had an injury in the beginning of the season and I was unsteady at previous laps of Grand Prix, but here I feel confident."

"Psychologically, we don't feel like fighting with Volosozhar and Trankov; we should fight with ourselves," Larionov said.

Pang and Tong opened their free with double Axel-double Axel sequences, but did not complete triple toe loops. Although their forward outside death spiral is a continuing eyesore, fine lifts and huge well-landed triple throws helped their score, and China's former two-time world champions placed third in the free and third overall.

"We had some health issues; we were sick, and after that, the quality of our practice wasn't so good," Tong said. "Today, it felt really hard to skate."

"We felt tired and we need some rest," Pang said. "We were lacking energy. Considering the circumstances, we are pretty happy with how we performed today."

Canadian champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford had a far more ambitious free skate than the Chinese, with side-by-side triple Lutzes and triple Salchow combinations as well as two well-landed throws in the routine's second half, but a complete miss on their final lift -- Radford brought his arms down, thus invalidating the element -- helped relegate them to fourth place.

Another Canadian team, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, were fifth, and Russians Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov placed sixth.