Davis, White serve notice at Moscow Grand Prix | Figure Skating | CBC Sports

Figure SkatingDavis, White serve notice at Moscow Grand Prix

Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 | 10:53 AM

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Meryl Davis, top, and Charlie White showed they'll be a force to be reckoned with at the upcoming Grand Prix Final. (Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images) Meryl Davis, top, and Charlie White showed they'll be a force to be reckoned with at the upcoming Grand Prix Final. (Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images)

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The most interesting thing that came out of the ice dance event at the Rostelecom Cup Grand Prix event in Moscow is that it's clear that reigning world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States are not going to give up their title to anyone without a fight.

Their Die Fledermaus free dance continues to dazzle. They look prepared and polished and ready to go head to head with their biggest rivals, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, at the upcoming Grand Prix Final.
There were a fair share of surprises over the weekend at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating's Rostelecom Cup in Moscow.

The biggest surprise came in the men's event, with former junior world champion Yuzuru Hanyu stepping up to take the title and a spot in the Grand Prix Final, which starts Dec. 9 in Quebec City.

Up to three men could qualify for the Final from this event, making the competition that much more intense. In the end Hanyu's second-place short and strong free skate was enough to get him to the top of the podium.

My pick for gold had been Javier Fernandez of Spain, who had a weak short program that put him in fourth place. But he was first in the field in the free program and moved up to take the silver, a mere 0.03 points behind the winner. When he skates both programs well, like he did at Skate Canada, Fernandez is a formidable competitor.

I don't know what the problem is with American Jeremy Abott, who led after the short program but faltered in the free. His bronze medal here is enough for him to get to Quebec City, but at some point he's going to have to put two solid programs back to back to compete in a field this tight.

Davis, White set to battle Virtue, Moir

The most interesting thing that came out of the ice dance event is that it's clear that reigning world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States are not going to give up their title to anyone without a fight. Their Die Fledermaus free dance continues to dazzle. They look prepared and polished and ready to go head to head with their biggest rivals, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, at the Grand Prix Final.

Silver medallists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada just keep getting better and better. This competition was their third in the Grand Prix series, and they entered really just for added experience. But they treated it like the real deal and it paid off in the form of a silver medal.

Savchenko, Szolkowy step up


In pairs, I was interested to see my new favourite Russian team, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, square off against three-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany. Both teams had already qualified for the Final, but at stake was the confidence boost that taking this title would provide. The Germans needed that. In the end, Savchenko and Szolkowy were head and shoulders above where they have skated this season, earning a season's best score in their free and taking the title.

Asada back to old self

Mao Asada is back on track! The two-time ladies world champion from Japan looked in many ways to be back to her old self: lyrical, graceful and technically strong against a beautiful backdrop of a program to Liebestraum, choreographed by Lori Nichol. In a press conference after the event Asada said, "I am very happy to be in the Grand Prix Final, but today's performance was only about 50 per cent of what I can do and I am disappointed with that. I will go home and train more before the Grand Prix Final."

If that's only 50 per cent, I'm really looking forward to Asada hitting her stride.

The silver medallist was Russia's Alena Leonova. but it's her teammate, bronze medallist Adelina Sotnikova, who is worth mentioning.

This was the first time I had seen the junior world champion in competition. In my mind, as we move forward she is the one to watch for. She has the jumping ability of fellow Russian Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, so she scores on that count. What I think Sotnikova has in spades is the "watchability" and drama  of an artistic diva. With many of the women, I can simultaneously watch them skate and create a grocery list, they are that predictable. With Sotnikova, she was the sole focus of my attention. Look for her to blossom in time for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

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