As figure skating championships go, the ISU Grand Prix Final was a wild one. From the moment my eyes opened on Thursday morning until the end of competition on Sunday, there was something going on worth mentioning.
On Thursday, it was revealed that Mao Asada, the two-time world champion and event favourite from Japan was returning home to be with her critically-ill mother. Sadly, she did not make it to Japan before her mother's death early on Friday morning in a Nagoya hospital.
Then there was the interview tempest in a Chan teapot
In a nutshell, it was implied in a Reuters news story that Patrick Chan was not a proud Canadian, felt underappreciated and wanted to compete for China. What the story doesn't tell you is that the interview was done three months ago and only released this past week.
If you're not sure what I am talking about you only need to check out my own story on cbcsports.ca. In the end, everything was straightened out and Chan competed without further incident.
All this even before the skaters hit the ice to compete.
For the pairs prediction I had thought that three-time world champions from Germany, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, would skate off with the top spot. In the end that's what happened
although it wasn't a smooth ride. The Germans faltered slightly in the short and were in second place headed into the free. The Short program leaders from Russia Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov were terrific in their free program. The event came down to the wire with Savchenko and Szolkowy taking the gold by a margin of .18. I don't think I have ever seen a closer race. The Russians took silver while their team mates Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov took the bronze.
With Asada out of the competition, I figured that the 14-year-old, two-time Grand Prix gold medallist from this season, Elizaveta Tuktmisheva from Russia, would prevail. In the short program she had errors in two of her three jump elements.
I was stunned to see Tuktamisheva in last place. On the other hand, I was also surprised in the best possible way to see Italy's Carolina Kostner's best version of herself take over and command the lead after the short program.
In the final analysis, Tuktamisheva was strong enough to earn the second highest score in the free which pulled her up to fourth place. The gold medal went to Kostner who also won the free - proving that when she's good, she's great.
Japan's Akiko Suzuki took the silver and Russia's Alena Leonova took the bronze.
I'm the first one to admit that the ice dance short dance result left me scratching my head. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 Olympic and World champions from Canada, finished in second place
behind the Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the reigning World champions.
My issue is not with the result but with the five-point margin between the two teams heading into the free. True enough, Moir tripped and fell during the short dance leaving them with a one point deduction. What I didn't understand was that the Americans were ahead of the Canadians in both the technical and components scores. What can I say? I would have had the two teams closer and the Canadians definitely ahead across the board in the components.
I said before the event started that the free dances for both teams were outstanding this season and it would come down to who won the short dance. The race would be that close. Once the skaters took the ice for the free dance both the Canadians and the Americans were outstanding. At the end of the day, Davis and White would not be denied and captured their third Grand Prix title while Virtue and Moir settled for silver.
Although the French team of Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat took the bronze medal, their performance was overshadowed by Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje who finished in 4th. For my money, the French had better be watching over their shoulders because Weaver and Poje's performances in both the short and the free dance segments were outstanding.
The reigning world champion from Canada, Patrick Chan won the Grand Prix Final men's title
for the second year in a row.
Taking the ice for the short program, he miscalculated the amount of room he had for the second jump in his quad toe/triple toe combination, caught his heel on the boards and fell. Regardless, his program was still long enough to take the lead. When he hit the ice for his free program, I don't think that I have ever seen more stress on his face. His program wasn't perfect and there is still room for more work to be done.
For purists like me, what is clear is that the way he skates is the best in the world. When the jumps fail him he can still rely on everything else that happens in between.
The 2010 World champion from Japan Daisuke Takahashi was not at his best in his tentative short program finishing in 5th place. His free program on the other hand was beautiful. The joyous way with which he skated was glorious. He was second in the free program with a strong enough score to take the silver medal.
Javier Fernandez of Spain became the first Spaniard to medal at a senior grand prix event this fall. He went on to medal again at his second grand prix event, make it to the Final and take the bronze; another first for his country. Sitting in the kiss and cry waiting for his marks, Fernandez's coach Brian Orser could be overheard saying "baby steps, baby steps." I can't imagine what this 20-year-old kid will do once he starts taking giant steps.
If the Grand Prix series is any indication this is proving to be one of the most competitive seasons ever across the board where nothing can be taken for granted.
Back to accessibility links