The most exciting thing to come out of France for me at the Trophee Eric Bompard was the men's event.
I cannot remember the last time that at the second last Grand Prix event, none of the men on the podium were in a position to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.
In trying to figure out who would come out on top, it would not have occurred to me that the man who came eighth at Skate Canada would be that guy. In fact, I pretty much named everybody except him as possibilities. Way to go Takahito Mura, you earned the men's title the old-fashioned way: by skating well in both the short and the free programs.
It was great to see American Jeremy Abbott keeping his nerves in check. He won the short program and although he wasn't as secure in the free, he was strong enough to land on the podium with a silver medal. This was a great improvement over his fifth place finish at Skate America.
My pick was Florent Amodio from France who did win the free, but with too much ground to make up after a seventh place finish in the short program, settled for the bronze.
The French dance champions, Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat were a big hit with the home town crowd on their way to their second Grand Prix title this season.
Carmen the lesser
Winning the dance title means that Pechalat and Bourzat qualify for the Grand Prix Final. Also qualifying are the Italian dancers Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, who finished second.
I like the Italian dancers a lot; they are good skaters with nice presentation. That doesn't minimize my surprise that their coach Igor Shpillband decided to use Carmen for their free dance. When put up against the Carmen performed by his former students, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir - it pales by comparison.
Ashley Wagner of the U.S. has shown definite signs that she might be able to go all the way to the top of the podium at worlds. She qualified for the Grand Prix Final with the maximum 30 points by winning both of her Grand Prix events.
It was nice to see two of Russia's young women round out the podium. In particular, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva's silver demonstrates that the potential that we've seen in the past is in fact still there. Julia Lipnitskaia, meanwhile, may have been delivered a dose of reality as she slipped from first after the short to third overall.
I have to hand it to the Russian pair team of Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov. They took the lead after the short and it was that lead that meant they held on for first place. Ultimately the point spread was only 1.28 between Kavaguti and Smirnov and eventual silver medallists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada. Interestingly, Duhamel and Radford won the free but not by enough to be able to compensate for the points' shortfall after their short program.
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