Kim led after the short program with another record-setting score, but faltered dramatically in the free. She said after the fact that she was nervous about skating last and struggled to regain her focus after a fall and a couple of under rotated jumps.
Her nerves may have been compounded by the fact that 2008 ISU junior world champion Flatt skated a brilliant free program and closed the 18-point gap after the free, but not by enough to take the gold from Kim.
It was the Korean’s second Grand Prix gold this season, which qualified her for a trip to the Grand Prix Final in Tokyo in December. The bronze went to Hungary’s Julia Sebestyen who performed solidly enough to earn a season’s best in the free and to return to the Grand Prix podium for the first time in three years.
Canadian Sawyer skates to silver
The men’s event was equally dramatic with defending world champion Evan Lysacek as the only one to really deliver. Leading after the short, he performed solidly enough in the free program to take the title. The men on the rest of the podium were proof enough that in order to win in men’s free skate, you have to skate.
American Ryan Bradley had a long way to go after an eighth-place finish in the short. Delivering a program that included two quad jumps and a triple Axel was enough for a second-place finish in the free and a bronze medal. Canada’s Shawn Sawyer, in fifth after the short, skated with confidence and artistry, earning enough points to give him the silver medal, his first on the Grand Prix circuit.
Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, the 2006 Olympic silver medallists and reigning world silver medallists, were unchallenged at this event and took the gold and earned a berth for the Grand Prix Final in Tokyo.
This event was a breakthrough for the Italian ice dance team of Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte who took the silver in Lake Placid. Medal favourites and defending European ice dance champions from Russia, Jhana Khokhlova dnd Sergei Novitski, ended up off the podium in fourth.
Even more surprising was the bronze medal earned by the brother and sister team of Alexandra and Roman Zaretski of Israel. The Israeli ice dancers posted the second highest score of the night in the free dance, which bumped them up from fourth to third overall and their first ever Grand Prix medal.
Three-time world champions and two-time Olympic bronze medallists, Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao of China, were nothing short of brilliant, especially in the short program where they were able to tie for the highest score ever in a short program. The record was originally set at worlds in 2008 by fellow Chinese Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang, who were very shaky in the short program in Lake Placid, finishing fifth.
In typical, unpredictable Zhang and Zhang fashion, they rallied in the free and were able to take the bronze medal. The Ukrainian team of Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov, who won the silver, has undeniably solid pair elements like lifts and throws, but lacks the personality to really make them memorable beyond the end of their programs.
If you were ever going to forget or minimize the risk in pairs skating you only need to look at the replay of Canada’s Meaghan Duhamel and Craig Buntin, who ended up withdrawing due to injury part way through their free program.
During warm-up, on a throw triple loop, Duhamel sprained her right ankle on the landing. Choosing to skate the free, she reported later that she couldn’t really feel her leg and when they got to this same element again, she fell on the landing and hit her head. Able to get up under her own steam, she and Buntin skated to their coach and it was decided that they would not continue. Fortunately for all concerned, the injuries are not serious and they will be aiming for a full recovery by the Canadian championships in January.
The final stop in the Grand Prix series, the HomeSense Skate Canada International, is this coming weekend in Kitchener, Ont.
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