Khokhlova and Novitski win Cup of Russia ice dance
The hypnotic free dance of Russians Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski on Sunday sent the couple past defending champions and compatriots Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin to win the gold medal at the Cup of Russia competition.
American pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White produced the top technical display to take the bronze in an impressive comeback from Saturday's error-riddled original dance.
"We have lots of positive emotions right now, and it's hard to know what to say. We are really glad," Khokhlova said.
The most memorable moment of their stylish free dance, set to Sergei Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, was a lift that had Khokhlova stretched round in a circle and rotating around Novitski's outstretched arm.
Domnina and Shabalin, the European ice-dance champions, lamented their free dance.
"I don't know what to say," Domnina said. "We made a lot of mistakes.... We will draw conclusions and keep working."
White said he was pleased to record a clean skate.
"It's hard coming and competing against the two top Russian teams, and obviously [the crowd] is going to be really behind them," said White, who fell twice Saturday.
All three pairs have qualified for the Grand Prix final in South Korea in mid-December.
The ice dance ended the fifth of the figure-skating season's six International Skating Union Grand Prix competitions. This year's Cup of Russia was highlighted by a stunning short program from Brian Joubert of France in the men's event.
Joubert took the men's gold despite a disappointing free skate. Carolina Kostner of Italy beat error-plagued Fumie Suguri of Japan with an elegant free skate to win the women's title, and Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao of China held on to win the pairs.
The NHK Trophy in Tokyo is the final stop on the Grand Prix circuit, beginning on Thursday.