By Gina Capellazzi
Last weekend, the Grand Prix season kicked off with Skate America. This weekend, the competition headed north of the border to Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada for the Skate Canada International. Team USA saw success at Skate America, winning a medal in each of the four disciplines, bringing home a total of five medals. With a new set of skaters taking the ice, Team USA hoped to mirror that same result in Lethbridge.
Here is a quick recap of the competition. For more results, click here.
Three-time U.S. Champion Ashley Wagner has had success at Skate Canada. She won bronze in 2011 and silver in 2014. The only medal that has eluded her at this event is the gold. And after her sultry short program to “Hip Hip Chin Chin”, where she cleanly landed a triple flip-triple toe combination, double axel and triple loop, she was one step closer to claiming that top stop. She sat in first place with a short program score of 70.33. In the free skate, Wagner, who kept her “Moulin Rouge” program from last season, came out ready to keep that top spot. She would cleanly complete five triples, but she would receive two underrotations for her triple flip/triple toe combo and triple loop-single loop-triple salchow. She would receive a 131.79 and finish second for the free skate, but would win the gold medal due in part to her lead after the short program. She earned a total score of 202.52.
Wagner became the first U.S. singles skater to win an event that included a reigning Olympic or World champion since Evan Lysacek beat Evgeni Plushenko at the 2010 Olympics.
Wagner’s biggest competition in this event was 2015 World Champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia. But after a disappointing short program, she was sitting in seventh place more than 15 points behind Wagner. In the free skate, Tuktamysheva would complete six clean triples. The only issue she had with her jumping passes was a step out on the landing of her triple axel. She was the only female skater to attempt this jump in the competition. She would earn a score of 133.62, win the free skate and move up from seventh place to claim the silver medal. She earned a total score of 188.99.
In second place after the short program was Japan’s Yuka Nagai. This was Nagai’s senior Grand Prix debut. In the free skate, some of Nagai’s jumps were called underrotated. She would finish the free skate in seventh place with a 109.57, but thanks to her short program score of 63.35, she would earn the bronze medal with a total score of 172.92.
2014 U.S. silver medalist and Olympian Polina Edmunds, who sat in fifth place after the short program, would finish the event in sixth place.
Before the start of the competition, the men’s event had been pegged as the most highly anticipated of the four disciplines. This was mostly due to the fact that the hometown favorite and Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan would be returning to competition after a year-long break following the 2014 Olympics. Chan would face old rival, reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, of Japan.
But after the short program, the rivalry of Hanyu and Chan wasn’t as present as many had expected. Chan sat in second place with a score of 80.81, just .07 points behind the leader, Japan’s Daisuke Murakami. Reigning U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon was also in the mix. He sat in third place, less than a point out of first. Hanyu struggled in the short program, receiving no points on two of his three jumping passes. He would receive 73.25 and start the free skate in sixth place.
But the Chan-Hanyu rivalry became more prevalent in the free skate. Because of his sixth place finish in the short program, Hanyu would skate first in the last group. The Olympic Champion would land three quads, including a quad salchow and a quad toe-double toe combination. He would get a one point deduction though due to a fall on a triple lutz. He would score a 186.29 in the free skate and a total score of 259.54.
Chan opened his Frederic Chopin free skate program with a clean quad toe-triple toe combination as well as triple axel. He would cleanly land a total of eight triple jumps. Chan would earn a 190.33 in the free skate and an overall score of 271.14. He would beat Hanyu by more than 11 points and earn his fifth Skate Canada title. Hanyu would settle for the silver.
The leader after the short program, Murakami would take the last spot on the podium, earning the bronze medal with an overall score of 252.25.
Rippon, who was in third place after the short program, was looking to win the fourth senior Grand Prix medal of his career. In his Beatles Medley free skate, Rippon opened with a quad lutz that was downgraded and received a one point fall deduction. Rippon also fell on the second of his two triple axels; however, he successfully completed seven other triples. He placed fifth in the free skate with a 159.33, and finished just off the podium in fourth place with a score of 239.69.
Team USA’s Tim Dolensky, who was making his senior Grand Prix debut, finished the competition in 7th place after an impressive free skate where he received an ISU personal best of 156.60 for free skate and an ISU personal best of 219.06 for total score.
Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are on quite a winning streak. With the exception of the World Team Trophy, they have won every event they competed in last season, including winning their first World Championship. Two weeks ago, they won Skate Canada Autumn Classic, their first international event of this season. In front of their home country again for their second event of the season, Duhamel and Radford were looking to repeat as Skate Canada International Champions.
The pair did just that, after leading by just eight points after the short program, the Canadians would end up winning the free skate with a score of 143.70 and finish with an overall score of 216.16, winning gold by 25 points.
Russians Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov grabbed the silver medal.
Taking home the bronze was Duhamel and Radford’s training mates and fellow Canadians, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro.
Team USA’s Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran, who were making their Grand Prix debut as a team, finished just off the podium in fourth place.
Like Duhamel and Radford, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje have also claimed the top spot in just about every event they competed in last season, with the exception of the World Championships and World Team Trophy, where they finished in third and fourth(team) respectively. Already winning gold at Finlandia Trophy this season, Weaver and Poje would add another gold medal, winning Skate Canada.
U.S. silver medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani would grab the silver medal.
For more on the ice-dance event, go to www.ice-dance.com.