If this year’s new short dance is one thing, it is unpredictable. Surprises (and mistakes) abounded in today’s competition at Cup of Russia.
Russian’s Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev charmed their hometown audience with their Tom Jones waltz, and their solid skating was rewarded with the highest scores of the night. Their 60.80 is almost five points higher than what they scored at Cup of China. Most of those points were gained in TES, boosted by an excellent level 3 midline step sequence and levels 4 and 3 in the Golden Waltz segments.
At Cup of China, Federica Faiella & Massimo Scali placed ahead of Bobrova & Soloviev in the short dance, but fell behind them after the free dance. Although their performance today was cleaner than their short dance in China — Faiella’s skirt didn’t come between Scali’s blades and the ice this time — their score of 57.65 was only .24 higher than their previous mark. But although they escaped today’s short dance without major errors, a series of small mistakes likely cost them the lead. In China, their straightline lift was called a level 4, but today, the entrance was sticky and the difficult position likely wasn’t held for the required three seconds, so it was dropped to a level 2, a difference of 1.5 base points. Another point was lost for level 3 twizzles, instead of level 4. The second half of their Golden sequence was better this time, they still only earned a level 2, worth a point less than Bobrova & Soloviev’s level 3.
Like the top two teams, Nora Hoffmann & Maxim Zavozin also competed at Cup of China, and they also improved. Today’s score of 57.24 is almost five points higher than what they scored in Beijing. Nearly three points of the increase came from the TES, most of which came from picking up 2.5 points in base value by increasing to a level 3 on both the midline steps and the twizzles. Their Golden patterns scored about the same — they dropped to a level 3 on the second half (skated first) and moved up on the first half (skated second) from the level 2 in China to a level 3 here, but the base value remained 12 points.
Sitting in fourth, though markedly separated from the top three, are another pair of hometown dancers, Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov. Their score of 51.97 is a slight improvement from Skate Canada, their first Grand Prix event, although they lost just over half a point in TES. Most of their levels were consistent, but they did lose one level on the second half of the Golden Waltz.
While the top four teams skated without big errors, the bottom four teams all had more noticeable issues.
Close behind Gorshkova & Butikov are Americans Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell with 50.59 points. The Hubbells’ levels (and therefore base value) were identical to Gorshkova & Butikov, but the Americans most notably scored -.71 GOE on the first half of the Golden, due to an uncharacteristic slip from Madison. Fortunately, the slip wasn’t on steps that count for a level, so it was only the GOE that was affected by the mishap. They recovered quickly and skated a strong level 2 midline sequence that earned 5.57 points. This is 6.57 points more than Cup of China, where a double fall reduced the element to level 1 with straight -3s for GOE and an additional 3 points in mandatory deductions.
Young Russian hopefuls Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov came into the event with a legitimate shot at the podium, but they will have quite a climb after a disastrous mistake left them in sixth with a score of 49.14. They started the program with excellent level 4 twizzles (+1 GOE) and earned solid level 3s for both sections of the Golden Waltz, improving upon a 3/2 from NHK Trophy. However, they balked on the entrance to their straightline lift and aborted it. Katsalapov managed to hang onto to Ilinykh for a second or two while travelling across the ice in a straight line, so they did earn a level 1 for the lift, instead of missing the element completely. However, with GOE ranging from -1 to -3, they only earned .77 points for the awkward element. To their credit, they did recompose immediately for their next element, earning a level 3 on their midline steps and even scoring +.57 in GOE, .14 more than they got for the element in Japan.
Lucie Mysliveckova & Matej Novak did earn a personal best with their score of 48.45, but their Golden Waltz was noticeably much slower and more awkward than the other couples. With level 2 on both segments of the Golden, they earned less for the pattern than the other couples, contributing to their eighth-ranked TES. They did end well, with level 4 on the twizzles as well as the rotational lift, the latter of which earned +.36 GOE.
Ranked eighth and hit with three deductions were Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam. The young Canadians started incredibly well, with solid level 4 twizzles and levels 3 and 4 for the Golden Waltz, tying with Bobrova & Soloviev for the highest base value in the pattern. Unfortunately, Paul took a tumble in the midline step sequence and missed quite a few steps, including much of the important one-foot section, before she caught up with her partner. The element was called a level 1, and with -2 and -3 GOE from all of the judges, as well as the deduction for the fall, it only netted 1.21 points. Paul & Islam were also hit with two additional deductions for extended lifts. Although only the first lift is scored, the second optional lift can incur a deduction if it lasts longer than six seconds. The team has quite a bit of ground to make up, but proved at Skate Canada that they are capable of doing just that, when a second-place free dance following a messy short dance almost vaulted them to the podium.
The ice dancing competition concludes tomorrow with the free dance.