Ice Network

Chock, Bates comfortably in front at Nebelhorn

Paul, Islam second; Turks third; Cannuscio, McManus in medal contention
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Skating in their first competition of the season, U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates were the class of the short dance at the 2015 Nebelhorn Trophy. -Getty Images

The 2015 Nebelhorn Trophy opened Thursday with the short dance, which is particularly appropriate for the event's host town of Oberstdorf, Germany: The Ravensburger Waltz, the required pattern for the short dance this season, is named after the town of Ravensburg. Located about 80 miles north of Oberstdorf, Ravensburg is the hometown of three-time German world silver medalists Angelika Buck and Erich Buck, who invented the Ravensburger Waltz.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates took a commanding lead with a speedy, yet elegant, waltz and polka. Skating to "Dark Eyes" by André Rieu, the world silver medalists gained Level 4's on four of their five elements, and earned Level 3 on their partial step sequence. The duo's Grades of Execution (GOEs) were quite high for this early in the season, with +2's throughout their score sheet. Their program component scores averaged 8.5, including two 9.50 scores, and they earned 67.74 points.

"We are really excited to be here and to compete," Chock said. "We had a long and busy summer, and the first competition is always a bit nerve-racking.

"We are happy with how the short dance went," she continued. "This is our second music (choice) -- first, we had something else. We were hoping that this 'Dark Eyes' music would stand out." 

Canadian bronze medalists Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam earned 60.52 points for their short dance to "The Mouse Waltz" and "The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin" by John Lanchbery from the Tales of Beatrix Potter soundtrack. The program was fresh, sprightly and skated with ease. Their second Ravensburger section and rotational lift both gained Level 4, and the other three elements rated Level 3. Their program components averaged 7.6, and they sit in second.

This spring, the Canadians moved from the Detroit Skating Club to Montreal to train in Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrick Lauzon's group.

"We worked hard all summer and wanted to show it today," Paul said. "We wanted to do a ballet-type program this season." 

Turkish ice dancers Alisa Agafonova and Alper Ucar, who placed 16th in the world last season, are third with 55.26 points.

Performing their short to a Sting medley, the Turks gained Level 4's for three of their elements, but their first Ravensburger section earned just Level 2. Their program components averaged around 6.6.

"We are here in Oberstdorf for the fourth time, and we like it here very much," said Agafonova, who trains with Ucar in Moscow under coach Alexander Zhulin. "We are so happy that we got invited to our first Grand Prix this week (Trophée Eric Bompard), and [want to say] thanks to the French federation and its president very much. We waited for a long time, and it is the first Grand Prix [assigned to] skaters from Turkey."

Team USA's Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus sit in fourth with 54.34 points. The students of Karen Ludington and Christine Moxley-Hutson skated to two Sergei Prokofiev pieces: The "Waltz-Coda" and "The Clock" from Cinderella. Their rotational lift earned a Level 4 and three other elements gained Level 3. Their second Ravensburger section gained Level 2. 

"After our monitoring session, we made quite a few changes, especially in the second half of the program," McManus said. "These were big changes for the better, and we felt we skated them very well today. This is the highest score we ever got for the first competition in a season, so we are very pleased."

"We will go home now and work hard to get an even higher score at Skate America," Cannuscio said.  

Natalia Kalisek and Maksim Spodirev of Poland are in fifth with 54.28 points. Their music was a modern orchestra version of the "Rain Waltz" by Frédéric Chopin and the foxtrot "Tea for Two."

France's Lorenza Alessandrini and Pierre Souquet are sixth with 53.42 points.