Ice Network

Chock, Bates start season with Nebelhorn gold

Paul, Islam claim silver; Cannuscio, McManus win bronze for Team USA
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World silver medalist ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates pose for a picture with coach Igor Shpilband. -Klaus-Reinhold Kany

Madison Chock and Evan Bates won their second Nebelhorn Trophy gold medal Saturday, outclassing the field by more than 21 points.

Performing their free dance to Rachmaninoff's dramatic "Concerto No. 2," the world silver medalists skated with excellent flow and showed seamless entries and exits into required elements. Their levels were strong: Level 3's on two step sequences and Level 4's for their lifts and spin. Their program component scores averaged 8.5 and ranged up to 9.25, and they gained 101.76 points, a fine early season score.

"We are very happy to be back in Oberstdorf. We have been here many times before, and we will keep coming back," Chock said. "Today was a good first outing for us, and we will continue to train and get even better for Skate America."

"The first competition of a season is always difficult; everything feels a bit strange," Bates said. "Now, after the competition, you feel a bit [relieved] that everything worked."

Bates discussed Rachmaninoff's "Concerto No. 2," which is often used by singles skaters but rarely by ice dancers.

"I think there was only one dance team, the Lithuanians (Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagniunas), who have used this music recently," he continued. "Our coach, Igor [Shpilband], brought it to us and suggested it. We are very moved by this music and are very happy with it."   

Canadians Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam won the silver medal with 148.12 points. They interpreted two Michel Legrand selections, and although they covered the ice well, they had a few bobbles: They stumbled at the end of their opening straight line lift, and later in the program, Paul slipped on a transition.

"Our coach, Marie-France Dubreuil, found the music and played it in the rink," Islam said. "The story is about not knowing the answers of life and of destiny and of discovering the destiny."

"We were a little bit disappointed today because we made costly errors," Paul said.

"But we love this program, and it is a vehicle for us," Islam added. "Competing in September, there are always things which do not work. But at the end of the year, you don't think of Nebelhorn -- you just see the final result of a program."

Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus, fifth in the U.S. last season, won bronze with 137.38 points. Their opening diagonal step sequence and twizzles gained only Level 1, but their other elements earned high levels. The duo's component scores were mixed; those for interpretation ranged from 4.75 to 9.00, and the average was 7.3.

The Newark, Delaware,-based team skated to three selections from Ludwig van Beethoven, and the program is the story of his life. In the section featuring the euphoric "Symphony No. 9," they show the peak of his success as a composer.

"Colin is Beethoven, and I represent the music," Cannuscio said. "In 'Moonlight Sonata,' Beethoven loses his hearing. In the 'Fifth Symphony,' the four famous notes -- da da da dah -- are knocking at the door of destiny. The last section is frenzy."

"We feel honored to show this Beethoven program in Beethoven's home country, Germany," McManus said. "These are beautiful masterpieces of music, and Beethoven is a great character to dive into. At the end of our program, we show that his music lives forever."

The new German couple, Kavita Lorenz and Panagiotis Polizoakis, performed the third-best free dance and placed fourth with 136.02 points. Skating to music from Amélie, their levels were not as high as the top couples, but they impressed the judges with their skating skills and gained good program components. Polizoakis switched from singles skating to ice dance just five months ago.

"I am coaching for 20 years now, and I have never met a male single skater who has learned the elements of ice dance so quickly," their coach, Shpilband, said. "Kavita is a huge talent, but she had not found a good partner before."

Canadians Lauren Collins and Shane Firus placed fifth with 132.42 points. Turkish couple Alisa Agafonova and Alper Ucar dropped from third to sixth place after sustaining a two-point deduction because their music featured no clear change of rhythm.