Ice Network

Weaver, Poje take slim lead over Chock, Bates

Cappellini, Lanotte third; Shibutanis in fourth; Hubbell, Donohue sit fifth
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Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje took the first step in defending their title at this event from last year, coming away with a score of 72.75 to land in first by a little more than a point. -Getty Images

The International Skating Union's ice dance rankings held true Friday night at the 2015 Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, as Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won the short dance with 72.75 points, ahead of Team USA's Madison Chock and Evan Bates (71.64 points) and Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (70.14 points).

The other two American duos, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (69.11 points), and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (66.21 points), sit in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev are in sixth (65.43 points). The four top teams improved their season's-best scores.

Dancing to "Annen-Polka" and "The Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss, Weaver and Poje picked up a Level 4 for their curve lift, twizzles and two Ravensburger patterns, and a Level 3 for their step sequence.

"There is something very familiar and pleasant about being back in Barcelona," Weaver said. (The team won the 2014 Grand Prix Final, which was also held in Barcelona.) "The crowd feels like they are with us every step of the way."

Chock and Bates danced to "More" by Andrea Bocelli and "Unchained Melody" by Il Divo. They lost a few points on their second waltz pattern, which was rated a Level 3, but their technical score was up to par with that of the Canadians (35.19 compared to 35.44 for Weaver and Poje). The components made the biggest difference: 36.45 for the Americans versus 37.31 for the Canadians.

"The crowd was absolutely amazing -- so spirited and lively -- and we felt the energy while skating," Chock said. "We really enjoyed the connection with each other and the audience. It was so fun."

Their final curve lift received a particularly loud ovation, as Bates carried his partner along the main length of the stands.

Cappellini and Lanotte had a lively dance to music from The Merry Widow by Franz Lehar. They garnered four Level 4 elements.

"We're not entirely satisfied with our performance," Cappellini said. "There were little mistakes that affected our score, but we're overall happy with the way we improved since our last competition."

"We made a little mistake on the twizzles. There was just one twizzle too many. I don't know why it happened," Lanotte explained. "The levels were good, but we still feel we can improve. We can go smoother through the compulsory dance and we need more power at the end during the partial step sequence."

Despite this, their twizzles earned a positive Grade of Execution (GOE) of +1.11, similar to the Canadians' score.

Skating to selections from Coppélia by ‎Léo Delibes, the Shibutanis collected a Level 3 for their two Ravensburgerer Waltz patterns and step sequence. They garnered a Level 4 for their twizzles and final lift.

"We could have maxed out, obviously, by getting [Level 4's] on both (patterns)," Alex Shibutani said. "But this score is better than at NHK, which means that we still have some room to improve. This performance was our strongest of the season so far. The crowd was great. We only had a little under a week after finishing NHK, but we talked to Marina about the way we wanted the program to progress in a short period of time. The performance was elevated, and the score was a little bit (better), so it's good."

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue skated to their trademark "Hallelujah" short dance. Four of their elements received a Level 4: their two Ravensburger patterns, their twizzles and their curve lift.

"We are happy with our performance today," Hubbell said after she and Donohue received their marks. "It's our second event getting 4-4, which means a lot in the compulsory dance because it's different panels (from one competition to the next). We feel more and more confident that it's widely accepted that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. That's a great feeling to have going into the second part of the season."

Bobrova and Soloviev put out a strong performance, earning Level 4 for both their Ravensburger patterns, twizzles and lift. They skated beautifully, although at times a bit behind their music, as if they were trying to catch its rhythm back. They advance to the free dance in sixth place.