Ice Network

Canada's Weaver, Poje defend Grand Prix Final title

Chock, Bates repeat as silver medalists; Italians make first podium at event
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Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje earned a personal-best score in the free dance (109.91) on their way to defending their Grand Prix Final crown. -Getty Images

Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje defended their title at the 2015 Grand Prix Final, finishing ahead of Team USA's Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte.

Performing to Max Richter's "On the Nature of Daylight" and Ludovico Einaudi's "Run," Weaver and Poje danced with their usual passion and style. They earned Level 4's for their twizzles, two of their lifts and spin, and a Level 3 for their step sequences and their other lift. They amassed 109.91 points for their free dance, a new season's-best score, finishing with 182.66 points.

"Today, we skated with our hearts, and that's something we were missing in Russia (at the Rostelecom Cup)," Weaver said.

"We were really in the zone today. We skated with our hearts, and when you start with your heart on the line like that, you can go home happy," Poje said. "The story behind our program has evolved along with the music, the choreography, the costume -- everything! We portray a couple who's been through a great loss, and how the couple is able to go over it. That story will keep growing with us."

Chock and Bates delivered a strong performance to "Concerto No. 2" by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The second movement of the concerto proved to be the ideal piece for exemplifying the long and clean edges that have become one of team's trademarks. They only interrupted Rachmaninoff's piece for a short change of rhythm. From then on, their music built onward, up to their final straight line lift, which was incredible. They received Level 4's for their spin and three lifts and Level 3's for their two step sequences and twizzles (after a small imbalance). They garnered 105.91 points, also besting their season's-best score, finishing with 177.55 points overall.

Bates spoke about the decision to skate to Rachmaninoff's "Concerto No. 2."

"I think it was never used because it's so challenging," Bates said. "Choosing this piece, we knew it was a piece we needed to rise to. Technically, emotionally, we have not been able to create the moment we wanted so far. But at the end, it will have pushed us to match the music and made us a better couple."

Dancing to music from the La Dolce Vita soundtrack, Cappellini and Lanotte immediately grasped the audience's attention and applause. They skated a lively, yet elegant, routine, earning 106.23 points for their dance, 0.32 points ahead of Chock and Bates. They received Level 4's for their twizzles, spin and three lifts.

"This is our first medal at the Final, and it's a competition we will not easily forget," Cappellini and Lanotte said.

"I can't say that we are 100 percent satisfied," Cappellini admitted. "We are happy about our performance, but there is clearly room for improvement. We made some small mistakes, and getting our first Grand Prix Final medal came to my mind and affected the performance a little bit."

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani held on to fourth place by turning in a great performance to Coldplay's "Fix You." Their twizzles and three lifts were rated Level 4, and their spin and step sequence earned a Level 3. They scored 105.81 points for their free dance, and 174.92 points overall.

"I am just so proud of Alex," Maia explained as she left the kiss and cry. "Starting late last night, he was not feeling well and he has been extremely sick since then. He is not just my partner -- he is my brother, so seeing him struggle is very hard for me. I am very proud that he was able to skate like he did, being so sick. This performance shows we have gotten so much stronger over the years."

Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev moved up one spot from the short dance and took fifth place. Interpreting one of the most famous themes of Russian literature, Anna Karenina, Bobrova and Soloviev garnered five Level 4 elements (twizzles, spin and three lifts). They amassed 101.30 points for their free dance and 166.73 points overall.

"We're still catching up with everyone else," Soloviev admitted.

"This season is like a ladder for us. Next season we won't be 60 to 70 percent ready like we are now but 90 to 95 percent," Bobrova said.  

Team USA's Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue interpreted Daft Punk's "Adagio for Tron." He dressed in black and she in white, with light gray veils figuring an angel's wings, they displayed deeper and longer edges than ever before.

"[The wings] are my mom's idea," Hubbell said.

They offered an emotion- and passion-packed program.

"It's the story of a broken man. He needs help. I am an angel, and I show him everything life has to offer and everything he has to lose if he gives it up. It's a journey through life," Hubbell explained.

In fact, the story could have been read exactly that way -- though quite unexpectedly -- on the ice.

Coming out of their curve lift, Donohue fell, and that broke the story.

"He rushed to get up and we found ourselves early when we picked up our steps entering into the sequence," Hubbell explained. "It may have seemed rougher than usual to the judges, as we were trying to catch back."

Their skating skills and transitions were significantly affected, as they rated lower than 8.0 on both components. Still, they received Level 4 for their twizzles, spin and three lifts.

"We really enjoyed skating here," Donohue added. "The audience cheered up as I came back on my feet as if I had landed a quad! It's a big milestone for us. The first of many more to come."

The team earned 96.99 points for its free dance, for an overall score of 163.20.