Jin vaults past Samohin, Chan to lead in BeijingOsmond paces ladies field; Shibutanis sit second after short dance
The 2016 Cup of China, the fifth stop in the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series, opened in Beijing on Friday with a slew of top-notch performances.
Canadians take hold of lead in short dance
Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada grabbed a narrow lead in the short dance, finishing ahead of the American duo of Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani. Russian's Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin finished third.
Dancing to "The Way You Make Me Feel" by Judith Hill and Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" and "Jam," Weaver and Poje collected a Level 4 for their blues pattern and curve lift and a Level 3 for a partial step sequence, twizzles and footwork. The two-time world medalists set a new personal best of 73.78 points.
"It's such a fun program to perform," Weaver said. "We had a couple of minor mistakes today, but we're just getting the bugs out. I think we're building momentum with this program."
The Shibutani siblings completed a Level 4 blues pattern and Level 4 twizzles in their dance to Frank Sinatra's "That's Life" and the music of Jay-Z. The Americans' partial step sequence was rated only a level two. The world silver medalists scored 73.23 points to land in second place.
"We are happy with the performance," Alex Shibutani said. "We had a few weeks to go over some things at home. I think the performance today was stronger than what we did in Skate America, so it's always good to be trending upwards."
Stepanova and Bukin's dance was highlighted by Level 4 twizzles, lift and a blues pattern. The 2013 world junior champions achieved a new personal best with 72.09 points to position themselves within reach of a medal.
"For the first time in our lives, we received over 70 points, and that is a joy and a victory for us," a joyful Stepanova said. "Compared to Skate Canada, I think we skated with more emotions and more freely."
Osmond holds strong in Beijing
Kaetlyn Osmond claimed the ladies short program, narrowly edging Russia's Elena Radionova and Japan's Mai Mihara, who both remain well within reach of the top position.
Osmond produced a triple flip-triple toe combination, a triple lutz and double axel as well as Level 4 spins and footwork during her Édith Piaf short. The Skate Canada silver medalist earned 72.20 points and holds the top spot by less than two points.
"There are a couple of things that I wish I would have done better," the two-time Canadian champion noted. "But after Skate Canada, to come here and do another clean run-through, I'm really happy with it."
Radionova's Porgy and Bess routine featured a triple loop, double axel and excellent spins and steps, but an under-rotation on the second part of her triple lutz-triple toe set the talented Russian back a bit, and she finished with 70.75 points.
"I think I skated better than at the Rostelecom Cup," Radionova remarked. "My jumps were cleaner, and I had more confidence. The most important thing is now to skate the free program tomorrow."
Skating to "Rondo Capriccioso" by Camille Saint-Saëns, Mihara completed a triple lutz-triple toe combination, double axel and triple flip on her way to picking up a personal-best 68.48 points.
"This time I performed better than at Skate America, and I am more satisfied with my short program than last time," the 17-year-old skater said. "In the free skate, I just want to do the same thing as I did today."
Elizaveta Tuktamisheva of Russia finished fourth with 64.88 points, while American Ashley Wagner is fifth with 64.36 points.
Jin bests the field in men's short
Boyang Jin of China skated to a strong lead in the men's short program, distancing himself considerably from his two closest chasers: Israel's Daniel Samohin and Canadian Patrick Chan.
Jin nailed a quad lutz-triple toe loop combination along with a triple axel and quad toe loop in his routine. The world bronze medalist collected a Level 4 for two spins and a step sequence en route to a season's-best score of 96.17 points.
"I think I performed better than I do in training right now," Jin said. "The second jump in the combination was not perfect, but the other jumps were not bad. Skate America didn't go so well for me, so after I came back, I worked very hard, because I wanted to do better at the Cup of China."
Samohin fell on his opening quad toe loop but rallied back to land a somewhat shaky quad salchow-triple toe combination and a solid triple axel. The 2016 world junior champion achieved a new season's-best with 83.47 points.
"I was pretty surprised to place second today, and I'll keep working harder and hopefully be able to execute a nice long and go from there," Samohin said.
Chan's program to the Beatles' "Dear Prudence" and "Black Bird" included a quad toe-triple toe -- with a touch-down on the latter jump -- and three Level 4 spins, but he stumbled on a triple axel and doubled his lutz. The three-time world champion earned 83.41 points.
"I was pretty happy with the opening of the program," Chan said. "I think I lost a bit of my focus into the triple lutz. In the short program, those little mistakes become very big mistakes. You do lose a lot of points, but I call myself lucky today. I was able to stay in the top three, which is a good spot to be in for the free."
China stands tall in pairs short program
Xiaoyu Yu and Hao Zhang of China took the top spot in the pairs short program, besting Canada's Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch, and the Chinese team of Cheng Peng and Yang Jin.
Performing to "Eternal Flame" and "Fearless," Yu and Zhang completed a triple twist, side-by-side triple toes and a throw triple loop, and also received Level 4's across the board. The performance helped the Skate Canada silver medalists achieve a new personal best of 72.49 points.
"Today we opened the competition in front of our home crowd, which was very exciting, and we skated very well," Zhang told reporters. "We got all Level 4's, although we still need to practice a lot to perform the program better. Hopefully, we'll perform well tomorrow."
Iliushechkina and Moscovitch landed a triple twist and throw triple lutz, and picked up a Level 4 for their lift, death spiral, spin and step sequence. Their only error came when Moscovitch stumbled on a triple toe. The Skate Canada bronze medalists picked up 71.28 points, setting a new personal best in the process.
"We felt good about that program," Moscovitch said. "We felt very connected, and we were together as a team, and we felt comfortable. It was definitely an improvement for us from the last few times out, with a few little mistakes, but definitely a step up. We're happy about the new season's best and about breaking into the 70-point range."
Peng and Jin, who have been skating together since the spring, turned in a clean performance to "My Drag," executing side-by-side triple toes, a throw triple loop and a triple twist. The team from Beijing scored 69.93 points.
"This is our first international competition, and I think we performed like we can do in training," said a pleased Jin. "We received good levels and the program was complete. We are very satisfied with our performance today."
Xuehan Wang and Lei Wang landed fourth with 66.45 points, helping China secure three of the top four spots after the short program.