Chan narrowly edges Jin for title at Cup of ChinaRadionova delivers gold medal for Russia; Shibutanis soar to victory
The Audi Cup of China concluded Saturday in Beijing, with those in attendance receiving another preview of the fast-approaching Grand Prix Final.
Shibutanis reign supreme once again
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani came from second place after the short dance to capture the gold medal in Beijing. Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were their closest competitors, while the bronze medal went to the Russian duo of Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin.
The American siblings delivered a strong performance of their "Evolution" free dance, earning a Level 4 for their lifts, twizzles and combination spin, and a Level 3 for one of their step sequences. The world silver medalists scored 111.90 points and totaled 185.13 to move into the top position.
With two gold medals on this year's Grand Prix circuit, the American duo qualified for their fourth Grand Prix Final.
"This was a strong competition for us," Maia Shibutani said. "We're looking forward to going home and receiving some feedback, and just working on and improving our programs."
Dancing to "Concierto de Aranjuez," Weaver and Poje collected a Level 4 for their lifts, twizzles and spins, but their diagonal footwork garnered only a Level 2. The two-time world medalists earned 107.76 points and slipped to second place with 181.54 points overall.
"We just want to keep on making progress every time we're out there, and we felt like we stepped our performance up from Moscow (Rostelecom Cup)," Poje said. "Now we can get home and take the time to analyze where we could be stronger and work on those details to make sure next time we're out, we progress even more."
The Argentine tango delivered by Stepanova and Bukin featured Level 4 lifts, twizzles and spin, while the team's diagonal and serpentine footwork received a Level 3 rating. The 2015 European bronze medalists achieved a new personal-best with 105.32 points in the free dance and accumulated 177.41 total points to collect the third Grand Prix bronze medal of their career.
"For the first time, we got more than 100 points (in the free dance), which is very nice," Stepanova said. "This is just the beginning for us. We want to go from there and continue working."
Radionova bringing another gold back to Russia
Russia's Elena Radionova skated off with the gold medal Saturday, overtaking overnight leader Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada, who claimed the silver. Russia's Elizaveta Tuktamisheva moved up from fourth to clinch the bronze.
Radionova nailed six triple jumps, including a triple lutz-single loop-triple salchow during her Turandot short. The two-time European silver medalist collected a season's-best 135.15 points for a total of 205.90, claiming the fourth Grand Prix gold of her career.
"My performance was not flawless today, but it was the best performance of the season, for the jumps as well as for the skating overall," the 17-year-old said. "I am overwhelmed with positive emotions and just so happy to have achieved this result."
Osmond opened her La bohème free in strong fashion, landing a triple flip-triple toe combination and a double axel-triple toe, but she stumbled on a triple lutz and fell on an under-rotated triple loop. The Skate Canada silver medalist ranked third in the free skate and moved to second overall with a mark of 196.00 points.
"I made two mistakes that were really uncharacteristic for me," Osmond said. "I know that is something I have to work on leading into the next few competitions, and hopefully it keeps my focus a little longer."
Tuktamisheva's program to Peer Gynt featured five clean triples -- including a triple toe-triple toe combination -- and two Level 4 spins. The 2015 world champion set a new season's best with 127.69 points, which was second in the free skate, and accumulated 192.57 overall points.
"After Skate Canada, I changed my free program to something more difficult," Tuktamisheva said. "For the first time, I tried two triple lutzes in the second half, but we're still moving toward the future step by step."
Japan's Mai Mihara dropped from third to fourth thanks in large part to errors on two of her jumps, while fellow Japanese figure skater Rika Hongo finished fifth with 181.75 points. The United States' Ashley Wagner ended her trip to Beijing with a disappointing sixth-place result after having six triple jumps called for under-rotations in her free skate.
The gold medal for Radionova means she, too, will advance to the Grand Prix Final in France next month.
Canadian Chan rises to the top in China
Patrick Chan of Canada struck gold in the men's event, besting China's Boyang Jin and Russia's Sergei Voronov for his second gold medal of this season's Grand Prix Series.
Performing to Eric Radford's "A Journey," Chan reeled off a quadruple-triple toe, quadruple toe, two triple axels and three additional triples, while picking up a Level 4 for two of his spins. The three-time world champion posted a new season's-best score of 196.31 and racked up 279.72 total points to overtake the overnight leader, Jin, and win his second Grand Prix gold of the season.
"The program felt very methodical, and I didn't give it more energy that it needed," a pleased Chan said. "I really just told myself to relax and not rush, just to enjoy every element on its own, and I think it worked. Even with the fall on the quad salchow, I didn't panic; I got up and started doing the program as I do it at home: by forgetting about the mistake and moving on."
Jin's program to La Strada was highlighted by a quad lutz, quad salchow and quad toe-double toe combo. He added two triple axels but missed one quad toe, which was judged under-rotated. The world bronze medalist amassed 182.37 points in the free and totaled 278.54 for the event.
"I felt that I skated very well," the always jovial Jin remarked. "I made one mistake on the quadruple toe loop that I under-rotated, and that definitely influenced my score. It did not like feel pressure, and I got a season's best in both programs."
Voronov completed a quad toe-triple toe combination and two triple axels in his program to "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3" by Muse, but he added an extra triple toe, which was invalidated. The two-time European medalist scored 160.83 points on the day, which added up to 243.76 points for the event, and he moved up from fourth after Friday's short program to third place in the final standings.
"Overall, I did well in the competition, and I am glad to be in the top three," the two-time Russian champion said. "I am just a little upset that I not only didn't go for the second quad but that I added an extra triple toe."
Max Aaron of the United States finished fourth with 242.74 points. Israel's Daniel Samohin, who was second after the short program, finished eighth after a mistake-riddled performance in the free.
Chan will make his eighth appearance at the Grand Prix Final, which he last won in 2011.
Chinese duo lights up the crowd with pairs triumph
Xiaoyu Yu and Hao Zhang of China claimed gold in the pairs event, while igniting the home crowd with an entertaining performance. Teammates Cheng Peng and Yang Jin secured the silver medal for China, while Canada's Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch slotted into third.
Skating to "Cavatina" and "Larghetto Amoroso" by Emil von Sauer, Yu and Zhang completed a masterful triple twist, double axel, throw triple loop and throw triple salchow, while also successfully completing Level 4 lifts and spins and a Level 4 death spiral. The only mistake came when Zhang fell on the side-by side triple toes. The Skate Canada silver medalists earned 131.27 points for their free and 203.76 points overall to claim the top honor.
"We are very pleased to have won our first Grand Prix gold medal," Zhang said. "Now, with first and second place (finishes at their Grand Prix events), we should go to the Grand Prix Final, where I want to do the jump better."
Peng and Jin's performance to "I Will Wait for You" featured a side-by-side double axels, a triple twist, a throw triple loop and a throw triple salchow. The Chinese team scored 128.03 points in the free and 197.96 overall to reach the podium in their first international competition as a team.
"I think we showed what we do in training," Jin said. "In our free skate, we still had a small mistake on the solo jump, but we received good levels, which shows the approval of the judges."
Iliushechkina and Moscovitch produced a throw triple lutz, triple twist and Level 4 lifts in their free, but they struggled with several of their jumps. The Skate Canada bronze medalists earned 120.26 points and slipped from second after the short to third overall with 191.54 points.
"It was a rough go for us today," Moscovitch said. "It was unfortunate and upsetting, and it wasn't a depiction of how we've been training and how we've been practicing here. The program got kind of broken up by the mistakes. Nonetheless, we worked hard throughout the program, so there are definitely some positives within the routine that we can be proud of."
With the solid showing, Yu and Zhang qualified for the Grand Prix Final in their just their first season as a team.