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Sotskova pulls away in free to earn Finlandia gold

Papadakis, Cizeron debut new Beethoven free, win dance title with ease
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Performing a career-best free skate, Maria Sotskova prevailed at the Finlandia Trophy. -Getty Images

Russia's Maria Sotskova emerged from a tightly packed group after the short program to claim the title at the Finlandia Trophy in Espoo, Finland, on Saturday. In the dance competition, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France eased to victory in their international season debut.

Ladies

The top three ladies were separated by all of 0.37 points following Thursday's short program, but Sotskova won the free skate by more than 11 points over runner-up Carolina Kostner to win going away. The 17-year-old Russian landed seven clean triples (four in combination) throughout her "Clair de Lune" free skate, for which she earned a career-best 137.61 points. With her final tally of 205.30, Sotskova captured her third Challenger Series event in as many tries.

Kostner had a challenging day with her jumps, completing only three clean triples during her short to Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun." The Italian was carried by her artistry, earning 72.36 of her 126.31 free skate points on the program components side, and she took home the silver medal with a competition score of 193.76.

Elizaveta Tuktamisheva of Russia was edged in the free skate by teammate Alena Leonova, but she still managed to win the bronze with 189.13 total points.

Angela Wang started off her free skate performance with her signature triple flip-triple toe-double toe and followed that with a clean triple lutz and triple loop. When all was said and done, the 21-year-old American had racked up 121.31 points for the segment and 183.85 overall -- surpassing her previous personal bests in those categories by more than 10 and 17 points, respectively -- and she left Espoo with a fourth-place finish. 

Polina Edmunds of the U.S. fell three times during her free skate to a medley of Sarah Brightman songs and ended up in 13th.

Ice dance

Papadakis and Cizeron skated superbly, save for one glaring mistake, a fall on their diagonal step sequence. The two-time world champions earned astronomically high Grades of Execution, which ranged from a "low" of 1.60 (straight line lift) to an almost unheard of 2.75 (circular step sequence). Garnering 110.16 points for their Beethoven free dance, the duo captured the gold with a total competition mark of 188.25.

Runners-up Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin weren't nearly as good as the French, as they finished more than 21 points back of the victors. The highlights of the Russians' love-themed free dance was the opening straight line lift (1.50 GOE) and an excellent set of twizzles (1.40 GOE) . For their performance, the former European bronze medalists were awarded 96.61 points, giving them 166.88 for the week and their third career medal at Finlandia -- albeit their first that wasn't gold.

Despite just a fifth-place showing in the free, Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen slotted into third, taking the bronze with 158.21 points. For the Danish couple, the podium finish represented their sixth career Challenger Series medal, and their second career bronze at Finlandia.

Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter had a subpar outing of their tango-themed free dance, which included a fall on their spin, and the former world junior champions limped to an eighth-place finish.

McNamara and Carpenter's U.S. teammates, Julia Biechler and Damian Dodge, finished the week in 17th.