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Kim and Weir win second gold of the season

Zhang and Zhang get to top of pairs podium

Johnny Weir added the Cup of Russia gold medal to the gold he won last month in China.
Johnny Weir added the Cup of Russia gold medal to the gold he won last month in China. (Getty Images)

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By Tatiana Flade, special to icenetwork.com
(11/24/2007) - Johnny Weir skated to his second Grand Prix gold medal of the season in Moscow on the second day of the Cup of Russia. He proved that his win at the Cup of China wasn't a fluke; he could be back to his championship form.

The three-time U.S. Champion delivered an almost flawless performance of his program, set to "Love is War" by Yoav Gordon. He nailed six clean triples, but he cheated the second triple Axel and it was downgraded. His 149.81 points from the free skate and 229.96 overall were still enough to overtake the overnight leader, Switzerland's Stéphane Lambiel.

The Swiss went only for a double Axel and crashed hard on his second quadruple toe loop attempt. The two-time world champion landed his first quad toe, but he put his hand down. He had three more clean triples, but doubled a flip.

Russia's Andrei Griazev continued his successful comeback this season and took the bronze medal. He did not make a major error in his routine, set to The Godfather, and produced seven triple jumps.

Weir again was a favorite of the Russian crowd, who cheered him on loudly. "I was of course happy with the result of this competition, but the performance for me was so difficult. I was so nervous, and I felt so much pressure to put on a good show for this audience. Galina [Zmievskaya, his coach] had very good words for me: 'just relax and do what you do every day; you have nothing to prove.' And that was comforting, because I knew she wasn't expecting me to be 100 percent perfect," the American told the post-event press conference.

"I still don't know why I am so popular here, but I think my appreciation for Russia is coming back to me," he explained when asked about the support he got.

Griazev said that he wasn't jealous to see more banners for Weir than for himself. "The crowd supported the Russian skaters today very much," he added.

Jeffrey Buttle again didn't show his best. He fell on his second triple Axel, and some jumps were wobbly. The Canadian finished third in the free skate, but he was fourth overall.

Former world junior champion Takahiko Kozuka of Japan came in sixth with a decent performance to a Beatles medley. Canadian Kevin Reynolds hit two quads -- a clean quadruple Salchow-triple toe loop-double loop combination and a two-footed quadruple toe loop. He finished eighth. The third skater with a quad was Russia's Alexander Uspenski, but he stepped out of the landing, finishing seventh overall.

Ladies

Yu-Na Kim didn't face much opposition in the ladies event. The Korean won with an almost perfect performance that featured a beautiful triple flip-triple toe and five more triples. She also performed excellent spins. Kim even set a new record with 133.70 points in the free skate, slightly surpassing the mark set by Mao Asada at the 2007 World Championships. There, Asada had earned 133.13 points.

Overall, the 17-year-old Kim racked up 197.20 points, improving her previous personal best total score by about ten points. Not that she would necessarily get too excited about it. "Some jumps felt shaky, and I worried about it, but I got a new personal best, and I qualified for the Grand Prix Final," Kim said. "I got my highest score, but there are still points that I can improve, and I will work harder."

Japan's Yukari Nakano finished second and was more than 20 points behind at 172.77. She landed a triple Axel but cheated a triple Lutz and flip. They were both downgraded.

Joannie Rochette bounced back from a faulty short program and did much better in the free skate. Six clean triples and a dynamic performance moved her up from fifth to third overall. Kiira Korpi of Finland, third after the short, doubled some jumps and fell on a triple flip to drop to fourth.

Bebe Liang came in eighth at 134.60 points. She started well in her "Yellow River Concerto" program with a triple flip-double toe and a triple Lutz, but then she struggled. She fell twice, on a Lutz and toe, which both were downgraded.

Pairs

Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang claimed victory in the pairs event. The Chinese duo didn't have to give it their best as their main competitors from Germany, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, made mistakes on the solo jumps. He fell on the side-by-side triple Salchow and singled the Axel. Zhang and Zhang simplified their opening combination to a double Axel-double toe (instead of double-triple), but got some extra points on their big throw jumps.

Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov won the Russian duel for the bronze medal against Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov. Kawaguchi and Smirnov even risked the throw quad Salchow, but she stumbled on the landing.

Ice Dancing

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia dominated the original dance, just as they did the compulsory dance on the first day of competition. They now lead with an advantage of 10.35 points. Their Cossack dance was entertaining and got level fours on all their elements, except for the midline steps, on which Domnina put a foot down. They would need to try hard to lose this one in the free dance.

France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat danced a Spanish Flamenco and clearly defended their second-place position. The Russian world junior champions, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, were third with a playful Russian "Kalinka" dance.

Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giuletti-Schmitt, the only U.S. dance team, remained in tenth place with a Russian gypsy dance. They got only level twos on three elements -- the circular and the midline steps, as well as for their last rotational lift.