Abbott wins men's Grand Prix Final
Injury sidelines France's Joubert
|Jeremy Abbott is golden in Goyang City. (Getty Images)|
By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(12/13/2008) - The men's gold medal at the SBS ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final went to American Jeremy Abbott. Abbott, a surprise second after the short program, won the free skate with a personal best 159.46 points. His total of 237.72 points was also a personal best. Abbott, who used "Eight Seasons" for his music, landed a triple Axel-double toe, triple Lutz-triple toe-double loop, and double Axel-double toe combinations as well as four solo triples (flip, loop, Lutz and Salchow) and a triple Axel. "Oh my God," Abbott said. "I wanted to come in here and do my best and I certainly know any given day there is a chance of winning, but I did not think it was going to happen. I was so nervous I was shaking. I felt like a novice man again. But I know that I'm a lot stronger than that." Skating to the motion picture soundtrack Romeo and Juliet, Japan's Takahiko Kozuka finished third in the free skate with 140.73 points. Kozuka, who was the leader after the short program, had a total of 224.63 points to win the silver medal. Kozuka two-footed his opening quad toe loop, but then reeled off a triple Axel-triple toe combination, triple flip, triple Salchow-double toe loop, and triple Lutz-double toe-double loop. He then fell twice in a row on a triple loop and triple Axel before landing a final triple Lutz. "I'm a little upset about my mistakes at the end," Kozuka said. "I lost energy. As I fell on the quad before and I didn't this time, I'm happy with that. I have to train to do the quad toe and to push through until the very end." Three-time U.S. champion Johnny Weir, last season's men's bronze medalist at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships, was second in the free skate with 143.00 points for his program to selections from the motion picture soundtrack Notre Dame de Paris. He was fourth in the short program and his 215.50 total points won him the bronze, his first Grand Prix Final medal. Weir opened with a triple Axel-double toe combination, triple Axel, double Axel and triple Salchow. Later he doubled a planned triple loop, then landed a triple Lutz and a triple Lutz-double toe-double toe combination in quick succession before landing a last triple flip. "It's my first Grand Prix Final medal and it's great," Weir said. "I wish I would be in a position where there is no doubt that I would have a medal. I wish I hadn't done poorly in the short program, but overall I'm pleased." Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic finished fourth in the free skate with 137.31 points, twelve points below his season best. Verner was fifth in the short so his overall score of 206.65 was only good enough for fourth place. He barely held the landing of his opening quad toe loop, then hit a triple Lutz-triple toe combination. But he popped both his triple Axels and doubled his planned triple loop. Verner did land a triple Salchow, triple Lutz-triple toe combination and triple flip-double toe. Canada's Patrick Chan scored 137.16 points in his classical free skate to Rachmaninov cello and piano music to place fifth in the free program. That was more than 20 points below his personal best. After a sixth place finish in the short program, his 205.16 total only put him in fifth place overall. Chan fell on both of his triple Axel attempts and was unable to complete his triple Axel-double toe combination. He landed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, triple Lutz, triple Salchow, triple loop, and double Axel. France's Brian Joubert, the 2006-07 GPF champion entered the free skate in third place, trailing Kozuka by 9.35 points, but withdrew after aggravating a back injury in the Saturday morning practice. "I tried to practice but I had a big problem with my back," Joubert said. "I cannot breathe, I cannot move and I am in pain."