Russians edge out Canadians for pairs title

Moore-Towers, Moscovitch win the silver medal

Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze won the gold medal by a narrow margin.
Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze won the gold medal by a narrow margin. (Paul Harvath)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(10/30/2010) - Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze of Russia, who led after the short, held off Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch to win Skate Canada by .48.

Another Canadian team, Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, took bronze. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir were fourth after narrowly missing their throw triple Axel.

"This win just means all of the hard work we've done has paid off," Maisuradze said through an interpreter. "We made a lot of changes in our training and this is the result."

The Moscow-based team, who won the world junior title in 2009 and were fourth in Russia last season, took a seven point lead into the free and needed almost all of it to hold off the surging Canadians.

Skating to the Conquest of Paradise soundtrack, they opened with triple Salchows, a rare Level 3 triple twist and a triple toe-double toe sequence, but had trouble on their throw triple Lutz. They also lacked some of the North American teams' showmanship, although they skate with far more speed.

Iliushechkina and Maisuradze earned 110.68 points for second in the free and took gold with 171.40.

"We are very happy; I think we did everything here, that we wanted to do," said the outgoing Iliushechkina, who has charmed the media here with her determined efforts with English.

Moore-Towers and Moscovitch, last-minute replacements for the injured Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison, turned in a dynamic performance to music from Les Miserables and won the free with 117.24 points.

Although Moore-Towers fell on a triple Salchow, that was their only major mistake. They opened with a triple twist, followed by a triple toe-double Axel sequence and throw triple loop, and like the other top teams showed a dazzling array of Level 4 lifts.

"We were fifth after the short; this is definitely unexpected," Moore-Towers, who has been partnered with Moscovitch for just a year and seven months, said. "It's the icing on the cake.

"After the short, I could have reacted one of two ways. I was almost on the path of being down in the dumps, but then we talked to our coaches [Kristy and Kris Wirtz] and decided we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. There was no point wasting it away with a bad attitude."

Lawrence and Swiegers, sixth in Canada last season, overcame trouble on their side-by-side jumps with a strong throw triple loop and one of the evening's better death spirals. They were third in the free with 105.01 points and earned 161.15 overall.

"The long didn't really show our best skating, but we fought for everything," Swiegers said. "We know we can do better."

Castelli and Shnapir's throw triple Axel was the fifth element of their Avatar program, right after side-by-side triple Salchows and triple toe combinations. Although Castelli completed the three-and-a-half rotations, she fell on the landing.

The team also had trouble on their side-by-side jumps, but like the other couples, impressed with their lifts. They were fifth in the free and fourth overall with 159.85.

"We got the score we came here for; we were happy to be second after the short," Castelli said. "For Skate America, we want to work on our triple toes, put them back in the program and get them down pat. That will improve our score even more."

"Of course we made our mistakes, but this was a good start," Shnapir said. "Skate America is in two weeks. We're looking to push it further and do well there."

Castelli added they may re-think the sequence of their elements leading into the throw triple Axel.

"The beginning of the program is a little challenging, going from triple Salchow to triple toe to throw Axel," she said. "We may re-work it so there's a little less stress."

Britney Simpson and Nathan Miller, the 2009 U.S. junior silver medalists, placed sixth with 134.05 points. Although they had trouble on their jumps, they closed their free skate well with two exciting lifts.

"I was coming out of our death spiral, and caught the eye of some fans, and they started clapping and cheering," Miller said. "That gave me an extra boost for those last lifts. The crowds here have been tremendous."

"I got a little nervous on the double Axels; a big part of doing my best is containing my nerves," Simpson added. "This was our first senior international, it was a great experience, and I know we'll have our feet under us for Cup of Russia."