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Czisny hits six triples; Davis, White dominate

Including juniors, U.S. wins three gold medals in Beijing

Alissa Czisny won her second Grand Prix Series gold medal of the season.
Alissa Czisny won her second Grand Prix Series gold medal of the season. (Paul Harvath)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(12/11/2010) - At 23, Alissa Czisny says she's just hitting her stride.

"I've made a lot of changes since last season," the Detroit-based skater, who won the U.S. title in 2009 but slipped to tenth last season, said. "I almost feel like this is a new beginning for me. The past is gone -- over and done with -- and I'm a new skater."

Czisny, who began working with the married team of Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen this spring, hit two opening combinations, including a triple Lutz, double toe and triple flip, double toe in her free skate.

She followed with four more triples, and although she stepped out of a double Axel, her trademark elegance and superb spins helped her earn 116.99 points, good enough for third in the free. Added to her leading short program score, she ended with 180.75 points and took home the title.

"I stayed on my feet, so I'm happy," Czisny said. "I really had to fight my way through that program, but I'm very happy with the outcome. It's good to be back and to be able to perform to my potential. My goal here was to skate my best.

"I can't control the outcome; I dreamed of winning, and it happened. I was really nervous going in, so just being able to stay on my feet today was an accomplishment in itself. It's pretty amazing to be called the Grand Prix Final champion. It's something I've always wanted."

Italy's Carolina Kostner overcame a knee injury and limited jumping repertoire to take silver, just one one-hundredth of a point ahead of Japan's Kanako Murakami.

Kostner did not try a flip or Lutz jumped, showing just four triples: two Salchows, one toe loop and one loop, plus two double Axels. She singled her second intended triple loop. Still, her speed, maturity and accompanying high program component marks lifted her to 116.47 points for fourth in the free. Overall she earned 117.12.

Murakami opened with a triple toe, triple toe combination, but popped a triple flip into a single later in her program.

Although former world champion Miki Ando of Japan won the free program with 122.70 points, a poor short program relegated her to fifth place. Another Japanese skater, Akiko Suzuki, placed fourth.

U.S. champion Rachael Flatt, just overcoming a foot injury sustained before Skate America, placed sixth after an uncharacteristic mistake-laden free skate that included a fall on a triple Lutz and four under rotated jumps.

"It's horribly disappointing; I think I should just chalk it up to experience at this point," Flatt said. "I think part of it was that, being hurt coming into this competition, I didn't get the amount of training time that I needed to feel confident . . . My experience here will give me motivation to show up at U.S. Championships in full force."

Davis, White dance away with gold
Meryl Davis and Charlie White dominated the ice dance competition, winning their second consecutive Grand Prix Final by almost nine points.

With the U.S. Championships and worlds on the horizon, the U.S. champions' sophisticated Tango free dance seems to be hitting its stride. With one exception -- a diagonal step sequence -- all of the elements gained level 4. The most spectacular highlights of the program were the four lifts, as well as a stunning twizzle sequence. Five of their elements prompted some +3 GOEs from the judges, as well a many +2's. Component scores ranged up to 9.5.

"We were feeling really confident about the program that we've built up over the season," Davis said. "It wasn't the strongest performance we know how to do, but I think it's definitely on its way to being something special.

"This has been a testament to moving forward, but we have to keep doing more, and keep getting better scores . . . We'd like to stand atop the podium at the World Championships this year. We've worked long and hard to get there and we feel like we deserve it, and like we've got the programs to accomplish it."

As expected, Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France took silver with a clean and charming routine to a medley of Charlie Chaplin tunes. They earned 162.10 points. Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier recovered from a fifth-place showing in the short dance to win bronze with a strong outing to their "Eleanor Rigby" free dance.

Chan win's men's title
Canada's Patrick Chan hit a strong quad to open his free to Phantom of the Opera and carried the momentum through his routine, winning his first Grand Prix title by nearly 17 points.

While the 19-year-old gained the event's highest program component scores, he also won on technical merit, landing the only clean quad of the day as well as a triple Axel, double toe and triple flip, triple toe. Overall, he earned 259.75 points.

"I am very happy to win here today, because my last two Grand Prix Finals were not that good," Chan said. "It has been a phenomenal experience to skate here in China, because my parents are Chinese."

Three Japanese skaters placed second, third and fourth. Nobunari Oda, who mainly trains in Barrie, Ontario, won silver with 242.81 points after showing eight triples, but falling on an under rotated quad toe as well as a double Axel.

Takahiko Kozuka also under rotated his quad, but his other jumps were clean, and as usual he gained high marks for his spins and steps. He won bronze with 237.79 points.

Daisuke Takahashi, the reigning world champion, had a disappointing free. After taking a stab at history by attempting a quad flip -- which was downgraded by the technical panel -- he fell on his second triple Axel and second triple Lutz. Two more jumps were under rotated, and he ended up fourth with 219.77 points.

Germans rout field for top honors
Olympic bronze medalists and former world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won the pairs competitions after a near-flawless performance to the Pink Panther soundtrack.

The Germans hit their throw triple flip and landed an impressive side-by-side sequence of two triple toes. They elected to execute double, instead of triple, Salchows, but most of their elements gained level 4 and they easily won gold with 210.92 points.

"It is a very good feeling to skate such a good program and to be back on the highest podium, but some elements were not as good as in practice," Szolkowy said. "Because of our luggage problem last week [skates were misplaced] we could not train. Therefore we are happy how well the whole went."

Reigning world champions Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China were nearly 21 points behind the Germans after three big mistakes, including Pang doubling an intended triple toe; Tong singling an Axel; and a failure on the pair spin that invalidated the element.

"We were disappointed after the short program yesterday and could not sleep last night," Pang said. "Therefore we missed some elements and were slow today."

Young Chinese world junior champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han won bronze with 197.04 points. They attempted their throw triple Salchow, but Sui fell on the landing.