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Tradition! U.S. duo stuns Russians in Lake Placid

Aldridge, Eaton come from behind to nip Kosigina, Moroshkin for dance crown

Americans Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton overcame a six-point deficit to win.
Americans Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton overcame a six-point deficit to win. (Daphne Backman)

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By Adam Spunberg
(09/01/2012) - Entering the free dance six points back of favored Russians Evgenia Kosigina and Nikoli Moroshkin, Americans Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton needed something of a minor miracle to overtake them.

It happened.

"The program didn't feel hard today," Aldridge said. "We really focused on skating together, and that really paid off. We're very happy with our performance today.

"We feel really good," Eaton said. "First JGP for us this season. We went out and we did our job. Now we can go home and work on what we need to, and come back for the next one."

Riding a superior set of elements scores -- they earned five Level 4s -- and an invigorating Fiddler on the Roof program that mixed tradition with lively, energetic sequences, they won the crowd over at JGP Lake Placid and accrued 136.80 total points. In certain moments, they clapped in step with the music, which inspired the audience to offer back a similar fervor, something they knew might happen when they picked their routine.

"It's such a motivational piece of music," Eaton said. "It can really get the crowd involved, and really just kind of draw you in to what we're trying to portray. And that's what we feel we skate to best."

"It expresses who we are as skaters," Aldridge added. "You have the waltz in there, and then you have the fast, upbeat clapping part, and just really, we love skating to the music."

Ironically, as Aldridge and Eaton soared to the top while skating to the fiddling of Russian villagers, Kosigina and Moroshkin performed a medley of Michael Jackson songs in a tribute to the late American icon. At times, the Russians skated dauntlessly, sliding across the ice like two high-speed trains in synchrony, but they were doomed by lapses on the technical side, specifically a Level 1 straight line lift that rendered negative grades of execution. They tallied 135.24 points, 1.56 out of first.

When asked if they were satisfied with their silver-medal result, Kosigina answered, "No."

They know where they ultimately lost ground.

"The elements had some kinds of problems," Moroshkin said.

Snagging the bronze medal were enthusiastic Canadians Andreanne Poulin and Marc-Andre Servant, who see this as their initiation ceremony onto the international stage.

"We're very happy," Servant said. "It's our first medal on the international circuit, so we're really happy about that. And we put together two good programs, so we feel like we deserved to finish where we did."

For Poulin, posting 114.71 points and finishing third exceeded their expectations.

"We didn't come here to skate for a medal," she said. "We just wanted to skate for ourselves, and it worked pretty well because we actually ended up having a medal, so it's really fun."

Entering the free dance in fourth, they proved clever and nimble as they skated to selections from Alexandre Desplat's Fantastic Mr. Fox original score. It was an anthology that resonated with their sensibilities.

"He does a lot of really really good music, and, obviously, Fantastic Mr. Fox -- where our music is from -- is another great score that he's done," Servant said, "So we really enjoy his pieces."

Americans Elliana Pogrebinsky and Ross Gudis, fresh off a winning free dance at the 2012 Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships, performed in dazzling magenta and turquoise uniforms and landed in sixth place with 109.73 total points. They opened the day in fifth and posted the fifth-best free dance score, but Canada's Noa Bruser and Timothy Lum climbed ahead of them.

The third U.S. squad, Madeline Heritage and Nathaniel Fast, moved up from eighth to seventh place overall. They danced in amity-colored red and yellow outfits and totaled 102.81 points.