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Canadian teams hold serve atop SLC pairs podium

Moore-Towers, Moscovitch win comfortably; Lawrence, Swiegers grab silver

Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch triumphed in Salt Lake City by 15 points.
Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch triumphed in Salt Lake City by 15 points. (Jay Adeff)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(09/16/2012) - Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch overcame uncharacteristic errors on their two final lifts to defeat teammates Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers by more than six points and win gold at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic.

The 2011 Canadian champions were near perfect for more than two-thirds of their program to a Queen medley, hitting a Level 3 triple twist; two side-by-side triple toes, done in sequence; triple Salchows; and two triple throws, the Salchow and loop.

But placing all three lifts toward the end of their program backfired a bit in the 4,300-foot Salt Lake City altitude when Moscovitch ended the final two early, dropping both to Level 1.

"There was altitude, yes; everybody had to deal with it, though," Moscovitch said. "It's definitely a bit harder, but it's still early in the season, and this program is a step up in difficulty for us.

"I think for myself, thankfully I run as much as I do, but you always want to take something from a competition to improve upon, and I need to ramp things up even more."

Despite the errors, Moore-Towers and Moscovitch earned 115.91 points for the free and finished with 179.25 overall.

"Personally, up until the lifts, I'm pretty happy with the first two-thirds of the program," Moore-Towers said. "I think we did it justice, especially for this time of the year, September. Of course we will build on it up until [Canadian] nationals and hopefully worlds.

"You take the good with the bad, and this was another chance for us to get a long out there in a bit of a high-pressure situation."

After a shaky start, Lawrence and Swiegers had a solid skate to music from War Horse (she fell on a triple toe, and the team's triple twist had a rough landing), choreographed by four-time world ice dance champion Bernie Ford.

The Canadian bronze medalists hit two double Axels in sequence as well as two triple throws, but as usual, the highlights were three impressive Level 4 lifts, two of which covered the length of the ice. They placed second in the free and second overall with 164.03 points.

Although the play and movie tell the tale of a boy and his horse, the pair isn't taking a literal interpretation.

"We're telling the story of a young boy going off to war, leaving his love back home," Lawrence said. "We changed the theme. Basically, it's about how his memories help him through the war and the feelings people go through."

"It is very new, but I thought we did a pretty good job today," Swiegers said. "There is a lot of building still, but we're pretty happy with it."

Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin, ninth in the U.S. last season, climbed from fifth after the short to claim bronze with a solid skate to a medley of Legends of the Fall and "Time to Say Goodbye."

They opened with a high double twist, followed by triple toe-double toe combinations. Their only major mistake was Vise's fall on a throw triple flip, and she went on to land a throw triple loop towards the end of the program.

"We've been practicing hard back home running programs, getting more confident with our elements and trusting our ability more," Vise said. "It felt good out there to finally skate how we know we can skate, especially early in the season."

The team hopes to add more difficulty to their free skate.

"We're going to do triple toe, hop, triple toe hopefully, and then triple Salchow," Baldwin said. "And, of course, keep working on that throw triple flip, which is a new element for us."

"[The throw triple flip] has been going really well in practice, but it's a whole new thing when you put it into a program," Vise said. "It's definitely getting better and better each time we put it out there. It's starting to feel comfortable."

Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay finished just 0.02 points behind Vise and Baldwin after a West Side Story free that included three solid lifts and a double Axel-double Axel sequence, but also saw Zhang fall on a downgraded triple toe and throw triple Salchow.

"We're happy with it. Our elements are all there," Bartholomay said. "Everything is really coming together. At this point, it's the consistency and the timing under pressure. We need to step up a little bit."

Lindsay Davis and Mark Ladwig, who teamed up in May, opened their free with side-by-side triple Salchows and also landed a throw triple Salchow, but had trouble with their lifts, aborting one on takeoff and reducing another to Level 2. They placed fifth with 121.31 points.

"It's definitely a learning experience," Davis said. "We put out some tricks that we haven't put out so far. It was a good warmup for what's to come."

Israelis Danielle Montalbano and Evgeni Krasnopolski were sixth.

"We've got to go home and do more free skates that will prepare us for Skate Canada and NHK Trophy," Ladwig said.