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Russia wins ladies, dance on last day at Finlandia

Lipnitskaia leaps over Korpi; Bobrova, Soloviev hold off Cappellini, Lanotte

Finlandia ladies champion Julia Lipnitskaia with coach Eteri Tutberidze.
Finlandia ladies champion Julia Lipnitskaia with coach Eteri Tutberidze. (Jyrki Pirkkalainen)

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By Jyrki Pirkkalainen, special to icenetwork.com
(10/07/2012) - The 2012 Finlandia Trophy concluded Sunday with Julia Lipnitskaia winning the ladies event and Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev taking gold in ice dancing.

Ladies

"The only thing to improve is to change the double flip to a triple."

That's all Lipnitskaia would have changed in her winning performance at Finlandia Trophy on Sunday. The world junior champion landed her big jump combination, the triple Lutz-triple toe that had failed her in the short program, and continued to nail everything else she had planned, save for that doubled flip. A score of 124.18 points in the free skate helped her collect 188.23 points and an impressive victory at her first-ever international senior event.

The Russian's post-skate comments were short, but she had made her statements clear on the ice: She is ready to compete against anyone at any competition.

"My goals are [to make] the Grand Prix Final, to skate really good at Russian nationals, to get to junior worlds and win there."

At 14, the Russian won't be age-eligible for senior worlds this season, but that doesn't seem to bother the skater.

"It's probably right; I feel I'm not old enough yet," she said. "It's good that there is one more year before going to adults."

The leader after the short program, Finland's own Kiira Korpi, made several errors on her jumps. The European silver medalist is known for not being able to skate two great programs in one competition but getting high scores nevertheless.

"Maybe I just tried to search for the same feeling I had in the short yesterday, but it was a new day and new mood," the Korpi said. "I should be able to relate to the short and the free as two separate competitions.

"The whole week has been overwhelming after such a long break from competition," the talkative Finn continued. "The long program is much more difficult than last season, and a basic performance would have been enough today. I have done run-throughs in practice only since the end of August, and I feel I need more routine."

This time, doing all the elements was especially important. Korpi admitted she had the ISU minimum technical score for worlds in mind during her performance. She needed 48 points, and in the end succeeded, collecting 50.38, and 181.16 overall to finish second.

"I fought all the way to the end and tried to do the three combinations, too, to gather points," she explained. "Already after the first toe loop (missing the latter part of the combination), I started thinking about where to add combinations, so unfortunately my head was not always in the moment but in the next element. This was a good lesson, because in practice my programs have gone so well that I haven't had to think of adding combination."

Mirai Nagasu hung on to third place after a good skate. Only the hardest toe jumps gave her trouble: She received an edge call on the triple Lutz, under-rotated her first flip and fell on the second.

"The flip itself isn't a big point-getter, but missing the three-jump combination was a bummer; I lost many points there. I wasn't expecting there to be so many people, so that caused me some extra pressure," said Nagasu, who in general is satisfied with the progress she is making. "You could tell that my jumps are cleaner than they were in the past. There are still many things I want to improve on in training at home before the Grand Prix."

The cleanest program of the day was skated by the Ukrainian Natalia Popova. She landed six triples in her free skate and moved up to fourth with 153.39 points, showing that she may have a say at least on European level this season.

Free dance

The free dance brought no movement in the standings for the top couples, and the audience got to see error-free programs even though it's very early in the season. Bobrova and Soloviev danced to victory despite the fact the Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte won the free dance portion by 0.45 points.

"We are happy that we did all our elements, except maybe not all the positions in the lifts. We have done better run-throughs of this program in practice," Soloviev said.

The Russians began training with Alexander Zhulin after last season, and they sported a new style in their free dance. Dressed in simple costumes and skating to contemporary music with calm rather than over-the-top expression, it was quite a switch from the traditional Russian style of ice dancing.

"We had our previous coaches for 12 years, since we were little kids. We are very grateful for what they did for us, but we felt we needed a change," Bobrova explained. "Zhulin has a strong group we train with. We had to change a lot. We started from scratch, learning new technique, and changed our whole skating."

The Italians chose Carmen for their free dance. Their performance was more emotional and dramatic than that of the Russians, and the audience showed them their support.

The "Carmen & Jose" theme was not the one they had originally planned, though.

"The program we were originally building ended up being similar to the one we had last season, and we agreed that we wanted something stronger to stand out and to push us this year," Cappellini said. "Last year we wanted to show that we are solid and back after two difficult years, but this year we want to really stand out more."

"You know, when watching Carmen, people don't look at how the story is going to end but how skaters are interpreting it," she continued, referring to the end of the program when Lanotte "kills" her.

Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue remained third but skated cleaner than they did in the short dance.

"It was a pretty clean free dance. It's exciting for us because we had really pushed ourselves with this program. We re-used only two elements from old programs, and a lot is new," Hubbell and Donohue said. "Flamenco is also very different from the blues we did last year. Flamenco is the most gorgeous dance style, but it's not like ice dancing at all. Judges want to see glide and all that stuff, so we work hard to incorporate everything into it."

The Michigan-based duo wanted to use this competition to get feedback, and they are already thinking of ways to close the points gap between them and the top couples.

"It's about those tiny little details," they said. "Elements-wise, we think we'd better start with the footwork sections. Our lifts are pretty strong technically."