The 2011/2012 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating kicked off Friday with Hilton Hhonors Skate America in Ontario, California. Skate America is the first of six events in the series. The skaters compete for a global prize money of US $ 180, 000 per individual event of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and receive points according to their placements.
Michal Brezina (CZE) grabs Men's Short Program
Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic won the Men's Short Program Friday ahead of Japan's Takahiko Kozuka and Daisuke Murakami.
Brezina's program to Japanese Kodo drums featured a big triple Axel, triple flip-triple toe and triple Lutz. The Czech skater earned 79.08 points. “I'm just happy that I'm done and the program was clean. It was a great skate today”, Brezina said. “We decided to go for the triple-triple combination and the triple Lutz right before I skated. We wanted to got for a clean short program at the beginning of the season, but there is no question that the quad will be in the short (later)”, he explained.
Skating to the jazzy “Inner Urge” by Joe Henderson, Kozuka went down on his opening quadruple toeloop attempt and his triple Axel was shaky, but he hit a triple Lutz-triple toe and picked up a level four for two spins. The World silver medalist scored 70.69 points. “I missed the quad toe. Today I was a little nervous. This is my first competition of the season and I didn't compete in a long time”, Kozuka told the press.
His teammate Murakami produced the only clean quadruple jump of the day, a quad Salchow, in combination with a double toe in his routine to “The Feeling Begins”. The Japanese also landed a triple Axel and triple Lutz to collect 70.67 points. “At the beginning of the season I wasn't planning on doing the quad Salchow in the Short Program, but my coach insisted. I want to start building during the season and want to do a quad-triple combination”, Murakami noted.
Kevin van der Perren (BEL) finished fourth with a clean program that included a triple Axel (70.09 points) and Richard Dornbush (USA) is currently ranked fifth (70.03). His triple Axel was underrotated. European Champion Florent Amodio (FRA) missed his combination and sits in eighth place.
World Champions Davis/White (USA) dance to lead
World Champions Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) took the lead in the Short Dance with European Champions Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat of France and Germany's Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi coming in second and third.
Davis/White put out a confident Short Dance set to Samba and Rhumba that was highlighted by fast twizzles and sharp footwork. The Olympic silver medallists earned a level three for both Rhumba sequences to score 70.33 points. “We're pretty pleased with how our short dance went tonight. It's still really fresh, still really early in the season, so we were out there to have fun and get it started”, Davis commented. “I think we can look forward to attacking the program a little bit more. Like Meryl said we haven't had a ton of time with the program yet, so we just want to go out there and do the program like we know how, so I think with training more we'll be able to feel a bit more comfortable and get into character more, show off deeper edges”, White continued.
Pechalat/Bourzat opted for three different Sambas in their “Carnival in Rio” themed program. The French opened with a difficult curve lift and a smooth Rhumba (level three), but Bourzat fell right at the end of the side by side circular footwork. He was off balance on the side by side twizzles as well. The twizzles garnered a level three. The European Champions collected 60.07 points. “We are not very happy with our dance and Fabian is sick”, Pechalat said. “Before we went out we told each other that we still want to enjoy. The rest of the program was clean enough.” Bourzat explained that he came down with bronchitis following a national competition in France two weeks ago. “I feel better, but it is still tough. I try to do my best”, he added.
Zhiganshina/Gazsi's sultry Rhumba to the Desperado theme included a smooth level-three side by side step sequence and level-four twizzles. The German Champions received 55,66 points. “Sitting in third right now is amazing for us. We want to defend this placement and try to attack again in the Free Dance”, Gazsi said.
Kharis Ralph/Asher Hill (CAN) came fourth at 52.68 points with a lively dance and Isabella Tobias/ Deividas Stagniunas (LTU) are standing in fifth with 51.83 points.
Hilton HHonors Skate America continues Saturday with the Men's Free Skating, Free Dance, Pairs and Ladies Short Program.