Kelowna / Canada

Skate Canada International continued Saturday in Kelowna, BC, with the Men’s and Pairs Free Skating, the Free Dance and Ladies Free Skating. Skate Canada International is the second of six events of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2014/2015. The world's top figure skaters are competing for points towards the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and a prize money of US $ 180,000 per individual event of the Grand Prix.

Takahito Mura (JPN) skates off with gold

Japan’s Takahito Mura skated off with the gold medal. Javier Fernandez of Spain claimed the silver and Max Aaron (USA) moved up from fifth to capture the bronze medal.

Mura’s “Phantom of the Opera” featured a quadruple toeloop, quad-triple toe combinations, two triple Axels as well as four more triples and a level three flying camel spin. The 2014 Four Continents Champion achieved a new personal best score in the Free Skating with 173.24 points and racked up 255.81 points overall to pull up from second place. “Honestly I am surprised with how well I skated. I was able to do everything well that until now I was lacking confidence in. While I was skating I was thinking, I am doing really great, but at the same time I thought about not losing focus and skating well until the end”, the 23-year-old Japanese skater said.

Skating to “Barber of Seville”, Fernandez landed a triple Axel and four more triples, but he struggled with his three quadruple jumps. The European Champion scored 158.51 points and slipped to second at 244.87 points overall. “It was not the best day, but I still tried to give my best. In practice everything was amazing, really clean and perfect, but I skated last, I had to calm down again, put on the skates again, warm up again and sometimes it is a little bit difficult. Mura did an amazing program and got on top of me. Last year in the Grand Prix I took third place and fifth place, so compared to last year it is a good start”, Fernandez commented.

Aaron produced a quadruple Salchow-double toeloop combination, two triple Axels as well as four other triple jumps. The former U.S. Champion stepped out of the second quad Salchow and stumbled on a triple loop, but with a Free Skating score of 155.27 points and 231.77 points overall the 22-year-old edged his teammate Stephen Carriere out of the bronze medal by 0.10 points.

“My event didn’t go perfectly, but I was coming up here to build up confidence.  I struggled last year, coming up this season I really wanted get back to where I was”, Aaron noted.

Carriere remained in fourth place with 231.67 points. Konstantin Menshov (RUS) slipped from third to fifth at 225.03 points and Florent Amodio (FRA) was sixth with 215.71 points.

Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) claim Pairs gold

Canadians Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford claimed the Pairs gold. Wenjing Sui/Cong Han of China took the silver medal and the bronze went to Russia’s Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov.

Duhamel/Radford landed a triple twist, side by side triple Lutz, triple toe-double toe-double toe and difficult lifts and spins, picking up a level four for all of them. Duhamel only stepped out of the throw quadruple Salchow and touched down with her hand on the throw triple Lutz. The Canadian Champions posted a new personal best for their program to a Muse Medley with 138.04 points which added up to 210.74 points. “It feels exciting and we are extremely happy to finally have this first title on a Grand Prix. There was a lot of hype about that throw quad (Salchow) and for us to stand up on it with all the attention that has been given to it is a good stepping stone heading into the rest of the season. We had great scores here, but there is still room for improvement”, Radford told the press.

Sui/Han opened their routine to “Francesca da Rimini” with a quadruple twist and also produced a throw triple flip and Salchow as well as two level-four lifts, but she popped the side by side toeloop and doubled the Salchow. Sui/Han earned 119.42 points and totaled 184.64 points. “We did not show our very best today, there were some errors in some elements. Hopefully we’ll skate better in our next competition”, Sui said.

Tarasova/Morozov’s program to “Hello” by Lionel Ritchie included a triple twist, side by side triple Salchow and level-four lifts and spins, but she stumbled on both throw jumps. The World Junior silver medalists collected 111.31 points for this performance and claimed the bronze in their ISU Grand Prix debut with 175.45 points on Morozov’s 22nd birthday. “We really enjoyed skating today. There were some mistakes, but we are very pleased with the result. This was our first major senior international competition. The competition was at a very high level”, Morozov explained.

Madeline Aaron/Max Settlage (USA) finished fourth (165.91 points) followed by Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) with 161.79 points.

Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) dance to the title

Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje danced to their first Grand Prix title. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier, also from Canada, rose from fourth to take the silver medal. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) earned the bronze.

Dancing to a modern arrangement of the “Four Seasons”, Weaver/Poje completed intricate footwork and beautiful lifts. The World silver medalists collected a level four for two lifts and the spin while the step sequences and twizzles merited a level three. The Canadians scored 102.49 points which added up to 171.10 overall. “We skated both programs very well, no perfection yet, but it is still very early in the season. We’re proud of the way we handled the pressure of coming into this competition as the top ranked team”, Weaver told the press. “We changed a lot since Nebelhorn Trophy, the spin, a lift, transitions, a bunch of nuances in the program that we felt better showcased our strengths”, Poje added.

Gilles/Poirier put out a strong performance as well to “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” that was highlighted by innovative lifts and fast twizzles. The lifts, twizzles and spin were graded a level four and the reigning Four Continents silver medalists picked up a seasons best of 95.25 points. They moved up to second with 152.60 points overall. “Paul and I are really happy with our silver medal. We had a bit of a low in the short, but we came up and ended on a high note. We’re proud of ourselves of being able to accomplish that goal and show our hard work”, Gilles shared.

Hubbell/Donohue had chosen “The Great Gatsby” as their theme and produced level-four lifts and twizzles. However, he fell at the very end going into his final pose. The Four Continents Champions earned 88.94 points and accumulated 148.23 points overall. “We did our best today. It was still shaky, things are just coming together for us, for both programs. We’re happy with being on the podium this early in the season. Just getting it done is a huge confidence boost for France (Trophee Bompard)”, Hubbell said.

Ksenia Monko/Kirill Khaliavin (RUS) dropped from second to fourth at 143.48 points and Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi (GER) moved up from sixth to fifth with 140.95 points.

Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) golden at Skate Canada

Anna Pogorilaya of Russia defended her overnight lead to strike gold. Ashley Wagner (USA) claimed the silver medal and Satoko Miyahara of Japan pulled up from third to take the bronze.

Pogorilaya’s “Firebird” was highlighted by seven triple jumps including a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and a triple loop-single loop-triple Salchow as well as two level-four spins. The Muscovite scored 126.53 points and had 191.81 points overall to win the second Grand Prix gold medal of her career. “I was a little shocked about my performance, I really enjoyed it today. It felt easy, the audience was good. It is the first competition of the season and it went so well”, the 16-year-old skater noted.

Wagner produced four triples, two double Axels and difficult spins in her routine to “Moulin Rouge”, but a triple toe and a triple loop were underrotated. The 23-year-old earned 122.14 points and totaled 186.00 points. “Today was a great thing for me. My second mark is pulling through for me, which makes me very happy. Technically I know that I have a little bit to work on, but I’m getting stronger and stronger”, the 2012 Four Continents Champion said.

Miyahara delivered a solid performance to “Miss Saigon”, landing five clean triples including a double Axel-triple toe combination. The 2014 Four Continents silver medalist set a new seasons best for herself with 121.53 points and moved up from fourth to third at 181.75 points. “I was nervous at first, but as the program went on I was feeling stronger. At the end I felt the flow and I finished strong”, the 16-year-old commented.

Courtney Hicks (USA) pulled up from eighth to fourth place (174.51 points) and Rika Hongo (JPN) remained in fifth (171.74 points). Alena Leonova (RUS) slipped from third to sixth (164.15 points).

For full results of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2014/15 please refer to Skate Canada International concludes Sunday with the Exhibition Gala. The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating continues next week with the Lexus Cup of China in Shanghai.