Two-time world medalists Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) turned back the clock to record a confident victory on home ice, taking the gold medal at Bridgestone Skate America with a little over 12 points to spare. The 2014 World champions Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte of Italy claimed the silver medal and the bronze went to Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov. Shibutani/Shibutani and Cappellini/ Lanotte qualified for the Grand Prix Final.
Dancing to ‘Paradise’ by Coldplay, Shibutani/Shibutani delivered an excellent performance with beautiful lift and intricate footwork, collecting a level four for the spin, twizzles and lifts. The step sequences merited a level three. The brother-and-sister team set a new season’s best with 115.07 points for an overall total of 194.25 points.
Alex Shibutani recalled how the siblings had competed 13 years ago in the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid as children: “This is the first big arena we ever skated in our lives and so it was a special weekend.
“We made a lot of big changes after Russia to the Free Dance in particular, in the second half of the program, and I think it really paid off as far as the overall feel of the program that we have skating it.
“Even though there is only one week, it is about continuing to build the momentum that we’ve developed personally over the past months.”
Maia Shibutani added. “Alex and I are very proud of how we skated this weekend. This was the longest time that we ever had in a Grand Prix season between our two Grand Prix and we feel very strongly about how well we’ve used our time following Cup of Russia.
“These two performances were really heading into the direction that we are looking for. This was the competition we wanted to have before the Grand Prix Final.”
Cappellini/Lanotte’s solid dance to ‘La vita e bella’ featured four level-four elements, but the exit of their straight-line lift didn’t go as planned when her blade became stuck. The Italian champions scored 108.93 points for the Free Dance for a total of 181.63 points.
“We had the impression that we need to be perfect today and it always adds pressure to the whole process,” Cappellini said. “We were nervous. We missed the exit of the lift and we knew we already lost some points.
“We are definitely looking forward to improving our technical score and we’re trying to do that, especially for the second part of the season where all the major championships are going to take place.”
The couple is excited to return to the Grand Prix Final: “Eight years ago we qualified for our first Grand Prix Final here (at Skate America). So, it’s come full circle. We were hoping to go back to the GP Final as we missed it last year,” Cappellini said.
Sinitsina/Katsalapov completed strong lifts and twizzles in their program to Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and ‘Vocalise’. However, the diagonal footwork garnered only a level two. The Muscovites achieved a new personal best of 107.81 points in the Free Dance for 176.53 overall.
“We are very happy with how we skated here at Skate America, we skated clean,” Katsalapov told the post-event press conference.
“Now we know what we need to work on. Our next competition is our national championship and we’ll try to fix everything that wasn’t perfect yet. It was a great pleasure to compete in this historical place and we felt really energized.”
Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) moved up from fifth to fourth on 166.54 points. The 2014 world junior champions Kaitlyn Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (USA) pulled up from seventh to fifth place (163.53 points) while Tiffani Zagorski/Jonathan Guerreiro (RUS) slipped from fourth to sixth on 160.28 points.
Bridgestone Skate America is the sixth and last event in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series and provides the last opportunity for skaters to qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya, Japan, in December.
The top six skaters/couples in each discipline qualify for the Final. The global prize money for the Grand Prix is US$ 272,000.
Full entry lists and results of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2017/18 are available here. Follow the discussion on social media by using #GPFigure #FigureSkating.