Stavanger / Norway

European Champions Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov, of Russia, took the Pairs Short Program as the Internationaux de France de Patinage continued in Grenoble Friday.  France’s Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres are trailing the leaders by a little over four points and are in second place. Italians Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise came third.

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Performing to Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2, Tarasova/Morozov nailed a huge triple twist, a side-by-side triple toe and throw triple loop. The World bronze medalists collected a level four for the twist, lift, spin, footwork and death spiral to achieve a season’s-best score of 77.84 points. The Muscovites received a one-point deduction for a timing violation.

“We skated good but it was not the best,” Morozov said. “We made a little mistake in the last element (step sequence), but overall we are happy to see our progress and to be on the right way in this important season.”Asked about their music choice, he said: “We like this music, it is strong and impressive. We skate well with this music. We are in harmony with Rachmaninov.”

James/Cipres’ program to ‘Make It Rain’, by Ed Sheeran, featured a triple twist, side-by-side triple Salchow as well as a throw triple Lutz. The European bronze medalists earned 73.18 points for their efforts. “We’re pretty happy with the performance and to skate for our public at home. (We made a) mistake on the (throw) flip and probably a few levels lost. We have to work on that. So we’ll have to pay more attention to not lose points. I think that’s our weakness lately,” James said. “Other than that, we’re very proud with our Short Program performance.”

Della Monica/Guarise produced a side-by-side triple Salchow, triple twist and throw triple loop in their program to ‘Magnificat’, to pick up a personal best of 70.65 points. “It was so far our best performance this season but it still is not the perfect program that we can do,” Della Monica told the post-event press conference. “We skated relaxed and did what we do in practice, so we’re pretty satisfied.”

Liubov Ilyushechkina/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) finished fourth on 66.36 points, followed by Cheng Peng/Yang Jin (CHN) on 62.40 points.

The Internationaux de France de Patinage are the fifth of six events in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series that culminates in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya (JPN) 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